GMT watches never go out of style. Year after year, brands introduce GMT models with an extra hour hand and a 24-hour scale to indicate time in another time zone, and for obvious reasons, they are some of the most practical watches on the market. In 2022, we have already seen more than a dozen companies presenting new models with such functions. Still, this recent Mido Ocean Star GMT Special Edition, dare I say, is one of the best offers for a perfect balance of price, quality and performance. Let’s see why.
The Mido Ocean Star GMT Special Edition is a robust, automatic diving watch that combines the functionality of the “true GMT”, also known as the “traveller’s GMT”. It is an important distinction, as true or traveller’s GMT watches operate differently from the so-called “office GMT” watches. There is no consensus in the watch community on which is better, so you can decide for yourself after we explain the difference later in the article. Here at MONOCHROME, we tend to prefer the true GMT, as it’s designed to be a faithful companion for frequent travellers.
This Ocean Star GMT is a watch with a 44mm brushed and polished stainless steel case. It sounds enormous at first, but with a lug-to-lug measurement of 50mm, it can sit comfortably on most average men’s wrists – much better, in fact, than one could expect. The watch is 13.28mm thick, not that bad if you consider that the Ocean Star GMT is a dive watch and it contains a date and GMT complications. Both the caseback (note the engraving that shows all the time zones in the world, a nice touch) and the crown are screwed down to ensure that it is watertight to 200 metres.
The watch is powered by Mido’s automatic calibre 80. This one is based on ETA C07.661 (also known as the Powermatic 80), proven to have precision and robustness, and, as its name indicates, a power reserve of up to 80 hours. There is something to complain about, though. This calibre does not allow for a quick-date setting. To correct the date of the Mido Ocean Star GMT, you have to move the local time hand forward with the crown in the second position, passing twice over 12. Only then will the date move forward by one position. It is not a complicated operation, but it is less practical than the quick date-setting systems most are accustomed to. And remember that it’s the case for most of the GMT watches anyway (even luxury ones).
More on the setting of the Mido Ocean Star GMT Special Edition. Imagine you are travelling from one time zone to another. Pull the crown out to the second position, independently move the local time hand to indicate the hour, and the GMT hand will show your home time. This is how GMT watches were originally conceived: to quickly adjust the local time without losing the time of origin or reference time indicated by the GMT hand. The watches with this type of independent local time and movements are thus called “true GMT” or “traveller GMT” models.
Now, imagine that you are not travelling but wish to know what time it is in Japan for a quick call with your friends. For this, you pull the crown to the third position and turn the entire set of hands that are interlocked until the GMT hand is where you want it to be. Not a terrible task to perform, but still. A “true GMT” complication is excellent for travel but not ideal if you’re looking to track your friends in other time zones with the GMT hand. For that, watches known as “office GMTs” are more practical because they allow you to independently set only the GMT hand instead of the local time hand. From a technical point of view, it is a less exciting feature, and therefore these types of GMT watches are more accessible. A good example is the new Seiko 5 Sports GMT, which has precisely this kind of “office GMT” movement. This is a different philosophy.
Mido Ocean Star GMT is a diver’s watch, so it is a tool watch, and as such, it demonstrates a solid construction that its weight reflects – with the bracelet, it is over 200 grams, so if you like that solid feeling on your wrist, you will not be disappointed.
The case finishings are worth noting because they are a typical combination of brushed surfaces with some polished areas to enhance the overall impression. The shiny blue ceramic bezel insert with the classic 60-minute scale (found on practically all dive watches) with white bas-relief engraved numerals completes the look. The bezel is 120 clicks, and it seems to align perfectly with the 12 indexes, and, as in any respected diver, it is unidirectional. I like the design of the crown guard; it protects the oversized 8mm crown rather well from any hit, and it leaves enough space above and below to access and operate the crown.
Suppose you are going to be consulting the time in two time zones frequently. The priority of the dial must be legibility, and the Ocean Star GMT delivers just that. The hour and minute hands have a semi-skeletonised format, a distinctive feature of many Mido Ocean Star watches. They are polished on the sides and brushed in the centre to ensure legibility from any angle. The soft blue colour of the dial provides a perfect base for the rectangular applied indexes with their mirror-polished contours and lume-filled interiors. The red GMT hand has a white tip; the same colour combination is used for the central seconds hand, but it is much more subtle and slimmer, so there is no confusion reading the GMT data.
The earlier edition of Mido Ocean Star GMT (2020) had a date window with a date disc in tune with the dial’s black colour to minimise the intrusion. I would prefer to see the same design here, but the white disc is fine, too, acting as a counterweight to the marker at 9 o’clock.
The watch is sold with a steel bracelet and a NATO-like strap. The stainless steel bracelet is satin finished, with a polished central link, and comes with a folding clasp with diving extension and a quick-release system for quick changes. The blue fabric strap has two red stripes and a central white stripe, tone-on-tone stitching, metal loops and reinforced adjustment holes with a satin-finished and polished stainless steel pin buckle.
To summarise, the Mido Ocean Star GMT Special Edition watch is not only a fully capable dive watch with a robust construction, good finishings, materials, and good specs, but it also looks great and is a fine addition to the GMT watch genre, offering a solid package for the price.
The Mido Ocean Star Special Edition is now on sale for EUR 1,300. For more details, please visit www.midowatches.com.