If you don't know about Orient watches, that is OK. They aren't Chinese, the name Orient just stuck since the brand is 50 years old when it was founded in Japan. Orient watches are mechanical and they make their own movements. I previously reviewed another Orient watch, the CFT00004B here. I am becoming well acquainted with the line and feel that the company does put together a decent watch with reliable movements. A lot of the cheaper Japanese mechanical movements aren't exactly something to brag about, but the Orient automatic movements have been quite reliable and accurate. They aren't without their quirks though, but nothing serious that should stand in your way of getting one.
So lets get to this wonderful watch. I say wonderful because I absolutely love it. It goes straight to the center of my watch loving nervous center because it is big, heavy, shiny, functional, and damn manly. Let's face it, a lot of the Orient watches have a serious injection of masculinity - and I for one have no problem with that. The watch itself is a diver watch (duh), but more specifically a saturation diver. That means that it does not need a helium escape (release) valve. The case is so tight, helium does not appreciably affect the internal pressure when resurfacing. This negates the need for the gas escape valve. The watch is rated at being water resistant to 300 meters, but I tell you, I would easily believe it if Orient told me it was resistant to 1000 meters. It has just the type of thick steel case and sapphire crystal that communicates that. The details I get range, but the sapphire crystal is between about 4-5mm thick. The steel case is also supposed to be specially corrosion resistant. Why is this important? Because salt water is a bitch, and will eat through things like acid if they are exposed long enough. For this reason, and watch meant for serious diving should take this into consideration. These are just some of the diver friendly features, but I have to say, this is about all watch you need in a mechanical diving watch for the vast majority of divers out there.
I want to skip over to the bracelet for a second because it is a high point of this watch. My favorite feature is the adjustable extension bracelet. You have to use it to really appreciate it. Many diving watches have an "extension." This makes the watch bracelet bigger (in one size) to fit over a diving suit. This concept works, but like I said, you have just one larger size to choose from. Orient takes the better approach of having an adjustable clasp that will fit and lock into place. It has over an inch of extra room and ratchets back into place. Think of the mechanism a bit like handcuffs, but you can remove it yourself! Here is how it works, take off the bracelet and use the clasp over the deployment like a lever, it releases the extension that slides out. You then put the bracelet back on and push back the extension until it locks into place. Cool right? You can even extend the bracelet while you are wearing it. Say you want to extend the bracelet to have it fit a bit looser, you can do it on the fly.
The bracelet itself is tapered from the case a bit (which I like) and uses that double polish look with some smaller polished links in the design. Also the outer edges of the bracelet are polished, which is a nice touch. There is an interesting point of design where the bracelet meets the case. The case is built out a bit to prevent there from being too large a gap between the case and the bracelet. It isn't better or worse that having a curved end clasp to the bracelet like some other divers, but it is a different style. Bracelets are hard to get right, and this one on the Orient Diver Automatic is pretty good. Nothing that you'll have a problem with. The links do use pins, but they are the high quality pins. There is also a micro adjust for the bracelet size which is very important. I hate watches that you cannot size properly, and this Orient Diver bracelet does not disappoint - and you can size it just how you like. Like I said earlier there is the cool adjustable extension. Sometimes you can release it unintentionally when you are taking the watch off or putting it on, but you merely need to snap it back into place.
Going back to the case you have a large and high sitting watch. The case is almost 46mm wide, and over 16mm tall. The design of the case feels classic, like something that has worked well for a long time, so why change it. Sort of how many Rolex Submariners feel. I would have liked to have hidden pin holes on the outside of the lugs, but that is a minor thing, and only watch nuts like me notice it anyway. The case has different finishes as well. For example the sides are polished while parts of the top are brushed, this always is an attractive element when done well.
The bezel is easily one of the best styled parts of the watch, certainly good looking. Twisting it is a bit hard, and the action could be a tad bit smoother, but it does not have any "give" and will not rattle around like cheap bezels will. The numbers and markers are actually engraved into the bezel, and the finish on the top of the bezel is an awesome almost gunmetal dark gray. The crystal is virtually flush with the case and the anti-reflective coating makes it really easy to read at angles.
Going into the dial you first see a sloped chapter ring with minute markers on it, a must for a serious diver's watch. You then have the large Submariner styled hour markers that are applied and filled with a very generous amount of lume. I have to say that this watch has some of the best lume I've ever seen. The hour markers, point on the bezel, and hand glow so well, and so brightly. It is impressive, and you really feel your money's worth when looking at the watch at night.
You'll notice the large crown that is located at 4 o'clock, very typical of Japanese diving watches. The crown here is large and easy to use, with really massive guards on the sides of it. The crown has the Orient logo laser etched on it. I would have preferred it to be engraved, but again, a little thing. The back of the watch is engraved though - also typical of high-end Japanese diver's watches. Oh, and if you are not familiar with the watch, you should know that it comes in a striking orange faced version as well.
Returning to the design of the face, like I said, if you are a fan of Japanese diver's watches you will feel right at home. The hands are the right length (Seiko, sometimes you disappoint me here!), which i am glad that Orient designers are paying attention to. The hour hand also looks different that the minute hand to help with low visibility time reading. The date is placed in the unorthodox 9 o'clock position, and I appreciate the change of pace from the 3 o'clock date position. Then you have the power reserve indicator that is placed in a convenient spot and does not detract from your attention when telling the time. It is a simple layout for the indicator and it works well to tell you how many hours of power reserve you have left - such indicators are great to have in mechanical watches. The automatic movement also winds easily meaning that wearing the watch for a bit should provide a healthy amount of power in the barrel.
The movement is an automatic made by Orient themselves in Japan. The overall accuracy of the movement is surprisingly good. Orient automatic movements do have a quirk though. Unlike Swiss movements you cannot currently manually wind then via the crown - meaning you cannot hand wind the watches. Only the automatic rotor will wind them. Those who are used to ETA movements haven't heard of this, but it is common in Japanese automatic movements, and here as well in the Orient caliber 46N4A movement. Orient is currently developing hand-wound movements that will show up into watches soon, and it is only a matter of time before they have an automatic movement with hand winding capabilities. Also, when you release the crown from the screw position it immediately adjusts the date. Typically you need to pull the crown out one more notch for this, but this is just another quirk of the movement. Something you should know about, but not a big deal.
Living with the Orient Automatic Diver Ref. CFD0C001B I can easily recommend it as a daily wear. It is comfortable, attractive, a workhorse, and functional. The best part is that the retail price of $1,800 is often discounted. Such as right now on Orient watches' website as per a father's day promotion (this particular watch is discounted by 40%). I don't know how long this promotion will last. See the Orient Diver Automatic CFD0C001B watch here.