If you spend enough time around entry level mechanical timepieces, chances are that you are familiar with the Orient Bambino. Prior to this review, I was vaguely aware of the watch. They show up on my Instagram feed and frequently make Top “X” lists in their price range.
There isn’t much middle ground on the Orient Bambino – people either love it or they hate it. I was very eager to see for myself what side of that love/hate fence I would land on after spending time with one. So for this watch review I spent time with the Bambino V3 with the blue dial (FAC0000DD0).
The case is 40.5mm, but it wears a bit smaller. Smooth bezels can often play visual tricks on the eye. The shape and amount of convex curvature on a smooth stainless steel bezel determines how light and objects reflect off its surface. In the case of the Orient Bambino, the bezel is tight to the crystal and leaves just enough space to differentiate it from the actual case. It’s done quite well.
Lug to lug the watch is 44.3mm keeping the overall size tighter than the spec would indicate. This is a great example of not judging a wearing experience by case diameter alone. I can’t stress this enough. Ditch your preconceived notions and get all the specs before making a decision. The three key dimensions are equally important: case diameter, case height, and lug to lug width. Once you understand the relationships among these three specs, you can make a better decision on a watch you want to purchase online (before you’re able to physically handle it).
The Orient Bambino got the case shape right. Specs aside, I asked friends and coworkers to try one. Every one of them thought that the watch was sized right and was very comfortable. I agree. Designing a watch case that feels great on a wide variety of wrist shapes and sizes is not easy.
Part of the trick is the short lugs with a gentle slope. The angle of the lugs is flat enough to suit larger wrists yet curved enough to hug smaller wrists as well.
The case is 12mm high. Like the width, it doesn’t wear as high as the spec indicates. The domed mineral crystal really pops from a 45° angle. You won’t have any problem sleeving the Orient Bambino under a shirt and jacket cuff. The crystal was so reflective that it made it difficult to get proper photographs for the review.
The crown could be a little larger. It’s only 5.3mm. The small size made it difficult to manipulate.
The Orient Bambino V3 Dial
One of the strengths of the Orient Bambino is the variety of dial colors available. You’d be hard pressed not to find a color that you like. The version that I had has a blue face. The blue is deep. It was like looking down into a pristine lake. This was the highlight of the Bambino for me and exceeded my expectations.
Orient missed with the rest of the dial though. The issues all stem from the same overall problem: It’s difficult to read. The dial, glass, hands, and markers are all so reflective that it makes the time difficult to read in most conditions. It would be interesting to see if this problem occurs with different color dials. It’s a real bummer given that the main purpose of a watch is to tell time.
The hands are also not the optimal length to work with the slope of the dome. Part of the charm with domed crystals is the distortion of the hands at an angle (don’t get a Speedmaster fan going about this point). There is no lume on the hands. The hands are also flat and polished, making them easy to lose in the dial. The hour markers have the same issue; they just blend into the background.
The date window is just ok. There is nothing significant about it. Color matching the date wheel to the dial would look spectacular but will never happen. With mechanical watches in this price point, it’s all about economies of scale with components to keep the cost down.
Another telltale trait of the Bambino is the Orient logo. The logo reminds me of something that would be on a pack of unfiltered Pall Malls. I’m not sure what a European coat of arms has to do with a vague geographic area previously known as “the Orient” – it’s a logo that makes no sense. The “Orient Star” logo is much cleaner.
The current generation of the Orient Bambino has their caliber F6724 automatic. It hacks and hand winds. However, the rotor is loud and I haven’t found the power reserve to last more than 30 hours. The Bambino Version 3 does not have a display back. There are versions of the Bambino with an “open heart.” I’m not usually a fan of the open heart, but it’s a great option here.
I’m always a little wary of 21mm wide straps on a watch. I was pleasantly surprised that the strap didn’t feel too chunky. The leather is pretty cheap as expected. Don’t be thrown off – it’s perfectly serviceable for normal use. Everyone that tried it on thought that is was comfortable. The case shape combined with the comfortable strap makes the Orient Bambino very easy to wear.
The black leather strap slightly tapers down to 20mm at the buckle. It tucks nicely into a traditional buckle. If you don’t care for the stock strap on the Bambino, finding a 21mm aftermarket strap will be a challenge. But they are out there.
I like to fit watches to scenarios. Where is the watch appropriate to wear? What kind of person does it work best for? For the Orient Bambino it’s easy to place in two categories.
The first is a great entry level mechanical watch. The Orient Bambino retails for $300 USD. However, a simple Amazon search will tell you that it can be purchased at a deeply discounted price. The Bambino is like a gateway drug. It provides a little taste of Horology. If you break it or don’t like it after purchasing, it’s not a big deal at that price point. You will probably move on to something else anyway. Don’t consider the Orient Bambino a long-term play.
The other scenario that many of us can relate to is going on job interviews. I remember being a recent graduate and being stressed on what to wear and how to present myself as I went on job interviews. At a traditional face-to-face interview, you will often find yourself sitting across from the interviewer with your hands (and a watch) on a table.
The Orient Bambino is a great option for interviewing at any company that has a business casual to formal suit culture. As you interview for your first few jobs, those are often the most difficult. The Bambino is a great addition to the post-graduate interview wardrobe.
One Last Final Thought…
While gathering information about the Bambino I checked out the Orient USA website. I wanted to know how Orient perceived and presented their own watch. What I saw made me cringe.
The first sentence that Orient USA used on their website to describe the Bambino Version 3 was, “Modern AF.” I was stunned and they lost me right there. I know that we’ve joked about Orient USA press releases being delivered on paper airplanes, but this is pretty lowbrow. I’m not sure how this got past the copyeditor or was deemed a good idea by Orient USA leadership. This is a great lesson in the same theme as, “Think twice before hitting send.”
When you buy a watch, you buy into the company behind it as well. Just something to think about.
Greg is a long-time watch lover based in upstate New York. Greg is a supply chain professional by day and private watch consultant by night. Greg brings his own style to the TBWS website as a contributor by blending bits of humor into technical assessments. You can follow his cycling and snowboarding adventures on Instagram as he pursues the perfect 3-watch collection.