Not long after I acquired and reviewed the Mido Ocean Star Tribute, I wrote what will be the header of our Mido section here at TBWS. While doing so, I had to really research a lot of the Mido history which, unfortunately, had to be omitted for running length. One of the tidbits that got omitted was that Mido had a little bit of a rivalry with Rolex back in the day. At some point during that research, I closed the web page and couldn’t, for the life of me, find it again. Still can’t. So, I really can’t attest to whether or not that is actually true.
I did have a little Scotch in me at the time, but I swear I read that. Can’t prove it though. So, since the burden of proof is on the believer, I can’t make you believe it. But that got me thinking about the Mido Multifort (Mido’s longest running namesake) and whether it actually A.) lives up the Multifort name; and B.) could actually compete with a Rolex watch of the same ilk.
Before the hate mail rolls in, I know Mido isn’t and can’t compete with a Rolex of today, but I thought maybe it could be what a Rolex was before it really went upmarket. So, with that I pulled the trigger on a Mido Multifort Gent (the most basic of the Multifort collection) to see how it handled. This is the Mido M005.830.11.061.00! Kinda sounds like the reference a Martian would give to a Space Modulator, doesn’t it?
The Multifort came out in the 1930s and was Mido’s first automatic, anti-magnetic, shock-resistant, and water-resistant watch. These attributes made it the best selling Mido for many years. Today’s Multifort Collection still builds on these principles. The Gent line seems to be the most basic, everyday watch in the current collection and that’s what I was trying to find. Something that hearkened back to what Mido Multiforts were back in the day.
The 38mm Case
The case is your standard stainless-steel watch case that measures 38mm across and 45mm from lug to tapered lug. As far as the lugs go, they are pretty much straight with just a slight downturn at the end. They’re very short.
Being that this watch only has a small polished bezel, the short lugs help keep that big dial real estate from making the watch look gargantuan as they sometimes can on watches that extend the dial to the edges. The short, thin lugs taper nicely into the bracelet while not looking too fat and giving the watch a nice square appearance. With just an 11mm thickness, the Mido Multifort puts itself into one of my favorite size categories and sets itself apart from some similar offerings from the Swatch group.
Mido has always struck me as a group that makes a sporty watch but still wants a classy look in comparison to some of its brethren. In my opinion, the basic design of this Multifort coupled with the fact that only the top of the watch case and the bezel are polished, really solidify that for me.
Most of the surfaces on the Mido Multifort 38mm are nicely brushed with an amazingly smooth feeling except for the sides that face the wearer. Those sides gleam nicely in the sun, beaming back those rays as does the flat sapphire crystal (that Mido felt didn’t need any AR coating of any kind).
The crystal does sit in the bezel with no sides exposed, making the pain of chipping the edge a distant concern. But without any AR, this crystal loves to reflect surfaces at almost any angle and makes photography a bit difficult. However, viewed dead on, the crystal is clear and doesn’t hinder legibility on the Mido Multifort 38mm, even if your dopey face is reflected back at you.
The Multifort Case comes rated at 100M, which is pretty standard for a watch like this (unless it’s a Date-Just). That kind of water resistance means that you can pretty much wear this watch to do whatever you want on land.
Another great thing about the Multifort 38mm is that big, beautiful, signed crown on the side. Its size makes it easy to grip and adjust, and just to add a little peace of mind to that 100M water resistance it also screws down!
I love that about this watch. To me it adds a little comfort in that water resistance. Also, you don’t have to turn it 20 times to close it like a diver, it’s just a simple turn or two and it’s tight to the case. Also, and this is just my opinion, a big crown looks so good with a shoulderless case.
The Butterfly Clasp Bracelet
The Mido Multifort 38mm features a standard oyster style bracelet that tapers from 20mm to 18mm. Each link is relatively thicker and beefier than what you would expect on a watch like this. The 3 links of the oyster are also longer and thinner than your standard sport and make me think more of the oyster bracelet found on smaller watches or women’s watches.
Only the side surfaces are polished which contrasts with that of the case, giving some contrast between the two and balancing sport with dress. Mido opted to go the dressier route with the butterfly clasp.
To me, those always give the bracelet the appearance of jewelry, and like jewelry, they come with a caveat. There is almost no micro adjustment on the Mido Multifort 38’s bracelet aside from two smaller links that can be removed. This tends to make the watch either too tight or too loose for people like me.
And, if you gained a little weight during the pandemic, it’s not as simple as just moving a spring bar. You might have to add a link, and then it’s too big and so on and so forth. However, with that said, I have a 7 and a ½ inch wrist, and I’ve got it fitted pretty nicely as long as I stop eating bags upon bags of Fritos.
The Geneve Stripes Dial
All Multiforts come with a version of the same dial and this is going to be a love it or hate it thing. To be honest, at first I was on the fence about it, but when you look at the detail under a loupe, or just look closely if you can find somewhere without much glare, I think you’ll, at minimum, appreciate it.
All the Multifort dials come with Geneve Stripes gracing them from north to south, but it’s much deeper than that.
First of all, the Geneve Stripes are contained within a recessed border that ends at a raised chapter ring. Second, the applied indices at the quarter hour marks are also surrounded by this recession as are the painted dots at the 5-minute marks giving the dial character and depth. The black “datoday” wheels fall within a deep window and mold seamlessly with the dial in certain lights and are perfectly spaced at this size. Superluminova adorns all the primary dial marks in a soft blue, but it isn’t super bright.
Finally, the Mido and Multifort logo are neatly printed on the dial and perfectly raised just above the pattern which keeps them standing out rather than being lost in the pattern. Personally, I like this dial a lot. It gives the watch dial some depth and character without screaming for attention to anyone who will listen. I wish that the dots were maybe a smidge larger but there doesn’t seem to be a lot of negative space on the 38mm model. Now, keep reading, because with that said, they also make a 42mm, which definitely adds a wee more negative space to the dial.
The Mido Multifort 38 hands are chromed, long, and thin sword-style hands with lume paint all the way down. I’m always kind of hesitant with chromed hands on dark dials as they tend to get lost in certain light or in specific angles, but the lume keeps them visible all day.
The second hand falls prey to this effect as it does not have any lume paint, and that’s a shame because I love the tapered needle second hand. It reaches all the way out to the minute track and looks sharp enough to take blood. When you can see it, that is.
The Multifort 38’s ETA 2836-2 Movement
Living within this modern Multifort is the ETA 2836-2 beating away at 28,800 bph. I’m not going to dwell too much on this movement because it’s been updated since. The current Multiforts sport the new Mido Caliber 80 with an 80-hour power reserve and a 21,600 bph.
Chances are, you’re going to be reading about this more and more on this site. I mean, this is the second watch I’ve reviewed with a Caliber 80, and Mike Razak covered an Ocean Star with this movement. It’s a killer deal at this price, and with an 80-hour power reserve, it can’t be beat by any entry level luxury watch at that price.
Also, as I’ve said many times in previous write ups, Mido is FOURTH in the world for COSC certifications, and some of that accuracy has been known to trickle down to the non-COSC certified movements.
However, if you really need to read it on your dial, the Multifort comes in a Chronometer version as well, and the price might actually surprise you.
When it comes down to it, the current Multifort (with the exception of the anti-magnetic claim) still honors its roots. This Mido Multifort 38 is made to be your daily for sure. I hate to compare it to a Toyota Camry because I hate cookie cutter mid-sized cars, but that’s kind of what it wants to do.
This watch is beefy enough to be a sport watch and still proportioned well enough to be something you can wear to the office with just a little pizzazz to set it apart from the crowd.
Personally, I like this watch over some of its Swatch siblings. There’s something about it that compels me to wear it more often than my Hamilton Khaki, which is the same size. When I bought this watch, I had Rolex on the mind, specifically the old Explorer I. To me, an Explorer is your do everything Rolex. If you want to climb a mountain you can, and then put a suit on and go to a Gala.
While this is going to bring some serious hate mail, I do think that this Mido could be something like an Explorer I. It doesn’t have that big 3, 6, 9 dial like the Explorer, but it’s very much a watch that you can actually use everyday for just about any task. I’d change a few things, like maybe a clasp bracelet, or a slightly more legible dial, but I could see this watch competing once upon a time with a pre-luxury Rolex.
However, I must end this with some bad news. The 38mm watch I own in this review is currently discontinued but is still available as a 42mm. Everything pretty much remains the same except that everything is just a bit broader. It’s still a good looking watch, and nothing I’ve written has changed. Nonetheless, the 42mm looks like it puts the dat-o-day window a little more inboard on the dial, which makes the dial look a little larger.
There are several colorways to choose from in the Gent line with one beautiful white dial option. All of them come in around $920 dollars from Mido.com but can be found for less on the grey and used market. It may not be a Rolex competitor. Or even close. Hell, I may actually just not know what I’m talking about. But for the money, Mido makes a hell of a watch that certainly lives up to what a Multifort should be and does this history of this great brand proud.
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Baird is an avid motoring enthusiast and a self taught hobbyist watchmaker from Bristol, TN. He has a love for all things mechanical and has an affinity for the style late 60s and 70s Chronographs and Dive watches. Baird views watches as engineering marvels and tools for everyday life rather than just jewelry. His writing style is inspired by certain “British automotive journalists” and his own experiences growing up and living in a blue-collar society.