There’s a good reason why Orient watches remain a top choice among collectors. Aside from the robust designs, timepieces from the brand are incredibly affordable. This is nothing new for Japanese watch brands and Orient continues to uphold that as one.
However, not a lot of people know about the beauty and value of Orient timepieces. It easily gets overlooked with the existence of brands like Seiko, Casio, and Citizen. Looking into the brand will definitely convince you that you should have at least one of these timepieces from the Japanese brand.
From dive watches to pilot and dress watches, there’s more to Orient than you’d expect. Let’s take a look at the brand’s history and the top 10 Orient watches you need to get today. Spoiler alert: everything is under $500 USD.
What are Orient Watches?
Orient is a Japanese watch brand owned by Seiko Epson. Now there’s a bit of confusion regarding the ownership of Orient. It’s a common question to ask, “Is Orient and Seiko from the same company?” The quick answer is no. While they’re both from the Seiko Group, the two companies operate completely independent from each other. Seiko watches, for one, is under the Seiko Holdings Corporation. Meanwhile, Orient is from Seiko Epson Corp, more popularly known as simply Epson. Also under Epson is Trume, an up and coming scene-stealer in the Japanese watch industry.
Now that we got that out of the way, let’s take a closer look at Orient as a brand. There aren’t a lot of Japanese brands that produce mechanical movements. After all, the country emerged in the watchmaking industry for the invention of Quartz (Thanks, Seiko Astron!). That’s why Orient stands out among the competition as one of the few watch companies to manufacture in-house mechanical movements.
Orient mainly produces mechanical watches. However, with the improvements in technology as well as other needs from its market, the company shifted production. While it still mostly creates mechanical watches, they now also create quartz watches, solar-powered or light-powered watches, as well as radio-controlled watches. It simply makes sense when most of their competition, such as Casio and Citizen, do the same.
The Orient Promise
Watches from this brand are distinctively beautiful inside and out. They also last for a long time that’s why a lot of collectors take pride in their Orient timepieces. These watches are very common among people looking for a timepiece that can get on with their adventures. Be it an everyday timepiece or something they can take to great depths in the ocean, Orient timepieces can handle it all. Orient is one of the top 10 Japanese watch brands for a reason!
History of Orient Watches
Orient’s beginnings can be traced back to 1901. It all started when Shogoro Yoshida put up a wholesale store called Yoshida Watch Shop. The shop had various locations such as in Uenoa and Taito located in Toyko. The little business gained traction by selling imported pocket watches.
More than a decade later in 1912, Yoshida started producing wristwatch cases. After the successful run of the new venture, he opened Toyo Tokei Manufacturing in 1920. The new company produced its very own table clocks and gauges. By 1934, the company ventured into wristwatch manufacturing. The factory in Hino (also in Tokyo) opened in 1936 and was in operation until 1949.
Unfortunately, due to the aftermath of World War II, the company had to cease operations. But that didn’t stop Yoshida from producing timepieces. Yoshida once again took on the market by re-opening his wristwatch-making business. In 1950, he introduced Tama Keiki Company, headquartered at the Hino Factory.
Come 1951, the name Tama Keiko Co changed to Orient Watch Company, Ltd. On that very year, Orient launched the timepiece that cemented the brand’s name in the industry, the ORient Star. With that, the brand started gaining clients from all over the world. Thus, the Orient we know and love today.
10 Best Orient Watches Under $500
1. Orient Ray II
Orient Ray II has been taking on the top spot of sub-$200 dive watches. It’s been like that since Seiko discontinued the SKX007. Rightfully so, the model opens up our list with a list of impressive specs.
This 41mm dive watch has about 200 metres of water resistance. Plus, you geta 120-click unidirectional bezel. Powered by the F6922 movement, it has hacking and hand-winding features as well. Full-wound, you can get up to 40 hours of power reserve. Not a lot of dive watches get this amount of power reserve but Orient pushed it through. Meanwhile, with hacking, you can set your Orient Ray II as an atomic clock.
Aside from the powerful mechanism inside this watch, it’s also very stylish. At a glance, you’ll know that the Ray II is an instant classic with the typical makings of a dive watch. It has round indices and you can see the day and date on the dial clearly. Such a design makes it an all-around watch you can wear practically anywhere.
The watch typically comes with an oyster-style bracelet. However, you can always change it to a NATO, rubber, or leather strap as you prefer. But if you want that classic tool watch aesthetic, a stainless steel bracelet is the way to go.
2. Orient RA-AC0H Pilot-Style Watch
If you don’t notice it by now, Orient can make just about any type of watch. For instance, the Orient RA-AC0H Pilot-Style watch. It carries the same design DNA as most aviation watches while remaining a solid choice for an everyday timepiece. Not to mention, it’s also very reasonably priced
The case of the watch measures around 42 mm with a 22 mm lug width. This makes it easier to change the straps from just about anything you prefer. However, we must say that having a NATO strap for this watch will perfectly match its identity as a pilot’s watch. It also carries the Orient automatic in-house movement F6722. It also allows a hand-winding and hacking feature. That way, you wouldn’t have a problem with accuracy or keeping this timepiece in your drawer for 40 long hours.
This watch also has 100 metres of water resistance and a mineral crystal to protect its legible dial. We’re talking large numerals and high contrast colours that make it an excellent choice for an everyday timepiece.
3. Orient Mako II
It only makes sense that Orient continues to produce more dive watches. The brand simply excels in that department and the Orient Mako II is a testament to that. This watch, also powered by the F6922 movement, carries the same hand-winding and hacking features. It’s also around the same size as the Ray II at 41 mm case. Similarly, it comes with up to 40 hours of power reserve as well as a day-date complication.
So, how exactly do the two differ? It all boils down to design. Of course, one of the easiest ways to distinguish one from the other is through markers. The Mako II has a dressier appearance with Arabic numerals at 6, 9, and 12 o’clock.
4. Orient Multi-Year Calendar
There’s something about this watch that’s so captivating. Perhaps it’s the peculiar design of the watch or even the technology that made it possible. We’re talking about the Orient Multi-Year Calendar.
You probably already know what we’re talking about. Firstly, this is a stainless steel watch that’s just as interesting as it’s stylish. The case measures around 42 mm and sits at 12 mm thick. It has a water resistance of 50 metres or 165 feet. There are a lot of functions available on this watch. The most prominent one is the perpetual calendar right there on the dial. It also has a world time and a GMT function. That allows the watch to have a second indicator for a different timezone. It’s truly a stylish watch that gives you a vintage feel without losing its modern-day tech.
5. Orient Bambino
Orient doesn’t run out of timeless designs just like the one with the Orient Bambino. It’s not easy to pull off a dress watch design. Many collectors, of course, don’t want their dress watch to look a little too trying hard. That’s why the minimal exterior of the Bambino stands out.
The Bambino houses an automatic movement in its 40 mm case. Protecting the dial is a domed mineral crystal that gives it proper dimensions. It also comes with a water resistance that’s up to 30 metres. As a dress watch, you can expect it to have a date window at 3 o’clock.
There are various colours to choose from in the Bambino collection. From a solid black to a deep blue, there’s a Bambino for you. However, one of the most popular design is the one with a white dial. Paired with a leather strap, it’s going to look like something that costs more than $500 when, in fact, it doesn’t.
6. Orient Sun and Moon
Oh, the beauty of a moon phase indicator! The Orient Sun and Moon is a classy timepiece with a unique look that sets it apart from the competition. First of all, there are a lot of watch faces available for this watch. You can get it with a subdial that indicates the day of the week. An “open heart” dial is also available for this watch as well as a face that has the date on a subdial like the day of the week.
Generally, the Sun and Moon come in a 42 mm case with a pull-down crown. It also has a sapphire crystal, pulling its price up to around 230 USD. The name of the watch, however, comes from the moon phase that gives it a classic look. It’s a tasteful watch that makes for a perfect dress watch as well as an everyday companion.
7. Orient Triton “Neptune”
The brand continues to improve its offerings over the years. In 2018, they introduced the Orient Triton. It carries the same elements we loved about Ray and Mako. What Orient did was improve on that even more. This watch carries the nickname “Neptune.”
Among the improvements on this watch, you get a sapphire crystal for even better scratch resistance. It also has nice illuminated circular dial markers. With 200-metre water resistance, it’s a decent dive watch in general. You also get a date window at 4 o’clock!
Another added feature is the power reserve indicator at 1 o’clock. This watch also holds a 40-hour power reserve just like Ray and Mako. This is an automatic timepiece but it has a hand-winding and hacking feature. The Triton is available in various colours such as blue, black, and silver combined with gold. This is probably the most expensive on our list at 411 USD.
8. Orient Open Heart
Watches are truly fascinating. They’re engineering marvels that allow different complications using little parts combined. A lot of people enjoy a view of the movement that powers the watches they wear. If you’re among them, the Orient Open Heart is the right watch for you.
The open heart is a dress watch at its best but can be casual if you prefer it to. It carries the Orient in-house F6T22 movement that comes with a 40-hour power reserve. It’s a sleek timepiece with a very minimal design, allowing you to focus on its “open heart.”
The open heart gives you a great view of the gears and inner workings of the watch’s movement. It can be a great way to pass time if you’re waiting for that next meeting. The Orient Open Heart may look expensive, but don’t worry, it only costs around $170 USD.
9. Orient King Master
Style meets function with the Orient King Master. We’re looking at a vintage-inspired timepiece with a rich history. the history of the watch dates back to the 1960s. It is a re-issue of the Orient Three Star King Master from that era. It has a compressor-style layout as well as a really great detailing that attributes from classic Japanese designs. This stainless steel watch has a secondary crown at 4 o’clock. It controls the internal bezel of the watch.
Measuring 42 mm, it has a lug-to-lug length of 47.9 mm. It’s a decent size of a watch that keeps it balanced despite it having an internal bezel. Moreover, you get the same Orient automatic in-house Caliber F6922 for the watch. This 22-jewel movement has, of course, 40 hours of power reserve. You can enjoy the hand-wining and hacking functions with this watch just as well.
10. Orient Kamasu
Last but never least, we have Orient Kamasu. The brand’s line of dive watches continues to impress fans and watch enthusiasts alike. In 2019, Orient introduced the Kamasu as a new addition to its family of affordable dive watches. This is a dive watch with a 41 mm stainless steel case as well as a day-date complication. There are various watch faces available for this watch so you never run out of choices. It also has a 120-click bezel.
Powered by the same F6922 automatic movement, it allows a hand-winding function that makes its power reserve go up to 40 hours. Plus, you get a hacking feature that allows for precision timekeeping.
At around $250 USD, this watch has a sapphire crystal which is a steal in itself. It’s a whole upgrade from Ray and Mako’s mineral crystal. It also has great stick markers, similar to Mako minus the Arabic numerals.
Orient Watches: From the East to the World
There’s a lot more to Orient than people know. Many watch enthusiasts still sleep on this Japanese brand. However, with the brand’s continuous release of stunning and impressive timepieces, it gets harder to ignore it. Orient watches are proof that the Japanese market is more than just about quartz and solar power. It’s time people know the excellence that Orient displays through its selection of timepieces.
Looking for more classy timepieces? Here are 20 of the best and most affordable watches with sapphire crystal. Spoiler alert: they’re also all under $500 USD!
Photos courtesy of Orient