Hands-on with the Mido Baroncelli Heritage

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For years, Swatch Group focused Mido’s efforts primarily on Latin America and Asia, two regions where the brand has done exceptionally well. Unfortunately, the brand doesn’t share the same awareness in the States, which I’ve always found strange given the size of Tissot’s (also a Swatch Group brand) American presence. That’s about to change. We learned this year that Swatch Group is now making a concentrated effort to push the brand in America. For lovers of well-priced, solidly-made wristwatches, this is exciting news.

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Last month we introduced the Baroncelli Heritage, a vintage-inspired extension of Mido’s mainstay Baroncelli range. Handsome, classically styled with enough of a twist, and surprisingly tempered in size, the Baroncelli Heritage looked like an obvious win for the brand. And though Mido’s marketing team focused primarily on the thinness of the watch (an impressive 6.95mm), I was more taken with its aesthetics. For Baselworld, Mido released an additional two variants (white dial/stainless steel case and brown/rose gold case) alongside the two (cream dial/rose gold case and black dial/stainless steel case) from the initial press release. They did not disappoint. Let’s take a closer look.

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Case

The case comes in at a welcome 39mm, a size that is bigger than classic dress watches from the 50s and 60s, but more than sensibly sized by today’s standards. As I wrote above, it’s also quite a thin watch at 6.95mm. To give some perspective, the alpha-powered Nomos Club is 8.17mm thick. That’s a manual-wind watch coming in a little over 1mm thicker than an automatic powered by an ETA 2892 A2. That said, the 2892 is a relatively thin movement at 3.6mm, but to achieve the thinness we have here means that the overall tolerances must be really tight.

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Architecturally, the case features some interesting details. The bezel is stepped, and the mid case scoops toward the case back. The latter creates a bowl shaped back that allows the watch to wear tight against the wrist, not unlike the way watches from Max Bill wear. The result is that the Heritage wears even thinner than its given dimensions. On the flip-side, you have a sapphire window showing off the caliber, one that’s beautifully decorated with perlage, blued screws, and Geneva stripes.

The case will be offered in two different finishes: stainless steel, and rose gold PVD. Though I’m not the biggest fan of rose gold, especially plated rose gold, it’s hard to deny how good it looks here.

Dial and Hands

I imagine that to get the watch so thin, Mido had to forgo a number of features that would otherwise be a welcome addition to any watch. Things like faceted hands, applied indices, a curved dial and crystal. Surprisingly, the face of the watch is not overly flat in appearance, and that’s certainly a testament to the talent of Mido’s design team.

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The finishing of the dial gives it an eggshell-like texture; it’s matte and slightly uneven, which works especially well on the lighter-dialed options. The overall layout of the dial is simple, but that’s not to say it isn’t well executed. The hour markers are long printed lines, with the intermediate minutes represented by simples dots. It’s austere, but totally elegant. Right below 12 is the bold MIDO logo, and above 6 is “Baroncelli HERITAGE.” I absolutely love this element. The contrast between the stark “HERITAGE” type and the decorative “Baroncelli” script really works for me, as does slight misalignment of the two words.

The hands, despite appearing so at first glance, are not faceted. They’re sandblasted on one side and diamond-cut and polished on the other, giving the appearance of being faceted while remaining completely flat. A similar technique is used on the Slim d’Hermès and Citizen’s new Eco-Drive One to great effect. Additionally, the seconds hand on the white and cream dialed models are blued.

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If I had to find fault with the design, it would be the date window. It’s not great on any of the colored dials. The way it’s positioned is a bit jarring, as it’s too far from the perimeter of the dial. That said, it’s not nearly as disruptive on the white-dialed version, which is coincidentally my favorite variant in the collection.

Straps and Wearability

Each watch comes paired with a faux-alligator strap. Nothing exciting here, but the fun always comes from trying out different aftermarket options. Shell cordovan is obvious choice; a nice burgundy for the white, cream, and brown models, and black for the black model. I also think these would look exceptional on a fine-link mesh strap for a bit of vintage flair.

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On the wrist, the Baroncelli Heritage is an absolute joy to wear. It’s comfortable, it sits snug against the wrist, and as expected it fits comfortably underneath a shirt cuff. It’s a discrete watch, for sure, but with enough flair that you’ll catch yourself staring down at your wrist.

Conclusion

If this year’s Baselworld is any indiction, the Swiss are finally seeing the disconnect between watch prices and consumer perceptions of value. Some brands responded by releasing fewer watches, others by cutting prices across the board. But as luxury continues to struggle at the hands of weakened international markets, we are seeing the success of lower-tier brands like Tissot. And it’s not that these brands are simply priced better, it’s that companies like Tissot are now investing more into their timepieces. You can own a COSC-certified three-hander with a Silicon hairspring for around $1000. That was unheard of just a few years back.

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I think that’s what we’re seeing here with the Mido Baroncelli Heritage collection. The fit and finish are certainly up there, and I wholeheartedly believe that if this watch came out a few years ago, we’d be writing about a two-to-three thousand dollar watch. At $1,100 for the steel models and 1,220 for the rose gold, the Mido Baroncelli Heritage collection is an absolute value.

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Ilya is Worn & Wound's Managing Editor and Video Producer. He believes that when it comes to watches, quality, simplicity and functionality are king. This may very well explain his love for German and military-inspired watches. In addition to watches, Ilya brings an encyclopedic knowledge of leather, denim and all things related to menswear.
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Introducing the Mido Baroncelli Heritage

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