What’s missing in this watch? Featured

Take a look at the photo of this timepiece by Rado and decide what component is absent.

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27 June 2014

What’s missing is that component that often drives women crazy. The crown, that small knurled wheel on the side of the case in the 3 o’clock position. It’s essential for setting and adjusting the time, but all too often it is hard to click out to the adjustment position, and it can ruin a carefully-manicured fingernail.

This watch, a model in the Esenza Ceramic Touch range by Rado, is beautifully smooth to the touch, because it is in high-tech ceramic, a material in which Rado has a vast heritage of experience. But more importantly, the ceramic case has sensors hidden just below its surface, that are capable of ‘feeling’ the touch of a finger. When you touch the case at the right place, in the right way, you put the watch into adjustment mode, and then you can make the settings with a caress on the other side of the case.

There’s no doubt that this is a significant innovation in watch technology, and it is a world first by Rado. It has another effect as well: it gives the watch a surprisingly human touch. You have to learn exactly where to touch the case, it takes a bit of getting used to, and so the watch feels more yours, a personal possession, like a horse that will allow itself to be ridden by just one rider.

To activate adjustment, you touch the case at about 8 o’clock for 2 seconds, and the watch indicates that it’s ready by waving the minute hand a little. Then, with a sliding movement on the other side of the case at around about the 2 o’clock mark, you prepare the watch for hour adjustment, backwards or forwards, with a touch on the left-hand side of the case. Minutes are adjusted on the right-hand side. Another two-second touch at 8 o’clock confirms the settings, and the watch responds with a beep.

It sounds complicated, but they are actions that become second nature. This technology is just the latest development in Rado’s experimental work on ceramics applied to watches. In 1986, they created the first high-tech ceramics, remarkable for their anti-scratch properties (1,250 Vickers hardness, as compared to just 250 Vickers for steel). While providing timepieces of exceptional durability, the choice of this material means that finishing and polishing require special diamond tools and several days of machining. Diamond reaches a hardness of 10,000 Vickers, as does the hardest watch in the world, the Rado V10K.

There are six new models in the Rado Esenza Ceramic Touch collection, three black and three white. In addition, there are coloured versions in the Rado Esenza Ceramic Touch Fibonacci models, in which 534 precious stones are set on the dials, in a pattern based on the Fibonacci spiral. The versions are in blue sapphire, orange sapphire and white-green tsavorite garnet, and the black cases in lightweight, super-hard, polished ceramic incorporate the same Rado ceramic touch technology.

The Rado Esenza Ceramic Touch Jubilé 132 Limited Edition features a swirl of diamonds on the dial, which spread to the bezel and then to the bracelet links, set directly into the ceramic material. This is a complex process: to set the diamonds, holes are made in the ceramic using a laser, and then platinum is softened and placed into the cavity before placing the diamond into position. The platinum is almost invisible after setting.

And what about men? A new model incorporating ceramic touch technology is the Rado HyperChrome Ceramic Touch Dual Timer, with a subdial at 6 o’clock showing the time in a second time zone. Touch technology is used to set the time in the two zones, but the really attractive function is swapping time zones: the hands on the two dials perform a little dance and then take up their allotted positions. Very cool, and a performance that only you will know how to control.

And a Rado ceramic touch watch has another advantage: you don’t have to take it off to get through airport security!