Mido Commander II & Great Wall Watches
Mido is one of Swatch Group’s smaller brands that you rarely hear about. If you do, you know that like Tissot or (not available in the US) Certina, Mido offers some decent looking pieces at pretty reasonable prices (for a Swiss mechanical watch). As one of the underdog brands, sources say that the Swatch Group just isn’t quite sure what to do with them. Sounds like Mido just needs the right type of person in charge. If you look at the pieces they’ve offered over the last few years, there are some real keepers. One of the most iconic collections from Mido has always been the dressy Commander. It sort of fits in the same vein as a Rolex – not in price necessarily, but more what it was trying to be for a man.
For 2013 Mido returns the Commander with the “Commander II,” as well as the similar sibling watch the “Great Wall.” Now, according to Mido, the Commander’s design – that is the new Commander for 2013 – was influenced by the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France. Something about how the sunray finished anthracite dial and hour indicators are reminiscent of lattice work on the Eiffel Tower. Yea, I know… a ‘big’ stretch of the imagination – even for Swiss marketers. Oh and the Commander II’s case is meant to remind you of the “curves and iron of the Eiffel Tower.” Major eye roll going on right now.
For comparison’s sake I included some images of older Commander watches in addition to the Commander II models. They have been offered in a range of styles with different bracelets and even some with diamond hour markers. Though, the rank and file Commander has squared hour marker and easy-to-read hands. Many came on “Milanese” mesh metal bracelets. They are sort of a hip find today for vintage watch lovers. I would probably even wear one once in a while myself. How much does the most modern incarnation of the Commander resemble the original? Thematically some of the same stuff is there. You have the thin bezel and hands that look much like those on the originals. There is also a diminutive lug structure which sort of makes the bracelet look as though it is sticking out of the case. Of course there is the day/date complication. Otherwise Mido’s interpretation of the Commander is rather new.
Aside from the slightly disorientating outer dial on one version, the Commander II is a fine looking and legible watch. I would have liked to see a few more elements of the original if it were up to me (which sadly it rarely is). Those elements include the more squared hour markers as well as the classic Mido logo, which has a lot more soul than the industrial looking modern interpretation of Mido-ness. I can easily live without the mesh metal bracelet. The 1960s can keep those.
The Commander II watch is 40mm wide in steel with a few dial styles and silver, gray, and black colors. Inside is a Swiss ETA 2836 day/date automatic movement. It appears as though some versions of the movement are Chronometer certified. At least the dial retained the quirky “Datoday” label on it. The Commander II arrives with a slightly higher-end brother, a new version of the Great Wall watch.
I believe the Great Wall was originally introduced a year or so ago and like its name implies, is a visual and thematic nod to the Great Wall of China – where a lot of Mido watches are most likely sold. The Great Wall is actually a pretty decent looking watch. For me, it has a slight edge over the new version of the Commander. For one thing, the Great Wall is a bit larger at 42m wide, but has a very similar case design. The steel case has a unique looking bracelet and a more intricate dial. Mido appears to be using the same hand design for both of the collections, and they both have day/date dials with ETA 2836-2 automatic movements. However, the movements inside of the Great Wall are COSC Chronometer certified while the Commander II movements are not. Don’t miss the neat seconds hand on the Great Wall.
There are already a few Mido Great Wall watches out there and people seem to really enjoy them. If the same goes for the Commander II then Mido will be off to a good year. I’d like for them to however focus a bit more to the West again. I think the brand could be something interesting in the US. Their prices are pretty reasonable as well. Mido says that the Commander II watch will be under $1,000 while the Great Wall will be between $1,000 – $2,000.