“Wait. There’s the Commander 1959 but a… Shade?”
Yes, a Commander Shade. See, there’s the Mido Commander 1959 which itself is the most retro-looking model within the Commander collection, right? The Shade variants, however, were introduced in 2018 as part of the brand’s 100th anniversary celebrations. The Commander itself has been in continuous production since 1959 so there’s no doubting its heritage. However, this particular look draws inspiration from a 1979 model.
Confused? Me too. The line began in 1959 but why stick with that set of numbers when it’s based on a 1979 model? Frankly, I’m just gonna put it down to one of those weird naming conventions that big brands are prone to doing. Although, with the Mido Commander Shade, confusion can be a good thing. Let’s see, where do I even begin…
You know how there are divers, dress, field, aviation watches and what have you? Well, the Commander Shade doesn’t really fit in to any of those categories, does it? As a result, you’ve got a watch that’s a tad too delicate compared to divers and field watches but at the same time, it’s a bit too playful to be considered a dress watch. What’s left? The more verbose counterpart of Centre Seconds has put it quite nicely. “This is like a classic Volkswagen Beetle or a Fiat 500 in a garage of Ferraris.”
It’s a fun watch, long story short. It’s a watch where you put on and can’t help but smile cause well… It is what it is. It doesn’t try to position itself as something you need in a serious collection (whatever that means) but if you had the funds for one, why not? You know what this watch is? It’s unpretentious. It’s a definite love-it-or-hate-it timepiece for sure but no one is gonna’ call it boring or lacking in character.
“And on that note, let’s see how the Commander Shade stacks up…”
Wow, wow, hold up! Earlier, it was mentioned that the Commander Shade has been part of Mido’s lineup since 2018 right? Why bring up such an old model? This is because the 2018 variants came in silver and rose gold colour schemes. This blue-dialed, black PVD variant is part of the brand’s 2020 novelty range.
So, there you have it. With this being an aesthetic addition to the Commander Shade lineup, the technical specifications are identical to the 2018 releases. Within the black PVD coated, 37 mm monocoque case lies the now familiar Mido Caliber 80. Based on an ETA C07.621 movement, the 25-jeweled caliber beats at a rate of 3 Hz and features a power reserve of 80 hours.
As you can see within the framed window at 3 o’clock, a day-date or rather ‘Datoday’ complication is present as part of the Caliber 80 package. Oh, water resistance is rated at a meagre 50 m so obviously you shouldn’t take it anywhere wetter than the kitchen sink.
“Looking good so far…”
Yeah, I’d say that. Look, from a technical point of view, I’ll be frank and say there’s nothing spectacular about this watch but at the same time, it’s not exactly poverty-spec. Where this watch excels at is the subjective part. For starters, beneath that acrylic crystal sits a gorgeous blue gradient “satin-finished” dial. Well, officially it’s blue but to me, it knocks closer to purple in certain lighting conditions.
Whatever colour it may be, I think it’s brilliant and the way the light plays off of it is just so much fun to look at. It’s a refreshing change from the usual sunburst effect as well. I’m not sure how to put it but under sunlight, the light play anchors around a distinct ray that divides the dial in half and continues to dance around at polar opposites as I twirl my wrist.
Speaking of the dial, there are many other interesting details that don’t immediately jump out. The squared-off, faceted hour markers with their blacked-out middle portion and the retro, applied ‘Mido’ and ‘Commander’ font adds just enough character without being too overwhelming. Personally, I’m not a fan of the ‘Automatic Datoday’ font, though. The positioning of it is fine as it adds (some) symmetry but the use of a more contemporary font really throws things out of whack visually. That, and the fact that it’s printed as opposed to applied shows inconsistency.
“Wait… Something doesn’t look right…”
The day-date display could also benefit from a white-on-black scheme instead of what’s on show here. Elsewhere, the faceted baton hands certainly look great and they do a good job at sticking to the theme but legibility is gonna’ suffer as a result of its flat ends. Obviously, the lack of a minute track doesn’t help either. Again, not the biggest flaw in the world but if you’re a sucker for legibility, this is a no-no.
I do, however, like the thin line of lume that dissects the top three quarters of the hour and minute hands. Ah, since we’re on the subject of lume, let me just get the first noticeable flaw out of the way. It’s weak. Quite weak, I’m afraid. The base of the hour markers have just a tiny lume dot and the aforementioned lumed hands aren’t exactly class-leading to begin with. In the dark, you’re gonna struggle telling the time.
Here’s the saving grace, though. Remember how I said earlier on that this is a fun watch and it’s close to impossible to frown when you put this on? Well, take a really, really close look at the centre of the acrylic crystal and you’ll see the same retro Mido font hot-stamped into it. Now that’s something that’ll make any watch geek grin like an idiot.
It certainly made this idiot flip out (in the best way possible) when he first caught it.
“What else is good?”
Well, it’s pretty darn comfortable thanks to that black PVD-coated Milanese mesh steel bracelet. I will come out and state this for the record – I’m not a huge fan of steel bracelets.
This may signal a shift for me. Day in, day out with this on my wrist, the mesh bracelet was extremely wearable with zero hints of pinching or tugging at the skin. Also, I wear shirts to work so its height of 10.45 mm means the Commander Shade will easily slide under all but the tightest of cuffs. The entire watch also weighs a grand total of just 76 g.
With that said, I’ve got another bone to pick. Now, I’ve said that the bracelet is comfortable and it is but due to its tapered design, it’s impossible to slide the clasp further up to accommodate my 6-inch wrist. The result? A watch that wears ever so slightly loose on my wrist.
The weak lume may be forgivable but if I’m spending a considerable amount of money on a watch, I need it to fit just right. And the Commander Shade doesn’t, unfortunately. To make this pill a tad more difficult to swallow, the integrated bracelet design means that there’s no chance of swapping this ill-fitting bracelet out for a new strap.
Another issue I have lies with the clasp itself. On most Milanese mesh bracelets, you have to slide the clasp along the bracelet to find that perfect fit, right? Right, and in order to do so, you have to lift the locking hinge on the underside of it. On the Commander Shade, the locking hinge really, really locks. Maybe I’m nitpicking at this point but if I have to exert considerable force to lift and lock it, I reckon Mido could’ve done a more refined job at constructing this bit.
“So, where does this leave the Mido Commander Shade, then?”
In a good way, no where. Put it this way, this watch is fun because it scores so high on the ‘want’ spectrum. Is it a necessary addition in any collection? Do you need one? No, not quite. But if you have the extra funds lying around and you find your collection a little too serious, then this may be the right timepiece to add that much-needed ray of sunshine.
So put on the Mido Commander Shade, throw on your shades, start up that vintage Beetle and go for a drive with no set destination. Not everything in life has to have a purpose and while it’s not dirt cheap at RM3,690, it’s a relatively small price to pay for a bundle of joy that fits on your wrist.