I have always liked Orient watches and I think I first noticed them at Mustafa’s in Singapore.
The first Orient I bought was in India about 3 years ago from this watchmaker. We had stopped at the side of the road on a busy street and I saw his shop and went in. I was still trying to buy good and really cheap watches in those days and asked him if he had any watches he wanted to sell for between $5 – $10. He pulled out this box with 40 or 50 watches in it and the Orient was one of the watches in it.
I also bought a Sandoz from the 60’s from him and a couple of HMT’s that day. The Orient just needed a new bracelet and a clean and I ended up giving it to my friend Freddy in Singapore after I had done all this.
Shortly after this, my colleague Yuji in Japan showed me an Orient Star that he was eyeing and I started looking at Orient even more closely.
Whilst at Takashimaya buying those Issey Miyake watches a few days ago I was browsing through their display of Orient watches and saw the Orient Bambino caught my eye. Tried the rose gold on and was ‘sold’. Ordered 2 of the rose gold models and I am waiting for the phone call to pick them up.
As luck would have it, my buddy Alex from Australia arrived in Singapore yesterday and said he was on the look out for a decent priced dress watch (and a watch for his daughter Lucy). We ended up looking at about 5 or 6 watch shops in town and he settled for a gold Orient Bambino.
When I first saw this watch with it’s retro-classic design, I was reminded of Omega’s or Longine’s watches from the 50’s and 60’s
The case measures about 41 mm without the crown and 46 mm lug to lug and is about 12mm thick including the domed crystal. Plating looks good and from experience will not fade with normal daily wear.
The acrylic crystal is uniquely dome shaped and something you would normally only find on much more expensive watches. The crystal measures about 37mm wide, and has a height of about 4mm. It is made of mineral crystal and therefore should be safe from those inevitable door way dings and desk dives.
The classic case is proportioned well and a has a classic round shape, flat sides and relatively short lugs that taper towards the case. The case is capped with a thin, slightly beveled bezel that leads to the domed crystal and creates a nice border to the crystal / dial. Upon closer inspection you will notice that the metal is polished on the top surfaces of the watch and lightly brushed on the sides giving it a nice contrast and adds dimension and texture to the design.
The signed Orient crown and date window are both positioned in the classic 3 o’clock position.
Dial, Markers and Hands
The first thing that caught my eye on this watch was the dial, markers and hands. When designing the Bambino, Orient emulated the best of classic watch designs and came up with this retro-classic. A simple domed dial which like pie-pan dials are quite rare today – especially in sub $1000 watches, dauphine minute and hour hands to compliment trapezoidal markers that look similar to those on 60’s Longines Conquest. (I used to own just such a watch but it is in safekeeping with my sister). The second hand is a thin straight needle and both the minute and second hand are bent towards the tip to reflect the curve in the dial thus adding great visual detail upon close inspection.
The dial also comes in black but I prefer the white dial as this offsets the rose gold finish nicely and this also has small black or very dark grey markings for the minutes/seconds.
The orient logo at 12 o’clock has a drop of red in the lion and shield emblem and has been kept to a relatively small size and proportioned correctly to the dial, so they do not overshadow the overall top half of the dial. Just above the 6 o’clock marker “Water Resist” is written in cursive font. It looks nice but I would have chosen to say something else such a maybe 21 jewels in the movement or the word Automatic.
The 41 mm x 46 mm case is small enough to fit well, but large enough to stand out. I did see a comment on Orient USA’s blog that said the watch would have been perfect if it were smaller. I disagree. Combined with the domed crystal, glimmer of the polished markers and hands, the white dial, the overall retro look and you have a watch with a lot of personality.
The leather strap the watch comes with is presentable and of good enough quality brings out the dressier elements of the watch.
Watches like this Orient are what I find myself interested in lately. I have my fair share of Breiting, Tissot, TAG, Rolex, Tudor and Omega watches and I think there is enough focus on these types of watches already.
Finding a genuinely good mechanical watch that looks good and does not look or feel cheap is proving to be fun – and anyone who knows me knows I like a good bargain.
The Orient made such an impression that Alex actually ended up buying one for himself!