The Orient Bambino is generally regarded as one of the best affordable automatic dress watches currently on the market.
Its elegant charm and modern execution are rare to find at this price point. The movement inside is made in-house by Orient themselves, again rare in entry-level watches. It’s quite affordable and has the styling of a watch that costs much more than it really does.
All that said, the Orient Bambino isn’t without flaws, and that’s what we’re going to discuss today.
I present to you, 5 reasons why you SHOULDN’T buy the Orient Bambino.
1. Too Large
There are 5 variations of the Orient Bambino, V1 – V5.
Orient Bambino V1, 2, and 3 all maintain the same dimensions – 40.5mm in diameter, while the V4 has a diameter of 42mm. The V5 is a bit smaller, with a diameter of 36mm. More about that later.
Combined with the domed acrylic crystal that gives the watch a total thickness of 12mm, that’s rather large for a dress watch.
Sure, some variations, like the Bambino V2 have a smaller face on the dial that helps the watch to appear smaller than it actually is, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s still relatively large, for a dress watch.
Now, don’t get me wrong, larger watches are ‘in’ right now. So if that’s your thing, go for it. And if you have larger than average wrists, you can ignore this altogether as it’ll probably fit just right for you, anyway.
But for me at least, I prefer my dress watches a little smaller and sleeker. 38mm is my sweet spot for my 7-inch wrists, but of course, everyone’s taste is different.
That’s why I’m really excited for the upcoming 38mm version which I think will be perfect.
2. Odd Lug Widths
Not sure why, but Orient loves putting oddly sized lug widths on their watches.
The Orient Bambino V1, V2, and V3 all have lug widths of 21mm, while the Bambino V4 has a lug width of 22mm, and the V5 has 19mm.
The lug width determines what size strap you need for your watch and are typically seen at even intervals such as 18, 20, 22, and 24mm.
Because the 21mm lug width on Bambino V1, V2 and V3 are so unusual, it can be hard to find quality replacement straps for them.
PRO TIP: You can take a 22mm leather or person strap and squeeze it gently into the 21mm lugs as 22mm straps are much easier to find. While it won’t be a perfect fit, it’ll be just a tad snug, and not at all noticeable to anybody except yourself.
Like the watch itself, the lug width and larger straps are larger than average for a dress watch.
Again, this just comes down to personal preference, but I find the sweet spot for the strap of a dress watch to be 20mm or 18mm on some smaller, vintage pieces.
4. Scratch Magnet Mineral Crystal
The mineral crystal on the Bambino is admittedly very attractive. It adds depth and a bit of distortion to the watch which makes it more visually interesting.
But, it has a few flaws.
It’s tall. It’s intended to be as such, and aesthetically, It’s a great design choice. But functionally, not so much.
See, the crystal is made of mineral, a material that shows scratches very easily. Combine that with the thickness of the crystal and how it protrudes out of the case, you’re going to accidentally bump the crystal on many doorknobs, car doors and etc.
Over time, the crystal is going to scratch and will need to be replaced altogether.
4. Doesn’t Fit Your Wardrobe or Lifestyle
I think many watch enthusiasts fall into the trap of thinking you need to own a watch of every style to ‘fill out’ their collection.
But if that watch isn’t going to get any wrist time, what’s the point? Let me explain.
The Orient Bambino is a very beautiful piece but is also a bit dressy. It’s a watch that pairs amazingly well with business casual attire, or especially a suit.
But it doesn’t lend itself very well to more casual attire, such as jeans and a t-shirt.
So, if you’re someone who doesn’t ever wear business casual or more formal clothes, it’s likely you’re not going to get a chance to wear the Bambino as much as you’d think.
On the other hand, however, if you are someone who rarely ever ‘dresses up’ and only needs a dress watch once in a while, you can also look at it as such the Bambino is the perfect dress watch for you, because of its affordability.
It’s a great ‘once in a while’ piece.
But before pulling the trigger, you should consider if you’re buying this as a watch to fill a gap in the rotation of watches you’d wear, or if you’re just looking to fill up another slot in your watch box.
5. The Orient Bambino 36mm & 38mm Are Better
What if I told you that the watch that’s better than an Orient Bambino is… Another Orient Bambino?
The Orient Bambino V5, in particular, takes everything we loved about the Orient Bambino and puts it in a much more wearable, 36mm case. It still has the same Orient F6222 in-house movement, a classy and elegant design, and the same scratch magnet mineral crystal.
It was originally marketed as a ‘ladies’ watch, but since, Orient has completely removed that branding from the watch, and for good reason! It’s a unisex piece that can suit men or women equally.
Its 36mm diameter makes it the PERFECT size for a classy dress watch, in my opinion.
It also has a 19mm lug width, which is still an odd and unusual size, but also smaller, and a bit more proportional for a dress watch than the 21 and 22mm lug width on the men’s version of the Bambino.
Pro Tip: If you’re struggling to find a 19mm watch strap, simply take a soft 20mm strap (leather/nato/etc.) and it should still squeeze into the 20mm lug width. Note, this does NOT work with straps that have quick-release spring bars.
The Best Alternative to the Orient Bambino
The best alternative to the Orient Bambino is yet another Orient Bambino.
The Orient Bambino V5 is the current sweet spot of the Bambino lineup. Perfectly sized at 36mm, and can be found in 6 different variations.
However, Orient is soon releasing a 38mm Bambino that is even more perfect and will be the sweet spot of them all, in my opinion.
The Final Verdict
The Orient Bambino is as popular as it is for good reason. It’s a very affordable automatic dress watch, there’s a variety of different colors and dial styles to choose from, and well, it’s gorgeous.
Though the lack of versatility, inflated dimensions, odd lug width, and lack of a sapphire crystal may be a turn-off for some.
The newer, 36mm Orient Bambino V5 version has much more wearable dimensions and makes a great alternative, although doesn’t fix all of the gripes about the original.
The upcoming 38mm should be exactly the watch, with the perfect dimensions we’ve been looking for. Couldn’t be more excited about it myself.
What do you think about the Orient Bambino? Do you prefer the size of V1-V4, or V5? Let me know in the comments below.– Anthony
Last update on 2023-12-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API