NEW YORK — Rado, the Swiss watchmaker, is tapping the culinary world to promote the brand.

The company has signed Nobu Matsuhisa, the renowned chef and restaurant owner, to be its first brand ambassador in the U.S. Rado also has brand ambassadors abroad, such as tennis player Tommy Haas in Austria and actresses Zhang Jing Chu in China and Lisa Ray in India.

Under the agreement, scheduled to last for at least two years, the chef will wear Rado watches, attend special events on behalf of the brand and collaborate on select projects, said Roland Streule, Rado’s worldwide president.

“We thought it would be a wonderful partnership,” Streule said. “Both Rado and Nobu have similar philosophies about creating art out of special materials. A partnership like this can help us communicate to our consumer what we are trying to achieve.”

Rado was established in 1962 with the launch of the world’s first scratchproof watch, the DiaStar 1, made from hard metal. The brand, which has been a part of the Swatch Group since 1983, continues to create women’s and men’s timepieces of unconventional watch manufacturing materials, such as hard metals, high-tech diamonds, sapphire crystals and high-tech ceramic.

“This is one of my more interesting partnerships that I have participated in during my career,” said Nobu, who also is spokesman for his own Nobu-branded products, including sake, tea and dressing, and has appeared in advertising campaigns for Gap, Callaway Golf, Lincoln cars and Fiji water. “Rado watches are very durable and don’t scratch, which makes them great for working in the kitchen.”

Rado and Nobu will kick off their partnership on Tuesday with a party at Nobu 57 here celebrating the unveiling of an exhibition that includes photographs, shot by Martyn Thompson, featuring 10 dishes created by Nobu based on the design of Rado watches. Nobu created five dishes from existing recipes and invented another five exclusively for Rado. The exhibit is scheduled to travel around the U.S. and appear through 2007 at various Rado retail partners, such as Tourneau nationwide, Kenjo here and New Westime in Los Angeles.

This story first appeared in the June 20, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

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