My History With The Rado DiaStar: Celebrating 60 Years

Credit: DiaStar

As a fresh, young, pimply faced new graduate into the workforce I was impressionable and eager to learn. This was before real life took its toll on me to the point where I can no longer give a…. oh, that went off the rails real fast… What I meant to say was that the following true story left a deep impression on me and it will always stay with me as one of the most interesting stories I have to tell.

The year was 2002. I was in my first proper job out of university selling watches at a city duty free shop (which no longer exists). We had some decent brands, the usual Omega, Tag Heuer, Rado, Longines, etc. Every so often, the brand reps would come and chat with us (come to think of it I don’t think we ever received brand training. What’s up with that?). Even so, not every brand came to visit actually. As I mentioned, I was an impressionable young lad, so I remember very clearly which brands came to visit. They were, in no particular order, Tag Heuer, Swatch, Coin Watch, Longines, and Rado. 

We were always happy to see the Tag Heuer rep because she would either be bringing us information on the new incentive program, or letting us know what we have earned plus the delivery of said earned watches (yes, we were shallow). But the Rado sales rep – she left a deep deep impression on this young mind and it all has to do with the Rado DiaStar, which celebrates its 60th birthday this year. 

Mind you, the DiaStar, to me, was one of the ugliest watches we had to sell. It had a weird shape, it was yellow and came on this shockingly flimsy stretchy yellow band. I could not comprehend how anyone in their right mind would buy such a watch and, sure enough, I didn’t sell any. The reassurance that Rado was huge in both India and China didn’t help one bit. Omega and Longines were much, much easier to move.

A bi-lock key

When the Radio rep came she talked about the DiaStar and about the special scratchproof material that was used on the case. I was only half listening. I really didn’t care for the watch. It wasn’t until she realised she was losing us when she asked one of us for a key. For a demonstration. 

Now we used one of those bi-lock keys which were all the rage back then before everything went electronic. These bi-lock keys had really sharp teeth and edges. Sharp. She took the key in one hand, and took out one of the DiaStars we had and held it in her other hand.

There was going to be a demonstration. 

We were intrigued.

There was no way she was going to do what we thought she was going to do.

And then she did.

She took the sharp edges of the key and went at the case. Hard. Sawing back and forth on the case, and all around the case. If it was any other watch I would’ve winced, but since it was done on one of the ugliest watches ever, we didn’t so much wince as our eyes were widened in disbelief. She kept going all the while nonchalantly talking through the material and how you can keep going and not scratch the case at all. Finally she stopped after what felt like an eternity. She handed the watch over to us to inspect, giving us a loupe even, to have a really close look at the case after she took out her aggression on it. 

Spotless.

Completely, utterly, spotless. As if what we’d just witnessed never took place.

It was magic.

I still couldn’t, and didn’t sell any of the damn things. However, that story came in handy in when selling Rados in general.

The New DiaStar

Now, 20 years later, and although the DiaStar retained the signature look, it has been modernised through subtle design updates and, maybe age has had something to do with it, but I actually find them quite attractive, and at a very decent price point too. 

You have a choice; grey, blue, or green dial, with the signature faceted sapphire crystal, an updated movement based on the ETA 2824, but now with 80 hours of power reserve (think Tissot Powermatic 80).

The case for the first time, is made from Ceramos, a high-tech composite material with the hardness properties of ceramic and the lustre and resistance of a metal alloy. With 90% of titanium carbide content, the material is lighter than its hard metal predecessor and carries superior scratch-resistant properties (1750 Vickers).

The 60th anniversary edition

There is also a special 60th anniversary edition designed by Swiss-Argentinian product designer Alfredo Häberli, which features a hexagonal faceted crystal, amongst other stylistic changes.

I quite like what they’ve done with the watch, bringing it from an overtly dated 60s style watch appealing only to a certain segment of the population to what is now, a cool, retro-futuristic kinda watch for $2150 AUD, and $2950 AUD on the 60-year anniversary edition.

For more, check out the Longines 190th anniversary Master Collection

Read more