I have a lot of positive things to say about Mido’s Ocean Star, a well-priced diver-style watch in titanium with a matching titanium bracelet (ref. M026.430.44.061.00). Swatch Group’s Mido brand has been a horological underdog for a while now, and I think the brand deserves a lot more attention from the enthusiast community. Pricing for most Mido watches falls in line with other Swatch Group brands, such as Tissot, Certina, and Hamilton — though Mido, by design, has some of its own specialties and design icons. Its mainstay dive watch is the Ocean Star (generic name these days, I know), and it comes in a few flavors.
This is actually the only Mido Ocean Star (I wonder if “Dive Star” might be a more fun name) produced in titanium — and you barely pay a premium for it. Titanium dive watches aren’t exactly uncommon these days, but Mido has finished the Ocean Star titanium so well that I feel it is an uncommonly good value. The Ocean Star is not a perfect watch — few are — and Mido has actually improved some of the dial design elements in the more recent Ocean Star Diver 600 collection. Let me spend a minute talking about the differences between these two models. Even though I like the dial and bezel design of the Ocean Star Diver 600 Water a bit better (it has some minor tweaks that I appreciate), the Ocean Star Diver 600 is larger and significantly more expensive (around $800 more than the comparable Ocean Star). The Ocean Star Diver 600 is also larger in thickness and width. The case (only in steel with no titanium option at this time) is 43.5mm-wide versus the Ocean Star’s slightly smaller 42.5mm-wide case.
Let’s start by talking about the movement in the Ocean Star, which is the ETA-produced Swiss-made Caliber 80. Movements similar to this are used in other Swatch Group brands, such as Hamilton. The movement is based on the ETA 2836-2 or C07.61. The frequency is lowered to 3Hz from 4Hz in order to increase the power reserve to 80 hours. That generally causes collectors to worry about long term accuracy, but ETA tweaked the movement in order to get more accuracy overall. Each of the caliber 80 movements is COSC Chronometer-certified, as well, which is a further indicator of value and an assurance that the Ocean Star will prove reasonably reliable.
The movement has a day/date calendar complication, which is a matter of taste. Some people (especially those coming from owning a large variety of Japanese automatic dive watches) like this calendar feature, while others don’t. (Mido actually removed the day of the week window in the Ocean Star Diver 600.) My main issue with the calendar window is the large white opening (though it would have been nicer on color-matching discs), and the fact that it caused the dial designer to opt for semi-skeletonized hands (the Ocean Star Diver 600 has solid hands). This means that the dial of the Ocean Star has a lot of functionality, but there is some sacrifice when it comes to overall clean, symmetrical looks and legibility (the solid hands are easily more legible).
That said, the dial is nicely done with the blocky hour markers and strong, modern-looking hands. On this particular titanium version, the dial has a sort of matte, textured anthracite color with metallic orange accents. It is an uncommon color palette, and it works with the titanium case. Around the dial is a rotating diver-style bezel with an aluminum inset. Of course, I would have preferred a ceramic insert, but at this price, I am not complaining.
The Swatch Group’s ability to put together a very competent watch at a very competitive price comes through in the Mido Ocean Star. The case finishing and overall construction quality are excellent. This type of finishing would be expected on a titanium watch at many times the price of this roughly $1,000 USD product. It isn’t just the tight tolerances and good surfacing on the titanium, but also the contrast finishing that features a lot of polished and not just brushed surfaces on both the watch case and bracelet. Mido actually offers this precise Ocean Star titanium on both the matching titanium bracelet and an orange rubber strap option. The titanium bracelet has a price premium of just $40 USD retail! So, I highly suggest getting the bracelet in order to have it, and if you want you can swap it out for a rubber strap for more sporty activities when you don’t want to risk too many scratches.
Bracelet construction is very good overall, with a comfortable, classic-looking three-link bracelet that, as I said, benefits from some edge polishing. The bracelet tapers and is not too thick, leading to a well-made deployant clasp that also features a micro-adjust system. But because the deployant opening pushers and micro-adjust pushers are similar, I found myself often accidentally adjusting the bracelet size when my intention was just to remove the watch.
Anyone with a lot of experience handling watches at various price points will immediately notice that Mido offers a fair value for the money at this price point. As I said, this is especially true when looking at the case and bracelet polishing and construction quality. The Mido Ocean Star case is 42.5mm-wide, 11.75mm-thick, and has a 48mm lug-to-lug distance. The case is water resistant to 200 meters (fine for most duty, and those who need more can get 600 meters out of the Ocean Star Diver 600 version) and is capped with a flat AR-coated sapphire crystal. It wears a bit large, but a lot of people like this size, and the Swatch Group certainly offers a lot of other smaller dive watches from brands such as Rado, etc., if you want something narrower in diameter.
Why titanium versus steel? Mido makes most versions of the Ocean Star in steel — which, practically speaking, makes more sense at this price point and for this market. This reference M026.430.44.061.00 and the reference M026.430.47.061.00 version on the strap are currently the only titanium versions produced by the brand. That makes them the most uncommon and exclusive of the lot. They are also the best value, in my opinion, because at this price point, there are oodles of good dive watches but vanishingly few awesome choices in a full titanium case with matching bracelet. The watch almost looks like steel but benefits from being about 30% lighter and also more exclusive.
It was a few years ago that I first noticed the Ocean Star watch in titanium when meeting with the brand. They didn’t even seem to appreciate that it was such a neat product within the larger Ocean Star collection. By no means is it the only Ocean Star worth having, but watch collectors seeking good value from major brands should take a hard look. Price for the Mido Ocean Star reference M026.430.47.061.00 on the strap is $1,000 USD and, as seen in this review, the Ocean Star reference M026.430.44.061.00 watch on the matching bracelet has a retail price of just $1,040 USD. See more at the Mido website here.
>Model: Ocean Star (reference M026.430.44.061.00 as tested)
>Price: $1,040 USD
>Size: 42.5 mm-wide, 11.75mm-thick, 22mm wide strap, and about 48mm lug-to-lug distance.
>When reviewer would personally wear it: As a handsome daily wear dive-style watch that is lighter on the wrist and finished so well at this price point.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Anyone who loves the idea of well-finished titanium watch with bracelet but can’t afford the many more expensive options.
>Best characteristic of watch: Excellent example of how nicely the Swatch Group can make a daily wear timepiece when they put their minds to it. Great quality case and bracelet, good movement, and a lot of practicality built into one product.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Skeletonized hands don’t add to the legibility or function. Day/date window is not to everyone’s taste. Some overall dial and bezel marker design issues were improved in the larger and more expensive Mido Ocean Star 600 Water. Easy to mistake pushers on bracelet when operating it with just your fingers (while not looking).