Back in March, we did something some readers thought was a little cheeky, which was give a watch the nod as a Value Proposition on the basis of a press release. While we stand by the original story, the criticism that a watch ought to be in hand and on the wrist before finding its place in the Value Proposition pantheon is a fair one, so we decided to do the right thing and see if the Baroncelli Heritage from Mido Replica was as good in person as we thought it would be.
I’m happy to say that the watch exceeded expectations considerably. The Baroncelli Heritage was created to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the product line with Mido, and it’s a very straightforward piece of watchmaking. The case is 39 mm in diameter and quite thin, 6.85 mm. (For reference, the NOMOS Tetra Neomatik is 6.3 mm thick and what’s probably the thinnest watch in the world right now, the Jaeger LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin Squelette, is 3.6 mm thick while the Piaget 900P is 3.65 mm thick. I wonder about that last .05 mm, which is, more or less, 10 human red blood cells lined up side by side.) It certainly wears a bit bigger than 39mm, which is due to the uncluttered dial and the very thin bezel. The dial gives a very refined impression as well, with thin stick markers and small dots at the minute/seconds intervals.
This is the kind of watchmaking that’s pretty hard to do on a budget. You’re restricting yourself to a few design elements, so everything counts and you don’t have a whole lot of room for mistakes. While there are a couple of points I think will produce divided opinions about this watch – the date window for one, the “Baroncelli Heritage” logo for another (in two different fonts) in general Mido has done an incredible job at making this watch give an impression of thought in design and craft in execution out of all proportion to the price tag.
One really noticeable instance of the extra care and thought Mido’s delivering with this watch are the hands. I haven’t been this pleasantly surprised by the care taken in making watch hands in a value priced watch since I saw my first Grand Seiko. One of the things I’m often unpleasantly surprised by are the relatively poorly made hands on very expensive watches and here, exactly the opposite’s true; I’ve seen worse looking hands than this on watches costing a hundred times as much, and I’m not kidding. The hands on the Baroncelli heritage are beveled, with diamond polish on one side and sandblasting on the other, and they’re one of the biggest reasons this watch punches well above its weight in terms of visual impact for the price.
The textured finish of the dial has just the right amount of tooth to set off the markers and hands without calling too much attention to itself, and the font used for the date disk is a great bridge between the dial lettering and the dial markers – I don’t know if that was deliberate, or a happy accident, but it definitely works, no matter how it happened. On the date window, I recall that recently an H. reader remarked in the comments that he or she thought that in general, date windows work better without a metal frame (my apologies, whoever you are, I can’t remember where I saw the comment) and I think in this case, it’s definitely true. The date window on the Baroncelli Heritage has a very clean feel and contrasts enough with the texture of the rest of the dial to stand out without sticking out, which would certainly not be the case if a metal frame had been added.
The movement is an ETA 2892A2, which, while not quite fitting a strict interpretation of an extra flat movement, is still pretty thin at 3.60 mm (ETA 2824 is 4.6 mm for comparison). Of course it’s not lavishly hand-decorated but it is very nicely finished for the price point and is attractive without giving the impression (as a display back can at this price point) that it’s trying to fool you into thinking it’s something it’s not. The impression of fastidious tidiness you get from the front of the watch carries over to the back as well.
The case has a PVD gold coating, about which we’ve had some interesting discussions in the original post on the Baroncelli Heritage. Other than the “Baroncelli Heritage” lettering on the dial, and of course the date window, this is probably going to be the point about which people will be most divided. As we noted in the comments thread in our original coverage of this watch, the PVD coating is actually a lot more durable than simple gold electroplating, but for sure, some people prefer a watch with a steel case to look it. However, the gold PVD coating does give you a very nice warmth and a dressy look without the cost of a gold case.
It’s an easy watch to wear, thanks to its dimensions and also its mass, which is definitely in the dress rather than tool watch range: 42 grams on a strap, which is about half the weight of a Tudor Ranger on a strap (the latter is 80 grams).
This is an interesting, and a rather curious, wristwatch. Everything seems to have fallen together beautifully in the design and execution, and it feels and looks both elegant, and honest, and I think it’d be a very satisfying watch to wear every day. I have no idea who designed it other than the collective design team at Mido, but it could easily seem like an example of design serendipity, rather than something achieved through more deliberate means. I don’t think so, though. There are too many careful decisions and I think in this case, Mido got there because they knew what they wanted to do and they did it. At this price – $1,090 – you get great visual results by deciding where you want to expend effort and both as a designer, and as a consumer, you have to accept certain compromises. In this watch, the PVD coating rather than a solid gold case, and the crocodile scale, patterned calf leather strap instead of a real croc strap is another. The payoff, however, is that you get a watch with great clarity of design as well as really beautiful execution in all its visual elements, and that combination of attention to detail and design intelligence makes the Mido Baroncelli Heritage a great Value Proposition.
See Mido’s full collection online. The Baroncelli Heritage is available now at Mido retailers. Available in a 33 mm x 6.85 mm case or a 39 mm x 6.95 mm case. Water resistance 30m/100 feet. Strap, croc-pattern semi-matte calf leather with rose gold PVD-coated pin buckle. Movement, Mido 1192/ETA 2892A2, with blued screws, perlage, and Geneva stripes on the rotor; adjusted to four positions; 42 hour power reserve. Double sided hands, diamond polished on one bevel and sandblasted on the other.