Since the discontinuation of the Seiko SKX in 2019, there has been a bit of a debate on the new best entry-level dive watch. Shortly after, the Orient Kamasu was released and swept the watch community by storm. Thanks to its impressive specifications such as its 200m water resistance, in-house movement with hacking and hand winding, and even a sapphire crystal to complete the package, the Kamasu offers almost unparalleled value for the money, at under $300.
Although it’s not an ISO-certified diver like the SKX was, and many watch enthusiasts still long for that stamp of honor, the Kamasu, in many ways, invokes the feelings that the SKX once did. Taking it one step further, the Kamasu is also quite a bit more daring in its color variations, offering a wide range of different sunburst dials, including the rich red dial variant (reference RA-AA0003R19A) of my personal collection we will be reviewing today.
The Orient Kamasu is currently one of the best affordable dive watches on the market. Specifications such as a 200m water resistance, hacking and hand-winding, in-house movement, and a sapphire crystal are rare to find at the sub $300 price point of which the Kamasu can often be found. It also happens to be quite visually distinct, with its rich sunburst dials, offered in a wide variety of colors.
Orient Kamasu Specifications
- MOVEMENT: Caliber F6922
- POWER RESERVE: Approximately 40 Hours
- FEATURES: Day, Date, Luminous Hour Markers And Hands
- CRYSTAL: Sapphire
- CASE MATERIAL: Stainless Steel
- CASE DIAMETER: 41.8mmL
- UG TO LUG LENGTH: 47mm
- CASE THICKNESS: 12.8mm
- LUG WIDTH: 22mm
- WATER RESISTANCE: 200m
- CROWN: Screwed-Down
- BEZEL MATERIAL: Stainless Steel
- BEZEL INSERT MATERIAL: Aluminum
- BEZEL FUNCTION: 120-Click, Unidirectional
- BRACELET: Steel Bracelet
- CLASP: Fold-Over With Double Push Button With Safety
Sunburst Red Dial & Barracuda-Inspired Design
Taking a closer look at the dial and design of the Kamasu RA-AA0003R19A, we immediately see a stunning and distinct sunburst dial in a rich burgundy that opens up to a slightly more vibrant crimson when the sunlight hits it just right. Glares on the sapphire crystal are rather prominent and can make reading the dial a bit difficult from various angles, though the sapphire crystal is a very welcome upgrade over that of the mineral on Orient’s previous divers, the Mako and Ray. This is a dial I find myself admiring every time I glance down at my wrist, rotating it to view the watch at different angles, so I can see the various shades of red revealed on different parts of the dial.
The thin black dive bezel helps to frame and mute the otherwise rather ‘loud’ red dial. This is the only red dial watch in my collection, and although I find it rather good-looking, it’s not the most versatile and needs to be paired with very particular attire, or straps (more about my strap suggestions later). As a result, the red Kamasu typically accompanies me on a night out when dressed in darker, more muted colors, to allow the dial to do all the talking. A more neutral color option, like the black or blue dial Kamasu, may be a better option for someone looking for a more versatile, everyday piece.
Atop of the dial, we see the watch’s pointed sword hands. The hour hand is much broader and heavily polished at the base, while the minute hand is longer, and filled with more lume than metal surfaces. The second hand is neutral, with no painted tip, unlike some of the other Kamasu models which feature a red painted second tip. The dial is outlined with rather geometric and aggressive applied hour markers, representing the teeth of a barracuda, the likeness of which the Japanese Kamasu is named after. The hour markers are bold and filled with Lumi Brite, and slightly framed with polished steel, making for a very legible dial in almost any lighting condition. At 3:00, we have a steel-framed day/date wheel that maintains dial symmetry with the 9:00 hour marker mirroring it perfectly.
The Orient USA logo may be a minor gripe for some. Written as “ORIENT AUTOMATIC” the signature Orient USA red badge logo is applied at 12:00. While the red badge blends in just fine on this particular red dial model, from personal experience with previous black and blue Orient divers, the red can throw off the color palette. Those who have a strong distaste for the Orient USA logo may opt for some of the dressier Orient’s JDM models, such as the Orient Star lineup instead, that remove the red Orient badge logo completely, opting for a similar, more streamlined design.
Case & Finish
The Orient Kamasu has a 41.8mm case that is brushed on the top near the lugs, and toward the crown guard at 3:00. The brushed finish is done above-average for the $300 price point and has done a well enough job of hiding any scratches over my two years of on-and-off wear. The brushed lugs are highlighted on either side by a thin, tapering polished chamfer that condenses the visual size of the watch slightly smaller than its dimensions would suggest. The sides of the case are polished rather averagely, and, as expected, show some light scratches and marks after many days on the wrist.
The sides of the case are shaped a bit geometric and flat, lacking dimension and visual depth. Tapering the case downward, or adding another bevel, would have brought an entirely new visual dimension to this watch when viewing the watch from the side.
The crown guards at 3:00 protect the slightly undersized crown, signed with the Orient logo. I do wish the crown and crown guards were just a bit larger for added usability, though I can understand why Orient wanted to keep the crown on the slightly smaller side; to keep the Kamasu looking rather sleek.
The bezel is a 120-click unidirectional dive bezel that is mostly polished, and machined with slight scallops on 10-minute increments, aiding in its legibility. The bezel is barely taller than that of the Kamasu’s predecessors, the Orient Mako and Ray, which were ever so slightly too short, affecting their usability. The Kamasu improves the usability of the bezel just a bit, with its added height, though making it even an extra 1-2mm taller, for even easier bezel operation, would have been much appreciated.
The case is rounded toward the bottom, where the stainless steel case back lies, engraved with a duo of dolphins, and EPSON across the bottom, denoting the relationship between Orient, and their mother corporation, Seiko Epson.
Stock Oyster Bracelet & Strapcode Jubilee
The included stainless steel brushed oyster bracelet is a huge step up over flimsy and lightweight thin bracelets from the likes of earlier Orient Ray and Mako models. Despite having hollow end links, this bracelet feels a bit more solid and substantial and balances the Kamasu well on the wrist. It can tend to snag and pull on my arm hair, however, and although the bracelet is, quite frankly, one of the best stock bracelets I’ve received on a diver that costs less than $300, I was still itching for a bit of an upgrade.
The Kamasu isn’t the most versatile strap monster (more about that later), and I’ve correctly predicted that a bracelet is the strap pairing that this watch would spend most of its time on in my collection. As a result, I’ve decided to replace the stock Orient oyster bracelet with a third-party Strapcode Jubilee bracelet, specifically designed for the Kamasu.
Although jubilee bracelets are traditionally reserved for dressier watches, often with fluted bezels, the Seiko SKX was released stock on a jubilee bracelet that helped normalize the combination of a dive watch with a jubilee bracelet.
The Strapcode Jubilee wears perfectly on the Kamasu, with solid links and end links with a combination of brushed and polished finish that brings new life and light to the Kamasu, transitioning it from a sporty tool watch to a handsome piece of jewelry. The end links extend past the end of the watch by just a few millimeters, and this may be a negative for someone looking to keep the lug-to-lug as minimal as possible. Overlooking this minor downside, the bracelet drapes across the wrist effortlessly with no snags or pulls, feels comfortable and secure, without being restrictive, and even has a very secure and well-machined push-button dive clasp to add a touch of ruggedness.
Overall, the stock oyster bracelet is decent enough to get the job done, but if you’re looking for a complete package, I suggest checking out some of the upgrades Strapcode has to offer.
Dimensions, Wearability, & On-Wrist
The Orient Kamasu features a 41.8mm diameter that wears slightly smaller than its dimensions would suggest. With a lug-to-lug of 46.8mm and a 22mm lug width, the watch is well-proportioned to fit comfortably on a variety of wrists.
On my 7″ wrist, the Kamasu feels well-balanced, although ever so slightly chunkier than its slim 12.8mm thickness, thanks to the depth between the top of the bezel, and the somewhat sunken dial. With that said, it’s slimmer than most modern dive watches around 42mm, aided visually by the very slightly downward sloping polished bezel.
On the wrist, the Kamasu feels and looks great. The rich sunburst dial constantly varies in color as it catches the light, and the polished bezel help add some visual flair to the watch’s in direct lighting when the more subdued brushed elements.
Orient Caliber F6922 Movement
The Orient Caliber F6922 movement housed inside of the Orient Kamasu is a self-winding automatic movement with 22 jewels. It’s built completely in-house by Orient, an impressive manufacturing feat even in much more expensive watches. With a fair accuracy of -15/+15 per day, the caliber F6922 is much more accurate than Orient’s earlier predecessors, like the caliber 46943, used in older Ray and Mako models, which were specified to -25/+35.
Orient Kamasu Strap Suggestions
Since the red dial on this particular Kamasu model is so distinct, this watch isn’t exactly what I’d call a ‘strap monster’, in that its versatility is a bit lacking. With that said, by keeping any paired strap rather neutral in color, you can opt for more interesting textures to contrast against the smooth sunburst dial. When choosing a strap for the Kamasu, ensure you’re selecting one in 22mm to fit the watch’s lug width. Here are a few Kamasu strap suggestions you may want to consider, to mix things up, and add a bit of flair.
Waffle Rubber & Tropic Rubber Strap (Black, 22mm)
The waffle and tropic-style rubber straps are both dive-style straps that suit the Kamasu perfectly. A rubber strap is often the first choice for a diver, as they’ll wick water away, perfect for those who want to take advantage of the Kamasu’s 200m water resistance. Visually, both a waffle and tropic strap will add interesting textures to contrast with the sunburst dial. I suggest trying these straps in muted colors, like black, to allow the beautiful red dial to attract most of the attention.
Strapcode Kamasu Jubilee Bracelet
My personal favorite pairing with the Orient Kamasu is the Strapcode Jubilee Kamasu bracelet. The Jubilee is weighty, yet comfortable, and helps refine the Kamasu with a slightly dressier look.
Milanese or Shark Mesh Bracelet (Brushed or Polished, 22mm)
Want a bracelet that’s a bit more textured than an oyster bracelet, but more lightweight than the Jubilee, check out Milanese or shark mesh stainless steel bracelets. Pick up a polished version for some extra bling, or a brushed version for a more subdued, tool-watch look.
Orient Kamasu Alternatives & Variations
In this review, I’ve covered the red Kamasu from my collection, just one of five models in Kamasu’s lineup. The lineup features 5 models total, with the same specifications, varying slightly only in color and materials.
Orient Kamasu Green Dial (Reference: RA-AA0004E19A)
The green dial Kamasu RA-AA0004E19A features an emerald green dial and bezel insert.
Orient Kamasu Black Dial (Reference: RA-AA0001B19A)
The Orient Kamasu RA-AA0001B19A features a black dial and bezel insert. This is arguably the most traditional looking of the bunch and the most versatile when pairing with different colored straps.
Orient Kamasu Blue DIal (Reference: RA-AA0002L19A)
The blue dial RA-AA0002L19A features a dark, almost navy, sunburst dial, and bezel insert.
Orient Kamasu Blue Dial (Reference: RA-AA0006L19A)
Unlike the previously mentioned blue dial variant, the RA-AA0006L19A does not come with an oyster style, stainless steel bracelet. Instead, it comes on a black 22mm rubber style dive strap.
Orient Kamasu Black & Gold (Reference: RA-AA0005B19A)
The Kamasu RA-AA0005B19A is arguably the most distinct variation of the bunch featuring a gunmetal stainless steel case and plated gold bezel. The hour markers and handset are also gold to match the bezel, in a daring way. This variation comes with a black rubber dive-style strap and is arguably the model with the most unique flair of the bunch.
Orient Kamasu vs. Seiko SKX007/SKX009/SKX013
The Seiko SKX is the discontinued champion of the value dive watch. What the SKX lacked in pure specifications, it more than made up for with its ISO certification and unique tool-watch charm. The Orient Kamasu trumps the SKX in other specifications, with the inclusion of a sapphire crystal and a movement with hacking and hand-winding, both of which the SKX lacked.
Style-wise, they are two completely different dive watches. The SKX will forever be a true tool watch in both function and design, while the Kamasu looks refined enough to pair with even formal attire if you so choose.
Even if the SKX was never discontinued, and was still widely available for purchase, the Orient Kamasu would still propose an amazing SKX alternative thanks to its improved specifications.
Orient Mako II & Ray II
Looking for a cheaper alternative to the Kamasu? Look no further than Orient’s older dive watches, the Mako and Ray. Although they lack the sapphire crystal of the Kamasu, they’re still very solid, entry-level dive watches in their own right. Featuring 200m water resistance, and in-house Orient movements with hacking and hand winding, they’re the perfect choice for someone who wants to spend as little as possible while still dipping their toes into a seriously capable dive watch.
Function-wise, splurging just a bit more for the Kamasu may leave you happier in the long run, as you won’t need to concern yourself about possibly scratching the Kamasu’s sapphire crystal, making for a piece with more durability. The Kamasu has also upgraded the bezel slightly by making it taller, grippier, and thus more usable. Aesthetically, the Mako & Ray are also a bit more limited than the Kamasu in their color options, both only coming in blue or black dial variants.
Is the Kamasu ISO Certified?
No, the Orient Kamasu does not have an ISO certification. Despite that, the Kamasu’s 200m water resistance is very capable for most practical, everyday uses, and only serious divers might miss the lack of an ISO certification.
Can you hand-wind the Kamasu?
Yes, the Orient Kamasu’s F6922 movement is a self-powered automatic movement with the ability to hand-wind. The crown is on the smaller side, which doesn’t make for the most pleasant hand-winding experience, but it is certainly capable of getting the job done.
Is the Kamasu made in Japan?
While the Orient Kamasu’s F6922 movement is made in Japan, most Orient models are not fully manufactured in Japan. Some retailers do offer a “Made in Japan” version for the Japanese Domestic Market (JDM), but this does not include all Orient Kamasus.
How Do I Change the Date on my Orient Kamasu?
To change the date on your Orient Kamasu, first, unscrew the screw-down crown. Pull the crown out once, and rotate the crown counter-clockwise until the correct date is set. Screw down the crown back into the case to protect the watch and complete setting the date.
Quite simply, the Orient Kamasu is one of, if not the best entry-level automatic dive watch currently on the market. For under $300, you find yourself with a complete package including an in-house Japanese movement, sapphire crystal, 200m water resistance, and frankly, a build-quality that punches way above its price point. Pair that with its distinct color variations, and sharp design that works well casually, or dressed up, and you have yourself the perfect versatile and modern diver to become your one-watch collection, or add to your already growing collection, without breaking the bank.