Swiss luxury watchmaker Mido is back with a new version of one of its most popular designs: the Ocean Star Decompression Timer 1961 Limited Edition. Available November 1, it’s equipped with the same multi-coloured dial as the 2020 limited edition and has been updated with a new blue bezel and two new straps for a fresh modern look. In honour of this much-anticipated drop, we thought it would be worth taking a look back at the 1960s watch that inspired it and the technology that put Mido at the top of the diving watch heap.
Back in the late 1950s and early 1960s, the sport of scuba diving was growing fast among weekend warriors — much like road biking or rock climbing today. In addition to a tank, a mask, a regulator, and a set of fins, a proper waterproof dive watch was an essential bit of gear for anyone wanting to get on board with this new sport.
While we tend to take a good amount of water resistance for granted in modern watches, back then watchmakers were still figuring out how to keep movements dry under pressure. As both a unique diver’s tool and one that could easily withstand the rigours of deep-sea diving, the original Mido decompression timer (aka the Ocean Star Rainbow Diver or Ocean Star Powerwind 1000) was a cutting-edge tool watch, whose unique multi-coloured dial was as eye-catching as it was practical.
The watch worked by helping a diver time periods of decompression when reascending — an important step to avoid getting either nitrogen narcosis or the bends — by clearly delineating the length of each stage using different colours. Created with the help of professional divers around the globe, the innovative design of the original piece helped Mido earn a reputation as the “King of Waterproof” watches.
The original watch’s colourful dial, however, wasn’t the decompression timer’s only selling feature; it also had a patented waterproofing system that set it ahead of its peers. One element of this was the Aquadura system, which used waterproof cork to prevent leaks around the winding crown. The other was a revolutionary one-piece “monocoque” case, which eliminated leaks from the case back. All of this added up to a watch that was tested at a pressure corresponding to a depth of 300 metres and guaranteed to be 100 per cent water-resistant.
Mido’s monocoque case design has been in production since 1959 and can still be found on Mido’s current models — including the new Ocean Star Decompression Timer 1961. The new watch also features a box-shaped sapphire crystal, a Mido Caliber 80 automatic movement with 80 hours of power reserve, and a date window. Anyone lucky enough to nab one of the 1961 pieces of this new edition will also get a pair of new straps, one in blue woven nylon and the other in brown leather, as well as a “shark mesh” bracelet.
But how, you ask, does one actually use a decompression timer? Check back soon for our full breakdown of this unique complication.
Mido Ocean Star Decompression Timer 1961 Limited Edition, $1,450.
All images courtesy of Mido.