When I found myself getting pulled back into the world of watches, I set out some criteria that would govern how I would go about deciding on a watch and making that purchase. First, if I was going to make a purchase over $100, I would get my wife, Sarah, involved because I do not like making large purchases without consulting her (she’s way better with money than I am.) Second, the purchase would be from a place that helped pull me into watches (more on this in a moment.) And third, it should be a type of watch I have not purchased before.
Every October, the State of Alaska sends its resident a Permanent Fund Dividend check. There is really no nice “in a nutshell” way of describing this, so here is a Wikipedia article that explains it in a not-so in a nutshell way. Suffice it to say that once a year, each resident gets a check for around $1000. This would be my resource pool for my purchase. My initial proposal was $500, but the look I received suggested that a number of house repairs might have priority, and I had to agree. I reduced the max funds to $200, which works great as there are many amazing watches still within that price range and if I wind up drifting out of the watch interest, I’ll still have a nice watch, and a happy bank account.
I have always been into watches, but what inspired me to learn more were Youtube videos, particularly those of Teddy Baldassarre. What got me was that while he reviews and sells many high-end models, he has no problem recommending many inexpensive ones, as well, such as the Casio F91W. This is a digital watch that generally can be had for under $20 and has been around for years. This is the watch Sarah generally wears (though admittedly not with the original strap, which I think our dog chewed up.)
Mr. Baldassarre is a licensed dealer for many brands of watches, and if I recall correctly, around 90% of his profits go back into producing content for his YouTube channel. So it made sense to me that if I can buy a watch and help fund the content I like at the same time, I should do it.
Finally, nearly all the watches I have could be considered field watches. Built to take a beating outdoors, these generally have a canvas or leather strap, stainless steel case, and show just the time, perhaps with a date feature, and an easy-to-read dial. But there are so many other types of watch, from pilot watches, dress watches, divers, and of course, the luxury watches enthusiasts pine for.
Thus, prepped with our rules, Sarah and I sat down and started going through the watches available at Teddy’s site, and made a decision…
Orient is a Japanese watch company that in one form or another, going by several different names, dates back to 1901 when Shogoro Yoshida started the Yoshida Watch Shop selling imported pocket watches. He started producing his own watch cases in 1912. A decent history is provided on Wikipedia. While it skips the World War II years, it is a good bet that, like many other fine instrument makers of the time, they got pulled into war production for the delicate art of making bomb fuses and timers.
In more recent times, they were acquired by Seiko Epson and Orient Watch is now completely under the Epson umbrella.
Orient’s best-known watches are likely the Bambino dress watch and their Kanno dive watches. The Bambino is their least expensive ($120-160) dress watch and is usually reviewed in glowing terms. The Kanno dive watches are above my $200 price range, though not by much, and also receive exceptional reviews.
Priced between these two points ($195) is the Symphony III, though it certainly has more in common with the Bambino than the Kanno. Like the Bambino, the Orient Symphony III is a dress watch with an automatic movement. It comes in several case and dial colors. I chose a rose-gold colored case with a black dial, as both Sarah and I felt the colors looked quite nice together. It has no numerals: simple tapered batons mark each hour. Mineral glass covers the dial and also provides a display of the movement on the back.
At the time of purchase, Teddy’s site had a coupon code of “FirstOrder” that reduced my purchase price by 5%, so my total came to around $185. If you decide to purchase there, be sure to see if he has a similar code going, even if you worry about Star Wars coming to life.
This review is already pretty long for a first impression, but to put things more concisely, I love this watch. One of my worries about going from a world of quartz watches to mechanical was weight. However, I barely notice that I have this watch on. That may be from the familiarity of having a watch on the wrist for so long. I have not weighed this watch to get a comparison. It also fits easily under a sleeve, so any worries about being a thicker watch are gone.
The rose-gold case and markings against the black dial look very nice. The date window, at the three o’clock position, is large, easy to read, and called out with a white outline. This watch has no lume on the hands or hour markings, so I suspect this is a difficult watch to read in low-light situations. That has yet to be determined, though with our winter darkness rapidly approaching, I suspect it will be soon.
If I had one complaint about the looks of the watch, it is that it comes with a faux-alligator leather strap. While it is real leather, I think the ‘gator-inspired pattern is a bit silly. If exotic leathers are your thing (they are not mine), consider purchasing a third-party band for a more realistic look.
Set to the clock of my computer (itself linked to a time server) shortly after unboxing on October 19th, this watch is still accurate to the minute and has not required winding since a quick initial wind. The automatic system, with its internal rotor, takes care of keeping the watch wound unless you leave the watch sitting somewhere for a while.
While this is technically a dress watch, I will continue to daily wear it. In a month or so, I will do a more thorough review once I have more experience with it. So far I am thrilled. It is easily one of the best-looking watches I have owned, and there is just something special about a mechanical watch.