When I received the press release about Rado’s lineup for Baselworld 2016, it was the matt black True Open Heart that really struck me (Ref. 734.0101.3.090). I would go as far as to say that even after going through all the news coming from Basel, based only on the pictures and the specs, it topped my list of favourite 2016 novelties. But pictures and specs can’t cover the entire story, especially with a watch like the True Open Heart and I was looking forward to getting one on my wrist. Now that we are getting close to its launch date at retailers, my wish was finally granted and here are my impressions after wearing it for more than a week.
This was not the first time that I had the pleasure to wear a Rado ceramic watch (see my other reviews here and here), the touch of the bracelet and the case felt familiar. At the first glance, I found the True Open Heart to be less readable than I was expecting based on the official pictures and the pearl dial too seemed to be less transparent. Then I realised, the room where I opened the box was rather dark and the True Open Heart needs light to unveil its magic. As soon as I stepped outside, the afternoon sunshine changed everything, suddenly I could see the mechanism of the watch working under the black mother-of-pearl dial, the delicate applied indexes and the slim hands, all came alive, reflecting the light on their polished surfaces.
Of course with this model, the leading role was given to the black mother-of-pearl dial, 0.2 mm thin, it’s slightly transparent, unveiling the nicely decorated ETA C07.631 automatic calibre. Depending on the angle and the lighting condition, the True Open Heart becomes a skeleton watch or a minimalist timepiece with a black pearly dial. This is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before!
As soon as I got the watch, I asked Rado if I need to take any special precautions when handling it because I was afraid that the thin dial would break. They reassured me that there is no danger and I can wear it as any other regular watch, it still took me a couple of days to get used to the idea, but with time, all my fears evaporated and the pure joy of wearing a very special timepiece kicked in.
The logo at nine o’clock and the Automatic inscription at three are printed in a way to not interfere with the transparency of the dial. Even the rotating anchor symbol that usually, has a prominent place on other Rado watches, here it is toned down.
The indexes and the minute and hour hands do come with black luminous coating, yet in darkness, they are hardly visible. I tried taking a lume shot, it didn’t work out with my camera… It is clearly not a tool watch.
The 40 mm monoblock ceramic case has a streamlined design with short lugs, following the aesthetic patterns of Rado’s True collection. The True Open Heart is a unisex watch, but the matt finish of the ceramic, in my opinion, renders it more masculine.
The ceramic crown is rather small and its edges are rounded, meaning that it won’t hurt your hand, but at the same time, it was a bit hard to get a good grip on it. An obvious indication that the design was dictated by comfort and aesthetic harmony over pragmatic functionality.
I can’t stress this enough, in my opinion, there is no other material in watchmaking that would be more comfortable than ceramic. Rado is using a special ceramic, they call high-tech ceramic, an extremely hard material 1,200 Vickers, which is five times harder than steel while being a lot lighter. During the years, Rado developed several colours: black, white, brown, plasma, you can see them on the Rado website, but pictures are not the same as feeling it on your wrist. High-tech ceramic is hypoallergenic and it adapts almost instantly to your body temperature. As soon as I closed the three-fold titanium clasp, the watch became an organic part of my arm.
The True Open Heart is not about being practical, it’s about beauty, it is a work of art, it is a fantastic example of contemporary design. During the ten days that I had it on my wrist, every time I would look at my wrist, I had the feeling that I’m teleported into a contemporary art museum. Even the fact that it’s the opposite of a tool watch, the True Open Heart gave me the impression of a luxury object, something you would wear as a hedonist, to enjoy the bright side of life. This is not the first time Rado managed to reinterpret luxury, challenging our preconceptions about indulgence rooted in the past. The shape, the materials and the mastery to fully exploit the possibilities offered by these materials, make Rado one of the most innovative brands.
Innovation does not come easily, it takes courage both from the watchmaker and the customer. It’s easy to re-launch a hit model from the 60’s or the 70’s, as many other brands do it. It’s a lot harder to come up with a new design, an unknown material, or as with the True Open Heart, a relatively familiar material, like the mother-of-pearl, presented in a completely new way. The True Open Heart is an unconventional watch that only those who like thinking outside the box can truly appreciate, those who don’t want to go with the flow, who want to find their own path. There is nothing wrong with your wrist saying 1960, but with the Rado True Open Heart, it will say 2016.
Besides the black model, the True Open Heart has a more feminine version too, with polished white high-tech ceramic case and bracelet, and white mother-of-pearl dial (Ref. 734.0106.3.090). They are both limited to 500 pieces, meaning that only a handful of dealers will have it. Since I’m planning to buy one, I’m doing myself a disservice and I will give you the Canadian retailers that will carry them… In Ontario, it will be L’Oro Jewellery (Markville Mall and Vaughan Mills), while in BC check out Rodeo Jewellers at Oakridge Centre, and Lugaro at Metrotown. The retail price is $2,600 CAD.
There, you go. This was a really difficult review to write because I tried as much as possible to stay critical and not be aware of my bias for this Rado. I liked the True Open Heart from the first time I saw the news and after wearing it, I like it even more.
Rado True Open Heart (Black) Ref. 734.0101.3.090
11 ½ ETA C07.631, automatic, 25 jewels, 3 hands, up to 80 hours power reserve
matt black high-tech ceramic case, monobloc construction
sandblasted black PVD coated titanium case back
matt black high-tech ceramic crown
curved sapphire crystal
water-resistant to 5 bar (50m)
special engraving on case back: LIMITED EDITION ONE OUT OF 500
black mother of pearl, black gold coloured applied indexes
moving anchor symbol
black printed Rado and Automatic logos
black with black veneer
black second hand
3-row matt black high-tech ceramic
titanium 3-fold buckle
40.1 x 47.3 x 10.4 (WxLxH in mm)
special edition certificate