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Orient Bambino Small Seconds (SS) Review: The Best Affordable Dress Watch Just Got Better

Orient Bambino Small Seconds (SS) Review: The Best Affordable Dress Watch Just Got Better Wrist Time Reviews

In the context of timepieces "cheap" usually isn't a word you want associated with a nice object meant to be worn on your wrist. I don't use the term lightly because this IS a product even those with extremely expensive timepieces can really appreciate. The new for 2018 Japanese Orient Bambino Small Seconds (SS) is only cheap in price – but certainly not quality or character. Let's take a look at how Orient took what we feel is the best budget dress watch around (aBlogtoWatch article here) and made it a whole lot better.

Japan's Orient has been around since 1950, but is more recently part of the larger Seiko conglomerate of brands. More specifically, it is part of the Epson family of brands, which includes Seiko and Grand Seiko. Orient's strengths are in its ability to render European-style classic watch designs in extremely good packages for the money. The Bambino SS models (at debut there are five different versions as the references RA-AP0001S10A, RA-AP0002S10A, RA-AP0003S10A, RA-AP0004S10A, and RA-AP0005B10A) are priced at either $305 or $325 USD per watch – and in my experience I've not seen anything else as nice out there. I'm actually impressed that this isn't just a Bambino with an upgraded movement, but a Bambino that in my opinion feels upgraded in a lot of areas.

Orient Bambino Small Seconds (SS) Review: The Best Affordable Dress Watch Just Got Better Wrist Time Reviews

Orient Bambino Small Seconds (SS) Review: The Best Affordable Dress Watch Just Got Better Wrist Time Reviews

From a design perspective the Orient Bambino was always supposed to be a rather sober-looking dress watch. Nothing has changed in that department. Each of the models still have a vintage-style formal watch design, with an emphasis on asserting a very traditional design versus something modern or contemporary. With vintage-style watches being so in – especially in the context of dress watches, the look of these Orient Bambino watches is going to impress and satisfy a lot of customers out there. More so, I think the upgrades in the Orient Bambino SS are significant enough for existing Bambino customers to really consider upgrading. More practical is simply being able to get a new Bambino in a color scheme that you don't already have.

Let's jump straight to the topic of the movement inside of the case. Most previous Bambino watches had rather primitive automatic movements that didn't have a hacking seconds feature or even allow for hand-winding of the mainspring. A few years ago Orient changed all that with the release of the in-house made caliber F6724 automatic – which finally offers a modern movement for Orient timepieces. It was not until now that one of these newer movements showed up in a Bambino collection product that I've reviewed. Inside the Bambino SS is a variant of the F6724 which is the new caliber F6222. This automatic movement includes a subsidiary seconds dial over 6 o'clock – making for a really classy look which I think lends itself well to any dress watch design. The F6222 automatic finally offers both automatic and manual winding, as well as a hacking seconds feature (the seconds hand stops when you pull out the crown). The made-in-Japan movement operates at frequency of 21,600 bph (3Hz) with a power reserve of approximately two days. It also includes the date.

Orient Bambino Small Seconds (SS) Review: The Best Affordable Dress Watch Just Got Better Wrist Time Reviews

Orient Bambino Small Seconds (SS) Review: The Best Affordable Dress Watch Just Got Better Wrist Time Reviews

You can view the movement through the rear of the case – which is a nice feature. No, the movement doesn't have fancy decoration on it, but for that you'll have to spend many thousands of dollars more. This is about value for the money. Let me also add, that for the money, I've seen worse looking movements than the decent (in an industrial sort of way) caliber F6222 in watches even more expensive than this. Orient even goes so far as to put a pretty image on the automatic rotor. In all, for the roughly $300 price, I think the movement in the Orient Bambino SS is totally acceptable.

Orient Bambino Small Seconds (SS) Review: The Best Affordable Dress Watch Just Got Better Wrist Time Reviews

It feels to me as though Orient really upped its game on the case finishing. While most of the Bambino case is polished, the side flanks are brushed, giving the watch a very authentic high-end look. You even have an Orient logo in the crown, which most Seiko watches don't even offer at this price point. I've worn my fair share of Bambino watches in the past, and I still find it awkward (although in a good way) that you can manually wind the movement via the crown. It feels almost as though the Bambino is finally all grown up.

About the Author

Fueled by an unshakable love for horology and a general curiosity for intricate things, Ariel Adams founded aBlogtoWatch in 2007 as a means of sharing his passion. Since then, ABTW has become the highest trafficked blog on luxury timepieces, and Ariel has become a contributor to other online publications such as Forbes, Departures and Tech Crunch, to name just a few. His conversational writing style and inclusive attitude brings a wider appreciation for watches the world over, and that's just the way he likes it.

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  • Patrick

    Would be perfect without the date window. Completely ruins an otherwise great dial for the price point

  • Was the “EPSON” on the caseback really necessary? What’s next… “China Haidian Holdings Limited” on the caseback of Corum?

    • Tony Chan

      I am sure the Orient “smart” watches (with Epson stamped on the case back, of course) are on their way soon!

      • I’m sure that’s why they’re doing it — to raise awareness for Epson smart watches…but still it’s ridonculous to see Epson written on a classic dress mechanical watch.

        • Tony Chan

          I concur.

  • Mark

    Ariel, great article. I received an e-mail from Orient the other week announcing the Bambino Small Seconds, and I was surprised and immediately enamored by them. I plan on adding one to my collection. I already have the Bambino Version 4 (hacking & hand winding) in blue. I still catch myself staring at the dial in the sunlight. I like the design direction Orient went with this. Anyway, again great article.

  • Nice enough and good value for the money. To quibble just a little, at 3 Hz it would have been nice to see a longer power reserve. And 21 mm straps make the suggested 3rd party replacement trying. A 20 mm will fit but will have a visible gap while some 22 mm straps can be compressed enough to fit. Bracelets – fuggitaboutit.

    • Sheez Gagoo

      There`s this tool, you can cut the edges of a strap a little bit. So a 22mm would fit without beeing compressed. I use it to cut of a part in the middle, so the strap fits on ancient Rados with no lugs, where the strap is hold in the middle.

      • Hmmmm, interesting. Does it work with steel bracelets too?

        • Sheez Gagoo

          No

        • Sheez Gagoo
          • Thanks but I don’t know enough German to operate that tool.

          • Sheez Gagoo

            It’s a kind of self explaining: It cuts edges out of leather straps. I recomend to put a little bit of glue on the cutted edge so it doesn’t fray.

          • Yeah (self-explaining) 🙂

          • Sheez Gagoo

            I googled “leather tongs” but for unknown reasons underwear popped up that looks like to be worn by the biker of the village people.

  • Raymond Wilkie

    I’m afraid to say this does nothing for me and it nothing to do with price point, i”ve never spent £300 on a watch. It’s just so dashed Boring with a capital B. Sure it has some nice features, the hands and the domed dial gives the watch a nice feeling of depth. Okay i’ll say it…….the name plays a part. Of course I have heard the name but in my backward little village of Glasgow I would get a lot of blank stares as a showed it to people. Brands like sieko, Tissot and Casio are big here. This would raise more of an eyebrow http://twhprd2.cookieless.cloud/products/main/100013759/main/t109_407_11_031_00-1503572186-8421.jpg
    Right now am am in India and EVERYONE from the brown shirts ( the untouchables, yes I know it’s horrendous ) to the hotel manager wears a Titan.

    • Sheez Gagoo

      This Tissot has the same movement as the Sistem 51. Big turd.

      • Raymond Wilkie

        That Sir is your opinion but this is what sells here. You think Joe Bloggs gives a shit about the movement?

        • Sheez Gagoo

          It IS the movement from the Sistem 51. No opinion, just facts. Almost entirely made of plastic, built by robots and sold for an absurd price. Timetelling and reliability is beyond good and evil. Build quality reminds me of a british car made in the seventies.

          • Raymond Wilkie

            Built by robots! Heavens above!

        • Sheez Gagoo
          • Polerouter

            The Sistem51 caliber may not be perfect and is not to everyone’s taste, but the article you are linking is utterly stupid and has been debunked many times…

          • Sheez Gagoo

            Ok, but my personal experience with many 51s and Tissot chronos with plastic escapments is extremly disapointing and you have to agree, that there are many better options you can get for your money. Although the build quality of the cases, dials and hands is horrible.

    • You that is the Tissot they wear in India? I thought it would be more like this one:

      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/fef3bd72b4067c24ace785cf8f516280e718e1a2788038eba8558328fa5c3819.jpg

      • Raymond Wilkie

        In Goa . That’s the same watch Mark. Am having difficulty in understanding the start of your comment

        • SuperStrapper

          Look at the picture again

          • Raymond Wilkie

            Ok, i see what he did their. Subtle.

        • Check the hour makers and your timezone. (and added the missing “sure” in my original comment, sorry about that).

      • Gokart Mozart

        LOL!

        The hands may not also be the appropriate length

      • Wow…this was so subtle I had to ask my wife what was going on…

      • Chaz

        With a red dot over the 12 o’clock position….

      • #The Deplorable Boogur T. Wang

        I see what you did there.

    • IG

      Is Malcolm with you there?

      • Raymond Wilkie

        Sadly their was no room in my case.

        • IG

          He would get stuck in the cow dungs anyways…

          • Raymond Wilkie

            Their funny about cows here. They roam everywhere and you cant touch them.

          • egznyc

            So the cows are ALSO “untouchables,” huh? 😉

  • IG

    Maybe the next version will even have a minute hand long enough to reach the minute markings.

  • SuperStrapper

    Looks less dressy and more awkward than centre second version.

  • Eventually, Seiko will release a “Grand Orient” line and jack the MSRP up to $3,000.

    • They already have the Royal Orient line

      • Seriously? Wow, I was kidding. What a silly company.

        • riposte

          Royal Orient is not silly. It’s another good high-end from Japan, 1st product is released in 1959.
          After become a subsidiary in 2001, the line up is revived in 2004 with Caliber 88700 (later cal. 88A00). The specs is good, but only comparable with Citizen Chronomaster mechanical and the pricing is similar, so it’s still under Grand Seiko mechanical 9S65/9S64 level
          But, Seiko via Epson corp. looks like decided to kill Royal Orient. There is no more info on the Japanese website

  • BNABOD

    I never ever wear a dress watch but if I were I would not go out and spend a large sum on one since it would never be used.
    So here for 300 bucks (which isn’t this close to the one and only Undone? ) I would get the steel version w champagne dial. Not bad looking at all and if I hate it , it gets sold for 298 or it would sit in a drawer till the afterlife. So really for the price of a very nice meal you get a decent watch you can wear on occasions. The logo I still truly hate but overall this is a reasonable choice considering the price

    • egznyc

      I THINK I also like that one – but to tell you the truth, from the one photo it really looks like a silver dial with sunburst pattern, right?

      • BNABOD

        looks silvery on some and champagny on other shots…lighting?

        • egznyc

          I’ve got to think either that or white balance/color correction issues.

  • Jason Mirabello

    Great watch at a great price.

  • R Ramki

    Looks fine and will continue to appeal to the target market, just wish they could have modernized the overall aesthetic rather than make it look a bit old fashioned.

    I also don’t see why they need a display case back. A nice polished caseback with an engraving of some sort would’ve suited the watch a lot better

  • Zach McClain

    This is a good article, but a minor correction — the V2 Bambino’s (mine is from 2016) had the hacking and handwinding in-house movements. This is definitely not the first time the Bambino’s have had these features.

  • Chaz

    Love this watch…love the price…love the choices…hate the date placement BUT at least we still get the full 12-3-6-9 on the dial instead of date window in place of 3. Is this simple or minimalist?

    38mm would have hit a super sweet spot.

    I look forward to a special edition that will omit the date altogether.

    I’ll take this over the Grand Seiko “1960” any day.

    Good job Orient!

    • egznyc

      There is a lot to love here. I really do wish they’d use a matching date wheel with the black dialed version – it would look much MUCH better (or as you said, just remove it altogether).

      Then again, the Seiko Presage cocktail time variants are pretty good competition for these. I’d love to see some of each in the metal; I’m sure I’d get at least one!

    • Eran Reuveni

      Agree I will take this over Seiko Cocktail Time variants. BUT the GS is a different ball game. The quality that most GS are simply oozing is very real and noticeable – it is not some marketing fluff. I say this as owner of both a couple of GS’s (plus other seikos) AND quite a few Orients. That said, my 60th Anniversary Orient (which is somewhat similar to the Bambino style, except having a manual wind) is truly magnificent for the price, and is not put to shame by any of my more expensive pieces. Main difference is, the Orient is classy dress watch, happy to hide under your cuff, while the GS demands to be seen and appreciated.

  • Yanko

    Beautiful.
    Great article.

  • Playboy Johnny

    Nice watch. Much better than a “GS”

  • Joseph

    The silver/Silvered dial an second looks so retro it gives much costlier brands a run for their money.

    • egznyc

      Agreed! By the way, BNABOB and I were having a little discussion about this: I thought it looked like a silver sunburst dial but it’s supposedly champagne. Probably lighting and color balance issues here. Would be nice to see in the metal.

  • JD Ouest

    Well done, Orient!

  • Yan Fin

    I would still like to see this model without numbers, just markers. All and all an excellent effort from Orient.

  • #The Deplorable Boogur T. Wang

    Orient continues with its’ winning designs.

  • Ulysses31

    Orient is a brand owned by the Seiko Epson Corporation, if anyone wonders why Epson is written on the case-back. It’s a fine, dressy watch but doesn’t innovate in any obvious way. Perhaps that’s unreasonable to expect from a design that is deliberately traditional. I still don’t like their overly-ornate and colourful logo.

  • hatster

    Something very honest abut this watch Clean lines, retro look. in today’s market, it almost feels too inexpensive. I really, really like the simplicity. Not everyone’s cup of tea, but it is mine.

  • M C

    Any thoughts on Men’s ‘Sun and Moon Version 3’ Japanese Automatic Stainless Steel and Leather Casual Watch, Color:Brown (Model: FAK00001Y0)?