Dialed Up to Full: The Mido Ocean Star Tribute Gradient
As far as dive watches under $1,000 go, there are plenty of decent options out there. So, choosing one will just depend on the most important criterion on your wish list. For assured value and a solid name, there is always Seiko.
And if eye-catching design traits are what you’re after, then microbrands like Minus-8 or Unimatic could have you covered. However, one recent sub-$1,000 release will tick all those boxes in one fell swoop: The Mido Ocean Star Tribute Gradient.
Does it have a celebrated waterproof and dive watch history? Check. Vintage aesthetic? In spades. Reliable Swiss-made movement? Of course. Robust crown and case? Naturally. And visually stunning dial design? Most definitely, and then some.
Inspired by the 1960s
Now 104 years old, Mido boasts a storied past of waterproof timepieces and dive watches. In the 1930s, the brand introduced what would later become its Aquadura crown sealing system as well as the water-resistant Multifort Automatic.
In 1944, Mido began its Ocean Star line, which, come the 1960s, included the Powerwind Diver ref. 5907, the now-iconic rainbow-colored deep diver with a decompression timer. Then, later in the ‘60s, Mido released other classic dive references, such as the day-date Mido SkyDiver.
In the words of the brand, the modern-day Ocean Star Tribute collection “reinterprets the aesthetic codes” of these Mido diving models from the 1960s. And that is exactly what this Ocean Star Tribute Gradient does. What’s more, it has a remarkably cool dial to boot.
Screamer of a Dial
Yes, the dial of the Ocean Star Tribute Gradient is undoubtedly the main event here. While there is also an edition with a more understated gray-back gradient dial, we have gone hands-on with the funkier, more flamboyant red-black gradient version. And, as you can see, it’s a screamer.
Pure red at the center, gradually darkening to black on the dial perimeter, the smoky dial is actually matte textured, a light-absorbing finish that allows the scarlet-black hues to stand out starkly.
The red dial also serves as the perfect backdrop for the diamond-cut hands and applied hour indices, the design of which is a clear throwback to the Mido SkyDiver. And here, it has been appositely executed: The central hour and minute hands are baton-shaped, as are the hour indices. Meanwhile, central seconds are tracked via a lollipop hand. Finally, the minute markings are long, thin, and white.
Deviating slightly from the SkyDiver’s dial is the unframed day and date window at 3 o’clock with bright white background – the SkyDiver’s was framed.
Some could quibble that the Ocean Star Tribute Gradient’s day-date display takes up a fair bit of the dial, but it is in keeping with Mido’s references of yesteryear. Personally, I find it harmoniously integrated, and crucially, it is highly legible. Also in the name of legibility, be it after nightfall or while you’re underwater, the hands and hour indices have been filled with Super-LumiNova® while the minute markings are also printed in this luminescent material.
Another old-school touch is the box-style sapphire crystal covering the dial. Accounting for 2mm of the watch’s 13.4mm height, the crystal gives refracted views at the edges to reinforce the overall vintage vibe.
Modern Materials and Retro Design
The Mido Ocean Star Tribute Gradient’s case is a mixture of modern materials and retro design, while its proportions are adapted to contemporary tastes. Indeed, the 316L stainless steel case measures 40.5mm in diameter, with a lug-to-lug measurement of 46.8mm. Those proportions, plus the 100g overall weight, mean it should wear comfortably on most wrists.
Similar to Mido’s divers back in the day, the case surfaces have been highly polished, as has the unidirectional rotating bezel with its blackened aluminum insert and white markings. Like on the SkyDiver, the bezel’s notches are slightly rounded-off, and there is a dot of lume at 12 o’clock.
In another nod to the SkyDiver, the crown guards sharply taper to embrace the crown, which screws in. That, plus the screwed-down caseback – featuring an embossed starfish on a matte backdrop framed by informational engravings – helps to provide a 200-meter water resistance.
One last thing about the outside of the watch: to continue the 1960s-inspired theme, the case is complemented by a semi-glossy black-rubber strap bearing a retro criss-cross pattern in relief, with a polished pin buckle.
Solid Automatic Movement
Finally, on the inside is the automatic Mido Calibre 80, which is based on the ETA calibre C07.621, a fairly logical choice given that Mido is part of Swatch Group.
This robust, reliable movement packs an impressive power reserve of up to 80 hours. Its lower-frequency, 3-Hz balance wheel features a hairspring in Nivachron, a titanium-based alloy that, according to the brand, helps to reduce the effect of magnetic fields and offers greater resistance to shocks. The oscillating weight, meanwhile, has been decorated with Geneva stripes and the Mido logo.
Price & Final Thoughts
The red and black-dialed Ocean Star Tribute Gradient (ref. M026.830.17.421.00), featured here, and the gray and black-dialed edition are both priced at $950. That represents a great value proposition considering its mix of dive heritage, vintage aesthetic, mechanical robustness and design merit that this watch offers. For more information, please visit the Mido website.
(Photography by Pierre Vogel)