Earlier this year, when I saw the news coming from Basel about the new Rado collection, the HyperChrome Si3N4 Automatic and the DiaMaster Grande Seconde immediately caught my attention and made me curios to find out more about them. As it seems that the Canadian launch of the HyperChrome Si3N4 is delayed, let’s start with the DiaMaster Grande Seconde.
RADO DiaMaster Grande Seconde Automatic at a glance
Reference number: 657.0128.3.416
Diameter: 43 mm
Height: 11.8 mm
Lug to lug: 51.2 mm
Case: matt black high-tech ceramic case, monobloc construction pressed on black PVD coated titanium case back
Dial: black with rhodium coloured applied indexes, grey printed minute track, moving anchor symbol, grey coloured printed Rado and Automatic logos
Hands: rhodium coloured
Crystal: domed sapphire crystal
Calibre: 11 ½ ETA 2899, automatic, 21 jewels, 3 hands, date at 9 o‘clock, 42 hours power reserve
Water resistance: 10 bar (100m)
Strap: Leather strap with stainless steel extensible folding clasp
MSRP: $3,300 CAD
Rado is offering several colour versions when it comes to the ceramic case of the DiaMaster Grande Seconde: black, matt black, or plasma. For this review Rado has sent me the matt black version and when I opened the box, the first thing I’ve noticed was their stealth approach to design. The matt case is not quite black, but a very dark grey with a hint of warm, that under certain lightning condition will make it look almost dark brown. Matched with a black leather strap with matt finish, the to together create a dark entity that leave little place for the light to bounce back.
The case and the dial
In a profile view, the rounded shape of the case reminds me the bottom of a pot. At 43 mm the case has a generous size, and since it has no bezel, under the slightly domed crystal, the dial is quite large.
The crown is short, it did not bothered me at all while wearing the watch, yet it is large enough to be easy to adjust the time.
The dial is probably the most interesting part of this watch. Its layout, having a separate subdial for the seconds, somehow reminds me other famous watches from Rado’s sister brands, such as the Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde, or the Glashütte Original PanomaticLunar. Just as with these watches, on the DiaMaster Grande Seconde the hour and minutes subdial, and the seconds subdial are off-centered and overlapping.
The seconds dial, which is the smaller of the two is placed at nine o’clock, and it contains the date window. Surrounded by a metal ring, it is decorated with a fine concentric guilloche that creates a sunray effect.
The hands and the applied indexes, marking the hours, are rhodium coloured, while the numerals, the logo and the the other texts are printed with grey. We are far away from the high contrasts of a tool watch. Everything is subtle and it is the result of a quest for aesthetic sophistication, rather than pure function.
Off-centered is also the see-through back that will reveal a nicely decorated ETA 2899 automatic caliber, featuring the typical anchor shaped Rado rotor.
As I mentioned earlier, I find the matt black leather strap to work really well with the rest of the watch. If you prefer a bracelet, for a few hundred dollars more, you can go with the DiaMaster Grande Seconde Ref. 657.0127.3.015, black with rose gold hands and indexes, and it comes with a bracelet crafted from the same high-tech ceramic as the case.
Everyone I showed this watch, they wanted to try it on, and the extensible folding clasp came in handy to adjust the strap to different wrist sizes without any difficulty.
After two weeks on my wrist, I still think that the DiaMaster Grande Seconde is one of the most interesting watches in its category. Because of its stealth design, it can go unnoticed, it is only when I showed people what I was wearing that I got an unanimous “Wow! What is this?”.
Some people might not like this, they will want something more flashy, but personally I prefer to wear a nice watch, with an interesting complication, that won’t attract too much attention. It might sound selfish, but I have to like it, and for the rest, I don’t really care.
With the DiaMaster Grande Seconde, Rado delivers on all levels: high-end materials, good looks, comfort, and an interesting complication. It is a dress watch with a secret, and if you are the type of person that can keep a secret, you will love it.
Rado sells it as a men’s watch, but I think that its modern minimalist design and its proportions renders it suitable for ladies too. My significant other tried it on and it looked stunning on her wrist.
Personally, I would have prefered it to have a bit more contrast on the dial, but for that, there are the other models in the DiaMaster Grande Seconde collection that will offer a better readability. Since I’m mentioning them, I urge you to check out the entire collection.