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- Joined: Fri Jun 22, 2012 10:00 pm
Missed it by that much!
Back in the early 2010's Orient Watch Co. came out with a mid-priced (for them) diver, called the Revolver; it was a bridge between their budget divers, like the Mako, and their flagship, the Saturation Diver. While information on what the Big O does as a company is pretty thin on the ground, they apparently made the Revolver for a few years, then discontinued it:
The fabulous Orient Revolver, pic from Yeoman's Watch Blog
The Revolver was, at the time, a really, really good dive watch; while it was in the same market niche as the Seiko Sumo, it wore better, was nearly as nicely finished, and looked like no other dive watch on the market. Since then, Orient's been thrashing around with several M-Force models to fill the mid-price diver's void, and none of them were very good. They were too big, or looked stupid, or had various dumb issues (I had one with very loose collars in the bracelet). None of them got within a mile of the quality and look of the Revolver.
Then, late last year, Orient released a new mid-priced diver, the Triton:
Officially called the--take a breath--RA-EL0002L00A, and dubbed the Triton on various fora. It looks very similar to the OS300, which is still the benchmark Japanese dive watch for under a grand US. Naturally, the various fora exploded with delight over the Triton--finally, no more goofy M-Force divers! Orient shrunk the OS300 down to a wearable size, which is what they should have done all along. Plus, it had solid endlinks, and even a sapphire crystal! It was if the suits at Orient Japan finally broke with the Seiko doctrine of never paying attention to collectors.
Before I burst the balloon, some specs to talk about: the size of the Triton is 42.6mm 9-3, 46.9mm including crown, 14.2mm thick (as opposed to the door-jamb-busting 16.5mm of the OS300), 50mm lug to lug. Lug width is 22mm, with a minor taper down to 20mm at the clasp. So far, so good--instead of the M-Force divers, which grew bigger with each generation, the Triton's pared down to almost the size of an SKX007. The stainless steel case is rated to 200 meters of WR, and inside is the Orient caliber 40N5A, a 22 jewel automatic that runs at 6 beats per second; it is the same movement as is used in the OS300, and unlike early Orient movements, it's hand-windable and hackable. Mine runs at about 10 seconds fast per day.
The Triton is available in three examples, a black dial, blue dial, and black with gold accents on the bezel. The MSRP in the US is about $700.
So, a few things that Orient got right: the size, which is big, no error, but not clownishly big. A sapphire crystal, check, solid endlinks, check. The bracelet, which isn't extremely good and rattles like a vintage Rambler sedan, is held together with pins and collars, although at least the collars are fitted into the center link, and so sizing the watch isn't a total descent into hell. The caseback's nicely finished, too:
The dial, at least in the blue, is great; a slight sunburst look, with all the printing and hour markers well finished:
The lume is as you'd expect:
The case finishing is pretty good--not Sumo good, but then, nothing else is Sumo good for this price--but it's pretty clear that Orient spent some time on the polishing:
The bezel is easy to turn and, in fact, reminds me of the OS300. It's got a little too much backplay for me to love it, but it does the job OK.
Now the bad news.
The crown is easily the worst I've used in a dive watch at practically any price; the OS300's crown operated like a German-made bank vault's door, perfectly machined, absolutely fine in the way it seated down and opened to set the time and date. While the Triton's crown and guards look kinda like the OS300's:
In every other way it's miserable. Once unscrewed and popped out to set the time, the crown tilts around alarmingly. Once you set the time, trying to reseat it is horrible--half the time you think you've grabbed the threads on the crown tube, only to realize that you haven't, and you'd better start again, or you're possibly going to cross the threads. There have been several times I've tried to reseat the crown and, by the time I've got the sumbitch finger tight, my fingers actually hurt from the effort.
Also, some other problems: the bracelet, as I've already noted, is pretty goddamned miserable. It's not comfortable, it rattles--in that way it's much like the earlier M-Force models--and the clasp is bog-standard, as the Brits say:
The hour hand is too short, too. I just thought I'd throw that in.
On the bright side, it's a pretty watch, and wears much better than an OS300:
So, what's the verdict? The Triton isn't a terrible watch; on a rubber dive strap, it'd probably do fine underwater. The problem is that, over the years, I've looked at Orient as the watch world's version of Hyundai cars--not the fact that they're cheap, but that they're cheap, and do so many things well, and they're loaded with value. There are few bigger Orient fanboys than me, but this one's a swing and a miss--instead of coming out with a new Revolver, Orient came out with a slightly better M-Force. And Orient can do a whole lot better than that.