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Rado Special 11404

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  • Rado Special 11404

    I saw this unusual watch for sale and, not really knowing what it was, I decided to give it a new home without being totally sure of its authenticity.

    So this arrived today:

    WP_20170825_10_37_22_Pro (2).jpg

    The case back is very worn but I can make out a model Nr 11404 and serial Nr 4046351.

    WP_20170825_10_44_02_Pro (2).jpg

    The case back is an unusual snap-on version with a couple of springs that extend into the case and need to be depressed to release the innards. You can see the springs between my finger and thumb here.

    WP_20170825_10_51_49_Pro (2).jpg

    The dial has a lovely sunburst finish, although I'm not completely sold on the mixture of gold and silver.

    WP_20170825_10_51_21_Pro (2).jpg

    I gave the case and crystal a bit of a clean up and, although there's more work needed, I'm quite happy with the result.

    WP_20170825_11_26_21_Pro (2).jpg

    So, the question remains, what do I have here? The case back/fixed movement/split crown stem is very reminiscent of the Manhattan. I'm not sure if I've seen the 'R' logo on the dial used like that before, especially when combined with a rotating anchor. The crown also has an anchor logo but I'm not sure if this should have had an 'R' on it originally.

    I'm fairly convinced that it's genuine as I wouldn't expect anybody to create such a complicated construction for a fake, but has anybody ever seen one before?

    WP_20170825_11_30_39_Pro (4).jpg

    As Tim said to me, it's times like this when we really miss Miles as I'm sure he would have dug out a NOS version from a cupboard in reply to this enquiry...

  • #2
    Well, wouldn't you believe it...


    • #3
      So, there you go. Miles chipped in with his, though it isn't NOS.
      Solve all your doubts through question mode.


      • #4
        I would guess it was a local-only model made for an Asian market with a dial put together using available bits (dial and markers) and some Rado components (creatively, as we can see). I doubt Lengnau has ever had any record of it being made. The case was probably provided by Rado (surplus of a Gazelle model that wasn't produced to full expected numbers?) and the local agent ran with it to produce something that might sell in their market.

        Judging by how poorly the hour markers and seconds hashes align with the bezel shape, I suspect that "Special Automatic" dial was in someone's parts bin, suitable for a common caliber, and got re-purposed with the RADO, R (scavenged, obviously from a full RADO appliqué), and the anchor. Although, having to drill the hole for the anchor disc also suggests the dial was finished especially for this model run. The SWISS Made Movt indication is a clear suggestion it was put together overseas...although the case itself might also be Swiss-made, assuming it was for a Gazelle, and it has no T or K in the case number.


        • #5
          Thanks Brad. Strange how Miles managed to find a blue dial version four years ago though.
          That suggests a bit more than cobbled together on somebody's workbench...


          • #6
            Originally posted by scottjc View Post
            Thanks Brad. Strange how Miles managed to find a blue dial version four years ago though.
            That suggests a bit more than cobbled together on somebody's workbench...
            I agree--what I meant to convey is that it was local production, using professional methods (and parts not originally designed to be used together), but not an official RADO of Switzerland product.


            • #7
              Originally posted by Watch Carefully View Post
              I agree--what I meant to convey is that it was local production, using professional methods (and parts not originally designed to be used together), but not an official RADO of Switzerland product.
              Fair analysis Brad, thanks.


              • #8
                Special , indeed Scott, only two in the known Radoverse and of course the other one belonged to Miles, who else! If there was 2 colours there must be more out there somewhere. Amazing, how even from the great beyond, Miles can still do this trick.
                Last edited by Tim.; 08-25-2017, 03:44 PM.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Tim. View Post
                  Special , indeed Scott, only two in the known Radoverse and of course the other one belonged to Miles, who else! Amazing, how even from the great beyond, he can still do this trick.
                  Indeed Tim, I had quite a chuckle to myself when I found his post, especially after you predicted it.


                  • #10
                    Earlier on in this thread Scott said: “Well, wouldn't you believe it.”
                    So I’m going to preface the following by saying “you won’t believe this”, but as with so many incidents or co-incidents in life, truth is stranger than fiction, so read on if you dare.

                    This morning I was showing my brother this thread of Scott’s and something about it jogged his memory, something about the watch. What followed was a story no one could dream up.
                    My brother, before he retired, worked for a large importer and retailer of electrical equipment and as head of compliance often toured factories in Asia that were making products for them. An elderly Japanese fellow, who was conducting a factory tour in South Korea, recounted this story to him.
                    There was a Rado factory located in a Japanese industrial prefecture that had been given the task of manufacturing a new design of automatic watch for the Chinese market. One Friday, just before production was about to begin, the Boss gave the Foreman a set of drawings and specifications so they could get all the parts ready for a production run of the new dials. As it turns out, that Friday was also the annual golf day for all the factory bosses in the local prefecture and so the Boss left the Forman in charge for the rest of the day. The Foreman, being a bit of a lazy fellow, decided to photocopy the scale specification drawing of the dial and get the Apprentice to do all the work. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to the Forman, that morning the Secretary had made a big mistake on a contract she was typing up and rather than re-type the whole contract, had used lots of white out to cover up the mistake and photocopied it, only, the white out hadn’t properly dried and had left some spots on the photocopier platen.
                    So the Forman gave the copy of the drawing to the Apprentice and told him to get about making ready all the parts for the new dials. The Apprentice, as he’d been trained to do, studied the drawing very carefully and was surprised to find, that on the new dial the logo said ADO and not RADO but thought it must be something to do with it being for the Chinese market. Where would he get 2000 ADO badges? “ I’d better ask the Foreman” he thought, however the Foreman had given him a big dressing down earlier that day and told him he’d better start using more initiative. So he thought “this is my moment”, “seize the day” and picked up 2 boxes of medium Rado badges off the shelf, took them down the back of the factory, where the Foreman wouldn’t see him and proceeded to very carefully, because he’d been trained to always take great care, cut the R’s off 2000 RADO badges, thus producing the required number of ADO badges for the new dials. The Apprentice went home that Friday afternoon feeling very satisfied with himself at having used so much initiative. The lazy Foreman went to the pub as he did every Friday afternoon, none the wiser.
                    On Monday morning the Boss did a quick tour of the factory, as he usually did on Mondays, to make sure all was in order for the coming week and the important new production run. He was passing by a table at the back of the factory and was shocked to find that someone had destroyed 2000 of the RADO badges required for the new production run. So he went in search of the Foreman for an explanation, the Foreman, of course, quickly blamed the Apprentice for this willful and stupid act. The Apprentice was called into the Boss’s office to explain why he shouldn’t be immediately sacked. So he produced the specification drawing given him by the Foreman and added in his defense, that he’d used initiative as instructed, also by the Foreman. The Boss told him to go and clean up around the factory until he’d decided upon a course of action to rectify this disaster.
                    The Boss sat at his desk, head in hands, contemplating the cost of all these destroyed badges and more importantly, the enormous loss of face in front of his Swiss superiors. Little by little the germ of an idea came to him. He remembered a discussion he’d had with one of his golf partners the previous Friday afternoon, a chap who ran a book-printing factory. They’d also been given a new production contract do a limited print run of tiny but beautifully embossed copies of some of Shakespeare’s plays, one of which, he was sure, was, “ MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING”, so in a masterstroke of lateral thinking he got on the phone and with a bit of begging, managed to sell the 2000 ADO badges for a tidy profit. Now, what to do about all those R’s…… After a little further thought he realized it was almost Chinese new year, being a fairly well read chap, he also knew that the coming year would be, year of the Rat and in a further piece of genius lateral thought, that he could use the R’s as a modern symbol for the year of the rat, with the long tail, symbolising the Rat’s tail. So, he thought, if we mount the "R" for Rat symbol above the RADO, the Chinese will see this as being a very “Special Automatic” watch and so was borne the “R RADO Special Automatic.”
                    Of course, someone had to take the fall for the mistake that fateful Friday afternoon and as the Foreman was in charge, the buck stopped with him. He was sent packing to one of the minor factories in South Korea, where a year or so later he received one of these watches as a poignant reminder from his old Boss. He was still wearing that same watch many years later when he took my brother on a tour of that factory and told him this story………

                    Truth is indeed, stranger than fiction but perhaps one should never let the truth stand in the way of a good story.......
                    Last edited by Tim.; 08-27-2017, 10:21 PM.


                    • #11