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Into the heart of the emerald, the 42mm Rado Captain Cook

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  • Into the heart of the emerald, the 42mm Rado Captain Cook

    The thing is, in the vast sea of mid-range luxury brands, Rado is quite unique. Unlike most brands its style is recognisably iconic. Its clever concentration on ceramics, sleek designs, independence from convention and not recycling old tired ideas, has made Rado not only highly respected, but also in the age of hundreds of similar watch designs, stand out from the crowd. Which brings me to the Captain Cook ….


    Now almost every watch brand has a diver, it is the most celebrated style in the west. There are those unencumbered by heritage at one end, e.g. the sleek understated divers from Sinn, to the endless submariner copies at the other. Talking about the submariner, Rado released a diver with everyone else in the early 1960s, pretty much all the “heritage” you need for a diver. It made it successfully for a number of years but eventually withdrew to concentrate on its unique ceramics and style.


    Suddenly in 2017, triggered by the success of legacy re-releases, it decided to release a watch almost identical to its original Captain Cook in looks and size, but with modern materials. This was the 37mm. Unexpectedly it was a hit, and Rado began to plan a full featured diver range, which has reached its conclusion in the 42mm series.


    So let’s replay this, Rado has recently released a new diver range into an overcrowded me-too market. Amazingly, it is selling very well, has quite distinct features, looks like a Rado and the reviews have been uniformly good.

    So what is special about this diver ? where to start … it is often said that this or that watch looks much better in real life then in a photo. Well, for the Captain Cook, I can say that 100%.

    Rado supplies a range of dial colours, metal and leather strap types, and materials. Interestingly Rado is one of the few dive watch manufacturers that allows you to choose from more then one type of metal bracelet.


    I succumbed to the green dial with the link bracelet, but it was a close run thing with blue and the beads of rice bracelet, and the other colours. All the dial colours are great, and have an interplay between the starburst at the centre and the dark edges. This graduation is also reflected in some other watches, like the new Tag Heuer Autavia, albeit with different textures.

    The front of the watch is simply beautiful, and blends a heritage style with the latest technology and precision. The centre of the dial is a dark sunburst green design, which moves between inky black and bright flashes of green, depending on the light and reflection. It gradually moves to a more matt and even dark green, which rarely comes out of the shadows.


    In complete contrast, the large bright white pips are almost blindingly clear, shaped like old radium markers with no surrounds. The lume is green, contrasting with the bright white washed pips, strong, not super-strong, but consistent. You would have thought we are through with the stand out features on the dial, but far from it.


    Next we have the signature Rado anchor in silver on a red disc. Originally, this rotated with wrist motion, and indicated that the automatic movement was working properly, now it is more for show, but fun nevertheless. The dial is surrounded by a steel sleeve angled down, with minute graduations. Lastly the date disc is in silver with a red font. The dial writing simply has the signature RADO in a box font, and two lines in a lovely script font just saying Captain Cook and the second saying 300 metres. Interestingly, although they are the same watches, the watch with the beads of rice bracelet does not have the 300 meters line. I am not sure whether this is just a slight model change, or whether the beads of rice bracelet is only certified to 200m, which was the original designation. Anyway, all these small details come together to make an interesting, detailed and stand out dial combination.

    There is a straight minute hand, to the edge of the dial, again with the bright white centre but now with stainless steel surrounds. The hour hand is an unusual design, large and bold, mostly stainless steel but with a triangular white centre, curved at the bottom. The second hand is thin stainless steel with a small white sword at the front.

    The bezel is a thin unidirectional ceramic covered dial. Rado showing its ceramic expertise by being able to manufacture a thinner strip. I am so pleased they have done this and not gone for the default aluminum heritage style. IMHO ceramic is so much better for scratch resistance and longevity. Very unusually, it slopes to the inside. I love the uniqueness of this, and again, combined with the dial, is stunning.


    The sapphire crystal is a sharply convex bubble and increases the interplay of different green shades and light flashes from the dial.

    The case is thin for a diver, at 12.1mm, and sits easy on a small wrist with curved lugs, mine being 6.9”. The crown has the Rado anchor, and has no crown guards as befits a heritage style. The case looks sculptured and stylish from the side. The back has a screw on stainless steel medallion, with seahorses and stars.


    The bracelet has upward sloping polish outer links, with a matt larger centre link. The centre links closest to the watch case on either side are longer, and mean the bracelet falls down the wrist 1mm outside the lug. On the beads of rice bracelet, it falls down the wrist before the end of the lug. So therefore be aware that the link bracelet has a slightly wider wrist fitting. If you have a very small wrist, you might find the beads of rice bracelet is more snug.


    On the downside the lug-to-lug is 21mm, giving slightly less choice with third party straps. On the plus side, Rado have gone for an easy release system for their straps and bracelets, which I love, as it takes a second to take the bracelet off, and no scratches to the body if you loose concentration. Lastly the buckle is a butterfly style. Whilst this is more beautiful from a jewelry point of view, as it looks seamless when closed, I do prefer a buckle with micro-adjustments, and the ultimate feature, Rolex easylink. Why no one else has this I have no idea.

    The mechanism is ETA’s new 80 hour next generation movement. I was stunned when I tested it. It is not chronometer certified but it measured consistently between 0.7-1s slow. This matches my other best watch by accuracy, which is the Tudor GMT. It is also far better then I tend to get on 2824s, at around 6s.


    Standing back, looking at the gorgeous and unique watch front, slim design, great mechanism and very reasonable price, I am just struggling to think of an everyday diver that I like more.

  • #2
    Congratulations on a lovely watch and thanks for such a thorough review. The green is a striking model and is proving almost as popular as the blue version.
    I have said many times that the 42mm CC is very close to the only watch I need.
    Enjoy and wear it jn good health.



    • #3
      A very nice review! Thanks for sharing it here.
      As you may not be aware, there is a word for's called a rehaut:

      "The dial is surrounded by a steel sleeve angled down, with minute graduations."