If we had to choose a watch style that had defined the last few years, it’d probably be the diver (with, admittedly, the integrated sports watch in hot pursuit). Partially spurred on by the big-hitting Tudor Black Bay series, dive watches have become a hugely popular choice – something that’s undoubtedly been helped by many of the genre’s most popular models being scaled down to a wrist-friendly 40mm or under and presenting, almost, as approachable sports watches that just happen to have dive bezels attached.
In very recent history, though, those same brands have started to bring back ‘proper’ divers. These are genuinely built to withstand deep-water diving, with chunky case sizes, high legibility and specs that conform to the ISO 6425 certification – the international standard for dive watch capabilities.
Rado’s Captain Cook collection fits neatly into the latter category. A line of beautiful but seriously capable professional tool watches meant for plumbing the depths, it’s inspired by both a golden age for the brand in the 1960s and its contemporary reputation as the ‘master of materials’ based on its inventive use of different metals and case finishes.
The Rado Captain Cook High-Tech Ceramic Diver
The High-Tech Ceramic Diver – the reference R32144202 – takes things to another level with a case and bracelet built from the newly developed Plasma High-Tech Ceramic, the result of decades of research by Rado’s R&D team. Beautiful applied indices, an anchor logo at 12 o’clock and a succinct date window completes a tidy and textured blue sunray dial. Inside the case, meanwhile, the brand’s calibre R763, a modified version of sister brand ETA’s celebrated Powermatic 80 movement, providing accuracy, reliability and 80 hours of power reserve.
In fact, everything under the case has resulted in the watch bagging Rado’s first ISO 6425 certification. It’s a welcome addition to the world of professional-standard divers, but it’s also a crisply designed and elegant weekend watch that’s suitable for daily wear – even if it has deep-water adventure in its DNA.
The Rado Captain Cook Chronograph
Elsewhere, an even newer release in the Captain Cook range is the Captain Cook Chronograph – a beautifully formed and highly functional diver that adds in the always desirable chronograph complication. Instead of the Powermatic 80, the new, thinner R801 automatic movement from ETA is used here to great effect, with 59 hours of power reserve, and a Nivachron anti-magnetic hairspring that's said to do wonders for the watch's accuracy, and give it the kind of finesse not often seen with third-party movements.
There's loads to like in the aesthetic department, too: with a case size of 43mm, this is – like the High-Tech Ceramic – a professional-looking and durable wearer that's not inconspicuous on the wrist, but whose classic looks will be sure to attract fans of dive watches. The unidirectional bezel is one element that is nicely inconspicuous, however – a nice choice given the beautiful blue sunray dial having two subdials to accommodate, and one that stops the whole proposition from looking too busy, or sacrificing legibility – while a nicely judged date window, adds some symmetry in combination with the small red anchor logo at 12 o'clock. Both classic steel and bronze-coloured versions are available, with loads of options between bracelet, fabric strap and Nato, too.