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Hands-on – Mido Ocean Star Decompression Timer 1961 Limited Edition

hands-on-–-mido-ocean-star-decompression-timer-1961-limited-edition

Mido, a brand owned by the Swatch Group, is mostly known as a great competitor in the accessible luxury segment, with well-executed pieces offering great value for the money – take as an example the Ocean Star Diver 600, you’ll see what we mean. Mido is also a brand with a rich history and some interesting vintage models. One of them, the Ocean Star Skin Diver Watch “Powerwind 1000”, has gained quite a strong collectable status, thanks to its bold, colourful design and decompression table dial. Knowing that, the brand has decided to bring its design back, with the super-attractive Ocean Star Decompression Timer 1961 Limited Edition. Certainly a bold watch, but also one with a unique character.

The inspiration, the 1961 Ocean Star Skin Diver Powerwind 1000 “Rainbow” ref. 5907

Mido, as said, has a rich history and has been specialized in instrument watches for longer than most might imagine. Indeed, in 1934, the brand released a revolutionary concept named “Multifort”, for a shockproof, water-resistant and antimagnetic watch. “The Multifort was also the first Mido model to have a self-winding movement,” says Dan Henry on his website timeline.watch. “In the same year, Mido introduced watches with unbreakable strings, as well as a new system for waterproof watches. It consisted of using cork to seal the crown.

Inspiration vs. modern version. Note that the vintage model here is in feet (a version in metres also existed) and the new model displays both metres and feet.

Still, we’re looking at the “Rainbow” diver today, a watch from the early 1960s that has since gained a cult status among dive watch collectors – this is one the most desirable vintage Midos, with prices that can reach up to 10k… While technically advanced, with its 300m resistant case and rotating bezel with countdown timer, the main reason for this watch’s success is its multicoloured dial, with concentric scales to mark out diving decompression times at various depths. This is the watch that Mido has decided to recreate in a modern package.

the new Mido Ocean Star Decompression Timer 1961

Let’s go straight to the point… yes, this watch is bold, yes it’s unusual, yes it won’t be to everyone’s taste but these are the main reasons why it is such a cool model – in addition to the fact that the price is right and the quality is excellent.

This new model is not a 1:1 recreation of the 1961 model, but more a modern evocation of the past model, a contemporary watch with strong vintage content and 21st-century technical solutions. The base used to create the Ocean Star Decompression Timer is well-known, being the Ocean Star 200 Caliber 80 – a great, reliable base watch that has a proven track record. However, the brand has updated multiple aspects – dial, bezel, diameter – to bring the cool factor of the 1961 model back on track.

First of all, while most Ocean Star watches have a case measuring more than 42mm, the new Decompression Timer 1961 “Rainbow” is far more compact with a 40.5mm diameter – larger than the original 1961 model, but still rather small compared to most dive watches on the market. The thickness is in the norm for such a watch, at 13.43mm. The vintage inspiration is also clearly visible on the sapphire crystal, which is highly domed. The case is made of polished steel with pointy crown guards, a closed caseback (engraved with a starfish) and a screw-down crown, giving a 200m water-resistance – less than the original model, however, sufficient for most recreational divers.

What changes compared to standard dive watches in the Mido collection is the dial and bezel combination. The bezel, which is naturally unidirectional, has a new anodized aluminium insert, which has a 60-minute countdown scale instead of a traditional 0-to-60 scale. It still features a luminous pearl at the 0 mark and works in conjunction with the scales on the dial – clearly, the main attraction on this watch. Just like the vintage “Rainbow Diver”, the Ocean Star Decompression Timer 1961 comes with multicoloured concentric scales printed over its black dial. The colours aren’t just for fun, but to increase legibility.

How do these scales work? This Mido, like its ancestor, indicates decompression times below the surface. These times are displayed around contrasting coloured circles for enhanced legibility: yellow for a diving depth of 25 to 29 metres (or as of 80 feet), green for 30 to 34 metres (or as of 95 feet), pink for 35 to 39 metres (or as of 110 feet) and blue for 40 to 44 metres (or as of 130 feet). By simply placing the minute hand at 12 o’clock before immersion, the wearer could read off the information on the table throughout the dive. The rotating bezel allowed diving time or decompression stops to be calculated.

While the original white background has been replaced here by black, the rest of the dial remains also rather faithful to the original, with a central area featuring an applied vintage Mido logo and 4 Arabic hour markers. A date is positioned at 3 o’clock, in an angled window – note that the old Decompression watch was also available with a date. The hands are nicely shaped, historically relevant and dimensioned so to touch the edges of their respective tracks. All in all, this is a complex dial, with multiple colours, fonts and sectors… but this is also why this watch has so much charm.

The Mido Ocean Star Decompression Timer 1961 Limited Edition is delivered on a stainless steel braided bracelet, which felt solid is nicely executed. It also features quick-change spring bars, as the watch is offered with 2 interchangeable leather straps on steel pin buckle.

Powering this cool timepiece is the Mido Calibre 80 (base ETA C07.621), a movement developed by the Swatch Group to become the new standard automatic engine for accessible watches. Also named Powermatic, it has precision, power (80h power reserve), modern features (silicon balance spring) and creates a great competitive advantage.

Price and availability

The Mido Ocean Star Decompression Timer 1961 is a limited edition of 1,961 pieces. It is now available at retailers, at a price of EUR 1,150 or USD 1,250.

More details at midowatches.com.

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