Having been around only since the 1950s, Rado is what you would consider a ‘young’ watch brand. However, it has quickly established itself as one of the most successful in the Swatch Group, a trait Rado CEO Matthias Breschan attributes to clever design focus.
‘From the beginning, Rado didn’t try to compete with other established watch brands in its mechanics and complications,’ he says. ‘Instead, Rado focused on the second element – the watch housing. It’s here that Rado became the leader in bringing innovative materials and designs. This allowed us to differentiate ourselves. Rado introduced the first ceramic watch in 1986 – essentially the first scratch-resistant watch. This meant you could offer a gift that would be certain to keep its beauty.’
Over the past two years, we’ve seen more and more high-end brands turn to ceramic, which has worked in Rado’s favour. ‘Consumers now know – and covet – ceramic as a material. They know it’s scratch resisitant, very light, and comfortable to wear, as well as hypo-allergenic.’ He highlights the importance of high-quality ceramic. ‘Because they’re extremely high in quality, our white ceramic pieces will stay white for up to 30 years.’
Rado is very aware of the spending power of the millennials and had to reconsider its brand messaging a couple of years back. ‘About seven or eight years ago, Rado was known to be shiny, black and square. It was very strong from a branding perspective, as it was unique and recognisable, but it became a problem because it was synonymous with an “elderly” clientele,’ Breschan explains. “Whenever we did something a little bit different, people said, “Oh no, this is not Rado anymore.” We became aware that we need to appeal to the younger market to protect the growth of the brand.’
For this reason, the brand has found power in high-level collaborations. Most recently, it has engaged the prowess of six renowned designers from around the globe – many of them fresh-faced – for its latest collection. Later this year, six women in design will be asked to do the same for a women’s range.
‘We’re careful about whom we select,’ reveals Breschan. ‘We went with designers who’ve never designed watches before and come from different industries. We chose them for their success in their own industries, because we want to use their specialities to innovate.’
These projects don’t always come to market, especially when technical solutions aren’t possible just yet, but Breschan reveals that this is a risk the brand is willing to take because, as he says: ‘A loss of innovation is ultimately the end of our brand.’