This month the MDT magazine has published an interesting article about the history of MIDO, one of the most renowned Swiss watchmaking brands. As Zapata Jewelers sell this brand in their shops we would like to introduce you to it.
MIDO since 1918
By Ferran Magrané
Certainly,the brand MIDO is not characterized today by the great technical displays, asian luxury or extreme complications. Its watchmaking is based on the functionality, timeless design and durability. That has earned the brand the recognition of many watch-lovers who have not only come to appreciate these features but also the many and valuable innovations in its nearly hundred years that have mad history and have turned some models in true collector’s pieces.
It all started on November 11, 1918. While Europe was celebrating the end of World War I, the watchmaker Georges Schaeren founded his own manufactory in the town of Solothurn, in northwest Switzerland, which was called Mido G. Schaeren & Co. Interestingly the name “MIDO” came from the spanish language and more specifically from the spanish word “medir” which means “to measure”, a clear reference to the measurement of time.
The first signature pieces were elegant watches for women, clearly inspired by art-deco, equipped with a colored glaze, colorful bracelets and often decorated with jewels. It is worth mentioning a number of sport-inspired models that have the shape of a tennis racket, a golf ball, etc. – among which are those developed for the automobile brands such as Bugatti, Ford, Fiat, Excelsior or Hispano-Suiza.
During the ’30s and ’40s, Mido launched some of its most emblematic creations and introduced a host of technical innovations, becoming one of the leading watchmaking brands. In this regard it is worth highlighting the launch of the model Multifort in 1934 which is thank to its antimagnetic box, its shock resistance and lightness a true milestone of the Swiss brand.
The model featured a pioneering system of sealing the crown (which from 1959 would be called “Aquadura”), based on the use of natural cork with special treatment. Tis invention allowed Mido to ensure the functioning of the watches underwater, even while the crown is manipulated.
The proper operation under extreme conditions of Mido Multifort was certified by the company “Electrical Testing Laboratories of New York” for the official tests of the U.S. Government, which include resistance in salt and cold water, atmospheric pressure (13 atm), extreme temperature variations (50ºC to -40ºC), simulation of 34 years usage of the crown, etc. The only fault was detected in tests of altitude (one exemplary stood still at 13,300m).
INNOVATION AND ROBUSTNESS
In 1935, Mido expanded the Multiford collection with the launch of the automatic version, becoming the first brand to combine this system with properties such as air-lightness and resistance to magnetic fields and shocks.
In 1936 the incorporation of the first unbreakable rope system allowed to improve the proverbial robustness and durability of the Mido watches. To highlight these properties, but also its innovative nature, the robot “Robi” was born in 1939, a funny pet that appeared during many years on numerous commercials of the firm.
During the ’40s, Mido developed a large amount of aviation watches, thanks to Walter Schaeren, the son of the founder of the company and future president who was a pilot in the Swiss Air Force. At the same time, the company continued to surprise with iconic models such as the legendary Multicenterchrono in 1943, which gave priority to the information of the chronograph, placing them in a prominent place in the center of the sphere. To do this, Mido created the caliber 1300, which was none other than a modified Valjoux VZ. The modernity that distilled the Mido watches was reflected in the production plant that the company acquired in 1946 in the city of Biel. For the fist time a manufactory featured a rigorous temperature control and dust removal systems in the environment to create a better work space for their watchmakers and to improve the quality of their pieces.
In 1954, Mido introduced the charging system “PowerWind” which is simpler and more efficient than previous mechanisms: in addition a reduction of 16 to 7 components meant a significant increase in the power reserve of the watch. Keeping the traditions in the production of submersible watches, the Swiss brand presented in 1959 the model “Ocean Star”, which was characterized by its case that was made in one piece. This feature together with the press-fitted Permafit glass and Aquadura sealing made the watch not only watertight but also airtight which significantly lengthened its life. With a few physical changes the Ocean Star has been until now a part of the Mido collections.
The Storm of Quartz
In the late ’60s Mido was a leading company in the technical aspect – evidenced by the production of models like the Mini Mido (1967), which at the time was the smallest automatic watch, waterlight, antimagnetic and impact resistant like it was shown in the commercial(in 1967, the brand commercialized in 111 countries).
However, the quartz revolution was about to turn around the world of watchmaking and the brands were forced to reposition themselves. Mido joined the umbrella organization of the ASUAG (Allgemeine Schweizerische Uhrenindustrie AG) which allowed them the access to the necessary technology to manufacture the watches.
The’70s marked a period of great movement in the history of Mido – Mido produced 29,074 officially certified chronometer movement, thereby attaining 2nd place in the Swiss watch industry.
In 1985, due to the deep crisis the Swiss watchmaking went through, the both main watchmakers of the country, ASUAG and SSIH joined together to form the SMH group, that a few years later would be known as Swatch. Within this large watchmaking group, Mido has been consolidated as the brand of quality watches at competitive prices.
During the early ’90s, the brand took a new impulse thanks to the models like “Bodyguard” or “Worldtimer” (both 1996). The first was characterized by an alarm signal of over 100 dB, while the second watch was able to set the time zone required within seconds due to the rotating of the bezel and the subsequent pressure on the crown.
In 1998, Mido celebrated its 80-year history anniversary by returning to its roots and to a watch that perfectly summarized the hallmarks of the brand: the historical Multifort model which was characterized for its robustness and original design.
The first collections of the new millennium where the result of “Reflections on Time” driven by the ideologists of manufacturing. The most remarkable result of these reflections was surely the “All Dial Line” which was launched in 2002 and as an architectural inspiration. That same year also marks Mido’s entry into the Spanish market.
In 2006, the Swiss brand regained some other pieces of its historic designs: the Baroncelli model, which existed already 30 years. The new collection was a pure and classical interpretation of string instruments with classic and timeless designs. The Belluna collection which was launched in 2008, embodied the spirit of Swiss watchmaking with the inspiration of the forms of art-deco architecture.
In 2009, Mido celebrated the 75th anniversary if its most iconic watch, the Multifort, which was released in 1934 and had become the functional design paradigm. The new models of the collection not only paid tribute to the watch, but also to the 20th century, in which the industrial production of trains and planes as well as the production of steel objects marked the trend in its design, mainly in the United States.
This is surely the best model to define the philosophy of Mido which is based on the combination of timeless design with a functional and durable character. Under these assumptions, the brand has expanded its market in the recent years and is currently marketed in more than 2.000 concessionaires in 50 countries all over the world.