|Case:||Stainless steel with screw-back and shooting star medallion|
|Movement:||A. Schild automatic Cal. 1701, 25 Jewels|
Description: This is a mid-1960s example of a Rado 56-H chronometer, and the only one I have seen with silver markers and dial in a steel case. Other examples have been seen in 18k or gold-plated cases with gold or silver dial featuring gold markers. This watch has a typical Rado case in the style of contemporary watches, such as the Golden Horse, but where those watches have a sea-horse emblem on the case back, the 56-H has an image of a shooting star above the earth. The significance of the model name and the image is described in my article on early Rado chronometers at the NAWCC website.
Published accounts* of this model indicate that between 1957 and 1972 Rado created 911 wrist chronometers using A. Schild automatic movements exclusively. The specific designation of this model is 56-H B, indicating it uses the second-generation AS movement with date. This example may be among the earliest Rado chronometers delivered to the USA. The brand's introduction to the American market took place in 1965 (with the Manhattan model taking center stage) and this watch, with markings of "undajusted" and the import code UOR, was certainly intended for export from Switzerland to the United States.
The case shows very little wear; the dial appears to be original and nearly 100%. Unlike the 30mm dial of the gold versions, this watch appears to have a dial of 27-28mm, and fits in a standard Rado case of the era. The movement's prior service history is unknown but it was completely overhauled at RGM in December 2008, is working perfectly and remains in nearly NOS condition. Crown is signed with block letter R. Unfortunately, the original chronometer certificate is not present with this watch (the photos show the box & certificate belonging to an 18k example).
Photos: (photos 4 & 5 courtesy RGM Watch Co.)
*Click here to see an excerpt about a similar Rado from Fritz Von Osterhausen's book Wristwatch Chronometers (Callwey Verlag, Munich, 1996). A gallery of promotional materials related to early Rado chronometers, including 56-H chronometers can be viewed by clicking here (apologies--photo hosting issues have temporarily disrupted this gallery).
This watch is now part of the collection of Rado Watch Co. in Lengnau, Switzerland. Look for it when their museum opens!
Note: More specific information pertaining to the manufacture/issue date of this and other 56-H watches is welcome. Also, I am always seeking 56-H watches and parts--including boxes and paperwork. I have a personal mission to preserve these watches, especially those which have been removed from their gold cases.
Text and images © C. Bradley Jacobs, WatchCarefully.com unless otherwise indicated