Essays On Horology

Mido Ocean Star Tribute

In 1959 Mido released the Ocean Star line of watches with a completely novel monocoque case design, pressure fitted crystal, cork crown sealing system and an astonishing 300 meters of water resistance. The nineteen-forties and fifties were a time of incredible innovation for waterproof watches. And the release of the 1959 Ocean Star marked a fitting seal to the decade of watch case advancements.

Mido Ocean Star Special Edition Tribute

The “Oceanstar” trademark first began use on movements and the occasional Multifort watch dial since 1944. With the starfish symbol appearing on Mido movements in 1941.

Then President of Mido Watch Company of America, a subsidiary and distributor of Mido watches in the United States, testified, “That his company received shipments of watches marked ‘OCEANSTAR’ beginning in 1944” and that, with the 1959 Ocean Star line, began receiving them in “vast quantities.” [source]

The pursuit of waterproof watches goes back to the 17th century.

By the 20th century there was a push to meet the needs of explorers, navies, and professional divers. As tales of exotic adventure spread, another wave was forming, and would soon make a big splash on popular culture. The emergence of the amateur sport adventurist.

Mido has a long, and fascinating, history in manufacturing waterproof watches.

Used by Navy service men, aviators, and swimmers, by the 1950’s they had developed a reputation for making reliable and durable water resistant pieces. Mido already made their watches with the, later named, Aquadura system which incorporated a chemically treated cork to seal the stem of the crown, and a screw down case back. Amazingly, it worked so well that with the crown pulled out it still provided 100 feet of water resistance [source].

In 1934, they released the Multifort, a watch that was self-winding, anti-magnetic, impact resistant (one of the first watch companies to use the now famous Incabloc system), and waterproof. You cannot overstate how much of milestone this was. It was a winning combination and set the standard that all automatic sport and tool watches would follow.

And it was incredibly waterproof. While some waterproof watches prior to this were resistant to being splashed and marketed themselves as waterproof. This was a watch you could swim with.

Dave Haynes, NAWCC vintage watch repairer and chronicler, said, “Mido watches were very high end expensive watches. They were always cased well and waterproof … Old watchmakers and jewelers I’ve talked to said that they were a direct competitor for Rolex in the high end rugged sport watch market.”

The 1959 monocoque case.

In 1959, with the introduction of a true mono-shell case (the design was only in two parts, crystal and a single one piece monocoque case), the Mido Ocean Star watch offered a degree of impermeability no watch company had achieved before. And it may have just introduced the worlds most water resistant watch with a depth rating of 300 meters.

But, in a very Mido way, they didn’t make a big splash about it.

To put this achievement in perspective. By the 1960s the Omega Seamaster offered 200 meters of water resistance; the Rolex Submariner 100 meters; and the Zodiac Sea Wolf 100 meters.

A dressy sports watch.

Yet Mido was not racing to the bottom of the sea. Rather, they were designing purpose-built watches for another sea-dweller. The recreational, laid-back surfing, skin-diving and water sport enthusiast kind – who valued refined Swiss engineering and beautiful craftsmanship. The Ocean Star was Mido’s move towards a dressy sports watch that improved on the great technology they had refined in the Multifort.

The Ocean Star kept the extremely reliable powerwind movement that had endeared the Multifort to its owners. While designing a new line of sports watches that ranged from ultra-dressy to the more tool-centric bezel diver watch that the Tribute is a reissue of.

As an adventure sports watch of the 1960s, the Ocean Star was as much for mountains as it was for the seas. In 1964/65 Edmund Hillary sponsored an Antarctic expedition to be the first to summit the 9000-foot volcanic peak ‘Big Ben’. It was the first private Australian expedition to the Antartic since Sir Douglas Mawson’s in 1929. And the Mido Ocean Star was selected as the watch of choice for the expedition.

You can find more history of Mido here.

The launch of the 75th Anniversary Mido Ocean Star Tribute.

That was a lot of history. I feel it helps explain the impact of Mido during the 20th century and why the Ocean Star “waterproof” line was so significant to the brand.

To commemorate the mark, Mido released both a black and a blue dial version with aluminum bezels. The Ocean Star has classic masculine lines and a pleasant 40.5mm size for a vintage diver.

The Mido Ocean Star Tribute is a reissue of a watch that was birthed from this golden age of discovery, exploration and adventure.

It stays true to the original aesthetic. Harkening back to a 1970’s Mido diving watch. Carrying over the design elements of the bezel, the orange lollypop second hand (which happens to be the official color of Mido), the rectangular minute and hour hands, the crown guards, and the date/day complication. Here was a watch that would take you anywhere – and would never miss a beat.

Mido Ocean Star Tribute Reissue. Original to the left. Reissue to the right.

Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series

In 2019, Mido chose to launch the Ocean Star Tribute at none other than the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series.

The 75th Anniversary Special Edition Mido Ocean Star Tribute is something to behold. Somehow it pays respect to both their mid-century professional dive watches and their dressier sports watch they were known for. It has a classic 60s dial and diver bezel with a luxurious bracelet. The bracelet is refined, polished, and incredibly well executed. With a beautiful clasp and divers extension.

Watch experts such as Teddy Baldassarre remarked that the bracelet was of a quality that one could not find in the $1150 price range. Saying, “One of the best bracelets I’ve found in a dive watch … As you go out you get to handle hundreds, if not thousands, of watches. You get more of an appreciation for certain things. You get to really hone in on what works and what doesn’t. The Mido Ocean Star just simply works.”

As of the last published COSC certifications, Mido is actually fourth in line for producing the most chronometer certified watches, among the top of Rolex, Omega and Breitling. Which does tell the story of what Mido really cares about when it comes to producing their watches: Swiss precision and quality.

The movement is the Mido Calibre 80. Which is based on the highly regarded Swiss made ETA 2824-2 movement. But modified for an accurate 80 hour power reserve. It’s known as a precise, reliable, and robust mechanical movement. The refined 80 hour power reserve movement is made exclusively for certain Swiss companies. The Mido Calibre 80 improves upon the design with their pallet fork, balance spring, escape wheel, materials and finishes. As Mido CEO Franz Linder says about the movement, “We have certain standards of our own, where we try to go even further.”

Mido Ocean Star Tribute movement

The bezel is steel, unidirectional, and 60-click. It has a bit of lateral play – but does slot into place and lines up precisely.

It has a matte black dial with lumed indices that change color from a pale green to a light cream depending on the the light. Of note is the crown guard, true to the original. Not a common feature of 1960 and 1970 dive watches.

1970s Mido Automatic Diver

In short, the classic styling, the domed crystal, the embodiment of an era, the dual nature of tool and class – all appeals to me.

There’s something beautiful about quality workmanship that can withstand a life of use and still be serviced to carry with it the stories of a one generation to another.

The Mido Ocean Star has the aesthetic je ne sais quoi. Embodying style, functionality, quality, a bit of 60’s flare, and Swiss pride. Finding this watch was unexpected, like hiking a trail, looking down and spotting a jewel. I purchased it the same day I discovered it from a Canadian watch house. And haven’t looked back.

Mido Ocean Star Tribute Features

The retro look of the indexes is perfectly offset by the black dial, orange second hand and bezel.


  • 40.5mm case diameter
  • 13.43mm case height
  • Boxed saphire crystal
  • Aluminum insert bezel
  • Super-LumiNova Applied Indexes
  • Screw-down crown
  • Automatic Mido Calibre 80 Movement (ETA C07.621 base)
  • Elaboré grade
  • Hacking
  • Handwinding
  • 80 hour power reserve
  • 20 bar (200 m / 660 ft) water resistance
  • Hour, minute, second, day and date functions
  • Made in Switzerland
Mido Ocean Star Tribute


The black dial Ocean Star Tribute is an honest and timeless design.

I’d been on the hunt for a do-it-all watch that would wear a lifetime. A waterproof, all-weather, timepiece that would suit an active life of cycling, hiking, swimming, backcountry skiing, business casual, travel and motorcycling.

The Mido Ocean Star Tribute fits the bill. It’s practical, designed to withstand the pressures of the deep and as such is built to tighter tolerances. It has the built in bezel timer. And I plan on keeping the it for a lifetime. The Mido Ocean Star Tribute was exactly what I was looking for.

Discovering the Mido sparked a curiosity to uncover more about this elegant watch maker. And I’ve found the journey of researching the history behind the watch as fascinating and rewarding as the use of the watch itself.

If you have any information, please comment below as it all helps the community.

Reviews by watch enthusiasts.

The community of Reddit has put together a great resource guide on Mido. The common theme is that they are of high quality and one will not regret owning a Mido.

Essays On Brand On Horology

Brand & Watches

What can you learn about building a brand from watch manufacturers and enthusiasts?

I’m on a journey to buy a watch. An automatic mechanical watch to be exact. I’ve been fascinated by the beauty of self-powered mechanical machines for as long as I can remember. I bought my first wind-up clock on a family trip to the UK as an 8 or 9 year old.

I have a short-list of items that I’m looking for. A watch with an automatic mechanical movement, that I can wear day-to-day, that tracks time (for training), that is water-proof, that looks timeless, and that is durable.

At first I saw a Seiko mechanical watch that fit the bill. However, due to the fact that I already have a Seiko, I thought this is as good a time as any to try something new.

And then the watch buying journey of twists and turns began.

Despite being a landlocked country, my first port of call was Switzerland. It is has a well established brand of making high quality watches.

My methodology was simple. Start with finding a watch that fit the criteria and then, because I’m not able to see these watches in person, research the reviews to see if it would be a good buy. This is where I began to face the labyrinth of brand.

I was first introduced to Hamilton watches and then Tudor, Delma, Tissot, Marathon, and Glycine. In that order. All Swiss watch manufacturers. Other than Tissot, all brands that were new to me.

Glycine Combat Sub

I’m not generally particular about a brand. I look at quality and function, begin to love a product after use, and only then I become curious about the company, story and brand itself. However, without first-hand experience, each review I read would turn me down a different path. Brand mattered to them.

One reviewer would speak of heritage and say that another brand was preferable. So I would start my search again with their recommended model. Or one name was more known than another which could impact servicing, so again I was introduced to a new brand. Another reviewer would say that another movement in a different watch is better or had been used for longer, which may impact durability.

As I am looking for a waterproof watch that could be used as a timer, I began to narrow my search around dive watches. It turns out, some watch manufacturers had a history of being deeply involved with diving, while others were not, this was important to the reviewer. Even when everything seemed comparable – history, technology, movement – suddenly the watches’ parent company would come into question.

I just wanted a durable, quality, mechanical, waterproof and timeless watch.

In these reviews I learned about exhibition cases, servicing concerns, “hacking”, power reserve, manual winding, tolerances, origin, and that all movements were different. Some, with much to be desired.

Finally, after going around in circles, I thought I would look outside of Swiss watches and came across Yema, a French watch manufacturer. They made dive watches. They have heritage and technology. But when reading reviews the customer service of the company was being called into question – a new one to me.

Yema Superman Dive Watch

It’s enough to pull ones hair out.

While out on a hike in the mountains and reflecting on all this new information, it struck me, there’s so much to learn about building a brand from watches.

In fact it was easy to categorize all the decision points into building blocks of brand.

A brand is the marriage between how a company presents itself and how the consumer perceives them. It is not one or the other. It is the intersection. And brand matters. It adds confidence to a purchase decision or introduces doubts.

We think of goodwill in business as the relationship, hopefully a positive one, between the business and the customer.

For example, a reviewer may make bold claims that a product is great or the service is terrible. But that statement alone does not make the brand. Lets say someone claims Rolex has terrible customer service. Do you think the Rolex brand will be tarnished? Of course not. Because there’s more to brand. But, another company, a lesser known one, may find it will take time to regain trust with their market after a statement like that is made.

So what is it that composes the brand?

When it comes to watches people care about honesty.

This came up again and again in reviews. Collectors didn’t mind if the mechanical movement was proprietary or if it was a 3rd-party movement. They didn’t mind if it was made in Switzerland or simply assembled there. What they did mind was if a company was misleading – claiming a component was made somewhere it wasn’t. If one part of the marketing story was found to be untrue, all was called into question. Integrity was lost.

Watch reviewers are very thorough. They’ll even go to a watch maker to have them dismantle the watch and inspect the parts to offer their opinion.

The opposite was the case as well, no pun intended. If a marketing story was found to be true, the brand would increase in appeal. The richer the story, the greater the value.

Story matters.

Brands that can boast having been in outer space, in battle, in the Navy, on explorations, or having innovated technology – all garner the admiration of the wearer.

Omega watch in space

In part, I believe because that’s the draw to a mechanical watch. The watch represents something. Both stylistically and idealistically. You’re respecting a moment, a demeanour, an accomplishment. But the story must remain intact.

Design matters.

Mechanical movements are becoming works of art, along with the dial, bezel and case. Watch enthusiasts care very much about aesthetics. But not in isolation. A well designed watch is one where the aesthetic matches the utility of the watch.

Here a dive watch looks and functions as a dive watch. The utility is in the design.

How this effects brand is when a watch company produces designs that are true to the function of the piece and their expertise. In other words, true to the heritage and roots of the company. Over time this design becomes iconic to that watch. Think of a Rolex Explorer.

A company that produces designs outside of their tradition, and without purpose, other than to reach a broader market – takes the company away from the brand they were establishing.

Whereas if a watch company works with the Navy, for example, to supply a new dive watch, this expands the brand as there is a strong sense of purpose behind the new design.

Even advertising matters.

Most marketers, especially digital ones, may think of awareness as brand building. Working to reach new audiences and make a logo known and trusted. But they advertise to get a purchase, rather than tell a story. That type of advertising is more in line with sales, and does not build brand equity.

Just like the watches themselves, every advertisement, every artwork, and every article produced becomes the brand’s artifacts over time. An advertisement may showcase a movement or a diver. The visual design of the advertisement must mirror both the character of the watch and the copy be true to the integrity of the story.

From what I can gather, one example where advertising backfired was when Tudor watches sponsored Lady Gaga as their spokesperson. The reason for this is that the person who purchased Tudor watches couldn’t relate to her, despite her success within the music industry and her gritty determination. It was off-brand. And the forums were not quiet about it.

The next thing that stands out is quality & engineering. And also quality control.

The piece must meet or exceed all expectations. One expects a Swiss watch, for example, to set the standard for craftsmanship. If play is found in the bezel or the band, a part misaligned, or a movement appears poorly assembled or unrefined, it is remarkable to the reviewer. Mido was a brand that consistently outperformed on quality.

Mido Ocean Star Tribute

Quality and quality control are not the same thing, I learned. Watch reviewers seemed surprisingly accommodating of poor quality control issues, as long as the watch manufacturer was quick to remedy the situation by replacing the watch with a quality of engineering one would expect. Essentially, to stand behind their own brand.

Which brings us to customer care & service.

When buying a watch one does not expect an issue. It is assumed that in this day and age your watch will arrive beautifully made and performing within specification. There is a wide array of variance to specifications, depending on the watch, the movement, and the meticulousness of the manufacturer, which the buyer is responsible for knowing when choosing their watch. However, if an issue does arise, one does expect a courteous resolution. This was made clear by the comment threads. And it doesn’t take many negative comments to turn-off would be buyers new to a brand.

Because I’m new to automatic watches I hadn’t considered the future need of servicing one. So when looking to buy a watch, customer service wasn’t high on my list of considerations. So I was surprised to see reviewers mention it. But it is clear, that if left unresolved, poor customer service does tarnish an otherwise faultless brand. Ever more so in service-oriented businesses, whose brands are built on service.

In conclusion

Brand is not simply the perception of the marketplace. It is a product of the company – engineering, service, quality control & marketing – working together to create value and establish the company name firmly within the world. It’s simple; the product must live up to the hype. And demand will follow.

This constant forging of perception, with how a company presents its products and the public’s opinion of the end-result, either increases the brand’s value and draw or leaves it in the chasm of commonplace.

Which means a business that intentionally masters the key components of a brand, will eventually with determined effort, establish itself as the brand they aspire to be.

The key components are Integrity, Story, Design, Advertising, Quality, Service, Credibility, Innovation & History.

Great watch brands are amazing at presentation and imagery in story telling. Their websites and marketing reinforce the look, feel and narrative they are communicating. They leverage partnerships, such as sporting events, to establish credibility. When new to a subject or product one trusts the opinions of experts. If they are respected by the professionals and icons we respect, we feel they in turn can be endeared by us. They push the boundaries of engineering. Pioneering new innovations of power reserves, deep sea depths, and time keeping. There is an integrity to the way they build watches and market themselves. Under scrutiny there is a consistent and uncompromising adherence to honesty and quality. They are what they say they are. Their service is of the same quality as their products. Treating their customers with care and respect. Their advertising tells their story. With charm, gusto and beauty. And over time this creates a rich history of tradition, accomplishments and heritage.

Then when a consumer finds a product with design and engineering that appeals to them, they will purchase it with confidence. This is the power of brand, confidence.

Every company will have a brand that is unique to them. Just as every person is different, so is every business. And the individual values, positioning, and journey of each company will contribute accordingly and attract customers who resonate with it.

It is the responsibility of the company to produce great products. To tell their story. To communicate their values. To create partnerships that strengthen their credibility. And to market themselves in a way that aligns with their core message.

To this I say to brands.

“It doesn’t matter where you are, you are nowhere compared to where you can go.”

Bob Proctor

Time will tell your story.