I hope it’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Orient timepieces. The first mechanical watch I ever purchased was an Orient Mako. That was over five years ago, and I still wear the watch today. Orient is one of a handful of brands in the lower price tier that’s redefining watch buyers’ expectations. While the Mako is certainly a signature piece for the brand, Orient actually produces a range of wristwatches that look great, don’t cost a lot of money and will last a lifetime.
Orient’s Mako is the brand’s sporty representation, but the Bambino is an elegant dress watch. A few years ago, Orient launched a classic 1950s styled Bambino reminiscent of something like a Longines Conquest. With chunky, triangular shaped applied markers and dauphine hands, it was mid-century through and through, a watch that Orient really could have produced during that time given its 60-year history as a watch manufacturer. Then earlier this year, Orient launched a new Bambino, still classic with the same price and technical specs but more refined in appearance.
I had the opportunity to wear the new Orient Bambino for a little over a week. Read on for my impressions.
Case & Dial
The 40mm stainless steel case on the Bambino is elegant in its restraint. It’s nothing special, but there’s enough complexity to its design to keep you interested and make you second-guess the price tag. The middle case is brushed on both sides while the case back, bezel, top of the lugs, and crown are polished. Measuring 46.5mm lug-to-lug and 12mm thick, it wears perfectly as a modern dress watch. At 21mm, the lug width is unexpectedly larger than you’d find on most similarly sized dress watches. A screwdown case back gives the Bambino a 30m water resistance rating.
The real charm here is the domed crystal. It gives the watch a tremendously bold profile and makes for some interesting viewing angles. It’s shaped as if it were acrylic (and I wish it were) but it’s mineral crystal, which is to be expected at this price range.
Compared to the dial on the original Bambino, this one carries more detail, especially around the perimeter. While Orient maintained the Bambino’s characteristic elegance, the most immediately noticeable difference from the old Bambino is the styling of the hour markers. They’re still applied, but this time around they’re Roman numerals. Beginning with the 12 o’clock marker, every other index marks the hour with a Roman numeral while baton-style markers fill in between. These alternating batons generally work, with one exception: 1 o’clock. At 1 o’clock on the dial, the marker at first glance could be either a baton or a Roman index.
The dial’s domed shape and sunray texture remain critical attributes of the Bambino’s vintage appearance. The hands and indices coordinated very well on the original Bambino, and the same is true for the second version in the series. Instead of traditional dauphine hands, the new Bambino has slimmer polished hands that complement the weight of the Roman numerals.
My favorite dial improvement is the date aperture. Removing the outline on the date window is a classy move, allowing the date to blend in more with the dial when you don’t need it.
Behind the dial is Orient’s caliber 48743, an automatic winding mechanical movement with a date complication and 40 hours of power reserve. Like most Orient movements, this one doesn’t hack or hand wind. As you would expect from any Orient caliber, I’ve been pleased with its accuracy during the time I wore it.
On the Wrist
My biggest concern about the Bambino is my only concern about the Bambino: the strap. It’s brown alligator patterned leather with an unfortunately tacky glossy surface that makes the leather look more like plastic. The case’s 21mm lug width means the strap is already a bit too wide relative to its case, but the only reason that’s a problem is due to the fact that the strap hardly tapers from lug to strap’s end. Instead of slimming from 21mm to 19mm, I wish the strap tapered down to 17mm to give the strap less of a cuff-like appearance.
The good news is that this problem is easily solved, as the Internet is flush with leather strap purveyors and minimal financial cost is involved in buying a replacement. In the meantime, if you’re stuck with the OEM strap (or if you like it, which is okay, too), then rest assured it’s comfortable. The underside feels great on the skin and it’s not cardboard stiff like most watch straps are in this price range. Weighing in at 64 grams, it’s not a watch you readily notice you’re wearing.
It’s a dress watch, so expect it to shine with more formal apparel. However, I find the Bambino to be so tasteful that I’d honestly wear it with anything. Whether you’re suited up or sporting khakis and a v-neck on the weekend, the Bambino is a timeless statement of confidence and style that doesn’t need a wardrobe to feel at home. Some timepieces “work alone,” in that they go with anything because they transcend the boundaries of any contemporary outfit. This Bambino, with its elegant styling and vintage-style domed crystal, could be one of them.
At $260, the new Bambino retails for the same price as the old Bambino. As I’m sure you now know, Orient releases coupon codes all the time that can land you 30-50% off the retail price, so keep an eye out for those.
It’s classy and vintage-inspired without being a direct clone of existing Swiss dress watches on the market. That’s a particular characteristic I admire about Orient and it’s one of the reasons I bought a Mako in the first place. Most brands at this price point don’t invest in original design, so their timepieces come out looking like Submariners, but with watches like the Mako and now the Bambino, Orient proves good original visual designs can exist in the sub $500 range.
Orient Bambinos are for sale at orientwatchusa.com