Mido is a Swatch Group brand that doesn’t have a tremendous amount of mindshare among wristwatch enthusiasts in the United States, although the company’s been around for some time (founded in 1918) and the Group has retailers for Mido watches around the world. Its current collections have preserved some of the company’s more popular vintage models, including the Multifort, Commander, and Ocean Star lines, and they’ve just announced a new model in the Baroncelli line: the Baroncelli Heritage. This is not a watch that’s necessarily going to take the world by storm, but it doesn’t need to: it’s a good-looking watch for just a bit over $1,000, that’s noticeably better thought out than a lot of its competition.
Mido, for some time now, has been positioning itself as a company that takes design cues from world architecture – to be completely candid, the connection can sometimes seem a bit tenuous. The Baroncelli Heritage supposedly is influenced by the architecture of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan, which was finished in 1877 and is one of the world’s oldest shopping malls. The Galleria is gorgeous but I sort of struggle to see any clear connection between it, and the Baroncelli Heritage. I suspect what a lot of watch enthusiasts will find more interesting and relevant is that this is a very attractive, very flat daily wear/dress watch at a great price. (This year, the way, is the 40th anniversary of the Baroncelli collection and the Heritage models were launched to celebrate the occasion).
The Baroncelli Heritage watches will come in two sizes; the smaller is being billed as a ladies’ watch and is 33 mm in diameter, and the larger model is 39 mm in diameter. So far we’re told that both sizes will be available in PVD rose gold plate, and that the larger will also be offered in stainless steel, but Mido also says that additional models will be available (and we presume, announced at Baselworld 2016). There are a lot of nice details, including the narrow, stepped bezel, the well proportioned hands (it’s always nice to see a minute hand hitting the markers dead on) and the attractive “Baroncelli Heritage” logo – I’m not sure why, but an awful lot of high luxury watch brands seem to have a weird affinity for terrible typefaces and this is a nice exception to that rule. There are some luxury Swatch Group brands that ought to take a page from Mido’s notebook, at least in this case.
The case shape is surprisingly sophisticated for a watch at this price point, and should feel great on the wrist if the initial images are any indication. The dial has a nicely textured, fine-grained finish and the hands are sandblasted on one side and diamond-cut and polished on the other; in the rose gold PVD models the seconds hand is a contrasting blue. The watches will have display backs, and while we haven’t got images of the back of the watch just yet, we can tell you that the movement is the Mido 1192/ETA 2892A2, adjusted to four positions, with blue screws and Geneva stripes. If the decoration is neatly done, there’s no shame in providing solid machine executed finish appropriate to the price point.
One really interesting thing about this watch is that it is very thin – in 39 mm, the case is only 6.95 mm thick, and in 33 mm, even thinner at 6.85. That’s thinner than the Jaeger LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin Small Seconds, which is 7.65 mm thick. It’s not in true ultra-thin watch territory, of course – the JLC Master Ultra Thin 1907 is 4 mm thick, just for comparison’s sake – but the Baroncellis are priced at $1,220 for the 39 mm versions, and $1,100 for the 33 mm, versus over $7K for the JLC (though of course the JLC has an in-house movement, more elaborate dial, and so on).
They’re handsome, classically proportioned watches with a high quality, albeit very mass-produced movement, and I think there’s a value offering here that ought to get more attention on Mido – certainly here in the USA where HODINKEE is headquartered – than it’s had in some time. There’s a certain amount of price fatigue in watchmaking right now, both in vintage watch collecting and certainly in new models, and to make a solid, affordable offering that brings unexpected value to the table and shows some respect for the intelligence of the consumer is not a bad thing. We’re happy to call this a refreshing Value Proposition sight unseen for now, and look forward to seeing it in the metal. To paraphrase U.S. Vice President (under Woodrow Wilson) Thomas Marshall, sometimes you just need a really good five-cent cigar.
Visit Mido online here.
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