Hands-On: Angus Davies gets hands-on with the Rado DiaMaster Ceramic Automatic Chronograph XXL
This detailed review of the Rado DiaMaster Ceramic Automatic Chronograph XXL includes live pictures, specification and pricing.
I’m a pernickety soul. While I appreciate the aesthetics of vintage timepieces, I struggle to come to terms with patination, wear and scratches. It is for this reason that I invariably favour modern watches with their box-fresh, blemish free appearance. However, even modern watches can suffer the blight of scratches.
Recently, I was presented with the opportunity to evaluate a Rado DiaMaster featuring a scratch-resistant case formed of plasma high-tech ceramic.
The case, presented in an anthracite / grey tone, exhibits a glossy appearance which I personally find most becoming. This watch also features my favourite complication, a chronograph.
As the name of this watch implies, this ‘XXL’ timepiece is extremely large, measuring 45mm in diameter. The size of the case means that the scale of the dial area is similarly oversized, providing sufficient room to display the prevailing time with consummate ease.
The hands and indexes are rose gold coloured and, as such, confer a rich autumnal appearance. The dial surface is described as ‘white’, but exhibits a cream / silver tone in certain light conditions. This blend of shades proves sublime.
Three subdials populate the dial surface, a small seconds display at 3 o’clock, a 12-hour chronograph register at 6 o’clock and a 30-minute chronograph register at 9 o’clock. I would have preferred for the 12-hour chronograph register to have been a smidgen larger, ideally matching the size of the neighbouring subdials but perhaps that’s me being pernickety again.
Both the small seconds display and 30-minute register are snailed and share the same design and scale. They sit slightly below the dial plane and are framed with golden circlets. Both of these subdials prove simple to read.
A circular date aperture is located at 4:30 and presents the date in black text on a stark white disc. Encircling the dial is a snailed minute track, marked with black strokes each denoting a ¼ second integer.
A ‘plasma coloured flange’, delivered in an anthracite-grey hue, frames the dial, beautifully accentuating the depth of the case and emphasising the three-dimensionality at play. This is a very harmonious display which proves effortless to read.
Rado is at the vanguard of case technology. The plasma process involves placing components into a specially designed furnace capable of attaining temperatures of 20,000°C. At these temperatures, the molecular composition of the ceramic’s surface alters. ‘The ceramic itself reaches a temperature of 900°C’, changes colour and assumes a grey metallic shiny surface.
Unlike most case coatings which invariably become scratched, the plasma high-tech ceramic is different. The carbon atoms diffuse into the surface of the material, going into the zirconia and replacing the oxygen atoms. The resultant material is incredibly hard, scratch resistant and light. Furthermore, it is hypoallergenic and resembles metal despite there being no metal in the process.
The titanium case-back of the DiaMaster Ceramic Automatic Chronograph XXL shares the same hypoallergenic benefits as the plasma high-tech ceramic case, proving especially kind to skin.
Rado has been very bold creating an ‘XXL’ timepiece. By its very nature, this watch will alienate would-be wearers who possess small, or even medium-sized, wrists. Personally, the dimensions of the DiaMaster Ceramic Automatic Chronograph XXL did not present a problem to me, but potential wearers should visit a retailer and try on the watch in person.
There are some lovely design details with this watch. The case-band arcs inwards near its dorsal plane, making the circumference of the case-back smaller than the circumference of the dial. The lugs gracefully curve downwards and the capstan-like push-pieces are very attractive.
I seldom pass comment on straps, but in this case the dark brown leather strap is particularly handsome. It has a shiny appearance and is paired with a stainless steel and titanium folding clasp.
The DiaMaster Ceramic Automatic Chronograph XXL is equipped with the ETA 2894-2 automatic movement.
As part of the industrial giant, the Swatch Group, Rado is able to enjoy its parent company’s economies of scale and, in so doing, deliver impressive value for money. Furthermore, there are many skills and competences within the Swatch Group which Rado can draw upon e.g. ETA.
The balance within the ETA 2894-2 has a frequency of 28,800 VpH (4Hz). The movement contains 37 jewels and the power reserve is sufficient to deliver 42 hours of autonomy. The movement has been personalised for Rado with the fitment of a black, branded oscillating mass. In addition, the central bridge has been adorned with an exquisite application of perlage.
The chronograph push-piece at 2 o’clock necessitates a firm press to actuate albeit it does have a positive action and performs satisfactorily. The push-piece at 4 o’clock does not require as much effort when resetting the chronograph hands. While this cam-actuated chronograph lacks the silken action of a column-wheel chronograph, it performed perfectly well whilst in my possession.
I have never reviewed a Rado watch up to this point, but based on this impressive performance I will be returning to the brand again. The Rado DiaMaster Ceramic Automatic Chronograph XXL is superb and I especially like its large, easy-to-read display.
The most notable aspect of the DiaMaster Ceramic Automatic Chronograph XXL is the use of plasma high-tech ceramic for the creation of the case, crown and pushers. The case looks like metal but surprisingly it doesn’t contain any metal. Furthermore, the plasma high-tech ceramic case is hypoallergenic.
This horological leviathan may prove too large for some would-be buyers. However, for those individuals with sufficiently large wrists, the DiaMaster Ceramic Automatic Chronograph XXL grants an agreeable fit, courtesy of its arcing lug design.
Returning to my fussy nature, I cannot deny the scratch-resistant properties of this timepiece proffer much appeal. Indeed, the notion of a timepiece free of annoying scratches will resonate with many readers who share my obsession with the new and pristine. However, there are many other attributes, such as the delightfully presented movement and the chronograph complication, which make this watch worthy of consideration.
Model: Rado DiaMaster Ceramic Automatic Chronograph XXL
Case: Plasma High-tech ceramic; diameter 45mm; height 12.6mm; sapphire crystal to front and case-back; water resistant to 10 ATM (100 metres)
Functions: Hours; minutes; chronograph; small seconds; date
Movement: ETA 2894-2; Self-winding movement; frequency 28,800 VpH (4Hz); 37 jewels; power reserve = 42 hours
Strap: Dark brown leather strap supplied with a stainless steel and titanium folding clasp
Price: £3,115 (RRP as at 28.11.2017)
Angus is a self-confessed watch addict and is frequently asked to contribute to various printed magazines and websites around the globe. He also writes for individual watch companies on matters of horology and has appeared on television and radio as an industry expert.