I have a special spot in my heart for Rado. It’s the only watch brand I’ve ever heard my mother talk about. She was a big fan of the black ceramic Diastar watches that Rado put out in the 1980s and ’90s. While that was a defining era for the brand, that’s not where it stops. With its flagship Captain Cook series, Rado taps into another part of history dating back to the 1960s, and the Captain Cook High-Tech Ceramic Skeleton combines both eras in one watch. Rado also integrates a skeletonized movement into the mix. It’s time to find out more.

I generally do not consider myself a purist regarding watches. However, I must confess that when it comes to watch design, I hold certain basic principles dear to my heart. One of them is not forcing the fusion of different design styles. I understand that, in theory, fusion could lead to great results. But the reality is that it often leads to weird design constructs that miss the mark completely. You will understand that I had some strong first thoughts when I got the new Rado Captain Cook High-Tech Ceramic Skeleton version on my desk. But I decided to give the watch a fair chance because it looks far more modern and technical than the classic Captain Cook. As I found out, this is indeed a different beast altogether.

Rado Captain Cook High-Tech Ceramic Skeleton

First impressions of the Rado Captain Cook High-Tech Ceramic Skeleton

Straight out of the box, this new version of the watch looks modern and technical. Backing that up is the low weight of the timepiece. The plasma high-tech ceramic case and bracelet also give the watch a distinct feel. But I was happy to see that Rado chose a fully matte finish for the ceramic here compared to the matte and polished bracelet of last year’s gray version. This non-reflective olive-green ceramic makes the watch feel pretty low-key. Additionally, it features a color-matched index ring, whereas last year’s model featured a rose-tone index ring.

Despite the olive-green color, I would not say this watch gives off military vibes. The contrasting rose gold PVD bezel and crown ensure some visual sparkles to keep it from being too stealthy and plain. On top of that, the skeletonized movement is the big visual attraction that immediately sucks you in. It defines the aesthetic of this watch and makes it look completely different from the regular Captain Cook models in steel or bronze. While this is not a watch I would generally go for, this was a good opportunity to wear something outside my comfort zone.

The specs of the Captain Cook High-Tech Ceramic Skeleton

Before I get into the details of wearing the watch, let’s first talk about the specs. About a year ago, Sky wrote in detail about the history and different materials of the first version of the same watch, so if you are interested, I suggest you read her article. I’ll focus on a recap of the most important specs. The watch has a 43mm matte olive-green monobloc case with a 14.6mm thickness, a 49.8mm lug-to-lug, and a 300m water resistance rating.

Therefore, it is still a capable Captain Cook dive watch. The version we had in for review was on a ceramic bracelet with a titanium dual-deployant clasp. The second option would be the same watch on a color-matching rubber strap. I would have loved to try that one too because ceramic bracelets, no matter how nicely made, can still be rattly or have a plasticky feeling.

The case is accented with a rose gold PVD crown and matching toothed-edge rotating bezel. The inward-tilting bezel is one of the Captain Cook collection’s defining elements, and along with the typeface used for the 60-minute scale, the combination of the hands and indices is visually congruent with the line. The hands and indices are treated with white Super-LumiNova for legibility in darker lighting conditions. The olive-green index ring features the minute track executed in white for plenty of visual contrast. This results in an open-worked dial that, despite feeling technical, is rather easy to navigate.

The skeletonized Rado R808 movement

As some of you might know, Rado uses crystals with a smoked finish that tones back the overwhelming image of all the different skeletonized parts. Visible behind the hands and indices is the brand’s R808 movement. The watchmakers at ETA developed this automatic skeletonized caliber with 25 jewels and a power reserve of up to 80 hours. The movement comes equipped with an antimagnetic Nivachron hairspring and is tested in five positions.

In terms of colors and finishing, the movement features a brushed nickel structure and a rose-gold-treated center bridge. The bridge’s color matches the hands and indices nicely, ensuring that all the different visual layers merge rather well.

The “Captain Cook” text on the front is printed in white on the sapphire dial that also holds the indices. Consequently, these elements seem to float, creating an extra layer of visual joy. Lastly, the movement is visible through the titanium and sapphire case back. While I doubt you will admire the movement a lot through the case back, it does fit the overall open-worked theme nicely.

Rado Captain Cook High-Tech Ceramic Skeleton pocket shot

Wearing the Captain Cook High-Tech Ceramic Skeleton

I didn’t know what to expect when I first put the Captain Cook High-Tech Ceramic Skeleton on my wrist. I am generally not the biggest fan of skeletonized watches. On top of that, I gravitate more toward the classic Captain Cook models in bronze and steel, which are great modern homages to the 1960s model that started it all. But once I put the ceramic skeletonized version on my wrist, I let go of that preference for the vintage-inspired Captain Cooks. These watches are on opposite sides of the Captain Cook spectrum, and I had to come to grips with that.

Rado Captain Cook High-Tech Ceramic Skeleton on wrist

Once I did, I could enjoy the watch a lot more. At 43mm in diameter, this Captain Cook has plenty of wrist presence. Thanks to the materials and color, the watch does not feel too big. It’s substantial without being oversized. I mentioned earlier that I would have also loved to try it on the rubber strap. That is due to the rattly sound and sometimes plasticky feel of ceramic bracelets; I’m just not a big fan. But I have to say that this particular bracelet wears very well. It wraps itself around the wrist and makes the watch very comfortable.

Final thoughts

After wearing the Captain Cook High-Tech Ceramic Skeleton for about a week, I did get used to the distinct looks. That’s also when the intricate details started to stand out. One sentiment that kept growing is that this still feels like Captain Cook. As all the practical elements are the same as on the classic models, the technical and modern design is never that far removed from the regular aesthetic of the series.

Speaking of practical details, the rotatable dive bezel is a joy to grip and turn. The clicks are firm and give off the quality feel you expect from a brand like Rado. The same goes for the clasp. I loved the look of the clasp, and using it was easy. It added quite a bit to the overall wearing experience.

Rado Captain Cook High-Tech Ceramic Skeleton on wrist

I also appreciate the combination of colors a lot. Combining rose-tone accents with matte olive green gives the watch a nice bit of style. I like this model better than last year’s gray model with its mix of finishes on the bracelet and the gold index ring. This new version feels more cohesive and stealthy, which I appreciate. If I were to ever buy a skeletonized watch, it would be something like this.

Rado Captain Cook High-Tech Ceramic Skeleton

So, I had fun wearing this new model for a week or so. While it still would not be my first pick from the Captain Cook lineup, I understand that its vibe is unique and why it attracts fans. There aren’t a lot of watches like this Rado Captain Cook High-Tech Ceramic Skeleton out there. At €4,950, this model is one of the brand’s pricier offerings. However, considering what you get regarding materials, movement, and overall finish and quality, that is still much friendlier than most competitors.

Rado Captain Cook High-Tech Ceramic Skeleton

That makes this Captain Cook High-Tech Ceramic Skeleton a special offering from Rado. It not only combines two styles from the brand’s past but also utilizes the best forward-looking technology that Rado has to offer. This is a modern version of a Rado series that we love very much at Fratello, and it is a joy to witness up close.

For more information, visit Rado’s official website.

Watch specifications

Captain Cook High-Tech Ceramic Skeleton
Transparent gray sapphire with applied rose-gold-tone luminous indices and luminous hands
Case Material
Matte olive-green high-tech ceramic with monobloc construction, rose-gold-tone bezel with circular-brushed plasma high-tech ceramic insert
Case Dimensions
43mm (diameter) × 49.8mm (lug-to-lug) × 14.6mm (thickness)
Smoked box-shaped sapphire with antireflective coating on both sides
Case Back
Circular-brushed titanium with sapphire crystal
Rado R808: skeletonized, automatic and manual winding, 21,600vph frequency, 80-hour power reserve, antimagnetic Nivachron hairspring, tested in five positions
Water Resistance
Plasma high-tech ceramic three-row bracelet with matte and polished finishes and titanium dual-deployant clasp
Time only (hours, minutes, central seconds)
Two years