Mido Ocean Star Tribute Review: Happy 75th Birthday Ocean Star!

Mido is a company with a rich history and a series of firsts in horology. They claim to be one of the first watches on the market with an automatic movement and an anti-magnetic case with the Mulitfort in the 1930’s. In 1944, they released the monocoque Ocean Star that used the cork Aquadura gasket system (that’s right cork) to create a water-resistant watch. This was released roughly 10 years before Blancpain released their first water-resistant watch.

The Aquadura system lasted in Mido watches for decades. While that seems like a big deal, Mido is still virtually unknown in the United States (you’d think the #watchfam would go nuts for history like that). Similarly, The Mido Ocean Star Tribute was recently released to celebrate the Ocean Star’s 75th birthday; and it went by with very little fanfare. In fact, other than a blurb about the release on Worn and Wound and Teddy Baldassarre’s Youtube video he did in Spain, there is nary a US website with much information on this watch. That changes today, my friends, as I have a Mido Ocean Star Tribute M026.830.11.041.00 in hand! Well, on wrist.

As most of you have read in the past, I usually treat myself to something nice at the end of each year. A while back (after reading Mike Razak’s review on the Ocean Star Captain Titanium) I bought a Rose Gold Ocean Star Captain and fell in love with its simplicity and elegance. Around this time, Mido released the Ocean Star Tribute and I kinda got that feeling you get when you buy a brand new car and they release the redesigned model a month later. I did as much research as I could, but there isn’t much out there that isn’t on Mido’s own website. Long story short, after going back and forth and being unable to find someone in the States with one, I bought the Ocean Star Tribute in Mediterranean Blue from an AD overseas and hoped for the best.

The Case

First off, let’s address the elephant in the room. When you buy this watch and open the rather large box there’s no way you won’t notice that the entire watch is polished. That’s right. Case and all. There are absolutely no brushed surfaces on this watch. If you’re the kind of person that gets your panties in a twist when you get a small mark on your watch, this may not be the watch for you. Now with that out of the way, we can actually address the watch itself.

The case is aesthetically almost the same as the current Ocean Star; it has nearly straight lugs with only a slight chamfer to break up any slab sidedness. The big difference here is the size of the watch. Coming in at 40.5mm, it’s about 1.5mm smaller than the standard Ocean Star and the lug to lug is 47mm. I find this to be the sweet spot for dive watches. I know most of them have gotten bigger, and with a 7.5 inch wrist, I personally don’t have a huge problem with that. But for me nothing beats a dive watch around the 40mm mark. It’s just the sweet spot for big wrists and small wrists alike.

Although the case looks very much like the standard Mido Ocean Star, that’s where the similarities end. This model comes with a completely different bezel that is coin-edged and clearly inspired by bezels on Rolex Submariners. It continues to be 60 clicks and has a good tight fit with very little play. Good luck turning it, though. While it’s not hard to turn, the polish makes it hard to grip if you’re having a dry hand day. Come to think of it, it probably will have little to no grip if you lotion up your hands.

One of the features this watch brings that I personally feel is a big improvement over the standard OS is the bigger sized crown. It looks great on this watch, and, functionally, has so much more grip for easier turning and sealing to the case. Its polished also but has sharp edges that maximize grip rather than the softer edges of the coin bezel.


 

Rounding out the case is the big box Sapphire crystal that sits atop the watch. It brings the height of the watch to 13.5mm. The rounded edges of the crystal obviously cause some distortion; however, I found the sapphire to be much clearer overall, and causing far less distortion of the dial from different angles than the Plexi crystal in the Lorier that I reviewed last year. You can almost read the watch looking at it totally horizontal, which I found harder to do with the big Plexi on the Hydra.

Whether it was a financial or aesthetic choice, the crystal has no AR coating. It could have been done as a throwback, but I don’t miss it on this watch. I’m usually somewhat irritated by how the AR can change the color of the dial on some watches, especially if they have a domed crystal; but with the vintage feel of this watch, I don’t miss it at all. I’m sure someone will gripe that they can’t read their watch while holding it directly under a light or that it projects a halo on the dial. I don’t have the ability to roll my eyes back far enough.

The Dial

The dial of the Mido Ocean Star Tribute that I have is called Mediterranean Blue. It’s also available in black and just sings the songs of dive watch advertisements of the era. It’s a simple printed dial with the MIDO logo at the top and Ocean Star in the lower section of the dial. There are thick, painted batons spaced at 5 minute intervals with simple markers for every minutes. The dial has very little negative space but doesn’t feel crowded, even with the “Datoday” window at 3.

The Micro Ocean Star Tribute hands are a chromed paddle style with the second hand being an orange lollipop that works great against the blue dial. It’s easy to read at any time of the day. The bezel is also in Mediterranean Blue, but as aluminum would have it, maybe a shade darker. While it’s pretty much just like any Rolex homage bezel, I like that Mido used of aluminum here rather than ceramic or a fake bakelite that’s on a lot of modern vintage homages. This is the kind of watch you saw on a hairy, wet wrist in watch ads of the era and I think Mido brought a great package here that works with the case to harken back to those days.

There is a downside though, and I think most of you know where I’m getting ready to go. As much as it pains me to say it, the lume is just nothing to write home about. It’s your standard green Superluminova, and for the life of me, I can’t understand why something advertised as SUPER can be so sub-par. It should be called Mediocre-luminova. There is no reason the lume on $80 Seiko should keep outperforming the lume on a 1K Swiss watch. But it does. Repeatedly.

I know that most people don’t (and shouldn’t) care since the watch will probably see more dinner parties than actual diving, and maybe I’m being an horological neckbeard about it, but a dive watch with a 200M rating should be somewhat bright. The Mido Ocean Star Tribute just under-performs in this department. The hands and bezel pip are brighter than the dial, and while the light lasts, it’s not very bright. So, let’s just move on to something the watch does exceptionally well.

The Bracelet

The bracelet on this watch is a thing of beauty. That’s going to be a polarizing opinion, but for me there’s no doubt about it. While it pegs the bling meter to the max, the all-polished multi-link bracelet looks more inspired by a 1970’s disco ball than the “architecture” that Mido claims it takes inspiration from. It’s fully articulating and drapes over your wrist like a gold chain in Miami. While it’s not for everyone, I feel like it’s one of the most unique bracelets to come out of the recent storm of vintage dive watch releases. It very much reminds me of the Shark Mesh bracelets that adorned and still adorns Omega Ploprofs.

The good news is, if you don’t like it, it comes with an additional strap. For the Mediterranean Blue, you get a matching blue canvas strap with a leather back. I haven’t tested it, but I can tell you that it’s going to need some breaking in. It’s as stiff as a teenage boy at the NOPI Nationals. The bracelet is comfortable right now.

The clasp is a smaller carry over from the Ocean Star line, which I’m fine with because it’s brilliant. It has the standard push button mechanism to open and then a smaller push button set to extend the bracelet either for diving or to give yourself an extra few mm at the end of a sweaty day. It glides like butter and, amazingly, doesn’t make the clasp any thicker than the clasp of a normal watch. The clasp and bracelet combo are perfect for this watch, and in my opinion vintage watches would have killed for this bracelet.

The Movement

The Mido Ocean Star Tribute is powered by the Mido Caliber 80, Mido’s branded version of the swatch free-sprung balance that makes its rounds in the swatch brands. When this movement came out, I may have felt it was a gimmick, especially for people like me who rotates watches often. But over time, I’ve come to see a lot of value in this movement.

While it beats at only 21,600 bph (something certain watch enthusiasts can’t stand from a Swiss watch), and it’s not as simple to regulate as a typical ETA-2824, it does have an 80 hr power reserve, which is something that most of the vintage homage watches being released can’t say. Also, if regulation is your holdup, Mido makes a lot of Caliber 80s in chronometer grade, and maybe that bleeds down. On my timegrapher, this particular Mido is running at +2 seconds a day. If you get on google, you’ll find that this isn’t the only one to do so. The Caliber 80 is a phenomenal movement giving you some serious luxury benefits at a not-so-luxury price. It definitely changed my mind and helps the overall package.

Final Thoughts

Mido is trying to push its way into the United States. Finally. While the Ocean Star Tribute isn’t the best watch you can buy for around $1k USD, it’s certainly something different than other Swatch offerings in the US. Personally, I feel Mido to be a dressier option over its Swatch siblings and the Ocean Star Tribute is no different. It’s not an homage to any particular Mido, and for the most part it’s probably more of a “Dive Watch Greatest Hits.” With that said, the lume isn’t great, and unless you’ve got rubber hands, the bezel can be hard to turn. But what this watch does do right, it does it well. The bracelet and clasp are just gorgeous and just make me feel like I should be on a yacht somewhere with a medallion necklace and chest hair flying.

It’s a great entry into the current vintage diver craze but with some modern touches that make it the vintage diver you always wanted or wish you could have had back in the day. If I had to compare it to something I know, it’s not like a new Mustang or a Camaro, but maybe like a Dodge Challenger. It’s new, and it’s not the best. But it looks awesome, it’s affordable, and invokes feelings of the car that once was (while functioning way better than an old one ever could). It comes at you with options people would have killed for once upon a time, and the engine is a serious budget juggernaut. The headlights might still be a bit dull though.

Featured Insights
• 40.5mm x 47mm x 13.5mm
• 21mm Lug Width
• Polished 316L stainliness steel (case and bracelet)
• 60-Click Bezel (aluminum insert)
• 200m Water Resistance
• Superluminova
• Domed sapphire crystal
• Mido Caliber 80 (ETA C07.621) | 80 hour power reserve
• Price: Approx $1.1k USD

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