Orion Calamity Dive Watch
By: Michael Penate
If you’re a watch lover and you happen to have the chance to sit down and enjoy a cup of coffee with Nick Harris from Orion Watches, I suggest you take it. That’s what I did not long ago on a rare, sunny Seattle afternoon and it was time well spent with good company and some awesome watches. Since 2016, Nick has existed as somewhat of an enigmatic figure in the micro-brand watch space after transitioning from the go-to Seiko watch modder to full-on watch brand. Releases like the original Orion 1 and the Orion Field Standard we reviewed here were met with praise, and budget-conscious watch buyers just couldn’t get enough. But, there were always whispers of a dive watch and today, we’re going to give you a quick glimpse at what the new Orion Calamity dive watch is all about.
The real treat in handling an Orion watch and talking to Nick about what went into the production process is realizing that he basically did everything he said he would. The first time he mentioned the Calamity, he said that it would be thin, “super thin.” I thought to myself, “Okay fine, a thin 40mm dive watch with a slightly pricier movement… we’ll see!” Well, at 11.3mm tapering down to 10.5mm, he certainly hit that mark, especially when you consider the overall sporty aesthetic of the archetypal dive watch. But, there are a few more key details if you take the time to look closer. The massive crown assembly with its deep knurling pattern is almost unmistakably “Orion” at this point and I was happy to see those big crown guards making a comeback. However, getting the watch on wrist was an experience I was not ready for.
While the Orion Calamity dive watch excels in the areas of case finishing, construction, and aesthetic choices, comfort is is where this watch really shines. The caseback features such a generous and gradual contour that it almost feels as if the watch is just melting on your wrist. In a way, it reminds me of some of those 17th-century lutes you can find with a drastic scalloping effect on the fingerboard (sorry, guitar nerd reference). There’s a cool little array of polished surfaces throughout the case but nothing too flashy and the bracelet (we’ll get to that in a bit) integrates beautifully with the curved lugs. The 316L stainless steel case is 40mm wide with a 48mm lug-to-lug distance. Oh, and water resistance is 666ft \m/(^o^)\m/
Moving on to the dial, we’re greeted with what I find to be one of the most legible readouts in watches at this price point. Large applied triangular indices grace the 12, 3, 6, and 9 o’clock positions and a bright orange seconds hand with a luminous tip will probably keep you staring for a while. It’s actually quite hard for me to pin down the shape of the hour and minute hands but they are large enough and detailed so they can provide adequate contrast with the dial. On the black model I handled there was also an all-white minute track and a pleasantly glossy BGW9-lumed ceramic bezel with a cool chevron pip at 12 o’clock. Keeping it all cozy is a nice double domed sapphire crystal with blue AR-coating.
The bracelet on the Calamity was also a surprise, as it can be difficult to find quality bracelet options from smaller micro-brands. It’s a pretty significant cost to consider but here, Orion went the distance and fitted the Calamity with a nice brushed steel bracelet featuring what I feel was a very light taper. There’s a lovely little Orion logo design on the clasp and the integration with the lugs just makes it a perfect match for the contoured Orion Calamity case. Sure, there isn’t much in the way of dive extensions on this specific model, but I’m sure plenty of watch lovers can live without that kind of stuff.
Inside the Orion Calamity is an ETA 2892 Swiss automatic movement with 42 hours of power reserve and a 28,800 bph operational frequency. At just 3.6mm thick, it not only supports the ultra-thin case design you find on the Calamity but is also about 28% thinner than the more commonly used ETA 2824. It’s also worth noting that the ETA 2892—even in the lowest grade produced by ETA—features superior shock protection and finishing compared to the lowest grade 2824. The comparison makes for a heated debate but personally, I find Nick’s movement choice appropriate and well thought-out when you consider that it plays such a crucial role in the design and wearability of the Calamity.
Overall my first impressions of the Orion Calamity are very positive and I’m excited to see just how far this cool little diver takes the brand. Available in glossy black, blue, and green, there’s sure to be something for everyone. I’m currently cheezin’ just staring at the blue one right now. Price, however, is a little higher than previous Orion models at $1,400 for the pre-order but I personally find this in line and justified when you look closely at what the Orion Calamity is. As always, let us know what you think in the comments and be sure to find more information about the Orion Calamity by visiting the brand’s official site.
Co-Founder & Senior Editor
Michael Peñate is an American writer, photographer, and podcaster based in Seattle, Washington. His work typically focuses on the passage of time and the tools we use to connect with that very journey. From aviation to music and travel, his interests span a multitude of disciplines that often intersect with the world of watches – and the obsessive culture behind collecting them.