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MIDO Commander Ref. 8299 – The Thinking Man’s Rolex DD

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  • MIDO Commander Ref. 8299 – The Thinking Man’s Rolex DD

    This is a past For Sale post from the Market Place section of the forum. The timepiece has been sold, and the post has been edited and moved here for the purpose of providing reference material for forum members.

    Founded in 1918, MIDO is based in the town of Le Locle, in the heart of the Swiss Jura Mountains. The watchmaking company is today a part of the Swatch Group. MIDO’s story started around the same time as another well-known Swiss name—Rolex. The reason that I’m making references to Rolex is that, for half a century, the two manufactures were direct competitors in mass-produced high precision watches. For these were the times before Rolex went “luxury”, an era when high precision chronometers were not confined high-priced watches.

    Four years after Rolex registered its company name in La Chaux-de-Fonds, and before its move to Geneva, an experienced and talented watchmaker George Schaeren founded Mido G. Schaeren & Co. watch factory in Solothurn. The name MIDO comes from the Spanish "Yo mido", meaning “I measure”. From the very beginning, it was decided that the brand’s core value will be that of innovation and timeless design, where functionality, rather than fashion trend, would dictate. Furthermore, their aim was to produce watches with the characteristics of a good friend—one which you feel good when you see it, is very reliable and always there when you need it, and has a character of its own. The thing that I admire most about MIDO is that it is one of the very few watch brands today that has retained its original purpose of being, even in the face of modern marketing and its branding practices. This is what separates MIDO from most other Swiss brands.

    It was the need to make its watches long-lasting and pass its life with the owner that had led to the use of high quality material and the pursuit of systems to overcome the elements—be it shock, magnetism, or water. Throughout the 1920s, MIDO competed with Rolex to introduce the world's first water-resistant watch. Most already know that Rolex won the race, and in 1926, when Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf patented a watch with a watertight case—the Rolex Oyster.

    Not to be outdone, MIDO, in the early 1930s, developed a cork-crown sealing system that provided almost complete water tightness. In 1934, the manufacturer launched the MIDO Multifort, the world’s first automatic-winding watch with shock-resistance, water-resistance, and anti-magnetic. Not surprising that, for over 30 years, MIDO was at the forefront of what we would now refer to as “tough” watches. The Multifort provided the blue print for future MIDO, i.e. originality and clarity in design, functional and very resistant to the elements.

    One such MIDO is the "Commander", first launched in 1959. It became the Swiss company’s most famous collection and has remained in uninterrupted production to this day. Encased in a high quality 316L stainless steel monocoque (one-piece) shell, The MIDO Commander features a unique Aquadura cork crown sealing system, designed for frequent contact with water up to 50 meters. Using a specially treated piece of natural cork nestled around the crown shaft, Aquadura ensures complete water-resistance--even when the crown is not fully pushed in.

    On offer is my MIDO Commander Ref. 8299, which features a combination of monocoque case, Aquadura, as well as screw-down crown that is not available on normal Commanders. The 8299 had a relatively short production run of less than a decade, from the late-1980s to early-1990s, making them rarer and more sort-after than other Commander models. The timepiece adopts the styling of the Rolex Day-Date, popular among many Swiss brands during that era--Universal Geneve, Rado, Eterna, to name a few. This particular specimen is believed to be from around 1990.


    Ref: 8299
    Movement: Automatic ETA 2834, 25 jewels, 28'800 A/hr, Nivaflex NE Mainsprings, Adjusted in 3 positions, Incabloc, with 38 hrs power reserve
    Case: Stainless steel monocoque (diameter: 36 mm w/o crown, lug-to-lug: 41 mm, height: 10 mm, lug-width: 20 mm), screw-down crown
    Dial: Silver with luminous (Tritium) applied indices and hands
    Crystal: Acrylic glass with date magnifier
    Bracelet: Stainless steel, solid links with fold-over clasp, fits wrist up to 18.3 cm (7 1/4 inch)
    Weight: 85 gram
    Water-Resistance: 50 m (not pressure-tested)
    Manufactured: In Switzerland

    I love MIDO Commanders, and this is the third that I have owned. They are watches that sits just underneath the luxury price bracket, but their quality (material and build) are equivalent to timepieces from Oris or Longines. I’ve always thought of Ref. 8299 as the tough version of a Rolex Day-Date. Though the styling may be a homage, but the innards are pure MIDO and highly resistant to the elements—the way MIDO has been since the mid-1930s. The ETA 2834 is the Day/Date version of the well-regarded workhorse ETA 2824, itself a proven movement that any capable watchmaker can service and obtain parts for. It is adjusted to three positions, which is equivalent to Elaborated Grade, as oppose to five positions in a Chronometer :roll: Though, at a fraction of what one would pay for a Day-Date, this piece would definitely suit the Thinking-Man in all of us.

    (File photo of a similar Commander movement)

    On the instruments we entrust to pace our lives, to bear witness to our days, and to be the keepers of the most precious thing we have... time.