Rado - The Original Captain Cook

Rado offers the Captain Cook with a pair of strap options. All models are offered on either a titanium oyster-style bracelet with polished center links or a rugged dial color-matched sailcloth strap with leather lining.


The first Rado Captain Cook was released in 1962, only a few short years after the brand’s founding and during the height of the early ‘60s dive watch boom. Named after the renowned 18th century British explorer who discovered Hawaii, the original Captain Cook was a distinctive first dive effort for the brand. Slightly undersized by the standards of the time at 35.5 millimeters in diameter, the 1962 Captain Cook featured a blend of traditional diver elements and distinctly Rado touches. The overall case shape was classic diver, with long straight lugs and slab case sides, but these more traditional elements were topped by a stunning inward-sloping dive bezel that set the Captain Cook apart from the norm. This almost sculptural element allowed the case to catch light from almost any angle, making the diminutive watch a piece that demanded attention on the wrist. As for its diving credentials, Rado claimed an unusual 220-meter depth rating without the use of a screw-down crown, thanks to a patented Brevet case back with bayonet-style closures. The dial of the original Captain Cook was equally distinctive, with oversized wedge-shaped lume plots at 12, six and nine o’clock paired to a singular handset with a massive arrow hand (most original Captain Cook variants had an arrow-shaped hour hand, but some rare versions feature an arrow minutes hand paired to a sword hour hand instead).
The original Rado Captain Cook was offered during a short production run from 1962 to 1968. Responding to changing tastes in the diver market, Rado completely revamped the Captain Cook line for 1969 to a barrel-cased dual crown internal bezel design which carried on through much of the ‘70s. Although the first-generation Captain Cook was far from the most common diver of its era, its rarity and unique design made it a favorite among dive watch enthusiasts and over the years the legend of the Captain Cook became a touchstone for the brand.

The Captain Returns

The Captain Cook nameplate lay dormant in Rado’s collection for decades, with no revival in sight. Initially released as part of the line before additionally branching into the Rado Tradition line, the new Captain Cook was initially released with two separate men’s market models: a 45-millimeter series and a remarkably faithful limited-edition heritage version. The heart of the current line, however, is the comprehensive lineup of 42-millimeter variants unveiled in 2019. These new Tradition Captain Cook models hew closer to the look of the 1962 original than their 45-millimeter siblings, while offering a truly modern size and adding Rado’s signature bold use of color to the mix.

Upsized from the 35.5-millimeter original to a far more contemporary 42 millimeters, the modern Tradition Captain Cook’s stainless-steel case still shines through with vintage charm while wearing boldly on the wrist with a 40.6-millimeter overall length. Despite the size increase, the proportions still feel classic thanks in large part to a relatively lithe 12.1-millimeter overall thickness. The dramatic sloped bezel of the original also returned for the new models, now made even more visually dynamic thanks to a modern glossy high-tech ceramic insert (a Rado hallmark since the ‘80s). This insert adds a touch of vintage-inspired patina, thanks to the laser engraved mid-gray numerals and indices overlaid on a dial color-matched background. A sapphire box crystal delivers even more vintage vibes to the overall package with modern scratch resistance. The clean, athletic case lines have also returned from the original, accentuated by mirror polishing and razor-sharp case angles. Around back, the case-backs of these pieces proudly display three of Rado’s classic seahorse emblems in deep relief. These new cases are ISO-compliant at 200 meters of water resistance, ensuring reliability in almost any aquatic scenario.

The dial of the new Tradition Captain Cook is an expertly crafted blend of modern materials with classic forms and elements. The chunky lume plots of the original return here, rendered in a clean white tone. The main surface of the dial features a slight curve, adding additional visual depth and providing an intriguing contrast to the dramatic inward-sloping curve of the bezel. The broad-arrow and sword handset of the original Captain Cook has been refined and lightly slimmed down for this revival, maintaining legibility and bold graphical impact in a more streamlined rhodium-colored package. At 12 o’clock, the signature Rado rotating anchor emblem has been presented in classic ‘60s style with a ruby-red sunburst background for a pop of contrasting color. The date window at three o’clock also adds extra throwback color, using the same red date wheel as the original model. These classical forms are contrasted with color that goes in a far more contemporary direction with gradient dial finishes in a choice of five Rado signature hues. These include black, a complex gray, rich brown, sea blue and a verdant forest green. These more modern, vibrant dial hues have been set off by a brushed stainless steel rehaut with etched minute indices, which bestows a touch of modernity and nicely differentiates this model from the ‘60s piece it builds upon.

The Tradition Captain Cook 42 mm is delivered with one of two unique and stylish strap pairings. The first of these is a stunning seven-row beads of rice bracelet with signed clasp, serving up polish and vintage-inspired charm in equal measure. The alternative is a handsome tan leather strap with horizontal white accent stitching. The distressed feel of the material ties into the overall vintage-inspired style of the case and the strap’s light brown tones play as a relaxed counterpoint to the rich saturated blacks or jewel tones of the dial and bezel, allowing the Tradition Captain Cook 42 mm to dress up or down with equal ease.

Variations on the Theme

While the 42-millimeter editions of the Captain Cook have quickly become the flagships of the reissued line, Rado has offered the Captain Cook in a wide variety of sizes, dial colors and styles since 2017.

The boldest and most modern of these is undoubtedly the Captain Cook Automatic. Less a revival of a classic line than its stablemates and more of a modern reimagining. Beyond simply scaling up the original case design, the Captain Cook changes the proportions significantly. The lugs have been made wider and more substantial, with more modern rounded contours and a bold, oversized crown. While the signature inward-sloping bezel remains, the coin edge is much more aggressive and pronounced, while the vintage-style box crystal is replaced with a more modern flat element. This allows the Captain Cook to minimize the overall gains in case depth to only 2.7 millimeters over its smaller 37-millimeter cousin, registering at 13.8 millimeters. The high-tech ceramic bezel insert features thinner, more modern indices and numerals rendered in a stark white. Of course, the most dramatic difference between the two cases other than size is the change of materials to hardened titanium. Rado- as ever a master of materials- also opted to include a bezel forged from advanced carbon diffused steel. These lighter, more durable materials paired with a screw-down crown allow the Captain Cook to claim a more dive-watch appropriate 200 meters of water resistance.

Rado offers the Captain Cook with a pair of strap options. All models are offered on either a titanium oyster-style bracelet with polished center links or a rugged dial color-matched sailcloth strap with leather lining.


© — All rights reserved. — Published on 08 June 2020


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