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Fresh from Baselworld: the RADO Hyperchrome UltraLight 2018

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Silence of the Lambs was scaring people in theaters with the idea of fava beans paired with a nice Chianti. Bryan Adams was telling us that everything he does, he does for us. And there was this very cool sweatshirt that changed color when people touched it. Hypercolor reacted to warmth. As the shirt heated or cooled, the molecules in the dye changed shape, causing the shift from absorbing light to releasing it, changing the color. This article has nothing to do with Hypercolor clothing. I just wanted to write that for a moment. No, this is about the HyperChrome UltraLight, courtesy of RADO, the Swiss watch company.


RADO has a history of making watches that only rarely adhere to what the rest of the watch industry might do. These days, everyone’s got a dive watch that looks very familiar, if you know what I mean. Everyone’s got a watch that’s a little dressier, like one from the same company. Not RADO. RADO’s last dalliance with conventional watches that look like fluted bezel Datejust cousins were in the late 50s and early 60s, with the Green Horse. Of course, there was a reissue of the Captain Cook diver, but let’s not get distracted. Here’s what’s important today: RADO started experimenting with unusual shapes and materials. We got the Diastar 1 in Tungsten Carbide, a material that is incredibly hard, nearly impossible to scratch, and stays polished for as long as the watch exists. All this happened in 1962, and was the first time such a material was used in watchmaking. It also broke new ground with unusual case shapes — a shield shape that eschews the basic round case with lugs jutting off formula, the strap mounted on hidden lugs under the perimeter of the case. Since that time, RADO experimented with high-tech ceramic, a composite ceramic with sintered metal integrated into it.

And that would have been fine, but RADO didn’t stop there. In 2012, they invented a ultra-light high-tech ceramic and built into a collection named Hyperchrome. Allow me to explain: In the past, when RADO made a ceramic watch, in order to make it strong, they reinforced the ceramic underneath with a stainless steel skeleton. Hyperchrome did away with that steel skeleton, injecting the ceramic into a monobloc case as a single piece. By 2015, they’d learned how to make consistent colors with the ultra-light high-tech ceramic Hyperchrome material.

Ceramic!

Here in 2018, we get to witness the plan all coming together.I love it when a plan comes together. This is the year we get Hyperchrome, with color, in its ultra light format. The ultra light format is a scratch-resistant silicon nitride ceramic, which first showed up in Hyperchrome in 2016. Now, though, now we get it in color, and I’m hopeful we’ll get to try it on the wrist soon.

The first version of the Hyperchrome Ultra Light for 2018 appears in a beautiful root beer brown Sun-ray dial, with a golden-brown bronze colored case, and a vintage looking brown leather strap. The movement inside is an ETA A31.L02 with black anodized aluminum bridges, delivering 64 hours of power reserve. I’m personally not a fan of the Roman numerals on the dial, but everything else here is a treat. I love that it weighs in at 56 grams. That’s about half the weight of the normal high-tech ceramic, and it’s even more scratch resistant. I like the brown leather strap. The gray version is the one I want on my wrist. The case is a matte brown, the dial is a brown sunray ceramic, with smaller arabic numerals the hand length proportions are ideal, slim and long. Both are limited to 500 pieces each, and retail for $2,950 USD.

 

 

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