You will have noticed how lots of Swiss watch brands are fishing in waters that are creative beyond the confines of silent noodle ponds for new, uplifting thoughts. Jaeger-LeCoultre for instance, reeled in a major fish and added a much-needed dose of picante sex-appeal to its own brand matching with cult shoemaker Christian Louboutin to design a series of watch straps to its Reverso, while others such as TAG Heuer have courted alliances with hip fashion figures like Iris Apfel expecting her irreverent New York vibe will rub off on the watches themselves.
For a new like Rado watches, renowned for its design-focused — and award-winning watches made from avant-garde materials like high-tech porcelain, the natural choice was to set some bait to pull a famed industrial designer. The very first big-name designer commissioned by Rado was Jasper Morrison but that has been in 2009 and given that design evolves as quickly as fashion, it was time for a new collaboration.
Made from scratch-resistant high quality ceramic, Rado’s Ceramica watch was redesigned by Konstantin Grcic.
For 2016, German industrial designer Konstantin Grcic was approached to refresh Rado’s Ceramica watch line. First introduced in 1990 and winner of the Red Dot award, the first Ceramica watch with its minimalist design ethos and completely integrated ceramic case and bracelet, appealed to design-conscious consumers and was responsible for putting high tech ceramic on the watchmaking map.
It’s one thing to create something from scratch like Jasper Morrison’s R5.5 view, but it has to be pretty hard for a designer to redesign something that’s well-designed and very cool looking in the first location. As Grcic himself admits,»the original Ceramica [below] still seems pretty amazing today».
Launched in 1990, the original Rado Ceramica view, with its fully integrated ceramic case and bracelet, put high-tech ceramic onto the watchmaking map.
What’s new with the Ceramica watch? Abandoning the original glossy ceramic of the men’s versions, the new watches have been decked out in a velvety matte porcelain suit which, based on Grcic»brings out the form of the watch much stronger». The black lacquered dial has also been tweaked with bolder, more legible features alongside a practical splash of luminescent material on the hands and other important elements of this dial. «I took inspiration from bunny watches — I enjoy them for their straightforward clear images,» explains Grcic.
Smaller in size, the black or white high-tech ceramic of this women’s design, below, is accessible with a gloss or a sleek matte finish and the choice of four diamond hour markers on the dial.
You might not be familiar with the title, however Grcic –who studied Design at the Royal College of Art in London and had trained as a cabinet maker ahead — is the designer behind the mobile Mayday lamp made for lighting firm Flos, below, as well as the award-winning MYTO and Remo chairs designed for Plank and his work forms part of permanent collections in major design museums around the work like the MoMa and Centre Pompidou.
As you imagine, your average ceramic or earthenware dinner plate isn’t the kind of ceramic used in watches. High-tech ceramics are a world apart and are manufactured from extremely pure non-metallic materials that are exceptionally durable and hard to both scratches and heat. Used widely in aerospace and electronic – for example as a thermal shields on space shuttles and F1 racing cars – we have Rado to thank you for introducing high-tech ceramic to the sphere of watchmaking.
It’s reassuring to see how Swiss watch manufacturers are finally reaching out and sourcing talent from different environments and cultures. With a brand like Rado, that is relatively young in the watchmaking world, betting on designers like Jasper Morrison and Konstantin Grcic ensures that the modern soul of the brand will continue ticking.