Brand: Rado
Model: Chronometer
Ref.: 11821
Issued: Ca. 1969
Case: Stainless steel
Bracelet: Single-model variant of Jubilee style
Movement:  AS 1858, 25j, gilt, numbered and chronometer rated

Photo courtesy rado_jp



Presented here is a steel Rado chronometer from the period 1968-1972. This model is the first chronometer issued by Rado after their 56-H series, which was first produced in 1956. Early 56-H models were only issued in 18k gold cases, the second series (a.k.a. 56-HB) has been seen with cases of 18k gold, gold-plate, or stainless steel. The present watch, Ref. 11821 (known only as Chronometer) was issued only in steel, and was the last chronometer model with a traditional watch case and shape (as opposed to oval Diastars of Tungsten-Carbide) until a Japan-only Golden Horse chronometer was issued in 2008.

This watch features a distinctive case which is larger than that of most Golden Horse (and related) models of the same period. It has 20mm lugs which are cut straight across, rather than rounded to the radius of the bezel. A slight bevel to the lugs is matched by beveled edges of the OEM bracelet, not pictured on this watch but shown in the catalogue image below and in photos generously provided by noted Rado collector and instagram user rado_jp.

In addition to the large, solid case, the 31mm dial has additional features which bring the Rado chronometer into a more modern age than its predecessors. Thick rectangular hands and markers replace the more delicate pointed ones of the 56-H, and the applied script Chronometer label adds to the bold, masculine presence. Aficionados of vintage Mido watches will recognize the script as the one also used on some Commander and Ocean Star models from that brand. Around the time this chronometer was produced, Rado and Mido both joined ASUAG, the predecessor to SMH and today’s Swatch Group. It seems likely they shared some suppliers. Rado did carry-over one design element from the 56-H into the 11821 Chronometer: a simple 5-pointed star is printed on the dial below the center post. The box-style crystal exhibits the small embossed anchor logo in the center as did many of the period.

Another modern element of this watch is not obvious to the observer. In an effort to provide some robust protection of the movement, the winding stem benefits from a pair of small o-rings, which create a seal in the case tube, presumably increasing water and dust resistance (see image below).

Production figures for this model are unknown; a request for information has been made to Rado Watch Co, and I intend to update this article as more data becomes available. Please check back. For now, the assumption that Fritz von Osterhausen's published figure of 911 Rado chronometer wristwatches made 1957-1972 is assumed to be correct, and that it includes this line in addition to the 56-H models. An informal accumulation of information from examples of this reference seen on the web, and in the hands of EOT Rado Forum members, shows that the case numbers fall within the range ofG.33350044 to G.33350635 (the watch pictured herein). This suggests that 600 or more cases of this type were made, but it is unknown whether they were all built into watches and whether all those watches were Ref. 11821 chronometers. Very similar cases have been seen on other models such as the Jetliner 333 and some Day-Night and LITENITE models. Examination of their case numbers will be made as opportunities arise. Two Jetliner 333s have been shown to have case numbers in a different range (eg, G.4481640). If you have information on these watches, including the significance of the G in the case numbering, please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


A gallery of promotional materials related to early Rado chronometers, including this model, can be viewed by clicking here.

Photos: Click for larger

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Bracelet and advertising images courtesy rado_jp:

JP bracelet 2 JP bracelet 3

Advert from a ~1970 Japanese importer's catalogue:

Photo courtesy Rado Watch Company

 Text and images © C. Bradley Jacobs, unless otherwise indicated