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The History of the Rado Captain Cook

The Rado Captain Cook is perhaps one of the Swiss watch manufacturer’s most iconic models, and despite its release almost exactly 60 years ago, it remains a resonating piece for watch lovers and aficionados alike today. Let’s journey back through Rado’s history and take a look at where the legendary Rado Captain Cook watch first began…


Founded in 1917 in Lengnau, Switzerland, what was then the “Schlup & Co.” brand didn’t begin selling watches under its new name Rado until the early 1950’s. The Rado Golden Horse watch collection in 1957 was their first debut and became notably admired for its unique water resistant capabilities. While Rado continued to cement their dominating presence in over 61 countries, many other well-regarded luxury watch brands were delving into the unfamiliar territory of “water resistant” watches with many names exploring the formidable diver’s watch. Rado was no exception, and it was in 1962 that they introduced the first Rado Captain Cook.



The notorious release of the Rado Captain Cook was a solid attempt at serving the diving craze trend that had hit the 1960’s and was named after British navigator and explorer James Cook who was famed for sailing and mapping much of the South Pacific. Its design was rather extraordinary for the time, boasting a concave inward-sloping dive bezel, the original beads-of-rice style bracelet and domed acrylic crystal glass with a date magnifying sub lens. The case was sharp in style, adorned with the iconic Rado logo on the crown and measuring to an unusual 35.5mm in size. Inside the case was the A Schild AS1701 automatic movement described as having a gold plated rotor hidden behind the case back. One of the most iconic features of original Rado Captain Cook, and arguably some of the modern interpretations, was the case back itself which was handsomely adored with two large seahorses along with a finely crosshatched background and the words “Rado” and “Water Sealed”.



The 1960’s Rado Captain Cook was made in low quantities over the next few years, believed to have been produced in numbers as small as only 8,000 pieces until 1968 when production stopped altogether. The design was pretty soon forgotten about, getting lost in Rado’s archives until 2017 when Rado announced a new “vintage replica” of the design at Baselworld. Alongside a rather direct replica of the original 1962 model, they also released a more modern 45mm version for contemporary watch wearers with larger wrists. The retro imitation measured to 37mm wide, close in size to the original, and was fitted with a similar sloped ceramic bezel. The dial was also a carbon copy of the original with distinctive strong arrow-shaped hands at the centre and legible hour markers dressed in lume. The piece became a limited edition of 1,962 pieces to mark the year of the original release.



Since the modern Rado Captain Cook watch was launched in 2017, lovers of retro and vintage-inspired watches have not been able to get enough and several other re-editions of the model have been unveiled. At Baselworld 2018, another two members joined the family including a tribute to the second Captain Cook model made in the 1960’s named the Tradition Captain Cook MKII with a 37mm case and matching stainless steel rice-bead bracelet. A year later and another collection was revealed, this one again adapted for a modern audience but still perfectly capturing the DNA of the original. The 2019 Rado Captain Cook Automatic measured to a larger 42mm in diameter with some fantastic choice of colourways including green and blue dials.


Last year, 2020, was another pivotal year for the Rado Captain Cook as it was launched in one of the industry’s most trendsetting materials: bronze. With the design having already been widely successful in stainless steel, it was the obvious step forward for the Swiss watch manufacturer to renew the aesthetic with a fully bronzed case. The collection was debuted with a variety of colourways to choose from including grey, blue and our personal favourite, green. Despite the original 1962 Rado Captain Cook never having appeared in bronze, there is something about the Rado Captain Cook Bronze collection that is closer spiritually to the original than any previous modern reiterations. Its retro personality is made all the more fun with the addition of a swivelling anchor on the dial which moves with your wrist.



What’s next for the Rado Captain Cook watch? We’re not sure, but if the popularity of the model is anything to go by, we don’t expect they’ll disappear back into the archives any time soon. You can shop all the latest Rado Captain Cook watch releases on the Jura Watches website here including the Rado Captain Cook Automatic collection and the Rado Captain Cook Bronze. Get in touch with the team today on 01335 453453 or at for more information on the interest free finance and free next day delivery on the new Rado watch arrivals.

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