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.

6 thoughts on “Orion Calamity Dive Watch”

  1. As much as I love what Nick’s doing, he’s playing in a difficult market segment now. Despite how good the Calamity looks, it’s going to be hard to pick it over Oris, Stowa or Sinn. Hell, he’s nudging up against used Doxa/Seamaster territory.

    Although resale isn’t something I put much thought into, for anyone who likes to flip regularly it’s going to a hard sell. I took a bath on my Orion 1 when I sold it – I knew that was a risk when I bought it, but this is a lot more money.

    I any case, I hope he runs into some Halios-type popularity and the micro nerds eat the Calamity up.

  2. I have been watching this one, and was glad to see a brief review here. I am drawn to everything I see with this, but as mircro-brands nudge up into higher price ranges, the usual price comparisons don’t translate readily.
    I think that “seeing is believing” might be what it takes to get on board with these premium micro-brands. I felt much the same about the Monta Triumph last year and after seeing the watch at Windup, I placed an order. If this is on-par with a Monta, it would be worth the price in my opinion. Also knowing if there are limited production runs of certain colors would be helpful information.

  3. Great write-up, Mike and congrats on the first newsletter, Kaz!

    Ben and James have made excellent points in their comments and I agree.

    I would love to see it in the metal.
    All the best to Orion for the future.

    Cheers from Germany
    Daniel / @daniels_watches

  4. I keep looking at this one and I like it for the style and nicer movement but what strikes it off the list of potential buys, because of the asking price is the clasp. In this price range should have had a ratcheting clasp.

  5. After a year of almost daily wear, this is my all time favorite watch. Absolutely the most comfortable watch I have ever worn.

    The curved sapphire caseback just melts into your wrist, nesting the watch perfectly. I wear it loose on the original bracelet and I can easily stick a full finger between the clasp and my arm, but the watch doesn’t move. It’s not stuck to my wrist because of friction, it just wants to be where it should.

    I was lucky to get a black version with a matte bezel. (most of the ones I see online have a glossy finish) To me, the matte black dial is the best of both worlds as it simultaneously tones down the overall dressiness of the watch, highlighting the tool side of the equation. While at the very same time allowing the highly finished dial and hands to the forefront. The photographs in this post do not do it justice. I mean they’re good pictures, but seeing the dial in motion is where it’s at. The polished indices borders around the lume disappear into the dial, popping when they catch the light. It straddles the tool vs. elegant worlds effortlessly. It As a designer, I know this duel aesthetic being pulled off with such aplomb lives in a magic place. You can wear this watch under a cuff, or with flip-flops and jorts.

    One the rare occasions when it sat in the watch box a few days, winding and setting it is easy and comfortable thanks to the 9mm beast of a crown. But as big as the crown is relative to the thickness of the watch (11mm) it is in perfect balance with the rest of the case. The crown guards jut from the case sharply but not so much as to appear ‘peggy’, the curve into the transition is just soft enough.

    I hate writing. (these three paragraphs took me 45 minutes and tested google’s spellcheck to its limits) But I felt compelled to shout at the hive mind how much I love this watch. Thank you for your time.


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