Rado is one of the most underrated and quietly influential brands in the entire watch industry – and their latest, rather surprising release reminds us both of their rich history as well as their innovative, avant-garde edge.
All top watch brands are known for a core competency. Piaget is known for ultra-thin watches. Zenith is known for its high-beat movements. Rolex is known for water resistance. The list goes on… In comparison, Rado has long been known for scratch-resistant watches and high-tech materials, especially ceramics.
Indeed, Rado brought the world’s first scratch-proof watch to market in 1962: the DiaStar 1, which gained these properties thanks to a case made with a tungsten carbide alloy the brand called ‘hardmetal’ and a faceted sapphire crystal glass – an unusual feature as at the time most watches only used acrylic or mineral glass.
While the DiaStar line has seen sporadic updates over the last six decades, it’s fallen into obscurity in recent years – although Rado’s latest release is likely to change that. The Rado DiaStar Original 60-Year Anniversary Edition (ref. R12163118), as the name implies, revisits the iconic watch but adding subtle but notable changes to mark its six decades of impact.
To do this, Rado enlisted the services of renowned Swiss designer Alfredo Häberli, who has blessed the watch with his distinctly minimal yet charmingly light-hearted aesthetic while also making nods to DiaStar designs from the past.
To this end, the DiaStar 60YR features a monochromatic stainless steel colour scheme, broken up by only the tiniest smatterings of Super-LumiNova across the watch’s dial, including a single aperture at 6 o’clock pointing down to the date window.
While it appears as if the watch is totally steel, the ‘coiffe’ of the case is actually made from polished Ceramos – a proprietary Rado alloy of titanium carbide and high-tech ceramic which is lighter than hardmetal but carries the same scratch-resistant qualities, with an unusual tone and lustre that makes it absolutely unique.
The most unique feature of the DiaStar 60YR is its hexagonally faceted sapphire crystal – six facets to mark six decades of the DiaStar. It’s incredibly striking and unlike anything else on the market. It’s like the crystal itself is a giant, well, sapphire; a time-telling gem.
Under the hood beats the gold-plated Rado R764 automatic movement, which boasts an 80-hour power reserve, an anti-magnetic Nivachron hairspring and 100m of water resistance. You also get two choices of strap for the 60YR: a mottled grey textile strap or a Milanese bracelet, both of which can be quickly swapped out thanks to Rado’s EasyClip system.
There’s just something about the DiaStar 60YR that evokes the space age – maybe it’s its UFO-like tonneau case, maybe it’s its minimalist dial, maybe it’s the funky faceted crystal that reminds you of an alien’s eye… It’s very ‘Jetsons’; very retrofuturistic. We absolutely love it.
The term ‘statement piece’ gets thrown around a lot by watch journalists but we can’t help but feel that’s the only way to describe the DiaStar 60YR. This is a real aficionado’s watch, but one that will be appreciated by anyone who loves striking design. It’s just unlike anything else that’s been released this year, or in recent memory.
The best bit? The price. Rado is only asking AU$2,950 for it, which is an extremely reasonable price for a watch that uses such high-tech materials, offers so much from a useability perspective and is so distinct from everything else on the market.
Find out more about the Rado DiaStar Original 60-Year Anniversary Edition here. For proper watch nerds, Rado has even put together a cool online booklet that goes into more detail about the DiaStar’s history as well as Häberli’s design process, which you can find here.