There’s no denying that one of the biggest sectors to have taken a hit amid the COVID-19 crisis is the watch industry, and in particular, Swiss watchmaking. With the cancellation of renowned industry fairs such as Basel World and SIHH – a first for both respective fairs in their rich, storied histories – the industry, for the first time in quite some time, looks somewhat uncertain.

Rado, a luxury Swiss watch brand founded in 1917, is one of many respected brands to have been affected by the global pandemic. But just as it has done in the past when fairing through unchartered waters, it’s mindset is simply ‘business as usual’ at Rado HQ.

Earlier this year, Rado released its highly anticipated Captain Cook Bronze collection – an update to the 1962 classic – much to the delight of watch aficionados, collectors and admirers alike. The Bronze patina is all the rage in the watch scene right now, and this particular model delivered the perfect balance of design, craftsmanship and heritage into one timepiece, whilst remaining uniquely ‘Rado’ in the process.

The Captain Cook Bronze has since received stellar reviews from industry experts and continues to be a standout for the odd year that is 2020 – all without the aid of a global watch fair that the Swatch Group had planned.

We recently spoke with Rado CEO Matthias Breschan who has overseen some of the leading innovations in the watch industry in recent years. From the first monobloc injected high-tech ceramic watch case to the use of rose gold coloured Ceramos, his time at the helm has seen both design and technology advance strongly at Rado.

It’s the Captain Cook Bronze – the model Breschan is currently wearing – however, that he believes truly exemplifies Rado as the Master of Materials.

RADO Captain Cook Bronze

Man of Style: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, Matthias. Can you talk to me about how 2020 has been for the Rado brand thus far?

Matthias Breschan: It’s lovely to chat with you. Rado had a strong start in January, but unfortunately, that changed in February due to COVID-19. Fortunately, we see an improvement in the situation in some countries in Asia and Europe and we are convinced that this trend will continue in the next few months in all countries.

MoS: With the current climate (including the cancellation of both Baselworld and SIHH), would you say that the Swiss watch industry is facing great difficulties due to this pandemic?

MB: The Swatch Group decided to leave Baselworld in 2019, simply because the concept didn’t match our needs to present product novelties to our retailers, journalists and consumers.

MoS: How do you suggest Rado – and the Swiss watch industry – will then get through these hardships?

MB: Circumstances likes these [COVID-19] will strengthen us. ‘Buy less but better’, ‘Sustainability’ are some of our key values not only at Rado but in the Swiss watches industry as a whole, and perfectly fit with future consumer needs and expectations.

MoS: Talk to me about the new Captain Cook Bronze!

MB: The Captain Cook is a model deeply rooted in Rado’s history and DNA; a timepiece that was originally released in 1962 inspired by exploration, diving and adventure. As such, its design and functionality was created accordingly then and also today. The new Captain Cook Bronze, of course, takes from the original model, however with improved characteristics.

Beginning with the bronze case, we chose bronze due to its corrosion resistance, and attractive patina development. However, unlike other bronze watches in the market, our timepiece comes with a 23ct gold coating to delay the patina development while it is shown to customers at boutiques. It comes in a comfortable 42mm, and has a sturdy 80 hours power reserve thanks to its ETA C07 movement.

The dial is made of high-tech ceramic, which enables it to maintains much of its original look, like the iconic Rado anchor, the red date at 3 o’clock and vintage-looking hands and arrows, for example. The Captain Cook comes in 3 distinctive colours: lush green, deep blue and an elegant brown that contrast with the bronze case. It is also paired with either a leather strap or steel bracelet.

Rado Captain Cook Bronze

MoS: What was the reasoning for going with a bronze design? 

MB: Well, Rado launched a HyperChrome Automatic Chronograph Bronze Limited Edition two years ago and the success speaks for itself. So. as Master of Materials, it is a passion to work with different materials, like those of the Captain Cook Bronze. Combining the oldest man-made material with modern materials yields marvellous results.

MoS: Why do you think the Captain Cook collection has been so well received? What makes it such a special collection?

MB: It is a timepiece that is very different from what Rado was doing for a long time, but at the same time is very and deeply Rado. It has all the characteristics that make a great automatic watch; a beautiful and attractive design, top-notch materials that showcase our savoir-faire and a reliable movement. And when you feel the watch, you just know you are holding a great piece of equipment with impressive looks.

MoS: Where do you think Rado sits within the Australian market?

MB: Especially with our new “Feel it” campaign, we want to show that Rado is very attractive for different lifestyles. You could easily personalise your watch and have different looks either for an official business meeting or meeting with friends. We still think, especially in Australia, that we do have growth potential and we will, of course, push hard to advance our brand awareness in the coming months. Everybody should know our unique range of products…

MoS: What can we expect from the Rado brand for the remainder of the year, and looking towards 2021?

MB: Products which emphasize your personality by using different materials. We will never stop developing in this field – just feel the Rado difference!

The RADO Captain Cook Bronze retails for $4,025 AUD. For more information on the Captain Cook collection, visit the Rado website here