Rado: On India time

Hollywood may swear by its Rolexes, but actors in India, especially down South, have had a special connection with Rado. Actor-politician MG Ramachandran was even buried with one (which people swear they can still hear ticking!). So it’s no wonder that CEO Matthias Breschan believes in keeping their “plans for Rado largely unchanged each year”.

Instead, what they are focussing on is innovation. “We are constantly using our reputation as Master of Materials, and our status as the most forward-thinking design player in the watch industry, to keep pushing boundaries, introducing new colours, finishes and materials,” he says.

Thinking local

Most recently, the Swiss brand teamed up with Thukral & Tagra, one of the country’s most well-regarded contemporary designers, to bring in a local connect. The duo — the first Indian artists to collaborate on a Rado wristwatch, and who join a list that includes names like German industrial designer Konstantin Grcic and English product designer Jasper Morrison — will work with the brand’s stable of materials. Though tight-lipped about the collaboration, Breschan says, “India is a very important market, so it’s key that we showcase our design and materials innovations. We’re very excited about the prospect of working with Thukral & Tagra; we believe they will present us with one of our biggest challenges (of designing with the material chosen) yet.”

Rado: On India time

We reached out to Sumir Tagra, one half of the New Delhi-based artistic duo, to get their side of the story. “To ‘design time’ is really interesting, so we’re thrilled to get this opportunity,” he says, adding that they will be working with an exclusive material (yet to be revealed). While they’ve been corresponding electronically with the Rado team so far, trips to the company’s workshops and headquarters in Lengnau, Switzerland, are being planned, once the design is a little clearer. “We’ll be inquiring into history, and making use of a material that is very domestic but at the same time very historical,” adds Tagra.

Ceramic strides

Meanwhile, Breschan continues to be bullish about Ceramos, the lightweight material that blends high-tech ceramic and metal. Not only is it scratch-resistant and hypo-allergenic, it also adapts to your skin temperature! “It will continue to be a massive story this year and you can expect new colour innovations,” he says.

Design challenge
  • The Rado Star Prize, which was announced at the India Art Fair in January, underlines Rado’s deepening engagement with India. Running for 10 years in other countries, including France, Spain, Canada, and the UK, it is coming to the country for the first time. “We know there are a lot of really interesting things happening in the art and design world here, and we feel it’s important for Rado to be a part of that. We also want to be involved in opening up local and global opportunities for the next generation of designers,” says Breschan.
  • This year’s theme is Design with Timeless Appeal, for which entries can be submitted till April 30 (on “The work will be seen and evaluated by a panel of industry experts. That’s an incredible chance for a young designer to get their career off the ground,” says Breschan, adding the winner will receive ₹3 lakh as prize money and a Rado watch. Thukral & Tagra will be part of the India jury, along with Jagdip Jagpal, the IAF director, and Hakim El Kadiri, Rado’s Vice President for Product Management.

When it comes to Rado’s new launches, he reaffirms the brand’s commitment to “a series of regional and international product launches throughout the year to complement our diverse collections”. Like the recently-released Hyperchrome Tradition Captain Cook, which, sensing the growing consumer desire for retro-inspired timepieces, takes inspiration from its first diving watch (released in 1962).

Such launches — an attempt to create a different rhythm in promotions, and improve the brand’s visibility — also mean that, like the other brands in the Swatch stable, Rado has no plans of going back to Baselworld or SIHH. “We will continue to focus our efforts on traditional and digital marketing, and to cultivate our social media channels,” he shares.

With a younger clientèle on the brand’s radar, does this mean a smart-watch is in the offing? Breschan doesn’t commit to anything, obliquely stating that “a watch is such a personal expression, it makes such a strong statement about the wearer and it needs to stand the test of time”.

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Printable version | Feb 20, 2021 12:03:01 PM |

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