First foray into watch design
Rado has form when it comes to partnering with outside designers – Jasper Conran, Konstantin Grcic, Sam Amoia, to name a few. But the brand’s realisation that it had never worked with a female collaborator led to its latest partnership and subsequent timepiece, the True Thinline Studs, co-designed with Welsh furniture and homeware designer Bethan Gray.
“The conversation with Rado started last year,” says Gray as she describes the watch’s evolution, “at Salone di Mobile in Milan. I’d never designed anything you could wear before, but immediately loved the idea of something so intimate, that would sit against your skin all day. And to scale my work down to such a small object? That was the challenge”.
Gray’s prior experience of women’s timepieces was underwhelming. “None of my friends wear feminine watches and previous to this I wore a man’s watch.”
She initially presented the Rado team with a myriad of ideas: “it’s always the way I work, to bring a lot of thoughts to the table”. With the case and dimensions already set (the watch is part of the True Thinline family) the dial and strap were open to a radical transformation.
Unsurprisingly, Gray raided her own archive of furniture for inspiration, focusing on her Masirah table with its radiating and exacting marquetry top of 12 segments of birds-eye maple. “I was keen to replicate the effect of the wood catching the light on the dial of the watch,” she says.
At this point Rado’s experience of hi-tech materials and techniques came into play, replicating the wood in 0.4mm-thin slivers of metal through a process called galvanic growth. “We used the latest techniques in galvanisation and metallisation to achieve this dial. We believe it represents the best of Bethan and the best of Rado,” says CEO Matthias Breschan.
Striking also is the strap, a significant move away from Rado’s usual integrated ceramic styles. Here Gray referenced her Stud furniture collection with brass tacks providing an enticingly tactile contrast to the smoothness of the case.
“There’s a lot of work going on under the leather so you don’t see the underside of the studs, or any stitching – it was important to me to retain the purity of design,” says Gray. “The studs are the perfect choice for the strong, confident women I had in mind for this design.” Limited to 1,001 pieces, 1,000 will go on sale; the first edition remains with Bethan.
“We were delighted to be able to work with Bethan,” concludes Breschan, before revealing Rado’s next steps in championing female design. The True Thinline Studs marks the first in a series of six collaborations with female designers the brand will unveil over the coming months – including leaders in their fields of fashion, lighting design, architecture and more.
The move is an interesting one, but welcome in a horological world dominated by the creative vision of men; watch this space.