As I mentioned in an earlier review, having watches show up with sub-40mm cases is a fun trend we’re seeing more of. Some of those are new designs, and some of those are calling back to designs in a catalog from decades ago. That’s precisely what we’ve got in this 37mm Rado Golden Horse 1957 that was introduced earlier this year and just became available in March.
The Rado Golden Horse 1957 is very much a recreation of the watch that was introduced all the way back in (wait for it) 1957, which also happens to be the year that Rado was created. So, in many ways, this is quite the meaningful model for the brand. So, why the “Golden Horse”? It’s due to the icongraphy on the dial, where you’ve got two golden sea horses applied at the 6 o’clock position, as well as three more showing up on the case back and another two on the clasp.
With all those sea horses (and the beads-of-rice bracelet), you might be tempted to think of the Rado Golden Horse 1957 as a dive watch, but you know, it really isn’t. For starters, there’s not a drop of luminous paint on the dial, and more importantly, it carries only a 50m WR rating. So, you’ll be fine washing your hands or getting caught in the rain, but don’t swim with this piece on your wrist.
What, then, is the Rado Golden Horse 1957 intended to be? Well, if you wanted it to be a dress watch, it could certainly fulfill that function. But I think of it as more an everyday, do-all-things sort of a piece. I’m guessing most folks in 1957 weren’t collecting multiple watches, so when they got a nice mechanical, it needed to work across a variety of settings – at the office, evenings out, all of that. While there is a good bit of high-polish on the watch, the sides of the case are brushed, so that breaks things up and helps hide smudges.
Set on top of the Rado Golden Horse 1957 you’ve got one the more noticeable modern upgrades – the polymer crystal of the original has been replaced with sapphire, though it’s still in a “boxed” configuration. That’s set over the top of a dial (we reviewed the blue, but there are also black, green, and red versions) that’s clean, and provides a sharp contrast to the indices. Those seemed to just “light up” in any condition, and it’s due to the inverted bevel there (think v-shape) that catches and reflects the light quite unlike most other watches I’ve seen. The hands have the more traditional bevel angles, and catch the light slightly differently. Aside from a pitch-black room, I never had an issue being able to read the time on the watch.
Lest you be wanting for a pop of color, the Rado Golden Horse 1957 does offer that. You’ve got the date disc that’s printed in red ink (just like models Rado produced in the 60s and 70s), and then you’ve got the red disc the anchor is set into. This is one of the clever things I appreciate about Rado. On their automatics, the anchor freely spins, letting you know that it is indeed an automatic movement tucked into the watch.
While you could certainly put the Rado Golden Horse 1957 onto a leather strap, it comes paired to a beads-of-rice bracelet that has a narrow, elongated stainless steel clasp that is very reminiscent of watches from the era. It also gives you plenty of room to get your hand through when putting the watch on, while minimizing the bulk on the underside of your wrist while it’s worn.
No, you might thinking that a 37mm case would disappear on your wrist. And, I suppose, if you’re Andre the Giant-sized, that may be the case. For me, though (7.25″ wrist for those keeping score at home) it fit like a dream. Now, if the dial was poorly sorted, it would be a problem. Fortunately, the Rado Golden Horse 1957 is very nicely done, with those light-catcher indices and the broad hands.
Now, for the potentially not-so-great news. The Rado Golden Horse 1957 is a limited-edition (1,957 pieces of each dial color; blue and green are the newer ones) and it comes in at $1,800. So, if you’re looking for a vintage-reissue on the cheap, this isn’t for you. If, on the other hand, you’re a fan of what Rado has been making these last 50+ years and are looking for a faithful reissue (along with an 80-hour movement), then your radar needs to be pinging. rado.com
- Brand & Model: Rado Golden Horse 1957
- Price: $1,800
- Who’s it for? You like the vintage look but prefer modern reliability
- Would I wear it? Absolutely
- What I’d change: For a watch with two seahorses on it, I’d expect more than a 50m WR rating…
- The best thing about it: The classic, compact style
Tech Specs from Rado
- Movement: 111?2 ETA C07.611, automatic, 25 jewels, 3 hands, red printed date at 3 o’clock, up to 80 hours power reserve
- Polished stainless steel case
- Polished stainless steel middle part, brushed sides\
- Polished stainless steel screw-down case back with 3 stamped seahorses
- Polished stainless steel crown
- Water-resistant to 5 bar (50m)
- Special engraving on case back: LIMITED EDITION ONE OUT OF 1957
- Box-shaped sapphire crystal
- 020: black to blue gradient, rhodium coloured applied indexes
- 031: black to green gradient, rhodium coloured applied indexes
- 2 gold coloured applied seahorses
- Large rhodium coloured moving anchor symbol with red background
- White printed Rado and Golden Horse logos
- Hands rhodium coloured, dauphine shape
- Polished and brushed stainless steel, rice grain type
- Stainless steel 3-fold clasp with 2 seahorses
- Dimensions 37.0 x 44.8 x 10.8 (WxLxH in mm)