It’s a widely accepted opinion that Switzerland is the hub of the most exquisite watchmaking.
Since the very beginning of horological history, the Swiss have given birth to some of the most iconic watch models and, naturally, the biggest brands that are a dream to wear for millions across the globe.
Without a doubt, the very top-shelf Swiss watchmakers such as Rolex, Longines, or Omega, require us to dig deep into our pockets. For many, this is enough reason to concede a defeat in owning a brilliantly crafted Swiss timepiece.
And that’s not the right attitude!
There are plenty of excellent options to pick from in the Entry-Level luxury sector. Certainly, one of the most talked-about and highly-rated names is Rado. A brand with over a century-long history that consistently delivers reliable and head-turning timepieces, Rado is a great alternative for those who can’t (yet) afford a 5 figure Swiss watch.
In this Rado watches review, we will take a very detailed look at all the aspects of the watchmaker.
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Rado History & Background
As already mentioned, Rado is a brand with a pretty long-standing history. Like many other watchmakers originating from Switzerland, it had pretty modest beginnings.
Rado’s roots date back to 1917 when three brothers Fritz, Ernst and Werner Schlup, set up a watchmaking factory in a humble atelier that was a converted part of their parents’ home. Despite a slow start, by the end of World War II Schlup & Co. was among the largest producers of watch movements globally.
It wasn’t until the 1950s that the company started selling watches under the Rado name. The debut collection was Golden Horse and it was released in 1957, on the date of Schlup & Co. 40th anniversary.
After the massive success of the first watch line, one year later Rado followed up with the Green Horse collection. This line was mostly known for its impressive water-resistance capabilities. After both collections enjoyed impressive reviews both from everyday wearers and critics, by the end of the decade, Rado was already considered a truly international brand with a presence in over 60 countries.
One of Rado’s most iconic and innovative models, a best-seller to this day, came to light in 1962. Because of its incredible ruggedness, the DiaStar was marketed as the “world’s first scratchproof watch”. This wristwatch, which is a prime example of Rado’s pioneering approach to design and materials, introduced hard metal and sapphire crystal to the watchmaking industry at a time when they were not commonplace.
The innovations continued through the 1970s and the 1980s. The year 1972 saw the release of the first gold-colored DiaStar while in 1976 the brand released a superb minimalistic timepiece in the form of Rado Dia 67. Despite the modest look, the watch was one of the most rugged on the market thanks to an innovative case construction fully covered by an edge-to-edge metalized sapphire crystal.
In 1986 Rado yet again brought a new solution to the table. The watch Rado Integral revolutionized the industry with the use of scratch-resistant high-tech ceramic in the bracelet.
During the 1990s, the use of high-tech ceramic was on a constant rise and Rado was one of the pioneers of the movement. Rado Ceramica, released in 1990, was the world’s first watch with a completely integrated case and bracelet made of sapphire crystal and high-tech ceramic. Three years later, Rado Sintra was the brand’s first timepiece made of cermet, a premium form of ceramic based on titanium and combined with metal.
The last iconic model of the 1990s wasn’t any less impressive. The Ceramica was the first Rado watch to utilize plasma high-tech ceramic, a remarkable color and material combination that gives off a metallic shine without using any metal.
As the new century set off, Rado continued to spoil the watchmaking world with innovative releases. In 2000, the brand launched eSenza, one of the world’s first watches without a crown. Two years later, Rado V10K saw daylight. Made of high-tech diamond, It has the same hardness (10,000 Vickers) and tenacity as a genuine diamond.
Another excellent release was the True Thinline in 2001. The ultra-slim ceramic model measures just 5mm in thickness which makes it one of the slimmest watches produced to date.
The subsequent year saw the launch of Rado HyperChrome, a watch based on the True Thinline’s case technology, with a slim monobloc casing replacing the previously needed stainless steel “core.” You can learn more about the watch by reading the Rado Hyperchrome review here.
With the Esenza Touch (2013), a “crownless marvel” that can be adjusted with a single touch and swipe, and the HyperChrome Dual Timer (2014), a smart travel watch with a touch-controlled time zone changeover feature, Rado broke new ground in touch technology.
These days, Rado continues to deliver magnificently crafted timepieces that honor the rich tradition of Swiss craftsmanship, at the same time offering a plethora of unique designs that help the brand stand out among the Entry-Level luxury watchmakers from the Alps.
Are Rado Watches Any Good? Quality Review
The short answer to the above question would be – yes, absolutely.
However, like in the case of any brand review on our website, we will dive deep into all the aspects of Rado watches to justify the high score – both from our team and numerous watch aficionados from around the globe.
Throughout its innovations-rich history, the brand has always put great focus on the exterior of its watches, leading to numerous prestigious international design awards. These days, Rado continues to work on innovative watches with top designers from around the globe and organizes international Rado Star Prize competitions for up-and-coming young designers.
Because of the large (and growing) number of collections, Rado is able to offer a variety of styles ranging from minimalistic dress watches to open-heart models to capable dive watches. To give you a better idea of what to expect from Rado in terms of the styles and features, we will have a closer look at the 5 most popular Rado collections further down the article.
Great looks mean very little if the durability levels aren’t on point. This is absolutely not the case with Rado – far from it.
The most damage-prone part of any watch, the dial, comes with the best possible protection in the form of sapphire crystal. Irrespective of the watch price, the glass is used in all Rado models and is currently the most scratch-resistant material used in timepieces, especially amongst the top-end Swiss watchmakers. Furthermore, a lion’s share of models use an anti-reflective coating which considerably improves legibility and at times makes you wonder if the crystal is even there.
Unlike many brands that offer exclusively stainless steel cases, Rado’s innovative approach makes the brand a strong pull for those looking for something different.
Depending on your budget and preferences, you will be able to pick from a number of options. The models oscillating on the lower end of the pricing table do use the traditional 316L stainless steel. It’s an absolutely fine (albeit standard) choice offering excellent anti-corrosion and anti-scratch properties.
The high-tech ceramic technology we discussed in the history section is an ever-present element of Rado watch collections, making sure the durability levels match the beautiful exterior. Even though the material is ultra-lightweight, it’s also extremely enduring, comfortable to wear, and hypoallergenic. Also, the Diamaster collection includes watches made from an innovative wonder material, Ceramos. It’s a mix of 90% high-tech ceramic and 10% metal alloy.
Finally, some of the timepieces use titanium casing.
Again, Rado offers a large selection of bands to suit different tastes and budgets. The durability standards will differ depending on the material you select. The choices include:
- Rado’s high-tech ceramic – ultra-light yet extremely durable
- Ceramos – Rado’s latest innovation, a more durable version of the high-tech ceramic
- stainless steel – a rugged choice used in the low-cost models
- titanium – lighter than stainless steel but not as scratch-resistant
- leather – probably the most elegant but also the least enduring
- nato straps – made from durable synthetic fabric
Rado offers an industry-standard 2-year warranty period on all watches. The guarantee is valid worldwide and entitles you to have any defect related to the workmanship repaired free of charge.
Unsurprisingly, Rado offers excellent quality when it comes to movements. And it’s no wonder – all calibers, whether quartz or mechanical, are Swiss-made.
Moreover, Rado itself manufactures movements and a large chunk of models run on in-house calibers. This way, the brand has a bigger control over the quality of the complications. When it comes to outsourced calibers, Rado uses the most trusted Swiss providers, ETA and Sellita.
An example of a popular automatic caliber used in Rado watches is Rado caliber 763. It’s a 25-jewel movement with an 80-hour power reserve and an impressive accuracy of +/- 6 seconds/day.
Because of the brand’s luxury status, the bigger portion of timepieces is automatic. However, those who value the unbeatable accuracy of quartz-powered watches will also have a lot to pick from.
Rado Watch Collections
At the time of writing, there are 16 Rado collections: Captain Cook, Golden Horse, True, True Square, True Thinline, Hyperchrome, Hyperchrome Classic, Hyperchrome 1616, Diamaster, Coupole Classic, Centrix, Ceramica, Integral, Tradition, Florence, and Diastar Original.
Each line offers its own style and tweaks. Going through all would probably be a bit too much, hence we’ve selected the 5 that are enjoying the biggest popularity.
Below find a brief review of Rado’s current best-selling collections.
Rado Diastar Original
With the characteristic oval case shape, the collection pays homage to the iconic model released in the 1960s.
There are tens of models available in the collection, ranging from simple three-hand complications to chronographs to watches adorned with genuine diamonds. The collection sticks to classic colors and is available in silver, gold and rose gold. The models use either stainless steel or titanium casing and bracelets. A gold or rose gold PVD coating is quite common.
All models are equipped with a date display window positioned at 3, 4, or 6 o’clock.
On the movement front, you can choose from both quartz and automatic models. All are water-resistant up to 30m.
A Rado Diastar review is available in video format on Youtube.
Rado Golden Horse
As already mentioned, the Golden Horse was a collection that launched Rado watches in 1957. Hence, it will always have a special place in the heart of Rado fans and the brand itself. To this date, it’s the symbol of the watchmaker’s immense quality.
All the Golden Horse models sold these days boast a combination of modern design elements and historical foundation, allowing them to reflect the brand’s storied history and the spectacular present. The collection consists of exclusively automatic watches and is the definition of the so-called “new vintage” approach.
At present, there are four models available in the collection. Three of them are stainless steel with 7-link bracelets, differing in the color of the dial. Color themes available are green, blue, and black. The fourth model comes with a black leather strap and a claret face.
All models have a unified case size, measuring 37mm in diameter. Such modest sizing makes the watch a perfect purchase both for men and women. The Golden Horse models come with a 5ATM (50m) water resistance aided by the presence of screw-down crowns and casebacks.
For a more detailed look, have a peek at the Rado Golden Horse review available on Youtube.
Rado True Square
The True Square collection was the world’s first watch line consisting of square high-tech ceramic timepieces. If you’re fond of the square case design, this line is certainly your best bet.
The True Square has a complete high-tech ceramic case and bracelet that is smooth, light, and pleasant to wear.
At present, there are over 20 models to pick from. Naturally, all come with square-shaped faces but they range quite vastly in terms of the dial arrangement. The presence of a few models with the so-called skeletonized watch face is definitely a stand-out. Also, some of the models use hour indices made of genuine diamonds.
Because of the varying case sizes, both men and women are likely to find something they like.
In terms of movement, the line offers both quartz and automatic models. All are water-resistant up to 50m.
Learn more about this particular collection by watching the Rado True Square review on YT.
Rado Coupole Classic
If you’re a fan of the minimalistic approach, the Coupole Classic collection has plenty in store for you.
Coupole Classic timepieces take the classic wristwatch style and add Rado’s ever-present feature of sapphire crystal, ensuring a dazzling shine, simple readability, and ultimate protection for the dials.
Coupole Classic is one of the most numerous Rado watch lines, consisting of more than 70 timepieces. Although differing in features, all scream elegance and finesse.
The collection is rich in models for both sexes. You can pick from either stainless steel or leather timepieces. The vast majority of Coupole models come with simple 3-hand dials although there are some watches with the so-called open heart dials or chronometer sub-dials. Many of these also feature a date window. Some are adorned with genuine diamonds.
The dominant movement type is automatic although there are quite a few battery-powered watches available as well. All are water-resistant up to 50m.
Watch the Rado Coupole Classic review on Youtube here.
Rado Captain Cook
Rado has also amazing timepieces in store for diving enthusiasts. Although the Captain Cook collection isn’t advertised strictly as a diving line, the impressive specifications suggest it’s more than capable of deepwater explorations.
All models, and there are as many as 40 of them, come with unidirectional bezels that can be used to measure elapsed time underwater. Also, the water resistance is extremely impressive – 30ATM (300m). All watches are further protected thanks to screw-down casebacks and crowns.
Currently, the most sought-after model from the line is Captain Cook High-Tech Ceramic which was under development for years before being finally launched in the spring of 2021.
It includes Rado’s revolutionary high-tech ceramic monobloc case construction, scratch-resistant and hypoallergenic high-tech ceramic, and is driven by the premium Rado caliber R734 with a NivachronTM hairspring which vastly improves protection from magnetic fields, giving it an edge in everyday life.
The collection features watches in varying styles, colors, and materials. It’s rich in ceramic, stainless steel, and leather models. All use Swiss automatic calibers. Genuine diamonds are present in ladies’ watches. A fun Rado Captain Cook review is available on Youtube.
How Much Are Rado Watches?
The moderate Rado watch price makes it a classic example of a mid-to-high budget brand that operates in the Entry-Level luxury sector.
Are Rado watches worth the money? Absolutely.
At the time of writing, the cheapest Rado collection seems to be the Diastar, with some watches available for ~$500, like this quartz-powered model. At the other end of the pricing table, some of the most exquisite releases, like this diamond-adorner Rado Jubile watch, can set you back nearly $3,000.
The vast majority of Rado models, however, oscillate in the $600-$1200 price range.
Where to Buy Rado Watches?
Rado is a brand popular enough to be highly appreciated amongst replica watch manufacturers. Especially the web is flooded with counterfeit Rado timepieces. Hence, it’s important to know where to consider spending your hard-earned dollar.
Normally, the first obvious choice would be the brand’s official website. However, that’s not the case with Rado. Although there you can find all the current models, there’s no option to buy them. Instead, the website allows you to find the nearest retailer with the watch of your interest. The store locator is accessible from this link.
If you’d like to do your shopping online, there are a few reliable options.
The first is Amazon. The popular online marketplace offers a big number of legitimate Rado timepieces with warranty cards. More often than not, the prices available there are much more attractive than in the physical stores. Also, some sellers offer same-day delivery.
Another solid source of Rado timepieces is Jomashop. It’s one of the most popular jewelry and watch stores in the United States. The website is an authorized retailer of Rado. During popular shopping events like Black Friday or Cyber Monday, it offers huge discounts.
Last but not least, you might want to check out eBay. This marketplace is a good solution for those who don’t mind wearing a pre-owned watch. Some secondhand Rado models can be purchased at 20% of the original retail price.
Is Rado a Luxury Brand?
Although it might not be on the same level of luxury as the likes of Rolex or Patek Philippe, we can certainly classify Rado as an excellent Entry-Level luxury watchmaker.
It’s a great alternative for those just starting to dip their toes in the luxury watch sector.
Contributing to the luxury status are the high-quality and innovative materials used with the timepieces, as well as the top-shelf movements that go through rigorous Swiss quality controls. The automatic watch category is particularly impressive in this aspect.
Where Are Rado Watches Made?
Since the very beginning of the company, all watches are manufactured and assembled in Switzerland. To this day, the watches are produced in Rado’s factory in the city of Lengnau.
To acquire the Swiss quality label, all timepieces go through scrupulous inspections.
Rado Watches Review: Conclusion
If you’ve been on the edge regarding the purchase of your first Rado timepiece, we have high hopes that the article has helped you make your mind up – whatever the decision is.
So, is Rado is a good watch company?
Summing up today’s review of Rado watches, it’s only fair to stress that the Swiss watchmaker offers excellent value. The brand is considered one of the best Entry-Level luxury brands and there are many reasons for this.
First and foremost, Rado assembles their timepieces from the best-quality materials to make sure they stand the test of time (pun intended). Throughout its history spanning more than 100 years, Rado has introduced many ground-breaking models using innovative solutions, such as the much-loved High-Tech ceramic.
Materials aren’t the only field in which the brand stands out. Rado watches are some of the most uniquely designed timepieces in the luxury sector. The brand is known for collaborating with some of the best designers from around the globe that aren’t shy of thinking outside the box. The result? Reliable timekeepers that not only deliver years of stellar performance but also turn many heads.
And since we’ve touched on the subject of the performance, the inclusion of top-shelf Swiss movements, whether quartz or automatic, can’t go unnoticed. As expected of a highly-renowned Swiss watchmaker, the complications are incredibly accurate and long-lasting.
Considering the brand’s well-deserved luxury status, the fact that these timepieces cater to folks with contrasting budgets is a huge positive. Rado proves that wearing a watch from a luxury brand doesn’t have to set you back 4 or 5 figures. There’s a relatively huge number of models that don’t break the $1,000 mark.
Whilst on our website we like a moan or two, there’s really nothing we can point a finger at in terms of the quality-price offered by Rado. If you’re yet to own a luxury timepiece but don’t feel like spending a fortune on it yet, Rado is an excellent and affordable gateway to luxury watchmaking.
Final Say: if after reading this Rado watches review you decided to make your first purchase, great! We’d love to hear about the model you’ve selected in the comment section below.