Hands-On with the Mido Baroncelli III Heritage (33mm)

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The size of a watch is almost always a lightning rod for debate. Any new release is sure to be met with critique with regard to its dimensions. Some like their watches small, others like them big, and both camps are generally set in their ways with regard to their respective stances. If we’re going to be perfectly honest, we can be guilty of entrenchment, too. Though we often look at and review watches that can get up there in size, Zach and I strongly prefer sub-40mm watches, and we make our opinions known quite often here on worn&wound. However, I would argue that most of the time our main contention isn’t necessarily with the size of the watch itself, but rather the design compromises that often result when a larger watch is crafted around a smaller movement. In other words, most design abnormalities could easily be remedied had the watch simply been made smaller.

All that aside, I can absolutely concede that were I a bit taller or larger (I’m 5’6″), I’d likely be drawn to bigger watches. Our own Blake Malin, who is 6’, finds his sweet spot at around 40mm. Understandably, a smaller watch looks “off” on his wrist. With my wrist measuring 6.75″, I prefer my watches on the smaller side. The vast majority of my collection is 40mm and under with just a few outliers—mainly my Seiko divers and a few beefy chronographs—that go over. As far as 35 or 36mm watches go, I’m really comfortable with that size, and I had never considered going any smaller. Not too long ago, Mido accidentally sent us the wrong watch. Instead of the full-sized “men’s” Baroncelli III Heritage we had requested, we were sent the significantly smaller Baroncelli III Heritage in 33mm, a watch that is part of Mido’s women’s collection. Since we generally do not write about women’s watches–or to be more precise, watches that are marketed by brands to women–we were going to send it back. However, before I packed the watch up I decided to try it on. As I wrote above, I like small watches, but I don’t think I’ve ever really considered 33mm to be a viable option for me. However, as I looked down at this diminutive timepiece on my wrist, something clicked. It looked good.

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$990

Hands-On with the Mido Baroncelli III Heritage (33mm)

Case
Stainless steel
Movement
ETA 2892
Dial
Eggshell white
Lume
N/A
Lens
Sapphire
Strap
Black leather/faux crocodile
Water Resistance
30m
Dimensions
33mm x 38.1mm
Thickness
7.2mm
Lug Width
17mm
Crown
5mm x 2.5mm; push/pull
Warranty
Yes
Price
$990

Of course, 33mm isn’t unheard of in the world of men’s watches. There was a time when 32-33mm was the norm with watches that size adorning the wrists of average sized men all over the country. Then diameters crept up and up, reaching their maxi-sized zenith a few years back. We’re now seeing a trend back to 40mm and under, which is likely an unintended consequence of today’s vintage-watch boom, and it is something that I personally welcome. Nevertheless, when framed within the context of contemporary watch sizing, a modern watch measuring 33mm would likely be scoffed at by most men today.

A quarter for scale.

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Today’s review won’t be a straightforward review the way we’ve done them in the past. You can read my hands-on article from a some time back for a more in-depth look at my thoughts on the men’s Baroncelli III Heritage. Instead, I’ll focus on the experience of wearing such a small watch, and some general observations I noted in my time with the piece.

The watch measures 33mm across, 38.1mm lug-to-lug, and 7.2mm tall. By all conceivable standards, this is a small watch. That height is further tempered by the stepped bezel, which gives the the case the appearance of being even thinner than it already is by breaking up the profile.

The harmony between the hands and dial is spot-on.

Moving to the dial we can see a handful of other tricks—which I covered more extensively in the aforementioned hands-on article—employed here to keep the watch thin. The dial and hands are stacked as tightly as possible with razor-thin tolerances between each hand. To keep the watch from looking too flat the designers at Mido employed some clever design features to give it some dimensionality. The dial has a fine eggshell-like texture with noticeably raised printing. The hands, though actually flat, have the appearance of being faceted. To achieve that, the hands are split in half and sandblasted on one side and diamond-cut and polished on the other, which results in an effect that mimics the play of light against metal. As I noted in my hands-on with the men’s version, this is a high-end design detail that we’ve seen similarly used on the Slim d’Hermès and Citizen’s Eco-Drive One to great effect, and it’s a welcome detail here.

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The heat-blued steel hand glows at the right angle.

But what makes the design really work here—and I would argue that it works even better here than it does on the men’s version—is the size. At 33mm, the case is perfectly paired to the ETA 2892 caliber inside, which measures 25.6mm in diameter. This results in a couple of things. The first, and perhaps most important, is that the design of the dial now feels far more deliberate. This is most evident with the placement of the date window, which is perfectly aligned to the hours scale rather than floating somewhere closer to the center of the dial—a rather common issue with larger-cased watches using the same movement.

The date window is right where it should be.

The second is that when you look at the movement through the sapphire case back you immediately notice how large the movement looks inside the case. We’ve all had the experience of seeing a too-small movement inside a large watch. It’s off-putting. Here, once again, it feels deliberate.

I have never seen an ETA 2892 pop quite like this.

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Now on to the most important matter—how did the watch wear? Well, it wore the way I expected a 33mm watch to wear. It was small, but it didn’t look out of place. I actually think the diameter of the watch worked well on me, but if I had to change a couple of details I would have preferred the lugs to be a little longer and the bezel a little thinner to give the watch some added presence, not unlike what Nomos does with some of their smaller-sized case designs. After all, the diameter is but one factor that influences the way a watch wears on the wrist, and lug length and dial size will have a major impact.

Here it is on the wrist. Not bad, right?

What did others think? At worn&wound HQ, Zach and Blake thought it looked good. However, my significant other, who regularly borrows my 35.5mm Stowa Antea KS, thought it was way too small and, in her words, “feminine.” Go figure, but I wonder how much of that was influenced by my telling her that it was a “woman’s watch.”

As much as I enjoyed my time with the Mido Baroncelli III Heritage in 33mm, I don’t think I’ll be going any smaller than 35mm anytime soon. 35mm seems to be what works best on me, and there’s plenty to choose from at or around that size. But for someone with even smaller wrists than mine, I would wholeheartedly recommend the watch and others sized like it. Don’t let the gendered branding give you pause.


The Mido Baroncelli III Heritage (33mm) retails for $990. For more information visit Mido.

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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.
ryvini
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