The Bambino has been one of the best-selling collections of Japanese watchmaker Orient for years. Introduced a few weeks ago, the new versions of the model stand out with their more compact case – 38.4mm versus 40.5mm previously. We had been quite intrigued by the looks and specs of this automatic dress watch retailing at just EUR 275. So we thought we would ask for a model to review… And, without making too much noise, it’s typically a watch that looks and feels far more expensive than what it actually costs!
You’ll often hear the concept of “value proposition” when talking about accessible watches. It’s a bit of a complex term, as for instance the Seamaster 300M Diver Master Chronometer can be considered one when looking at everything it offers… considering its price. The notion of price is relative, of course, but in the context of truly affordable mechanical watches, serious alternatives are basically worst-kept secrets. Seiko with the past-generation 5 Series and the SKX diver were some of the best options, yet these are now defunct. The current Seiko 5 Sports still holds a respectable place in this field, but Orient is always one to consider too. And the Bambino, one of the rare elegant, dress watches in this market, is not a watch to be seen as the default option, nor as a poor man’s choice. Really not.
Until now, the Bambino was offered in a 40.5mm case. However, the new models, dubbed Orient Bambino 38, come in a more compact case, with a 38.4mm diameter. The classic, round steel case stands out with a thin sloping bezel and a domed crystal – which is mineral glass, not sapphire. The crown is relatively large and operates easily. On the wrist, this moderately-sized dress watch wears elegantly and comfortably. At 12.5mm in height, the case isn’t particularly thin, but it’ll still slide under a cuff rather easily. And with the domed-shaped crystal, the profile of the case is balanced and visually thinner than what numbers suggest.
The charm of the Bambino owes a lot to this convex crystal and equally domed dial. Overall, the look is consistent with the previous versions of the Bambino, but the new model has really been tastefully redesigned. The watch we had for review has a silver-coloured dial with baton-style markers, paired with colour-matched dauphine-style hands. The date is displayed via an aperture at 3 o’clock. The layout is classic, clean, and balanced, and as a result, the Orient Bambino 38 is perfectly legible. Note, however, that there is no luminescent material on this watch, which I consider a plus, as I’m not fond of lumed dress watches.
As explained in our introductory article here, the Bambino 38 has been released in 4 editions. In addition to the present (and classic) silver model, there’s also a highly attractive beige edition with blue hands, a black dial and a silver dial paired with a gold-coloured case.
Last, the water-resistance is rated at 30m, which is fine considering the vocation of this watch, as you most likely won’t swim with it, but you will be protected against exposure to water. The “water resistant” caption on the dial seems almost anachronistic today but contributes to the vintage feeling of the model, specifically with its cursive font.
Turning the watch over, the snap-in, exhibition caseback allows discovering the in-house automatic calibre F6724. As you would expect from a watch retailing at such an entry-level price (understand sub-300 euros), the decoration is pretty minimalistic – still, there is an open-worked rotor engraved with the brand’s logo. From a technical perspective, this workhorse ticks at 3Hz frequency and boasts 40 hours of power reserve when fully wound. It features 22 jewels and the hacking mechanism allows for precise setting of the time. Accuracy is rated at +25/-15 seconds per day – which is not chronometer precision but quite standard in this price range.
The Orient Bambino 38 is truly a lovely three-hand elegant watch. This classic, vintage-inspired time-and-date watch is geared toward those who love “no frills” timepieces and yet, it exudes a pleasant nostalgic feel. It will be a great pick for beginners or value-driven collectors. Wearing it on a few occasions, it has been quite an attention grabber despite the understated, rather simple look of the watch – with multiple comments coming from watch-educated people. And importantly, it is a pleasure to wear.
Obviously, at EUR 275, you won’t get all the extras of a luxury watch. The movement decoration is simple. The crystals are mineral glass. The leather strap is stamped with an alligator pattern. But all in all, the Orient Bambino 38 does far more than just the job. Its dial and case are really well executed and make it look far more expensive than it actually is. It does feel like a great offer at this price point… proving once more that good watches don’t necessarily need to be expensive.
For more information, please visit www.orient-watch.com.