A lighthouse is an unexpected choice of inspiration for a watch, even for a diving companion, yet, here we are celebrating an old beacon built 181 years ago in Spain with a timepiece that marks the 20th anniversary of the All Dial line inspired by an ancient stadium in Italy. Strange or not, prepare to fall in love with the Mido Ocean Star 20th Anniversary.
The Overall Impression
First introduced in 2017, the Mido Ocean Star collection is more than five years old now. I can’t say that, during this period, it became a living legend or any kind of an icon: mainstream collections from smaller brands rarely do. However, it must be successful enough for Mido to keep churning out thousands of new timepieces every year.
I mean, why wouldn’t they? The watch looks elegant and well built. It is not terribly expensive. For what essentially is a diving tool, it is surprisingly versatile: you can wear it with scuba gear, a Canadian tuxedo, as well as with a Havana jacket from Suitsupply.
Tipping the scales at 123 grams and measuring just over 42 millimeters in diameter, it is comfortable on a wrist, and, with a high-contrast dial, is readable at any time of day. The movement is kind of meh, but its only problem is that it isn’t an investment like a Submariner or a limited-edition Seamaster. Well, sometimes we buy watches just because we like them and what is not to like about this watch?
The Case & Bezel
The 42.5-millimeter case comes in a classic Submariner-style shape. Offering the same basic appearance, including the signature crown protectors, it, thankfully, doesn’t look like a direct rip-off. In fact, it is a lot more elegant thanks to a slightly narrower bezel and aggressive beveling on, well, everything.
The overall finish feels very nice, but that’s something to be expected from a watch that costs more than a thousand dollars.
Measuring about 11.6 millimeters top to bottom, the body itself is flat as a coin, but given the relatively short length of the lugs that add around five or six millimeters to the overall length of the case, that should not be a problem for an average person.
Mido decided to equip the Ocean Star collection with a 60-click unidirectional notched bezel that allows for a very good grip (those who own “divers” with beveled bezels know how painful it can be to operate the timer with wet fingers.)
I wasn’t able to find the press release that accompanied this model, but I think that the building engraved on the back cover is the Europa Point Lighthouse [ 1 ]. Built in 1841 about fifty meters shy of the southernmost point of Gibraltar, the lighthouse is a popular tourist attraction. Yours truly planned to visit the place in the autumn of 2020 as the final point of a trans-European motorcycle trip, but the Covid-19 sort of interfered with the plans.
Compared to the ETA C07.111 used by Certina as Powermatic 80, and Hamilton as Caliber H10, the ETA caliber C07.621 that powers this watch has a higher jewel count (25 vs 23) and features a non-synthetic (i.e. traditional, hence, the extra jewels) escapement.
Although a bit more expensive, the traditional escapement is also considered to be more durable and potentially more repairable than the self-lubricating “plastic” part in the cheaper version.
The rest is more or less the same.
It still sports the same frequency of just 21,600 vph that allowed ETA engineers to squeeze 40 more hours of uptime from the slightly elongated mainspring. The caliber still gains or loses approximately 15 seconds per day on average (the figure may vary greatly because the inexpensive mechanisms are normally regulated only in three positions.) Therefore, if you tend to seriously obsess about precision and consistency, this watch may not be the best choice out there: something with a good Swiss quartz may be more suitable for you.
The Dial & Legibility
Because of the “slow(ish)” mechanism, the central seconds hand moves in a less satisfying, jerkier fashion than those on the watches equipped with more common 28,800 vph calibers. I don’t like the way it moves but must admit that it gives the gadget a more “vintage” vibe matching the overall styling of the Ocean Star collection.
The partially open-worked hour and minute hands look solid and appealing. There is just enough high-quality Superluminova (not sure about the exact compound: it is light blue, so, maybe BGW9?) on them to read time comfortably at night [ 2 ].
The hour and minute hands may seem to be “borrowed” from Porsche Design, but the design is decades old: Mido first used them in the aforementioned All Dial line first presented in 2002.
The indicators match the applied hour markers in their styling offering a very satisfying combination: something that we, surprisingly, don’t see as often as we should, even at a higher price.
The original two-part hour marker at 12 o’clock is replaced with a white-red-white one (so, the watch will get you in trouble in Belarus where you can get a nice couple of months in prison for wearing these colors no matter what’s your motivation) mimicking a color scheme of an average lighthouse.
The central seconds hand was also replaced with the one featuring a tiny circular white dot and a red needle-style pointer.
The Pricing & Availability
The 20th Anniversary is a limited edition with exactly 1841 pieces to be sold. Mido offers this watch at the MSRP of 1070 CHF, which is around 1120 USD (all the prices I mention here and below are the “official” ones.) This rather crowded niche will make your head spin if you really dive into it.
Hamilton’s Scuba Auto collection looks a bit more modern (also, a tad more original) and offers superior water resistance of 300 meters at a lower price [ 3 ].
Christopher Ward’s C60 Trident Pro 600 has a less interesting styling, but offers a lot more impressive water resistance rating of 600 meters and comes at basically the same price of €1185 (approx. $1200) [ 4 ].
The Prospex SPB297, Seiko’s homage to their old “divers” from the 1960s-70s, too, costs around $1250, sports the caliber 6R35 with a power reserve of 70 hours but looks slightly bulkier because the proportions of 40.5 mm in diameter to more than 13 mm in thickness are not that great [ 5 ].
Of course, there is also the Longines Hydroconquest (the self-winding ones start at around CHF 1250 / USD 1300) that is technically better in all respects but is also old and obnoxious, and I can’t tell you how bored I am with this device without dropping all sorts of F-bombs here and there and everywhere [ 6 ].
Photos: Mido / Longines / Christopher Ward/ Hamilton / Seiko / Allie Caulfield / Random Rob @youtube
Build Quality: 4.5/5
Overall Legibility: 4.5/5
Nighttime Legibility: 4/5
Value for Money: 4/5
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
Mido Ocean Star 20th Anniversary M026.430.17.041.01 specification
Price (MSRP): 1070 CHF
Movement: Mido Caliber 80 (based on ETA C07.621,) Swiss Made
Movement finish: Polished screw-heads, oscillating weight with Ball Watches logo
Number of Jewels: 25
Cadence of Balance: 21,600 vph
Power Reserve: 80 hours
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, day of the week
Case: Stainless steel
Bezel: Rotating (60 clicks)
Crown: Stainless steel, screwed-down
Bezel shape: Round
Size: 42.50 mm
Case height: 11.60 mm
Lug width: 22.00 mm
Hour markers: Luminous, applied
Hands: Luminous, open-worked
Water resistance: 200 meters
Strap: Blue fabric strap with steel pin buckle
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective on both sides
Back: Solid, engraved