Time Travel

By Gabrielle Delgado

Have you ever wondered about how come your watch is scratch-proof? It is not a thought that has crossed many of our modern minds. Still, many watches today are scratch resistant by design.  But who was the first to birth such a ‘life-proof’ quality to our beloved timepiece? Rado, the Swiss timekeeping brand is the connoisseur of this practice. They made groundbreaking changes in the 1960s by releasing the first scratch-proof watch, the diamond star of the season, known as the DiaStar. Find out more in Time Travel Here

As a brand, its history is nothing short of fascinating. They set out to take risks with their designs, working with materials akin to the hardness of earth while playing into space-age styling.

In ’62, Rado created a timepiece that would soon stand out for its impossibly sleek and poetic design, as well as its strength. Its clever use of materials and design made the brand a watch brand for all to look at for inspiration.

The first scratch-proof watch was made with an alloy of tungsten, patented as ‘Hardmetal’, then encased within it a sapphire crystal glass. The classic oval-face shape of the watch has become iconic over the years.

Durability was essential to the times. The world Post-War was teeming with energy, the air was both vibrating with renaissance and tension due to the recent years. But it was also looking to the future with hope…

The market was wanting for a movement, a product, anything that would feel timeless, long-standing, almost ahead of its time, able to withstand the present and future to come. 

Vintage advertisement for Rado’s first DiaStar

Rado’s design choice in creating DiaStar changed the game not only within the watch industry but in the behind-the-scenes work; the purposeful choice of materials became just as essential as the look.

And so the brand has uniquely come to be known as Master of Materials, a statement that aligns with the brand’s moves to this day. The detail, articulation, and careful craftsmanship of Rado’s methods have brought their designs to the forefront of the timepiece stage.

Their watches give each buyer a strength of untouchable luxury–a kind of minimalism that speaks of timeless class while still being innovative.

This design became a pattern to follow for the many decades to come with DiaStar. Durability was in and Rado had drawn back the curtains.

But the 60s were only the beginning. Below is a timeline of Rado’s creations, each significant in their reflections of the times and the brand’s continuously vital and progressive design choices. 

To begin, the brand began as Schlup & Co, started by the three Schlup brothers in 1917. In 1928, they registered their name Rado, Esperanto for “wheel”. Simple, genuine, and strong from the start.

In ’57 the ‘Green Horse’ watch collection signified the start of Rado as a brand. 

Then came the scratch-proof emblem of the future in ’62, along with the Ladies’ version of the release, which donned a more embellished clock of sapphires. 

In ’67 the DayDate DiaStar 8 launched, harbouring a sleeker, technological feel, and the first weekday and date reference. 

As the seventies ushered in so did the DiaStar 13, which was the first version in this bright gold colouring. It proved to be a bestseller in the coming years. 

In ’74, the brand chose aubergine for their DiaStar 18 creation, successful experimentation with more vibrant colour choices. 

In ’76 the Quartz LED DiaStar 84 prepared for the new wave with its first digital clock release.

Rado’s 1990 ‘The Original’ became the brand’s best-seller, with its classic gold-coloured sleekness. 

Upon the new century came the Royal Dream, a maximalist’s precious piece, as it is embellished with sapphire crystals at every crevice. 

In ’05 came the New Original, a simple ode to the brand’s beginnings, but with a primary red centre. 

With ’07 came the Chronograph rattrapante, which allows the user to record multiple time intervals simultaneously, making it an extremely rare and valuable design. 

Finally, this year Rado has come to centre stage once again with their DiaStar 60-year Anniversary Edition, a modernised version of the first scratch-proof ’62 timepiece.

The brand chose to work with Buenos Aires-born Swiss designer Alfredo Häberli, whose stylistic flairs and methods of approach aligned perfectly with Rado’s.

DiaStar 60-year Anniversary Edition, designed by Alfredo Häberli

This renowned designer is known for his unique ability to intertwine the traditional and the innovative, the structural and the emotive. His design is classic, but tempts the mind to be curious; a certain ambiguity rises within his careful shapes, forms and structures.

Although this was an unconventional collaboration choice, Rado is known to honour consistency while embracing versatility, making this collaboration a match made in designer heaven. 

This is Häberli’s first watch as a designer and first-time working with Rado, creating a faceted element to the face of the watch suggesting the facets of a diamond and the light reflection of a diamond. This timepiece is special because of how it often works with light; Häberli said there is a “playfulness of the diamond build”. It glows and reflects based on its surroundings, creating a dynamic and lively air to the accessory. 

Häberli incorporated his signature creative methods into crafting this edition, in which he hoped to “revolutionize” the watch. It was made in under a year. 

Although watches are quite different from his previous projects in the realms of architecture and automobiles, Häberli explained he found this design process to be close to his heart. He has had a fond love of watches for decades and has observed the industry with a fine eye over the years.

This watch offers interchangeable straps, one woven stainless steel mesh, and the other a wool fabric textile strap.

Per the textile, Häberli wanted “a soft contrast to the hard case” that purposefully offers a “soft sensuality” to the piece–a comforting touch against the rugged sleekness of the watch’s ceramic surface. 

This edition has a Hexagon faceted anti-reflective sapphire crystal coating inside. On the conical part, the Polished Ceramos™ bezel radial is brushed on. Date and graphical day are on display, with two colour schemes in grey or natural colour Super-LumiNova® at 6 o’clock.

For the movement, the Rado calibre R764 has an 80-hour power reserve and antimagnetic Nivachron™ hairspring. The case has a polished stainless steel middle part, back and crown, with a matt anchor symbol. It is water resistant to 10 bar (100 m). 

The dial is metallic grey and circular brushed, with a grey-printed Rado logo. The bracelet is an EasyClip system for both the grey textile and stainless steel straps. Rado claims it to be “the ultimate expression of personality, character and style.”

Rado additionally released their own Rado DiaStar Original for the company’s 60th birthday. There are three versions where there is the option of blue, grey or green face. This edition aligns with the conditions of Häberli’s creation, down to the stainless casing and anti-reflective sapphire coating. 

Rado DiaStar 60-year Anniversary Original in blue, grey and green

The dial design is brushed in two directions with crossing lines and has a silver-coloured moving anchor symbol with a red background for each face colour. The Rado logo is White printed and automatic. The bracelet is Polished/brushed with H-link stainless steel, and clasps with openers. 

Despite all the mechanics, emotive beauty is still ever present in these editions. Especially when noting Häberli’s edition, the two interchangeable straps bring the watches to life in contrasting manners.

With the stainless steel, one can sense a strong, masculine sleekness. Like armour for the skin, it pairs well with strong gusto and decisive air. 

Meanwhile, the textile fabric feels almost like a second skin, a melding with the wrist–this adds a smooth, somewhat androgynous sensuality to the watch.

This fabric strap is interesting because you don’t often see it with watches of this type, which is something Häberli noted upon reflecting on his design choices.

It adds a grounded nature and charming allure to the piece; giving the watch a modern feel without undoing the classic vibe of the original. 

“There is precision in the automatic movement, in the material, in the workmanship and geometry, and the poetry lies in the fascinating, ineffable matter of time,”

Alfredo Häberli. 

There is in fact an art to precision, and within such articulation, a certain musicality, an alignment is born. From Rado’s scratch-resistant beginnings to its modernised revolutions, poetry is always welcome in functionality. In fact, these designs would be nowhere without it and to be honest neither would a lot of other watch brands who always look to Rado as a game-changing watch brand.

To discover more about Rado and their 60th Anniversary, click Here.

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