The Captain Cook is probably one of Rado’s most iconic models. Named after the British explorer, it was originally released in 1962. The 37mm, 200m water-resistant timepiece was a solid attempt from Rado to tap into the trend for dive watches. Since it was relaunched in 2017, several vintage-inspired Captain Cooks have been released. However, in 2021, the brand has decided to venture into new territories injecting one of its key areas of expertise into the model: ceramic cases. And today we take a closer look at the Captain Cook High-Tech Plasma Ceramic with its surprising metallic colour and blue accents.
Although Rado had already used ceramic for the bezel of its signature dive watch, it is the first time that the brand’s expertise in working with ceramic is applied to the entire Captain Cook. As you would expect, it mixes emblematic elements from the past with modern design cues. If you are used to what the Captain Cook was before the debut of the new ceramic versions, you’ll notice that the ceramic version is still visibly a Captain Cook, but feels very different at the same time.
The Captain Cook High-Tech Plasma Ceramic
Starting with the case, the Rado Captain Cook Ceramic comes in a new, larger size. Measuring 43 mm in diameter and 14.6mm in height, it is presented in four versions. When offered to review the watch, we decided to go hands-on with the ‘plasma ceramic’. This version stands out with its distinctive plasma ceramic monobloc case fitted with a hardened stainless-steel bezel and a blue ceramic insert. Plasma ceramic is forged in an oven where gases activated at 20,000°C transform finished white ceramic into a material with a metallic shine, without affecting its essential properties: lightness, hardness, and comfort. The water-resistance is rated 30ATM or 300m.
On the wrist, this Captain Cook is not a small watch, but thanks to its ergonomic design and integration of the bracelet, it wears smaller than its 43mm diameter would suggest. Considering that it is made of ceramic, one of the things that surprised me was that the watch felt slightly heavier than I expected. Although the bracelet and case are feather-light, the movement adds some heft to the case. Weighing 153g, it is still very comfortable, and the sleek surface of the scratch-resistant ceramic is cool and smooth to the touch.
The ceramic bracelet is well finished with brightly polished central links and matte outer links. Finally, the triple-folding titanium clasp feels precisely executed and operates sharply.
Another contemporary touch is provided by the dial. Rado opted for a translucent tinted sapphire dial partially revealing the movement. With its ever-changing reflections, it has plenty of details to discover. As you would expect, Rado has fitted it with its moving anchor symbol at 12 o’clock. Although I didn’t take lume shots of the watch, I was truly surprised by the luminescence of the watch at night. The legibility remains excellent, and the hands and indexes seem to be literally floating above the tinted sapphire crystal. I also agree with Rado’s choice of removing the date window on this model. With its sapphire crystal over the movement, a date window would have looked awkward in this context.
The tinted sapphire dial and caseback reveal the R734 movement based on the “ETA Powermatic” calibre. Whereas most watches in this price range come equipped with classic automatic movements, this automatic movement adds two major improvements to its ETA 2824 base. Firstly, thanks to a reduced frequency of 3Hz and a reworked kinetic chain, the power reserve has been beefed up to 80 hours. Secondly, it features a Nivachron balance spring, which is impervious to magnetism. The movement is decorated with perlage and Geneva stripes on the rotor.
The Rado Captain Cook Plasma Ceramic is perfectly built and exudes quality. Fusing vintage DNA with a contemporary execution and modern technology, it definitely belongs in a class of its own, bringing the functional character of the Captain Cook into bolder, more contemporary territories. And since I am a fan of vintage-styled watches, I can assure you that this Ceramic Captain Cook was a pleasure to wear!
Availability & Price
The Rado Captain Cook High-Tech Plasma Ceramic is now available from retailers and is priced at CHF 3,800 or EUR 3,900. For more information, please visit www.rado.com.