Originally marketed as “the world’s first scratch-proof watch” when it was released in 1962, Rado’s unmistakable DiaStar has once again captured the attention of watch collectors by launching three new versions of the RADO DiaStar Original and a special 60th anniversary model with a new modern design.
One of the interesting things about enduring watch icons is that they are generally appreciated for pushing a concept to its limit: Whether it is about innovative design, a new way of reading the time, next-gen technology, or edgy materials. Rado’s DiaStar was clearly one of the most eye-catching watches of its era, with a clean futuristic look in line with the first scratch-resistant motto it came with. It pushed the limits.
Similarly, the history of Rado is a story of the evolution of watchmaking into a popular brand whose name has become synonymous with design innovation and invention. It all began 60 years ago, when the iconic DiaStar was born, challenging the existing ideas about the strength and appearance of a watch case. No one had ever seen anything quite like it. And now is the perfect occasion to revisit that history and celebrate the metamorphosis of this famous collection.
It’s not a secret that modern watch design draws inspiration from the automotive, and even the space industries, and is often ahead of the game in developing and applying new materials: zirconium oxide, mirror-polished Grade 5 Titanium, the Alusic and Tantalum composite alloys, these are all materials that originated in more technical industries. But, going back in the time, gold and steel dominated the watchmaking world.
In the early 1960s, Rado designer Marc Lederrey began the work on creating a watch that was more scratch-resistant. The result of the designer’s research and efforts is the Rado DiaStar Original, with a bold case design made from a super-hard alloy of tungsten-carbide (which is five times harder than steel). By merging this super-hard metal and the unique sapphire crystal, Rado presented an original appearance and outstanding scratch-resistance for the massive case real estate. Fun fact: The DiaStar name refers to “diamond plus star,” meaning the hardness of a diamond and the beauty of distant stars. “When we are looking back, this was a start of an amazing journey for the Rado brand thanks to the courage of the management and the innovative materials and design,” stated Rado’s CEO Adrian Bosshard.
Sixty years later, the use of harder metals seemed a little old-hat for Rado as it re-envisioned the DiaStar. It was time to upgrade the materials and design of the iconic watch. To celebrate its anniversary, the brand utilized its latest development, Ceramos, a flexible, tough ceramic/metal alloy, for its four new models.
Furthermore, the original’s retro-futuristic design has been re-interpreted in the three RADO DiaStar Original core models and the special non-limited 60th Anniversary Edition. Incorporating the game-changing appeal of the first DiaStar watches, these new DiaStar Originals bring the features and functions Rado enthusiasts already know and the distinctive look they already love (dig that vertical date window at 6 o’clock on the new core DiaStars!): Expect a parallel-stripe-faceted sapphire crystal, polished and brushed H-link stainless-steel bracelet, and a range of different exciting dial color ways in blue, grey, and green for the standard models. The prominent, shield-like case is slightly slimmer than the original’s (at 12.1mm, as opposed to the 12.6mm thickness of the previous models), and the Ceramos material is decidedly shinier.
Of the new offerings, the piece that steals the show, to me, is the 60th Anniversary Edition created in collaboration with Swiss-Argentinian designer Alfredo Häberli. And when asked about the brand’s approach to the redesign, Bosshard explained that the goal was to “find an external artist with the necessary passion, talent, and humbleness to touch such an icon.” A Zurich-based designer of furniture, cars, hotels, boutiques, and more, Häberli commented: “The guideline I received from Rado management was very simple: Don’t change anything but do something new! Frankly speaking, I wanted to give respect to the existing watch and to underline every single detail, but in a modern way, and even taking it a little bit forward.” The special anniversary edition sports a dynamic, new hexagonal crystal approach, adding some sacred geometry to the mix without breaking the overall vintage appeal of the watch. Taking a closer look at the Anniversary Edition, one instantly recognizes the case shape, but the finishes of the watch have been taken to another level. The radially brushed Ceramos bezel delivers a matte contemporary appeal that counterbalances the shiny silver dial, which looks soft and silky beneath the crystal.
“This watch is for everyday life, but not ordinary: I wanted to create a watch that will suit every life occasion. A watch that fits like a chameleon in every situation,” he concludes. To summarize, these watches are visually outstanding and elegant at the same time; something the designer explains as: “Luxury is to be eclectic.”