Monday, November 07, 2005

Mido Commander Review

When it comes to watches, I like classic designs but still want something that doesn't mimic every other watch available. Too many classic/vintage style timepieces seem to be copying the look of a Rolex Submariner or Datejust or that of an Omega Speedmaster or Seamaster in my opinion. What initially drew my eye to the Mido Commander is how different it looks from just about every other watch I've seen, while still looking like a vintage design. The Mido has a style all its own that brings to my mind images of ocean liner travel and art-deco decor. The watch face, its most striking feature, has a sort of brushed starburst pattern that radiates up from the 6 o'clock position and the hour markers and hands have a very unusual retro look about them. I could see this watch fitting in perfecly in that old movie Metropolis. Like it or not, you must admit that this is a design that you are not likely to see everywhere you go.


Mido is not aggressively marketed in the United States anymore and, I'm sure, most people are not familiar with the brand. The company was founded by George Schaeren in 1918 in Biel, Switzerland. Mido has produced a number of technically interesting designs through the years including being the first to combine an automatic movement with anti-shock protection, water resistance and anti-magnetic protection. Mido also is the only company, to my knowledge, that makes use of cork as a crown water seal, and was the first company to use an unbreakable mainspring. Today, Mido is part of the Swatch Group, but the brand still retains much of its old, unique character. For a history of Mido, see this page at Swiss Watches USA.


My Mido Commander was NOS (new old stock, from the mid 1990's I think) and I don't believe the exact model is still available new. The current iteration uses Superluminova lume where my model uses tritium laced paint. Aside from that though, I believe the current and older models are the same. The watch is made of a polished stainless steel one-piece case with an integrated stainless steel bracelet and clasp. The crystal is made of Hesalite, a brand name for acrylic. The movement is protected from water damage by Mido's Aquadura cork crown seal (which allegedly will block water even with the crown pulled out in the set position) and is rated at 30 meters water resistance. Internally, the watch is powered by an ETA 2836-2 25 jewel automatic movement that both hacks and handwinds. (The 2836-2 is a variation on ETA's ubiquitous 2824-2 with the addition of a day wheel)


All told, I really like this watch. The bracelet is one of the most comfortable I have encountered and the big face is easy to read. Furthermore, and this is admittedly a matter of taste, I think the Commander is an extremely elegant design. The Mido has, so far, proved to be very accurate for a mechanical watch averaging -2 seconds per day. My only gripe is the small crown which is tricky to use. This is a minor quibble in an automatic watch however. It’s not like you have to manually wind the thing. It should be noted that the Commander's one-piece case makes servicing tricky (everything comes out through the crystal) but the watch's superior sealing might cut down the frequency of service a bit. Additionally, this Mido collects fingerprints easily. The new version of the Commander currently sells online for between $450 and $600 dollars (see example ). However, my NOS model can be found on ebay nowadays (at least for the moment) for less than $200. Not bad for nice Swiss automatic.


Blogger Speedmaster said...

Great review and watch Ed! I yet to get one but I've always had a soft spot for those Mido designs. I really need to get one someday.


6:05 AM  
Blogger Ed said...

Thanks. Glad you liked it.

9:35 AM  
Anonymous Yan said...

Great review - as always. Quick question for you, Ed. I see quite a few of these going on e-bay for about $100 - $110. Claiming to be authentic, "new in a box international warranty", etc.
It is offered by sellers I know to be reputable. Are those authentic in your opinion?

11:45 AM  
Blogger Ed said...

They probably are authentic but are new old stock models. Mine is one of them. It arrived, new in the box with the tag still on. The blue plastic protective wrap had calcified to the point that alcohol was needed to remove it but everything else was perfect. I still wear the Mido all the time and fully recommend it. Nothing wrong with new old stock, but the warranty is probably not going to be honored by Mido anymore. They are still a good buy though. The only time I ever saw a fake Mido was one that had a two piece case back.

1:31 PM  
Anonymous Thomas Dineen said...

I've had a NOS Mido Commander identical to Ed's for about two months, and agree completely with his review. The only drawback of the model is the smallish, rather awkward crown, but that's a quibble compared with what one gets overall for a mere $120 on Ebay. Frankly, I found the watch rather homely in online images, but it's definitely better-looking in has a simple elegance that grows on you. I've gotten quite a few compliments on the Commander being "very retro." I'd love to know where to get Swiss quality and attractiveness at this price elsewhere on Ebay (or other places). Anyone have ideas of where to find similar deals?

5:26 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

They are a really good buy these days. Hard to find a better deal for the $ in my opinion. Especially so when you look at what current model Commanders are going for now. Deals like this one are inherently hit or miss in nature through. The only way I know of to find out about them is to check the enthusiast boards for posts about them (,, etc) Good luck and happy hunting.

11:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your watch has red letters for the date, Ebay models have black.
Anything suspicious there?

3:36 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

Only Sunday is red. The rest of the days aren't. I had the watch serviced since. My jeweler said that all is well. There was nothing wrong but I figured a new old stock model could use fresh oil.

5:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You mentionned the two piece case back-- is there another unusual detail that shoe on the fake midos?

I can't decide whether to go with one of those ebay NOS

3:25 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

That's the only thing I've noticed is a clear give away. The Commander has a one piece case which requires the removal of the crystal to get to the movement. Fake Commanders will open from the back. For what it is worth, I haven't encountered too many fakes of this model.

4:35 PM  
Blogger Tridanai said...

I have one and I like it very much. Now I can read the time clearler than the others that I have.

10:24 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

It is a very nicely done watch :)

11:38 PM  
Anonymous mcqueen said...

In fact there are two types of models. I have an original ocean star and is not a front loader, meaning that is has some back case. In the case, this models with back case date 1960 or early and their back case is hexagonal.

2:48 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

Interesting. Very good to know. Thanks.

2:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have mido commander ocean star type too, I bought it 3 years ago, the a price 200 US dollar in Indonesia. Now it is still working properly. it is very nice watch

9:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have mido commander ocean star type too, I bought it 3 years ago, the a price 200 US dollar in Indonesia. Now it is still working properly. it is very nice watch

9:40 AM  
Anonymous Fardillah said...

Bro. Very nice vintage Mido Commander watch. If you want to see more watch like Titoni, Rado, Favre Leuba, hudson and so more watches just view my blog or email I am keep the vintage watch from year 1940 - year 1980.
My location Malaysia or call 0168602810.

7:49 AM  
Blogger r said...

I need links for mine. Any leads; the replacement bands on eBay are fakes. I was able to switch out the clasp with the fake one for a better fit, but the quality of the steel in the fake isn't nearly as good as the Mido.

8:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi All,
it seems that Mido is phasing out this classic watch, noit usre why but the did not ask any of us.
I just got one at The Watchmaker outside of Boston. Brand new, good price w, full 2 year Mido (Swatch group) warranty

12:36 PM  
Blogger Superoceaner said...

hi, i just encounter with three NOS of this exact model. actually after i pay the price for my seiko sport (new model with bezel similar to oris pro-diver), i saw three of them on dsplay but was hidden at the back.

two silver body & one gold - all in very good condition, in fact i saw the blue plastic still wrap it around. blue plastic seems to be sealed to the watch body. i ask the seller, he showed his trick.

using the saloytape, he remove some of it.

if anybody here wants to have this piece, let me know. i can go back and take some picture. no need ebay. just let me know your price since i know the seller price to me.

my contact is +673-7173789 (brunei)or +6013-2244318 (malaysia) and stays in name is Syed (side) please SMS if you dont mind since i'm always travelling.

see ya...

8:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have one of these watches as well. Mine is the version with the jewels at the hour markers. It came in a red plastic "Mido" box which is not very authentic for the brand. On eBay from Singapore. The detail work on the case is not perfect and yet it shows all the signs of being real. The "Mido" signature on the center of the crystal sure looks right. But this page scares the c**p out of me:

9:07 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

That fake is scary :)

9:30 PM  
Blogger Warrior Monks said...

I would like to know how much is the value and cost now for a watch like this... I just got exactly the same watch for my father as special souvenir for my birthday!... I see is a old style what but I love it. If somebody can tell I will appreciated my email Thanks

7:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mido Commander kinetic.
Bloody lemon.
Gained 5 minutes a week from new.
3 years later it stops for an hour or two overnight. The only time off the wrist is when I shower and swim.
Service quote AUS$305 just to change the oil 'which dries up you know'. So guys that is a $1250 watch that costs $100 every year thereafter to maintain. Now that is what I call customers by the short and curleys. All show and no go. My 1966 Sieko kinetic ran without service for about 25 years then fell to bits. My Felca wind up boys watch is the backstop but is now 60 years old - but more reliable. DAMN! Beware. Never ever ever again a Swiss piece of junk.

8:49 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

You really did get a lemon. Hopefully just an odd dud.

10:43 AM  

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