Automatic dress and diving watches from Orient are highly regarded for the value they provide, and can be purchased for under $200. These cost ranges suggest that the watches in question have few functions and features. However, the business is frequently misinterpreted. Orient is more than just a budget brand or a subsidiary of the Seiko Group. The company's past demonstrates that it has a distinct character.
Orient was first used in the early 20th century. Shogoro Yoshida opened a watch store in Tokyo in 1901, and by 1934 he was making wristwatches as well. They switched to making weapons during WWII, went out of business for a while afterward, and then came back as Orient Watch Co. in 1951. Since then, it has released a number of innovative timepieces, including slim, ultrawaterproof versions in the '60s and specialised dive watches. (Here you can view a selection of the most iconic vehicles from the manufacturer's past catalogue and learn more about its background.)
As a result of financial difficulties, it became a Seiko Epson subsidiary in 2009 and was fully absorbed into the parent company in 2017. For the timepieces, what does this mean? First of all, that doesn't mean they're simply repackaged Seiko watches under a different name.
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Although the situation is a bit convoluted, it is important to note that Epson is a separate entity from Seiko Holdings, which is responsible for the majority of the group's watchmaking. A different factory from Seiko's produces the movements for Orient watches; these newer movements are frequently updated versions of older Orient movements. Some Orient watches, however, feature rebranded Epson movements (again, distinct from those found in Seiko watches), while newer Orient movements take advantage of Seiko technologies, such as the Magic Lever and MEMS.
Though, Orient is more than just those dirt-cheap trash timepieces. Similarly to how Seiko does with its several lines of watches, the company uses distinct names and logos to demarcate its various offerings. The Orient Star line is the brand's upper-tier offerings, and it offers superior products at costs that are competitive with Swiss alternatives.
Orient's Classic and Contemporary collections each contain hundreds of timepieces (both included here). Feel free to peruse, but if you remember nothing else, let it be the term "bambino." Orient is well-known for their low-cost but stylish dress watches. We say have fun with the design-focused versions that feature things like partial skeletonization, avant-garde layouts, and funky vibes, but we think Orient excels when it sticks to the basics in terms of both form and function.
1. Second generation of the Orient Bambino.
Among the many examples of the adored Orient Bambino, this is just one. Even while there may seem to be significant variations between different "generations" or "versions," you shouldn't let that deter you from exploring the options available to you. The Bambino's entertaining in part because of the range of games available. There is a dizzying array of dial styles, colours, sizes, and variations, some of which even include a small or centre second hand. Select one (or two!) and know that you have something attractive that even watch connoisseurs would enjoy for around $100.
- Orient Bambino Version 2 Automatic Domed Crystal Glass FER2400EW0 ER2400EW Men's Watch
- 40.5mm in diameter
- 30M Water Depth Rating
2. Orient Bambino Open Heart
Here's another watch from the Bambino family, also a similar diameter and with a similar movement, but with a different design to show the range available in the series. Some watches, known as "open heart" models, are designed with a window in the dial that reveals the mechanical movement's balancing wheel in motion. Affordable models from Orient, like the one seen here, are excellent choices for people who are just getting their feet wet in the fascinating world of mechanical watchmaking.
Mako, Kano, Ray, and Kamasu, along with other Orient dive watches, can be found here. These watches, like other Orient watches, occasionally undergo facelifts with new names (Mako II, Ray II, etc.), specifications, and even designs, but they're still essentially the same. Even while the Sport line includes some ridiculously overengineered and overdesigned timepieces, the brand's real strength lies in its affordable dive watches.
1. Kamasu of the Orient.
For under $200, you can get a watch that is automated and can withstand depths of up to 200 metres in water. This reminds me of something Seiko would do in the past. Additionally, it has a nice size (about 42mm) and has the modern movement you desire, sapphire crystal, and a great overall design. Is this the best deal you can get on a diving watch right now? We'll just say it has to at least be considered, but you make the call. The many dial and bezel colour combinations are very interesting to look at.
- Size (in millimetres): 41.8mm
- Mechanical: Automatic Orient F6922 (hacking, hand-winding)
- 200m Water Depth Rating
2. The Orient Kano
At first glance, the Kano seems to be very similar to the Kamasu. Other than cosmetic changes, the case size and mineral crystal stand out as key distinctions. Still, at roughly $150, it's going to be a hell of a beater watch that you can wear all summer without worrying about water damage, thanks to the same 200m of water resistance. Different Orient dive watches will have features like this, so it's important to select one that works for you.
- Dimensions: 44mm in diameter
- The Orient F6922 is an automated movement (hacking, hand-winding)
- Defends against water for 200 metres
1. The Orient Star Traditional Skeleton
It's evident that Orient wants to provide more than just a gimmick with their skeletonized watch. In spite of the lack of elaborate hand-finishing, the manually wound mechanism here should nevertheless be pleasing to the eye, what with its polished bevels and perlage-decorated surfaces. With its contrasting blue hands and indices, it even manages to remain reasonably legible (a problem with such watches). The skeletonized timepieces aren't the best, but you could always do worse.
- Orient Star Full Skeleton Dial Stainless Steel DX00001W Men's Watch
- 40mm Without Crown
- Hand Winding Movement
- 50m Water Depth Rating
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