Watches You Should Know
This Eye-Catching Vintage Dive Watch Deserves a Reissue
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Welcome to Watches You Should Know, a biweekly column highlighting little-known watches with interesting backstories and unexpected influence. This week: the Mido Powerwind 5907.
A distinctive watch design works best if it’s rooted in a genuine purpose and story. In the current climate of vintage rerelease fever, modern brands are plumbing their archives for just that magic combination of elements. We think that Mido’s fascinating Powerwind “Rainbow” 5907 dive watch from the 1960s has that special sauce and deserves a comeback. One look at this colorful diver tells you it’s a bit different, but the reason for its unique style might not be readily apparent — unless you are a certified SCUBA diver.
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Mido today sits quietly near the budget end of the Swatch Group’s range of luxury watch brands. Its independent history before the Quartz Crisis, however, includes some notable achievements and interesting watches that are often overlooked. The Multifort, for instance, was an early example of an impressively robust watch that was said to be anti-magnetic, shock-resistant, and water-resistant back in 1934 — the latter feature was thanks to the brand’s own patented “Aquadura” cork gasket to help seal the crown from water ingress.
Photo: Matthew Bain Inc.
Dive watches evolved across the industry, and the colorful reference 5907 discussed here (also known by a couple of different names such as “Rainbow Diver” or “Powerwind 1000”) was part of the Ocean Star series introduced in 1959. Using Swiss movements based on ebauches from A. Schild, the “Powerwind” designation on the dial refers to an efficient automatic winding system the brand developed in 1954 that required far fewer components than the typical automatic mechanism of the time. So, this dive watch brought together multiple significant features and was rated to a respectable 300m (around 1,000ft) of water-resistance.
You probably don’t even have to know how to read all the markings on its colorful dial to find the Mido 5907 appealing, but understanding what we’re looking at adds another layer of interest. The dial features a diving decompression chart, which lets the diver know how long he needs to decompress for given the depth and length of his dive in minutes.
In meters (or feet, depending on the model), each ring shows the appropriate decompression times depending on the depth and length of one’s dive. The outer ring in blue is the deepest, at 40m (despite the watch’s deeper rating for water-resistance). So, for example, after 25 minutes at 30m, you have to stop and decompress for 5 minutes before surfacing, as indicated on the green ring (essentially, one simply floats at the prescribed depth). Back during heyday of diving, decompression stops were typically done at 5 meters no matter the depth of the dive — today, this method is somewhat antiquated and dangerous, and a more complex system governs decompression stop and depth calculation.
Photo: Matthew Bain Inc.
Mido wasn’t the only brand to make dive watches featuring decompression charts on the dial. The Fortis Marinemaster with a super-compressor-style case and the Vulcain Nautical Cricket with a mechanical alarm that could be heard underwater are a couple of examples that each introduced other cool features. The busy dials also give those watches an interesting look, but most such watches weren’t quite as eye-catching as the vibrant Mido 5907.
Never mind that the visible color spectrum disappears as you go deeper underwater — the dials look awesome on land. The Mido Rainbow Diver 5907 is relatively obscure but not totally unknown, and it can go for thousands of dollars on the vintage market in decent condition (as of 2019, fine examples can trade for over $10,000). Given a rare chance for the brand stand out in the crowded vintage dive watch market, Mido would be crazy not to bring back this awesome specimen.
Among the many features and specs touted by watchmakers, one of the most prominent is water-resistance. Here’s how to understand it. Read the Story