When searching for an affordable automatic watch, you’ve likely come across the Japanese watch brand Orient.
Are Orient watches as good a value as people say? Are their watches, the movements they use, and their prices competitive, or are they just another overhyped brand? Let’s break it down.
Are Orient Watches Good?
Orient is a fantastic, entry-level Japanese watch brand that makes some of the best affordable mechanical watches on the market, rivaling Seiko.
The Bambino is a slim and classic dress watch, perfect for the office. The Kamasu is a bolder, sportier, and more water-resistant dive watch, making it the perfect every day, adventure, and beater watch.
So, what exactly makes Orient’s watches so good?
What Makes Orient Watches Such a Great Value?
1. In-House Movements
One of the most impressive things about Orient is that they design and manufacture their movements entirely in-house.
This means every part of their movements is designed and manufactured by Orient themselves, not outsourced to third parties to do the work for them.
This is a rarity amongst watch brands and almost entirely unheard of in affordable watches, except in brands like Seiko, where getting an entry-level watch has become increasingly more expensive.
Orient movements are designed and manufactured in their factories in Japan.
2. They Look and Feel Much More Expensive Than They Are
Just because a watch is more affordable, doesn’t mean it should look any less refined. It’s clear this is a design philosophy that Orient lives by.
Whether it’s their watches that cost around ~$100 like the Tri-Star, ~$200 like the Bambino or Kamasu, or even ~$500 like the star classic, just about every Orient watch looks and feels much more expensive compared to other watches that cost similar.
Seriously – when it comes to the design, fit, and finish, people are often surprised at how affordable my Orient watches are when they see it on my wrist. It’s no surprise that the Bambino, despite being one of the most affordable watches I own, is also the most complimented. Other watches at this price point simply don’t have the same attention to detail or refined look.
3. Their Movements Are Affordable AND Automatic
Not only are the movements built in-house, but they are very well-built, durable, and accurate for their price.
Let’s take a brief look at some of the movements Orient uses.
The caliber F4902 is Orient’s most affordable automatic movement, featured primarily in their Tri-Star lineup.
This is a no-frills movement with 21 jewels. It lacks modern features like hacking and hand-winding seen in Orient’s other movements. Still, finding a mechanical movement in watches so affordable (often under $100) is quite impressive.
Watches That Use the F4902 Movement
The caliber F6922 is an automatic movement used in popular Orient dive watches such as the Kamasu, Ray, and Mako.
The F6922 has a ~40-hour power reserve, hacking and hand-winding, day, date, and an accuracy of -15 to +25 seconds per day. In my experience, watches using this movement run even more accurately, with my Kamasu running just +9 seconds per day.
For years, Orient has been one of the only watch brands selling affordable mechanical watches with hacking and hand winding, thanks to this movement.
With the F6922 inside, the Kamasu, Ray, and Mako have been highly regarded as some of the best value dive watches one could buy for the past several years. At the same time, similarly priced competitors like Seiko disregarded these features in their entry-level watches, like the Seiko SKX, until recent releases – Orient was a step ahead.
Watches that use the F6922
The caliber F6724 is the date-only sibling of the previously mentioned F6922.
The F6724 features a ~40-hour power reserve, hacking, and hand-winding, with an accuracy rated at -15 to +25 seconds per day. Like the F6922, I find the F6724 in my Bambino to run much more accurately than its specifications, often within 10 seconds of deviation per day.
The F6724 is used in watches like the Orient Bambino.
4. Fantastic Quality Control
Although not a luxury watch, Orient watches are built very well. Although most affordable watch brands, even Seiko, cut corners during quality control to save on costs, Orient seems to not skimp out here.
Rarely will you find examples of Orient watches with misaligned bezels, chapter rings, hands, or markers, complaints more common with poor quality control from other brands.
5. Variety of Original Designs
Orient is consistently releasing new and innovative watch designs, with a variety of styles to choose from.
There’s an Orient for almost everyone, from sleek dress watches to bold dive watches—and even more experimental designs, like skeleton watches.
Orient doesn’t just jump on the bandwagon of the latest trends, or copy other watch designs. Sure, they’re often heavily inspired by other watches – the Bambino, for instance, is not the first dress watch to use roman numerals, or a blue handset.
But they are different enough from other offerings to separate themselves from the rest of the pack, and you can feel proud to wear a completely unique design when you own an Orient.
6. Price and Value
Watch aficionados often consider Orient a more affordable version of Seiko. Recently, Orient has demonstrated a better value, dollar-for-dollar, in many of its affordable watches than other brands.
Orient watches are nearly unmatched in value. Most can be found for under $500, while some of their most notable watches can even be found for much less.
It’s not uncommon to find some of the Orient’s most beloved watches, such as the Orient Bambino V2 and Kamasu for under $200.
With a water resistance rating of 200 meters, a sapphire crystal, and an in-house movement with hacking and hand winding, the Kamasu is the perfect example of how much watch you can get, for how affordable it is. Similarly, finding such a refined and well-executed dress watch for under $200, as is the case with the Bambino, is a rarity.
While competitors like Seiko seem to move slightly more upmarket with their affordable, entry-level watches, Orient has remained relatively consistent with its pricing.
Where Are Orient Watches Made?
The mother factory of Orient is in Akita, Japan. To this day, the heart of Orient’s mechanical watch movement production remains in Japan. Some other parts
Are Orient Watches Made by Seiko?
Orient watches are not made by Seiko. Orient is owned by the Seiko Epson Group, also known as just “Epson,” while Seiko is owned by the Seiko Holdings Group, a separate entity. However, both of these companies are owned by the Seiko Group, a company that controls its stocks. Just like how the Swatch group is the same company that owns the likes of many Swiss brands, from Tissot to Omega.
Orient watches are not manufactured by Seiko. The only thing they share is the holding company that owns both of their stocks.
Are Orient Watches as Good as Seikos?
Orient watches are just as good, if not better than Seikos while offering better specifications for similar prices.
While Seiko was once known as “the king of value” when it comes to affordable watches, they have begun to raise the price floor on their entry-level models, like the Seiko 5 Sports series. Without an expected jump in quality, this left many Seiko fans disappointed.
On the other hand, Orient offers watches, like the Orient Kamasu, that are more affordable, while having better specifications (such as a sapphire crystal) than similarly priced Seikos.
However, if we look past entry-level watches, it’s undeniable that Seiko has a much larger catalog of watches across a variety of price points. While even the most expensive Orient watches cap out around $2,000 Seiko has watched, like their LX series, that are much more expensive. And Seiko has many more watches in between, especially over $500.
Looking for an Orient alternative? Check out our extensive list of the best Seiko watches.
Orient Watch USA vs. Orient Japan
Orient Watch USA is the American segment of Orient. They only sell and ship watches to customers within the U.S. Rest assured, their watches and movements are still Japanese, although sometimes the designs and styles they sell to each region differ.
Orient watches generally run anywhere from around $100 for the entry-level Tri-Star model to $2,800 for a more complicated mechanical Moon Phase.
Most of their watches fall under $500, and some well below that, around $200.
Orient’s wide range of prices allows collectors with any budget to become proud owner of their timepieces. And as stated earlier, Orient watches generally are just as good, or better, than other watches of the same price.
How long will an Orient Watch Last?
An orient watch, if properly taken care of, will last a lifetime. Like all mechanical watches, an Orient watch should be serviced every 5–7 years to maintain longevity.
This will allow the movement inside the watch to run smoothly, preserve the watch’s resale value, and be a part of your collection for the foreseeable future.
Current Orient Watch Lineups
Orient currently has 5 different watch lineups, each with a variety of models.
Orient’s Classic lineup encompasses a variety of minimal and more experimental dress watch styles. From watches with moon phases to open hearts, the collection isn’t afraid to be daring and different, while offerring these complications at more affordable price points than other brands do.
With the Contemporary lineup, Orient looks to the past for vintage inspiration but delivers in a modern package. The most notable watch in the Contemporary collection is the Orient Bambino, a fantastic-looking dress watch that looks much more expensive than it really is.
The Bambino is often noted as one of the best entry-level automatic watches from any brand currently on the market.
Combining form and function, Orient has your back with its impressive Sports category. Water resistance, luminous hour markers, and steel bands allow you to take your watch wherever adventure takes you, air, land, or sea.
Whether you’re a serious diver or even just a weekend beach bum, dive watches like the Orient Kamasu are crowd favorites, offering 200 meters of water resistance, a sapphire crystal, and surprisingly daring color schemes at an incredibly affordable price.
The Orient Tri-Star lineup is a series of some of the most affordable automatic watches on the market. This is essentially Orient’s version of the famous Seiko 5.
With a large variety of case and dial colors and layouts to choose from, there’s almost certainly a Tri-Star that would fit your style. They tend to wear on the smaller, side, however, so make sure they fit your wrist!
The Orient Star is a collection celebrating the original Orient watch. The Star lineup is a bit more refined and complicated in both its design and build. Watches in this lineup skeletons, retrogrades, power reserve, and GMT complications, a lot of watch for the money.
Best Orient Watches
With so many Orient watches to choose from, it can be overwhelming. We’ve put together a list of some of the best Orient watches currently on the market, so you won’t have to spend hours researching them yourself.
The Orient Bambino is beloved by Orient collectors for its timeless dress watch look.
The dial has a simple, yet refined layout, that is easy to read and would wear just as well with a suit as it would with a t-shirt and jeans.
The case is slim, and the domed crystal accents the visual appeal of the watch. In short, it’s a watch that’s simple and classic. At under $200, it’s rare to find such a refined and expensive-looking watch, and the Bambino is the best-in-class in this category.
The Kamasu is a sports watch that features dramatic sharp hands and hour markers protected by a sapphire crystal. Its automatic winding movement keeps it powered when you’re on the move.
Luminous markers and hands make the time easy to read in even dimly lit lighting conditions, and 200 meters of water resistance let you take it for a dip on a whim. For the price, you’d be hard-pressed to find better specifications.
Check out our full review of the Orient Kamasu here.
Orient Mako II and Ray II
While the Orient Ray and Mako II are older models from the brand, we still wanted to include them because they’re cheaper than the Kamasu, and offer a great value.
With their reduced costs comes a few minor cut corners, like a mineral crystal instead of sapphire. But these watches both look great, and would still be the perfect dive watch for somebody just getting into the hobby.
Orient Neo ’70s
The Orient Neo ’70s is a retro-inspired panda dial chronograph using a mecha quartz movement. This means the chronograph second-hand will sweep smoothly thanks to the mechanical chronograph module, while the solar-powered timekeeping module will keep the watch running accurately.
The solar power movement gives you a reserve of up to 6 months, and can be charged through sunlight. Its 10-bar water resistance lets you take this anywhere, even in the pool. And the 42mm case sits very nicely on the wrist without being too small, or too large.
Check out our full review of the Orient Neo ’70s.
Orien Sun and Moon V3
The Sun and Moon series is an extremely elegant lineup with a sun and moon complication, as the name suggests. The name refers to its AM/PM indicator, which swaps between the sun and moon, depending on what time of day the watch is currently set at. Aside from including this rare, yet aesthetically pleasing complication, the dial itself is also extremely beautiful, making this the type of watch that both watch lovers and novices appreciate equally.
The blue dial version is one of the most complimented watches I own.
The Layered Skeleton is part of the Orient Star lineup. The star of the show is its dramatic open-heart dial, which reveals the mechanisms of the movement underneath. Such a polarizing design isn’t for everybody, and neither is the 4-figure price tag. But those who are looking for something different might be amazed to learn just how well-executed Orients are, at all price points.
A Brief History of Orient Watches
Let’s take a look at Orient’s unique origins and commitment to craftsmanship throughout the years:
- 1901 – Shogoro Yoshida opens the Yosida Watch Shop in Japan.
- 1920 – The Yoshida Watch Shop becomes known as Toyo Tokei Manufacturing after undergoing significant expansion.
- 1950 – Toyo Tokei Manufacturing is incorporated under the name of Tama Keiki Company.
- 1951 – The business changes its name again, this time to Orient. Soon after, the Orient Star is born, which features a manual mechanical movement. The small case and elegant design offer distinctive blue hands and an attractive, fine second hand.
- 1961 – Orient develops an automatic mechanical movement, which remains a key characteristic of the brand today.
- 1967 – Orient comes out with the Fineness automatic day-date watch — the slimmest of its kind. In the late 1960s, it is unheard of to have an automatic watch made in Japan with such a thin dress — including a single-piece case and miniaturized parts.
- 1976 – The Multi-Year Calendar launches and goes on to become one of the most popular Orient models ever. The watch requires just a single crown adjustment every month, with a calendar function displaying days 1 to 31.
- 1991 – Orient comes out with the Mon Bijou, featuring a mechanical movement revealed by a transparent case to show off its individually polished parts. The limited production model remains available today.
- 2004 – the brand revives the Royal Orient. This time, however, it is waterproof with a thin, elegant case design. As its name suggests, its aesthetic makes it the most “royal” of any Orient watch.
- 2009 – Orient becomes a subsidiary of Seiko-Epson.
- 2017 – The company is finally fully integrated into Seiko-Epson.
Where to Buy Orient Watches
You can purchase Orient watches from several sources:
- Orient’s Global Website (if you are located in the U.S., you can shop from OrientUSA.com)
If you’re looking for a solid watch brand that offers some of the best affordable mechanical watches, Orient is one of the best on the market.
Often, Orient watches offer some of the best value at any given price point. Their watches generally offer some of the best specifications for the cost.
With several price ranges and models to choose from, you can find a watch that withstands the test of time without hurting your wallet.