The last time we looked at Mido Replica, it was to check in with the Baroncelli Heritage wristwatch, which impressed us so much that it made it into our Value Proposition column not once, but twice. Today, we’ll look at a more complicated Mido Replica: The Multifort Chronograph Adventure, an affordably priced, above-entry level mechanical chronograph, that wants you to love it for its overall style and its attention to detail. Let’s see how it stacks up, quality-wise, next to the Baroncelli, and to some of the competition.
Competition from mechanical chronographs for hearts and minds at the $3000 mark – both slightly above and slightly below – is pretty keen, with entries from brands as varied as Hanhart, Sinn, Fortis, Seiko, and others, with many using some variation on the honorable Valjoux/ETA 7750. As you might expect, the price point is heavy on straight-up tool watches and while there is nothing wrong with that (at all) Mido’s gone in a slightly different direction with the Multifort Adventure. It’s a two register chronograph, which gives it a slightly old-fashioned flavor, and which is underscored by the Geneva stripes on the dial, “anthracite” PVD case treatment, tachymetric bezel, and perforated racing-style strap.
It’s a completely different watch in orientation and general ambitions than the Baroncelli, but what it does have in common with it is great attention to detail. Bezel, dial, dial furniture and hands all look very clean, and while I generally don’t find the use of movement plate finishing techniques on dials very successful or attractive, somehow it seems to work here. The glitter of perlage or Geneva strips is a little hard on the eyes and I don’t think it does very much for the legibility of a watch as a rule, but the dark anthracite coloration here gives you a cool machine vibe without half-blinding you in the process.
I also don’t think it hurts that the color palette’s well controlled; there are a lot of nice, warm-skewing earth tones all the way through and Mido has, thankfully, elected to allow them to do their thing without trying to jazz the whole thing up with unwanted primaries, or solid blacks or whites. Plus the use of warm earth colors makes the light brown tint of the SuperLuminova look like part of the design, instead of a striving-for-vintage-cool add on (or afterthought).
The warm earth tones of the watch itself play very nicely with the strap, which is, by the way, a very handsome thing. This isn’t being pitched as an automotive themed watch by Mido, which insists, for better or worse, on sticking with its decades-long association between its designs, and architecture. We’re told that the Geneva stripes evoke the “suspension cables of the Sydney Harbor Bridge” – okay. I don’t have the heart to take too much exception to what seems dutiful, if perfunctory, in the supposed correspondence, but I think between the strap, tachymetric bezel, Geneva strips on the dial and two register design, that the copy writer for the press release would have much preferred to say that the watch evokes – oh, I don’t know, the world of post-World War II autosports, with all those open cockpits, helmets and goggles, and cars that managed to be high performance, and curvaceously elegant at the same time.
It’s tough to stand out in this price range, for chronographs. There are certain safe choices you can make, and a lot of designs make those choices because, let’s face it, it’s easier to sell watches that way. Take an ETA 77xx, put it in a round case, keep things simple; mostly do sports chronos (aviation theme for choice) or do a simple chrono with classic design elements. And, again, nothing wrong with that. The Multifort Chronograph Adventure is a little different though, which is kind of fascinating; it manages to have a surprisingly authentic, vintage chrono flavor, tempered with just enough modernity that you don’t feel the almost instant glazing over of the eyes that accompanies encountering most chronographs in this price range. (The photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson once said, “Really, how many pictures can you look at more than once?” and I feel like he could have just as easily said that of most circa-USD3k sports chronographs).
This is a watch that under ordinary circumstances I wouldn’t have looked at twice, but the more time I spent with it the more I felt like it’s kind of a breath of fresh air. I still don’t buy the Sydney Harbour Bridge thing, but if touting it is what it takes to get a tasteful, thoughtful, sub $3k chronograph out there, I say, God bless you, Mido; you do you.
The Mido Multifort Chronograph Adventure: case, 316L stainless steel, anthracite PVD coating, engraved tachymetric bezel; 44mm diameter; water resistance 10 bar/100 meters. Movement, Mido caliber 80, ETA A05H31 base (derived from the ETA 7753). 30.40mm x 7.90mm, running in 27 jewels at 28,800 vph. Strap, brown perforated calfskin with folding clasp. Price, $2130. See it on Mido.com, also available this week for purchase online from Mido Replica.