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The 7 Best Mido Swiss Watches - A Buyers Guide

Posted on December 04 2020

Mido Watches

 

Mido is a Swiss watch manufacturer based in the historic watchmaking city of Le Locle. Initially founded in Biel/Bienne, the company is now over 100 years old and a part of the influential Swatch Group. Although not all models are inspired by architecture, the brand has architectural influences at the core of their watch design.

They’ve noted that their philosophy to combine aesthetics, authenticity and functionality is also evident in the best that architecture has to offer. However, as we’ll see, over the years they have also taken inspiration from cars, Roman history and even Parkour.

I’d like to take you through a little of that history, before bringing you up to date and then highlighting the best watches that the brand currently produces.

The History of Mido Watches


Mido is just over 100 years old, having been founded by George G. Schaeren in 1918. Although a Swiss creation, the name comes from the Spanish phrase Yo Mido - I Measure. Early watch models were influenced by Art Deco design before they found an interesting little niche.

At the time there was a growing market for cars and Mido began to design watches in the style of specific radiator grills. With George’s brother now involved in the business, they began producing models styled after notable brands like Bugatti and Fiat.

The 1930s saw the introduction of Aquadura - Mido’s revolutionary system for sealing a watches crown to aid water resistance. But of more interest to us now was the 1934 launch of the Multifort watches. For many, this is the Mido that we know. These models went through extreme testing to prove their robustness and longevity and are still central to the brand today.

It was an important time for the company and the 1935 launch of the Mido Multifort Automatic brought to market, for the first time, a watch that was self-winding, watertight, antimagnetic and impact resistant.

 



The next few decades saw the brand use a cartoon Robot in marketing, create innovative chronographs and launch Powerwind - a system that increased the reliability of automatic watches by reducing the number of components.

This progress culminated in the 1959 release of the Mido Ocean Star. This watch used a new single-piece case, the Aquadura technology and a press-fitted Permafit glass. The single-piece case is still evident in today’s Mido range.

Innovations continued through the decades and Mido watches became more widely available and worn by brand ambassadors including tennis champion Bjorn Borg. By the 1990s Mido was ready to celebrate its 80th anniversary.

To mark this occasion, Mido relaunched the popular Multifort line - after the tough years of the Quartz crisis the brand decided to refocus on mechanical watches. 

Are Mido Watches Good Quality?


The quick answer would be yes. They’re Swiss-made, by a heritage brand that is now a part of the world-leading Swatch Group.

The mechanical pieces use movements with a reliable ETA base, and as we’ve seen, Mido has developed technology to ensure the durability of their watches. However, let’s take a look at the development of one specific watch to get an idea of the quality.

As I mentioned, architecture is at the core of the Mido range. The Multifort line, for example, is inspired by the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the All Dial models by Rome’s Collesium.

From 2014 Mido has been working in partnership with the International Union of Architects and they worked together to create a watch inspired by London’s Big Ben. Three professional watch designers ran head-to-head to create the best design. The winner’s watch would be produced as a limited edition.

The final watch reimagined the neo-Gothic architecture of the clock and is a beautiful piece. It runs on Mido’s own Caliber 80 movement, which was created from an ETA base. It is a COSC certified chronometer with an 80-hour power reserve. The case is rose PVD coated stainless steel and the glass is a sapphire crystal. The dial has a sunray satin-finish and sandblasted grooves. The attention to detail is superb.

There’s no doubting the quality of the watch.

The Best Current Mido Watches


As usual, this list contains my personal favourites. I have made an effort to judge the watches based on design, specifications and value for money. I’ve not included a model from each collection and have featured more than one from the Multifort line.

These are the seven watches that I think are the best, but I’d also encourage you to explore further yourself.

 

Mido Multifort Patrimony Watch

 

The Multifort line is the cornerstone of the Mido range. Following its debut in the 1930s, this line was the company’s bestseller through to the 1950s. As noted above, the Multifort was relaunched in 1998 as the brand once again put robust automatic’s as its first concern.

The Patrimony isn’t the most representative of the range, but it’s a cracking watch. You’ll know by now that I’m a big fan of vintage-inspired and heritage models, and this watch is a successful example.

Of the three variations, the model with the anthracite dial is my preferred version. Before I mention anything regarding the technical specifications of the watch, I want you to take another look at the dial. I love it.

The pulsometer scale isn’t a feature I’d be likely to use, but it adds to the attractive design. Overall the dial, with its shades of grey and subtle date window, is what first drew me to the watch. The syringe hands complement the dial, as do the neat indices and numerals.

Most Mido watches occupy that awkward price-point over £500 and less than £1000. They’re slightly higher priced than other Swatch Group entry-level brands like Tissot and Certina. The Patrimony is in that price range.

What do you get for your money?

The movement is the ETA based Mido calibre 80 mentioned earlier. So it’s a good quality Swiss-Made automatic, with a large power reserve - you can also see it through the exhibition back. That and the boxed sapphire crystal mean that the watch has decent specs.

It’s 40mm wide, while not the size a vintage watch would have been, it is more in keeping with modern tastes. The distressed leather strap rounds out the design well.

Mido Multifort Patrimony M0404071606000

  • 40mm Diameter
  • 11.9mm Thick
  • 19mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Swiss Automatic Movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 50M Water Resistance

 



Mido Ocean Star Tribute Watch

The first Mido Ocean Star was launched at the tail end of the 1950s. The big innovation was the development of a single-piece case, although the watch did also include Mido’s Aquadura crown system. This used cork to help seal the watch and had been used by the brand since the 1930s.

This tribute model was released in 2020 to celebrate the Ocean Star and its role in the Mido stable, rather than being a remake of a specific model.

As another vintage-inspired piece, the case is on the smaller side. It’s 40.5mm, where the standard Ocean Star is currently 44mm. I like that - just a little bit more authentic.

The bezel and case are slightly different from the standard model too, with the full case being highly polished. So be careful about scratches.

For me, the dial really makes this watch. The vibrant blue of the bezel and dial gives the watch a distinctive character and orange is the ideal complementary colour for the second hand. The markers on both the dial and bezel are rectangular and the paddle-style hands stick to the same shape and colour. Taken together, they present a design that manages to give a nod to the past while still obviously being a contemporary piece.

Once again, this watch is powered by Mido’s calibre 80, making it reliable and Swiss-made.

Mido Ocean Star Tribute M0268301104100

  • 40.5mm Diameter
  • 13.5mm Thick
  • 21mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Swiss Automatic Movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 200M Water Resistance

 



Mido Baroncelli Gent Watch

 

Inspired by the classical architecture of the Baroncelli Chapel, this line has also been a long-running Mido collection. In 2006, on the 30th anniversary of the launch of Baroncelli range, Mido released a new collection. These models took their design cues from string instruments.

The Heritage collection was released a decade later for the 40th anniversary and features both Gents and Ladies models.

Where the Ocean Star was trimmed down to 40mm, the Baroncelli is smaller still, coming in at 39mm. What is more, it’s a very slim 7mm. Therefore, the aim of the watch is a pared-down elegance. The classic dress watch with a slender profile.

Normally I’m attracted to slightly beefier smart-casual dress watches, but this model still grabbed my attention. At the risk of overdoing the theme, it’s another vintage-inspired model. This time the colouring - silver dial with a blue second hand - reminds me of JLC’s Master Control. Albeit, a slightly lean version.

It’s a nice contrast to the Ocean Star and an alternative to some of the brand’s more complex designs. Once again, the movement is visible through the case back, and again it’s powered by a Mido movement. However, it’s the slightly different Calibre 1192 - still a Swiss-Made ETA base.

The watch is ideal if you’re a fan of understated elegance.

Mido Baroncelli Heritage III M0274071101000

  • 39mm Diameter
  • 7.2mm Thick
  • 20mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Swiss Automatic Movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 30M Water Resistance

 



Mido Multifort Gent Watch

 

Another Multifort watch, from the collection inspired by the architecture of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. More substantial than the Baroncelli, and with the hint of a military watch design, this is a favourite of mine.

At 42mm this is the largest watch I’ve highlighted so far, although it is only 11mm thick. It’s less dressy than the last model, but I wouldn’t really class it as sporty either. It looks more functional, with a basic tool watch vibe.

As you’ve already guessed, it has Mido’s 80hr power reserve movement, a sapphire crystal and some basic water resistance. But what strikes you first is the dial. It is textured, with vertical lines and plain indices. There’s a number of variations of this model, with different coloured dials and a choice of straps and bracelets, but this cream dial and leather strap version works best for me.

The overall appearance is reminiscent of fellow Swatch Group brand Hamilton and I see this watch competing for the same customers.

Mido Multifort Gent M0054301603180

  • 42mm Diameter
  • 11mm Thick
  • 20mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Swiss Automatic Movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 100M Water Resistance

 



Mido Multifort GMT Watch

 

I previously featured a Mido model in my piece about Super Compressor watches. It was the similar-looking Two Crowns. It’s a style that I really admire, based on a popular design from the 1950s to 1970s.

The concept is simple, but the result can be stunning. The bezel is moved from the outer case of the watch to the inside. This inner bezel, housed under the glass, can be rotated by turning a second crown. In the case of this Mido watch, it’s the fourth hand that uses this second crown. Either way, the double crown look is interesting.

This is one of the more sporty designs that I’ve featured. It looks like it has been created as a tool rather than as a fashion accessory. The two crowns give the impression that the watch is used for more than just telling the current time, but the black dial and bracelet suggest simplicity of purpose.

There’s a bit of colour on the dial and GMT hand. It feels like a concession to the original super compressor designs which were often colourful and it does enhance the watch.

Once again, the Swiss automatic movement is visible through the case back, and the bracelet is a nice two-tone style. At 42mm it’s a comfortable size, and there are the obligatory sapphire crystal and 100M of water resistance.

It’s one of a pair of Two Crown models by the brand, so you may want to check out the other one here.

Mido Multifort GMT M005.929.11.051.00

  • 42mm Diameter
  • 10.3mm Thick
  • 22mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Swiss Automatic Movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 100M Water Resistance

 



Mido Multifort Escape Watch

 

The Multifort Escape is a simple, 44mm watch, with a hint of vintage styling. I was immediately drawn to this model when I saw the case. The stainless steel has been artificially aged with a sandblasted treatment. This has been matched with a natural leather strap, giving a rugged first impression.

Looking closely you can see that the hands are skeletonised and matt black. It’s a nice effect that complements the case.

The green dial has vertical Geneva stripes, the same as the last two models, and there’s more colour on the outer minute track, including a little orange. It all sounds more colourful and complex than it actually is. Overall it’s an uncomplicated watch.

The large dial is clear and legible, with large bold numerals. Like the previous watches, there’s an exhibition back to view the automatic movement and a sapphire crystal.

This is a watch you’ll appreciate more the closer you look.

Mido Multifort Escape M032.607.36.090.00

  • 44mm Diameter
  • 11.9mm Thick
  • 23mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Swiss Automatic Movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 100M Water Resistance

 



Mido Commander Gradient Watch

 

The final watch is a sharp contrast to the rugged simplicity of the Escape. The Commander Gradient is elegant and complex, with a unique design that differentiates it from the rest of the Mido stable. Rather than mining the company’s back catalogue for inspiration, the Gradient is a thoroughly modern take on the mechanical timepiece.

Where to start?

Let’s start with the transparent Acrylic dial. Although it is see-through, it also has a smoked, gradient effect. So it gets darker towards the edges. In practical terms, this means that you can see automatic movement in the centre, but still clearly read the markers at the edges. Clever.

The movement that you can view through both sides of the watch is again the Caliber 80. I like the quirky way that you can see the full date wheel, with the current date vividly displayed.

There’s a couple of colour palettes available, with this plainer stainless steel model appealing to me the most. With the movement on display, I appreciate the more straightforward colour scheme and the plain markers and hands.

The dark, smoky dial also contrasts well with the stainless steel case and bracelet and, for me, this works better than the alternative PVD model. I’m not sure about the slightly recessed crown, but as a whole, this is an attractive watch that really catches the eye.

It’s not typical of the brand, but it’s a good way to end the list. A watch that exhibits flair and sophisticated watch design.

Mido Commander Gradient M0214071141100

  • 40mm Diameter
  • 10.8mm Thick
  • 21mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Swiss Automatic Movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 50M Water Resistance

 

Conclusion


Mido is a Swiss heritage brand that takes design inspiration from iconic architecture. Their watches use their own automatic movements, built from a Swiss-made ETA base. This represents a step up from the movements that most manufacturers use.

The company has resurrected previous collections and now boasts a number of heritage and tribute models. However, as I demonstrated with the Gradient model, they also produce distinctly modern pieces.

They occupy a position in the market above fellow Swatch Group brands like Tissot and Certina. It’s a tough price-point to compete in, but having their own movements and overall high spec’s makes them very competitive.

For me, the vintage-inspired models are the best, with the Patrimony being a personal favourite. If you’ve anything to add, just pop your thoughts below.


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