Other brands may dabble in ceramic but Rado, the name most associated with them, go beyond the usual round shape and have a collection that consists of square cases made of this material. The True Square was the first solid ceramic square watch, with not only a monobloc injection-moulded case but also a ceramic bracelet. In this new threesome called the Designer Collection, these cases have made some fun dramatic visual segues.
Rado has partnered with British designer Tej Chauhan, Dutch/ Italian design studio FormaFantasma, and Japanese design consortium YOY for the new models, called the True Square x Tej Chauhan, True Square Formafatasma, and True Square Undigital.
All models use the same base case which only has a water resistance of 50m. Like the standard True Square, they aren’t angular but more a curved riff on the shape that flows from the case through to the integrated lugs and ceramic bracelet (for two of them). They also have the same movement – the automatic ETA C07.611 (a derivation of the ETA 2824-2) which beats at 21,600VPH and has a power reserve of 80 hours.
The most striking (and my standout favourite to my surprise, given it is not a colour to which I am naturally drawn) is the very retro 1960s/ 1970s mustard yellow Tej Chauhan, with has matte finishing, sand-blasted stainless steel crown, and matching strap.
Although the Formafantasma, with its tiny opening through which to see the time and light grey matte case, is purportedly inspired by demi hunter pocket watches, and I obviously see why, it also reminds me of some 1920s/ 1930s wristwatches as well, with its petite opening for the dial.
The Undigital is perhaps the most familiarly ‘contemporary’ of the three, with its matte black ceramic and black/ white aesthetic.
So let’s go through each of them.
Firstly, the Tej Chauhan. One of the key parts of the appeal of this one for me is the strap. It is made of small leather ‘pillows’ mimicking the look of bracelet links, with ceramic connectors, and a stainless steel folding clasp with coated with dark grey PVD. The case back is also polished dark grey PVD-coated stainless steel. The thickest of these three new pieces, it measures 38mm x 48.7mm x 10.6mm.
The dial is matte black with concentric silver circles. The hour and minute hands are painted white and the seconds hand, red. At 3 o’clock is a date window with a typeface designed for this watch by Tej Chauhan. You’ll have noticed that the indices between 9 o’clock and 12 o’clock are blue. This is meant to represent the hours during which, be it morning or evening, the designer believes that an individual’s day kicks up a notch. In fact the elongated black/ blue indices are on a sloping rehaut, making the dial concave and giving an added layer of depth to the dial.
The YOY Undigital is all about black, with only a glossy printed black Rado emblem at 6 o’clock to break up the dial. Even the hour and minute hands are black, but with white Super-LumiNova coated segments that are a nod to the ‘Undigital’ name and influence – vintage LCD watch displays.
This piece is slimmer than the Tej Chuahan, with its specs of 38mm x 44.2mm x 9.6mm making it the thinnest of the three. Its back is matte black PVD-coated titanium and its crown, matte black ceramic. The titanium bracelet has a titanium folding clasp.
Finally, the True Square Formafantasma with its very small dial face aperture and stick hands which may be difficult to distinguish at first glance – they have a different line weights. The reason for this small opening is that the designers wanted to focus on the ceramic aspect of the piece. This is not a piece for those (like me), who have visual issues. The ceramic focus is as such that it has an extra layer of ceramic. With a sandblasted titanium case back and matching ceramic crown, the True Square Formafantasma is 38mm x 44.2mm x 10.4mm and comes on a matte light grey ceramic bracelet with a titanium three-fold clasp.
All three models in the Rado True Square Designer Collection are available now through authorised dealers. The True Square Tej Chauhan has an RRP of AUD 2,875, the True Square YOY Undigital is priced at RRP AUD 3,550, and the True Square Formafantasma has an RRP of AUD 3,875.
[Photo credit: Rado]