Rado has a fascinating story as a watch manufacturer.
It was founded as a watch factory with the name Schlup & Co. in 1917 in Lengnau by the brothers Fritz, Ernst and Werner Schlup. Their humble atelier, a converted part of their parents' house, was the cradle of the company that in 1937 would become Rado when it changed its name into Rado Watch Co. Ltd.
Schlup & Co., in the beginning, focused chiefly on the production of ebauches, no-name movement blanks that served as the basis for assembled watches by other companies. But the company understood quite early that it was much more profitable to sell complete watches. So, it created several brands to this end.
Between the brands used by the Schlup brothers for their watches, one of the most used was Exacto, from the early 1940s to 1957. Since about 1958, the majority of the timepieces were marked with the Rado brand only, and just a small production, during the 1960s, came out with the name Ticin.
In 1968, the company became part of ASUAG, Allgemeine Schweizerische Uhrenindustrie AG, the biggest Swiss horology group created by the Swiss Government and Swiss banks to save the companies after the financial crisis of 1931.
In 1975, Rado opened its new headquarters in Lengnau. In 1983, ASUAG and SSIH merged to form the SMH Group in Biel, an entity which in 1998 became what we know today as the Swatch Group.
During its activity, Rado has received many awards, including the Red Dot Award, the iF Design Award, and the Good Design Award. Today the company produces about half a million watches a year with a staff of about 470 people. Rado is the official sponsor and timekeeper of several sporting events worldwide, especially tennis.
Its main claim to fame in horology comes from its research on materials rather than movements. The company was among the first to introduce cases and bracelets made in experimental materials like tungsten carbide and ceramics, a thing that has profoundly influenced the styling of the watches manufactured by the Lengnau maison.
As of today, Rado continues pushing the boundaries of horology to their limits, both in the innovative use of materials and for the cooperation with famous designers and creatives worldwide. This fact has rendered the company a unique case in watchmaking, bridging the gap between aesthetics and experimentation.
The production of Rado is quite varied, as it offers traditional-looking timepieces of exquisite quality along with experimental, innovative designs that seem to come from another company entirely.
The best-known Rado collection is the Ceramica, launched in 1990, featuring watches almost wholly made of the material. Their sleek, black, essential lines remind more of a futuristic bracelet than a timepiece. Originally mounting just quartz movements, it now offers mechanical calibers as well.
The original DiaStar, the watch that made Rado famous in the world, has originated its own collection, called D-Star. This recent collection pays homage to the elliptic case of the old DiaStar while featuring new design elements and rendering it more modern.
The HyperChrome is possibly the most traditional of the Rado collections. It features great-looking timepieces which are inspired by the timeless lines of the Rado collections of old, or experiment with new designs and new materials, as it is in the DNA of the company to innovate.
The True and the True Thinline are watches where the creativity of the best designers of the world can run wild, and the company has launched several editions, designed by renowned designers like Sam Amoia, Philippe Nigro, and Oskar Zieta.
1 - Ceramica line
The Ceramica is the most iconic collection of the company. Its black, glossy outline is well-known worldwide for its understated elegance. The timepiece takes inspiration from watches like the Tank by Cartier and interprets it in a futuristic way.
The collection features an integrated bracelet, as wide as the case is, so the final effect is that of a black, shiny ornament that does not show its actual function unless looked upon carefully. The Ceramica has been updated recently with the intervention of the acclaimed designer, Constantin Grcic. Though initially based on quartz movements, the latest editions offer the option of mounting ETA mechanical movements.
2 - D-Star line
The D-Star is the 2011 version of the original DiaStar, which still represents a precious catch for collectors. It has been thoroughly upgraded and rendered more modern through an attentive work on its design.
The collection features simple two and three handers, as well as chronographs, based on quartz and mechanical movements.
3 - HyperChrome line
The HyperChrome is the most varied of the Rado collections, as it proposes both dress and sports watches, ranging from the re-editions of old classics from the company to new, experimental designs featuring the use of advanced materials. As usual, you are going to find mechanical movements along with a few quartz-based ones.
The collection, though, has a common trait, which is the superb attention to detail and finishings, which helps set it apart from the competition. Among our favorite, there is a fine line of retro-styled diver watches, the Captain Cook, which had a rather good success when it was first released back in 1962.
4 - True and True Thinline collection
The True and the True Thinline collection group Rado's most stylish efforts. The watches are very often designed by world-famous creatives and represent something unique. The design is exquisitely modern, and the watches offer different interpretations of the concept of timekeeping, making the collection fashionably distinguished.
As usual for the company, this research on design goes hand in hand with the extensive use of futuristic materials, making these watches perfect for the modern urban gentleman - or lady - who wants to look cool without spending a fortune on a timepiece.
It’s time for Rado and design again, this time during the Dubai Design Week. The winner of the very first Rado Star Prize UAE is Aya Charife with her project, "Takyeef." Responding to the theme ‘Design with timeless appeal,’ Aya Charife’s project inspired the judges and was chosen from among five finalists to win the grand prize of AED 20,000 and a Rado watch.
The Rado Star Prize is an excellent opportunity for young designers to show their work to a panel of industry experts and the general public. All five finalists’ projects were on display on November 11 – 17 at the Rado booth in the event.
Dec 2018 - The VR Mall in Chennai was transformed into a red carpet as thousands of fans packed the shopping center to try to catch a glimpse of Bollywood megastar and Rado brand ambassador Hrithik Roshan.
Hrithik was guest of honor at the opening of the new Rado store in the VR Mall and – as ever - his appearance made a big impression.
The new store is Rado’s most recent opening in India, and it features the very latest models from the current HyperChrome, DiaMaster, True Thinline, True and Tradition collections.
Hrithik chose a sleek and sporty HyperChrome Automatic Chronograph in high-tech plasma ceramic for the occasion.
Jun 2016 - If there is a truth, is that Oprah Winfrey is not shy about showing her unconventional choices. And her assertive character is well-expressed by one of her preferred watch brands: Rado.
At the premiere of OWN’s Greenleaf series in June, the TV Queen wore her diamond Rado True Thinline quartz watch in high-tech ceramic, which she said she loves because it’s “easy to wear and easy to read.”
Current Most Popular Models
The Rado lineup of watches is vast and extremely varied, as you have seen. You can find between the offerings of the maison an excellent choice of timepieces of every kind, which are going to cater to everyone's needs and fashion style.
The evolution of the company through the years and its focusing on advanced materials has rendered its products perfect for the real fashionistas who want a great-looking timepiece to complement their look. The Ceramica collection is the ultimate expression of this trend, with its architecturally-inspired design, and is accompanied by other lines like the D-Star and the True/True Thinline, which hail to the more fashion-conscious urbanite.
But if you are more traditional in your outlook towards watches, the huge HyperChrome range will be perfect for satisfying your desires. This collection offers both uber-dressy and sporty timepieces, distinguished by savvy use of materials together with excellence in craftsmanship. And they are offered at a very enticing price, considering the quality you are getting.
Current Approximate Price List By Line/Model
The Ceramica line
The Ceramica line is the best-known collection from the company and features mostly rectangular watches (even if there are some round models available) with an integrated bracelet. As the name suggests, the Ceramica is made with a high-tech ceramics material with very few metal inserts.
The Ceramica is available in men's and ladies' models. While the most popular version is in a glossy black, you are going to find metallic and also light-colored timepieces - the Jubile version adorned with diamonds on the dials.
The majority is powered with quartz movements, but lately, the collection has introduced some mechanical calibers as well.
type: dress watch
functions: date/day, chronograph.
The simplest Ceramica, in glossy black with a quartz-based movement, can be found from $700 onwards, rising to around $1,000 for the analog/digital models. This is also the price for the Jubile models, with diamonds used as indices. A Ceramica Chronograph costs instead around $1,800.
The re-designed Ceramica models from 2016 onwards are slightly less austere and shaped more like a watch than just a bracelet. The quartz-based references can be found around $1,500, while the automatic movement watches rise to $2,500.
The Jubile models add around $200 to this value.
The D-Star line
The D-Star is the direct successor to the original DiaStar of 1962. It inherits the design of the case and the overall look of the former, but it gets much more modern and palatable for the trends of today, with a slimmer bezel and quartz or automatic movements.
As usual, the collection offers cases in ceramics, but there are also steel versions available. The collection includes the D-Star 200, a diving watch which is (surprise!) water-resistant to 200 meters.
type: dress watch/sports watch
material: ceramics, stainless steel
functions: date/day, chronograph.
The D-Star collection is quite affordable, as it starts for a basic quartz-based three-hander with date around $450, upwards to around $550 for the ceramic versions.
Automatic watches start from around $800, upwards, and the chronographs from about $1,000.
The D-Star 200 is a bit more costly - about $1,700 for the regular diver and $2,200 for the chronograph model.
The HyperChrome line
The HyperChrome collection features very different references, but it can be said that this is the most traditional-looking collection of the maison. It is also the line where the creativity of the technologists of Rado has run wilder, as you could find almost every kind of advanced material applied to the elements of these watches.
But together with these references, you can find re-editions of classic watches that the company manufactured back in 1960 - interpreted with modern materials and movements.
type: dress watch/sports watch
material: ceramics, stainless steel, titanium, carbon.
functions: day/date, chronograph, skeleton.
The basic HyperChrome watches are the Automatic, available in different sizes from 30 to 42 mm, and feature steel or ceramic cases.
The smallest run for $1,300 upwards, to rise to $2,500 for the bigger models. The Diamonds versions have dials adorned with diamonds and are more expensive, ranging from $2,000 and $3,500. Versions displaying diamonds on the bezels are more expensive, around $5,000. Open-heart and skeletonized versions are also available on the high end of the range.
The UltraLight, introduced in 2016, is the lightest version of the HyperChrome line, with its 56 grams. It features a case of silicon nitride and is available for around $2,000.
The top version of this collection is the Automatic Chronograph, with a ceramic case and matching dials. The quartz-based version is available for $1,200, while the automatic one starts from $2,800.
The collection features some re-editions of vintage timepieces from the maison. Specifically, the 1616 series is a homage to the Cape Horn from the 1970s, and can be found at around $2,000. Another beautiful model is the Captain Cook, a diver watch initially launched in 1962, presented in a titanium case. This watch can be found around the $1,700 level, onwards.
The True/True Thinline line
This collection is the one that is most attuned to contemporary trends of design.
It almost looks like a fashion watch for people who want something more upscale and refined.
The collection plays around an elementary watch shape and style, and in its limited editions, it lets creatives interpret it the way they like, following the Rado brand image, its history, and values.
So far, the collection has originated some great-looking timepieces, signed by the best creatives of the world coming from the most diverse fields.
The Thinline is, of course, the slimmer version of the True, with thicknesses as low as 5 mm for the quartz-based references.
type: dress watch
functions: date/day, skeleton, chronograph.
The older references of the True collection, with quartz movements, are very affordable, starting from around $500. The modern Colors collection can be bought for $800, while the standard edition, available for men and ladies sizes, has a price of about $1,000.
A special limited edition of the True is the True Star Sign, displaying the signs of the Zodiac. It can be found around $2,000.
The True Designers limited editions, which have production runs of about 1,000 pieces each, hover around the $1,800 level.
Automatic-movement True starts from around $1,200, and the Open Heart version, revealing the beauty of the movement through a translucent mother-of-pearl dial, rises to about $1,300.
The diamond-studded references are extremely elegant, starting from around $1,000 for the quartz-based references to $1,500 for the mechanical ones.
The True Thinline starts from $1,200 for the simple quartz-based timepieces with a rubber wristband and rises to $1,500 for the versions with a ceramic bracelet.
The automatic versions cost respectively $1,500 and $1,900.
The top end of the Thinline collection is the Skeleton, made in a limited edition of just 99 pieces, which can be found at around $6,000, making it the most expensive modern Rado watch.
Fast and Curious - Q & A (Quora, general questions, amazon / ebay questions, etc…)
What do you think of Rado watches? How does it compare with Rolex or Tissot?
What do horologists think of RADO watches?
Are Rado watches as good as their price?
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Which is better, Rolex or Rado?
Should I buy a Rado watch or some other brand?