Written in the stars: Rado DiaStar

A powerful marketing slogan can change the trajectory of a brand, imbuing it with the purpose and meaning that guides all of its endeavours. Such was the case for Rado, whose designation “Master of Materials” is more than a slogan – it has been Star of the North since the 1960s, guiding it in discovering and pioneering some of watchmaking’s most innovative materials.

The aim was to continually improve watchmaking materials that enhance comfort, practicality and efficiency. This endeavor is signed into the foundation of the brand, which was founded in 1917 by three brothers, Fritz, Ernst and Werner Schlup, under the name Schlup & Co. They manufactured watch components and eventually, in 1953, shifted gears to produce complete watches under the Rado name. The intent, from the beginning, was to build reputable, rugged watches that would stand up to the rigors of everyday life. In 1958, Rado released the Green Horse waterproof watch, which featured the first ever red anchor on the dial – today, that red anchor is a symbol of the House, a subtle indicator as to whether or not the watch is automatic.

But in 1962, the brand faced another challenge: this time, it wanted to build its first scratch-resistant watch. Rado’s watchmaking peers slowly began infusing sapphire glass into their watch stocks, but the snag lay in the case material.

The common materials of the era, gold, steel, and copper, simply wouldn’t cut it. The brand chose a completely new material, previously unheard of in watchmaking – called Hardmetal, it was a tungsten carbide alloy, which had a hardness of 1400 to 2000 Vicker. Case form follows function, the unique design of the case was due to the fact that the metal was extremely difficult to work with; The shape was just a fluke, and it was held on thanks to the ingenious insight of the designers, who recognized its value. This watch, which looked like a spaceship thanks to its extended bezel and oval shape, fit in perfectly with the eclectic style of the ’60s, but was slow to gain traction.

In fact, the DiaStar in the Far East was where you’d first recognize it, its reputation slowly growing and Rado gaining a reputation for building watches that focus on design and function. In the next 60 years, Rado would sell more than 5 million models of the various iterations of the DiaStar; Some of the highlights include the DiaStar Original from 1990, which has been CVD titanium nitride treated for a gold finish.

While in recent years the watch has not enjoyed such popularity as Rado’s contemporaries cooking chief or the correct box, it has made a long-awaited comeback in a brand new avatar. To celebrate its 60th anniversary, Rado has enlisted the design expertise of Argentinian designer Alfredo Häberli, a product designer who has worked with the likes of BMW, Camper and Vitra.

Sharing that he had always wanted to design a watch since he received his first watch at the age of 18 from his father, he took up the challenge to redesign the icon, while paying tribute to the core design elements of the DiaStar watch. There are four versions of the watch, one of which, the DiaStar Original Anniversary Edition, is limited to 250 pieces. This silver-gray version is a direct descendant of the original, but it differs in several respects: on the one hand, it has ditched its solid metal case, in favor of the Ceramos, Rado’s ceramic interior. Scratch-resistant and more rugged than solid metal, the Ceramus comes in a silky-brushed effect that enhances the bezel’s conical effect.

Häberli has also redesigned the case to make it a bit slimmer, so that there is better integration between case and strap. The sapphire crystal stars in the Anniversary Edition, featuring six facets, each representing the six decades of DiaStar’s existence. This measurement lends itself well in terms of aesthetics as well, with the watch sparkling when one flicks one’s wrist. They capture the light from different angles, perhaps seeking to simulate the brilliance of a star or a diamond.

The band has also been redesigned – the Milanese strap adds a touch of elegance to the eclectic watch, while the gray fabric strap is perfect for those who want a sporty look. The watch comes with a gold plated automatic movement with an 80 hour power reserve.

If you can’t get your hands on the Limited Edition Anniversary model, you can choose from the Unlimited Editions with blue, green, or gray dials.

For more clock readings, click here.

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