New from Rado, the True Open Heart (Ref. 734.0101.3.090) is a visually striking piece that’s both very beautiful and very wearable. From the intricately designed dial to its simplistic nature, it seems to ebb and flow with life’s natural vibe. Okay but seriously, it is really very stunning, and to see it hands on changing in different lights is something else altogether. In fact, getting a decent picture of it can be downright impossible, but that doesn’t make it any less attractive.
Let’s start with the obvious: the aesthetics. Available in either matte black or a polished white high-tech ceramic (of which I’ve seen both and can safely say I wouldn’t say no to either), Rado have gone to painstaking lengths to ensure that the piece remains beautiful but legible. The dial is phenomenal and this is no coincidence. Rado have opted to use a super thin mother-of-pearl dial (super thin as in 0.2mm in thickness..) to serve as the backdrop and star of the ensemble. In some lights you can see an array of colours that reminds me of the visual spectacle that is the Aurora Borealis, while in others the dial is a deep jet black. Look closely enough and you can see the balance wheel doing its thing at 12 o’clock, and this tiny bit of movement adds a whole other dimension to the piece that I absolutely love.
Beyond the mother-of-pearl dial, Rado have opted to keep things as simple as possible. The hour markers are long enough to be able to read quickly regardless of the light, and the hands are elongated and provide a sense of design consistency throughout the piece. Inscribed at 9 o’clock is the Rado namesake, while at 3 o’clock you have the rotating anchor symbol. The 40mm case is made of, yep you guess it, a ceramic monoblock case. It seems that ceramic is the way to go for Rado, and unlike many other brands they do it oh so well. The integrated lugs play an important role in the piece’s comfort, and for all you nerds out there try this on for size: Rado utilises a special high-tech ceramic for its cases. So high-tech, in fact, that is almost immediately adapts to the wearer’s body temperature and is about five times harder than steel. Oh, and its as light as a feather, so you really don’t notice it on your wrist (good and bad, I guess). The bracelet also uses the same technology as the case and its clever link design makes it comfortable and easily adjustable. And of course you Rado’s anchor logo on the crown and its name printed on the bracelet clasp.
The True Open Heart is powered by the ever-reliable ETA C07.631 automatic calibre giving the wearer about 80 hour’s worth of power reserve. It’s a very practical movement that isn’t overly expensive to produce and integrate, which is probably why Rado have opted to use it. If you look closely enough through the transparent sapphire caseback you can see some small openings through the bridges that allows light to pass through the mother-of-pearl dial. It really is something special to observe and I urge you to see it in the flesh. People may have an issue with an ébauche movement, but let’s be real for a second. You aren’t really going to find a fully in-house calibre inside a watch under $5,000. The economics of it unfortunately don’t make sense, and in fact if a major brand were to do that then I’d be somewhat skeptical of the movement’s quality and lifespan. Leaving it to the experts to produce long-lasting quality movements (e.g. ETA, Minerva, Lemania, Valjoux, Miyota) and focusing on what a brand does best, in this for Rado their ceramic cases and design architecture, is sometimes best.
Now for its drawbacks. I couldn’t find many, but these leapt at me as soon as I got the piece. First off, it kind of lacks everyday functionality. Yes, its very beautiful, and yes it wears well, but in low-light situations you lose the ability to quickly glance at your watch and read the time. The missing date window also drops a bit of functionality for me, but truth be told its addition would definitely ruin the piece’s flow. And my final issue, albeit a very subjective one, is that I feel this piece is more of a novelty-type watch rather than a scalable product to mass-sell. I get that Rado are only producing 500 of these, but I wonder who their target market is, if any. Now that’s not to say I wouldn’t consider purchasing one, because I would, and for its price especially I believe it’s a very affordable prospect.
All in all, I’ve enjoyed my time with Rado’s True Open Heart. It isn’t the kind of watch I’d gravitate towards, nor is it one that I ever thought I’d enjoy so much (mother-of-pearl dial..), but I’m not stuck in my ways and I can be converted (hello Breitling!). The True Open Heart is a contemporary take on a changing market and a changing customer. The art-scene seems to be the in-thing at the moment, and Rado have taken the plunge into their world by offering them something that will appeal to their tastes and lifestyle. It’s a wonderful watch at a tempting price. Well done Rado.
Australian recommend retail pricing for the Rado True Open Heart is $3,050.