Orion Calamity Dive Watch

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.


Ep. #37 - American Watchmaking + Our 2k Follower Giveaway

Ep. #37 - American Watchmaking
+ Our 2k Follower Giveaway

Happy Fourth of July to our US listeners! This week we're talking the past, present, and potential future of American Watchmaking. Plus Kaz is still pushing on with Rivkah watches despite a setback in the prototype for this week's wristcheck - keep the good vibes going!

Plus, huge shoutouts and we reveal the details for the Two Broke Watch Snobs 2k Follower Giveaway - we're giving away a Seiko SKX007! Details in this episode and the open entry announcement will follow next week! Woo! Stay awesome, all!

Show Notes:

Bremont Watches

Domino's Pizza Rolex

John Mayer’s Disney Daytona

Bremont Terra Nova

Ben Saunder’s Expedition

Citizen Eco Drive Promaster Diver

Hood Canal

Brew Watches Chronograph

Brew Watches HP-1

RGM Watches

Some Timex History

Hamilton Watch Company

Bulova Watches

Dueber-Hampden Watch Company

Orion Watch Project

Weiss Watch Company

Ginault Watches

Bill Clinton’s Timex

Barack Obama’s Vulcain

Vulcain Cricket

General Dynamics F-16


Orion Watches Field Standard Review

Orion Watches Field Standard Review

By: Michael Penate

Good watch friends are hard to come by—we've discussed this in detail on the podcast. But when I had a chance to sit down with Nick Harris, the sole proprietor of Orion Watches, it was an opportunity to connect with a genuine individual set on creating some of the best watches you probably haven't heard of yet. Hunched over a table at a crowded coffee shop in north Seattle, it was immediately apparent just how passionate Nick was when he revealed his latest creation. It was the Orion Watches Field Standard—a piece that I had been excited about for some time and I was dying to get my hands on it. Needless to say, I was totally caught off guard from the moment I strapped it onto my wrist.

Since its earliest iteration back in the "Watches by Nick" days, the Field Standard has presented itself as the field watch that addresses many of the problems that plague similar watches on the market. From thin crystals to skimpy crowns, Nick Harris aimed to correct these deficiencies while creating a timepiece that also represents his journey as a growing watchmaker. And since his move out to the Pacific Northwest less than a year ago, that's exactly what he has been focusing on as he makes his way through watchmaking school in the hopes of bringing horology back to the United States.

Case:

The case is perhaps the first element you'd find surprising as it is one of the largest wearing 38 mm designs you'll ever experience. A real point of pride for the Field Standard, it's machined out of 316L stainless steel and also measures 49 mm from lug to lug. That's very wearable in my book and when combined with the integrated strap design (we'll get into that later) it results in a very fluid look that isn't typically found in other field watches. It's my greatest fear when seeing prominent lugs like this but Nick designed the Field Standard so that it comfortably fits the contour of your wrist. As a result, I also found that the watch fit in perfectly when paired with a dress shirt at the office.

Aside from the array of brushed and polished surfaces, which contributes to the watch's versatility, Nick also incorporated drilled lugs for easy strap changes. As someone that hates fiddling with tools, it's a real plus. The 9 mm knurled and signed screw-down crown is another standout feature even if it appears slightly over-engineered. That's fine with me and it delivered smooth, comfortable control over winding and setting. Furthermore, the Orion Field Standard provides 100 meters of water resistance and I'd be totally confident in testing that claim considering how serious Nick is about standing behind that feature.

Movement:

Beating inside the Orion Field Standard is the NH35 automatic, handwinding, and hacking movement. It's an unbranded SII variant of Seiko's 4R series and offers reliable 21,600 bph operation, 41 hours of power reserve, Diashock protection, and bi-directional winding. This was my first time putting a watch with the NH35 through its paces and I have to say, it operated beautifully. I found the performance comparable with the 4R36 in my Seiko SRP777 and that's exactly what I want out of a watch that might follow me out of the office and into the trails out here in Washington. Additionally, the movement supports a simple, easy-to-set date function that's seamlessly integrated into the well-proportioned dial.

Dial:

And the dial is where this watch really shines. Drawing a fair bit of inspiration from the Benrus Mil-W-3818B watches of the 1960s, the Field Standard provides a legible, high-contrast look that contributes to its overall utility. It is however, considerably more refined than its Vietnam Era inspirational predecessors. Shimmering, wave cut applied indices line the dial and reflect light playfully together with the thick (and I mean really thick) anti-reflective domed sapphire crystal. As "dressy" as that may sound however, the dial is still undeniably sporty.

Additionally, the dial has internal 12 and 24 hour scales and a set of bold cathedral hands. There are generous applications of C3 SuperLuminova found throughout the hands as well as the Arabics and I found it to be adequate in most low-light situations. The date window at 3 o'clock also features a white border and I found it unobtrusive enough that it didn't throw the dial off balance. Granted, I think I may have preferred the absence of a date window but I understand that it's a feature many people actually utilize.

Strap:

The Orion Field Standard is available with either a black or brown croc patterned leather strap. It's fully integrated with the lugs and something I've never really experienced as far as leather straps go. As mentioned previously, this really contributes to the wearability even if I'm not usually a fan of leather straps in general. The pattern was clean enough that it looked fine in a business casual setting and worked just as well with a t-shirt and jeans. As nice as it is, I can't help but wonder how cool it would look on a sailcloth strap. I feel like it would be the perfect match for the Field Standard's sporty character.

Final Thoughts:

I think Nick Harris accomplished exactly what he set out to do here. The Field Standard is what I'd consider a hot rodded field watch and refinements like the thick crystal, beefy crown, and integrated strap design elevate the watch above the usual suspects in the same price range. While there are certainly a ton of "field" watches from more recognizable brands dotting the Amazon pages, I think the Orion offers more of a highly-engineered approach and better value overall. I think it goes without saying—I was slightly bummed when I had to give it back.

After we parted ways when we met up initially, Nick said something that stuck with me and really cemented the idea that his brand represents. "We can change the world with watches," he said. Sure, it's a bold statement but it's the kind of passion that's built right into the Field Standard and it really shows. I'm excited to see what the future has in store for Nick and the Orion brand. We need more passionate individuals like him producing and sharing this kind of quality in the watchmaking world. Currently, the Field Standard can be purchased for $450 and you can learn more by visiting orionwatches.org.


Ep. #19 - Nick from Orion Watches Talks Microbrands and the Future of His Business

Episode. #19: Nick from Orion Watches Talks Microbrands and the Future of His Business

Mike and Kaz are joined by a super special guest! Nick Harris from Orion Watches jumps on air to talk about microbrands in the US, the Seiko modding culture, and a whole lot more.

Plus, Nick talks about how he got started in horology and just where his passion started. He also tells us what it's like going through watch making school! Really fun episode that every microbrand fan needs to check out.

Show Notes:

Orion Watches

Orion Watches How to Mod Your Seiko