It’s no secret that Seiko and Citizen are the champions when it comes to affordable, in-house mechanical watches that are both stylish and reliable. Swiss counterparts like Hamilton and Tissot can’t quite match the prices of these Japanese legends, and pieces like the Seiko 5 SNK809 show just how much watch you can get for under USD 100. Orient is a third Japanese watchmaker (and is part of the Seiko Epson Corporation, so under the Seiko Group umbrella) that offers affordable watches with in-house mechanical movements. It’s sometimes overshadowed by Seiko and Citizen, but the latest unisex Orient Bambino 38 Collection is just as impressive as comparable offerings from those two juggernauts.
The new watches are part of the brand’s Classic collection and have a vintage-inspired, timeless and elegant aesthetic. The stainless steel case is 38.4mm in diameter and 12.5mm in height (44mm lug-to-lug), so the size is certainly slightly retro. A gold (colour) plated case is an option with a white dial and all models are polished. Lug width is 20mm and black or brown leather straps with a faux alligator pattern and pin buckle come standard. It’ll be easy to find aftermarket options if you’re not happy with these, but Orient’s straps work great with the cases and dials. There’s a domed mineral glass crystal protecting the dial, which is perfectly fine given the price point, and a glass exhibition caseback displays the in-house automatic. Water-resistance is only 30 metres, so it’s not meant for swimming (splashes and rain are fine). Of course, the crown doesn’t screw down, but it’s well-sized and can manually wind the watches from this Orient Bambino 38 Collection.
There are three convex dial colours – black, white and beige – for the uncoated steel version, and the fourth model has a white dial and gold-plated case. Applied stick indices are simple yet dressy with gold-coloured ones replacing silver on the gold-plated model. The dauphine hour and minute hands (silver, blue or golden, depending on the model) are very legible against the dials (gold on the gold model), and there’s no lume on the dial. Given the dressy watch vibe, it’s an appropriate omission. A date window sits at 3 o’clock. Overall, the dials are stylish and simple, and everything you need in an affordable, functional piece.
The in-house Japanese movement is the F6724 automatic with an accuracy rating of +25/-15 seconds per day. It’s no chronometer, but reliable and on par with Seiko and Citizen counterparts. It has 22 jewels and beats at 21,600vph (3Hz) with a 40-hour power reserve. Functions include central hours, minutes, hacking seconds and the date. It’s predictably undecorated, but the rotor is partially open-worked with a cool pattern and the brand’s logo.
The regular steel models in the Orient Bambino 38 Collection retail for EUR 275 and the gold-plated model is EUR 295. That’s a real value proposition for stylish and well-executed watches with in-house automatics. You’d be hard-pressed to find a better deal. For more information, please visit Orient’s website.