The first glance draws you in. The unique square shape brings you closer.
Perhaps it’s the open-heart dial, with its unimpeded view of the movement. Or the intricate detailing therein, the tactile appeal of the case and bracelet. It might be the rich, glossy selection of dark and light colors. Maybe it’s just the cool aesthetic of monochrome ceramic, surprisingly warm to the touch.
With the True Square Open Heart, Rado is revisiting its roots. Accordingly, the case features a trio of distinctive, recognizable elements: square shape, rounded edges, ceramic construction. There is no other watch in the market that has this shape in this type of material. Like all great artists, Rado understands the power of a singular vision.
It knows from disruptive design, as well. The watchmaker has spent decades pioneering the application and use of high-tech, scratch-resistant materials. In the early days of ceramic and ceramic hybrids, the only way to shape the material was straight lines. Accordingly, many of Rado’s modern landmarks (Ceramica and Sintra, from 1990 and 1993, respectively) featured square cases. By the early 2000s, it was already an essential element of the company’s DNA.
Then, in 2011, another breakthrough. Rado began manufacturing its Swiss-made timepieces using a process called injection monobloc case. This technique allows nearly every part of the watch to be built directly into the ceramic structure. The method gave designers a more comprehensive range of options—enlarging the dial opening, creating intricate full ceramic bracelets, adding gorgeous transparent sapphire case backs, and experimenting with color, now another signature Rado motif.
To obtain certain colors, getting the correct saturation and hues from monobloc construction demands exacting technical precision. The case is “cooked” in a special oven, reaching temperatures of 1450 degrees; when it’s removed, the color is a sort of beige. It’s then passed through a second oven, which introduces specific gasses. These activate the color, bringing the ceramic to its specified appearance.
Rado must be precise in terms of mixing the compound. Some hues are incredibly difficult to create. Factor in specific aesthetic demands—say, a ceramic bracelet, all the links in the same color, matched to both the case and the crown—and it becomes even more complicated. Despite all of this complexity, the brand now offers roughly 20 colors across the entire collection, an extraordinary feat of applied science.
Of course, this level of creativity and engineering cannot be rushed. The minimum timeline for bringing a new ceramic watch style to market is about two years. But given its extensive research and development, and the high standards of its in-house technicians, Rado’s process might take closer to three. First, the initial concept needs to be dreamt up and sketched out, the watch and its many components meticulously designed, a new and unique mold manufactured. The latter step alone can take upwards of nine months to complete.
Once the mold is prototyped, it must pass rigorous quality control. The next step is injecting the ceramic mixture. Various treatments follow, and it usually takes another four months to see an eventual product. Testing begins with a sample in hand, in preparation for the final approval and product launch. If, at any point, the watch doesn’t meet Rado’s specifications, the entire process must start all over again.
This attention to detail results in the technical breakthrough of the True Square: Rado’s first square watch made using injected monobloc ceramic construction.
The result is an ergonomic shape that’s lightweight, scratch-resistant, comfortable. It’s offered in three colorways: glossy black, optic white (with diamonds), and a plasma grey. The darker version, with its red-gold features, lends to a more dashing sensibility. The lighter ceramic case adds sparkle and sophistication, adding a dozen diamonds set as indices. Yellow gold accents add to the overall glow, making the Open Heart radiate from within. And while the overall attitude suggests 1960s swagger, the True Square is the ideal watch for this moment, a seamless evolution of the existing True collection. It’s a reminder that Rado consistently delivers.
It’s a statement piece, too. In watchmaking, the first thought is round––the hands are turning, time is displayed as circular, and thus the case shape should follow suit. But, in modernity, the square is more common in everyday life. Over time, the details from a round watch have evolved into the square watch, a boon for Rado, which was and remains ahead of the curve. Accordingly, the company has wisely kept the winning tech and design aspects of the round True collection, cleverly integrating them into the True Square, ensuring the core DNA remains.
By way of example, consider the Open Heart’s most distinctive feature: the visible movement. After all, that’s half the fun of this design. Housed inside the True Square skeleton, you’ll find a super-efficient, anti-magnetic ETA CO7.631 automatic movement. It’s a mighty little engine, offering approximately 80 hours of power reserve.
Interestingly, the mechanical elements feature decorative flourishes from traditional watchmaking. The engraved ‘Côtes de Genève movement holder adds a graphic appeal, the jewels reducing friction, adding visual flair with a hit of red. With visible cogs and wheels front and center, the hours, minutes, and seconds never looked so good.
These details give the Open Heart remarkable staying power. The brand’s signature use of high-tech ceramics only amplifies this, given the material’s mega-durable properties. It’s sure to please watch enthusiasts, but even the layperson can appreciate the appealing tactical sensations of the True Square’s ceramic case, which won’t ever feel too warm or too cold.
The market is filled with stainless steel watches, but Rado’s range of high-tech ceramic timepieces, developed in an array of striking colors over the last few years, is a remarkable achievement. In terms of design, it’s an ideal canvas; Rado can do anything in terms of shape. It’s a truly unique combination.
It’s also a reminder that design is the brand’s single greatest initiative, with groundbreaking use of materials never far behind. Rado claims the True Square Open Heart is “the shape of things to come.” That statement should be immediately put to test because clearly this is a watch for the here and now. Unleash your own creativity and listen to what your heart tells you.
ETA.CO7.631 Automatic, 25 jewels, 3-hands, with 80-hour power reserve, 38 mm, total weight 120 gram
Polished black, white, or plasma high-tech ceramic, monobloc construction, black PVD coated titanium case back with sapphire crystal, polished high-tech ceramic crown, flat sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating, water-resistant to 5 bar (50m)
Vertical brushed with rose gold colored bevels, rose gold colored applied indexes with white Super-LumiNova white printed minute track, yellow or rose gold colored moving anchor symbol, white or grey printed Rado and Automatic logos
Polished high-tech ceramic, titanium 3-fold clasp
Plasma Grey USD 2,550; White with diamonds USD 2,900; Black USD 2,350