The last time I bought a watch at a mall was sometime in the ’80s. It was a Swatch, which I wore until I fell off my skateboard and smashed the plastic crystal. Ever since, my watches have all come by way of various dealers and fellow collectors. I didn’t expect to get the urge to rush to the nearest Macy’s to pick up a new timepiece all these years later. Then I heard about the Rado Golden Horse 1957.
Rado, a Swiss manufacturer that traces its origins to 1917, specializes in wallet-friendly ceramic and dive watches. And with the Golden Horse, it has introduced one of the greatest value propositions I’ve ever seen: an exquisitely designed and executed mechanical timepiece that costs only $1,800.
Over the past decade, as the demand for vintage watches has reached a fever pitch, seemingly every legacy watchmaker has dusted off and rereleased archival pieces. Unfortunately, a lot of reissues are made to look vintage themselves, with “aged” lumes and faux-patina dials. Even worse, the brands will upsize a watch that debuted in the ’60s to suit modern tastes.
Rado has done right by the original Golden Horse, which was released in ’57 (of course). Other than a new movement and an 80-hour power reserve, this watch is nearly identical to the original.
It would have been a crime to change anything about the midcentury design, because every detail of the watch is beautifully thought out. At 37 mm, it is the perfect size. The face is a lesson in balance, with a beautiful contrast between the dial (in my case, inky blue) and the hyper-polished hour markers, seamlessly integrated date window, and double-seahorse logo. (The anchor on the dial actually spins around—a weird little novelty that I love.)
But the finishings are what blew my mind when I first unpacked this thing. The “beads of rice” bracelet, as it’s known, is quite literally the most comfortable watch bracelet I’ve ever put on, with a silky feel that naturally conforms to your wrist. Even the lugs, an afterthought on many watches, are finished with the same sharp, swooping edges I would expect on a piece that costs 10 times as much.
The Golden Horse comes in four dial variations (inky black, money green, deep blue, and blood red), and Rado has made 1,957 of each. It’s rare this column covers a watch you can so easily go out and buy, but all four are available as I write this. Get yours at the mall, online, or at an authorized retailer. I feel like I’ve been waiting a long time to find a watch like this—you really don’t want to miss out on the Golden Horse.
A version of this story originally appears in the August 2020 issue with the title “Unbeatable Design, Unbeatable Value”.