Orient Curator Review

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We often get emails asking us for watch recommendations on a budget. When someone asks us to point them in the direction of a good automatic under $300 or a nice dress auto under $500, Orient is always on the top of the list. We’ve reviewed them many times now and the conclusions are always the same, great watch for the money. But, honestly, that downplays them a bit. Sure, they aren’t perfect watches, but they offer quality in-house movements (which is easy to forget given their prices) with complications and often nice designs.

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While we’ve looked at sport and military models, larger modern designs and even some unique and quirky versions, the Orient watches that tend to surprise and enchant us the most are their various dress models. Simple, elegant and often with a vintage undertone, their dress watches are in a class of their own in the price range. In fact, for mechanicals, it’s hard to think of a strong competitor.

The Orient Curator, which is a fairly new dress offering from the brand, keeps this trend true, offering great style and quality components at a remarkably low price. While the design of this watch is in many ways quite similar to the Orient Star Classic in terms of dial layout and markers, the overall watch has a very different feel. The Curator is an every day watch with a masculine palette and beefier case. It features an automatic movement with power reserve and date as well as a sapphire crystal, which is uncommon for Orient. The MSRP on the Curator is $415, but with 30% coupon code ‘wornandwound’ you can get it for $290.50, which is clearly a great price.

Orient Curator Review

OREINT_CURATOR_FACE1Case: Steel
Movement: Orient 46N40
Dial: Grey
Lume: Yes
Lens: Sapphire
Strap: Leather
Water Res.: 50M
Dimensions: 41 x 47.5 mm
Thickness: 11 mm
Lug Width: 22 mm
Crown: 6.5 x 3mm
Warranty: 1 year
Price: $290.50 after coupon

Case

The Curator features an all polished stainless steel case that measures 41 x 47.5 x 11mm, for a nice casual wear. The case itself has a very simple design, bordering on plain. From overhead you have a thick angled bezel with on a slab-sided body with fairly thick, slightly tapered lugs protruding from each side. The lug width is a surprising 22mm, which is large for a watch this size, but I think that work towards creating something a bit more robust and masculine than your typical dress watch.

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At 3 is a well proportioned push-pull crown that measures 6.5 x 3mm. It’s easy to grasp thanks to the coin edging, but like the case itself is a bit plain. Surprisingly, it lacks a signature or logo on the flat end, which makes it feel like a generic or stock part. Flipping the watch over, you can see the solid case back, which features a pretty basic etching with a large brand logo a few details about the watch.

The most remarkable thing about the case is actually the crystal, which is a sapphire. Typically from Orient we’ve seen mineral, even on watches with higher price tags the Curator. Naturally, this will please a lot of people as it’s definitely a value adder on a sub $300 watch. All in all, the case design works with the watch, as the magic really happens on the dial, but a little more detailing would have gone a long way. Brushing on the sides, signed crown, etc… would have brought it to life.

Dial

With a mix of dark colors and interesting textures, the dial of the Curator has a handsome look. The surface is a charcoal grey with a slight sunburst to it, that reflects with hints of purple. It’s a deep color that is very interesting and unique. Grey dials are less common than black, white, silver or cream and have an interesting presence to them that works very well in a dress/casual context. Since it’s not quite matte, that also adds more dimension to the overall dial.

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The primary index consists of large applied steel markers. These vintage-esque markers are big and chunky, with a very interesting design. They taper towards the center of the dial and have beveled edges on all sides, with a longer bevel on the front tip. The top surfaces then have a coarse brushed finished, while the edges are polished. This creates a lot of interesting reflections when the watch catches light. The coarse brushing also adds an interesting and rugged detail that is unexpected on a watch this style, but adds to its manly character.

Between the markers are small printed lines for the individual minutes/seconds. At a glance, they appear white, but under closer inspection it appears that they, as well as any other text on the dial, are actually a silver print. What might actually be happening here is that they are voids in the grey surface, showing a metal substrate underneath. Regardless, the slightly metallic nature of the lines makes them more elegant than simple white would have been. Sometimes they reflect light, appearing more pronounced, other times they reflect something solid and dark, receding into the surface.

OREINT_CURATOR_DIAL8

On the outside of each of the applied markers are also small lume dots. These immediately give the watch a vintage feel, looking like tritium dots on mid-century watches. I love this detail, and surprisingly, they happen to glow quite well. At 3 there is a silver-rimmed date window showing the black on white date. This was well integrated into the dial and doesn’t feel out of place.

Just below 12 is one of the cooler features of the watch in general, a power reserve meter. Orient is one of the only brands to offer budget watches with power reserves, others use the less common Miyota 9100, and few swiss offerings will go for under $1000. Though a simple function, telling you how many hours of life your watch has left, it’s very practical and a personal favorite among complications. The index is presented in an arc from 40 to 0, with a needle shaped hand above. The implementation here is very low key, which is in keeping with the dress/casual style. Though I wish the watch was hand winding, so you could directly increase the reserve.

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The Curator features dauphine style hour and minute hands with lume filling. Both hands have a stripe of brushed finishing running down them, which ties them into the marker design. The hands are nice and bold, so they make for great legibility. The seconds is a simple polished stick hand that is easy to not to ice at a glance. This watch would have actually been interesting without a seconds hand entirely.

Movement

The Curator is powered by the Japanese made Orient 46N40 caliber. The 21 jewel automatic movement features a power reserve indicator, 40 hours of power, date, and a frequency of 21,600 bph. The movement neither hacks or hand winds. In the time we’ve spent with the watch, the movement kept good time and had now issues with power reserve.

It’s easy to forget that Orient makes their own movements and what that means. In an industry where “manufacture” brands, or companies that make their own movements, are exalted and have prices that match their prowesses, affordability is not often a part of the picture. So, when you hear that Orient makes their own movements, but their mechanical watches have a starting price around $100, it’s hard to connect that with the bigger picture. Naturally, there are vast and significant differences between an Orient caliber and one by a haute brand, but there are also differences between an Orient and a Miyota. Not to say one is better than the other, but in the scheme of the watch world, Orient (and Seiko) are really very unique.

Straps and Wearability

The Curator comes fitted with a 22mm matte black faux-croc leather strap. It’s an interestingly made strap that is different than others we’ve seen from Orient. It’s extremely padded, with filler going from the lugs all the way to the tip. This gives it an pillowy quality that makes it quite comfortable, being at once plush yet a bit stiff. The strap also is matte to a bit greasy with matching black stitching for a very dark surface that contrasts nicely with both the polished case and the grey dial. A dark brown tapered strap would look nice against the Curator, as well as color 8 cordovan.

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On the wrist, the Curator wears wonderfully. 41 x 47.5mm is a very nice size, that though large for a dress watch, is very practical for a daily wear. The watch also doesn’t seem too large or oversized at all due to good proportioning. The dial is simply gorgeous and a pleasure to see on your wrist. All of the little textures and colors make it really dynamic, shifting throughout the day. The mid-century aesthetic also makes it quite stylish, feeling vintage but not contrived.

Though the size might make it a bit less formal than a 36 or 38mm dress watch, I do think this has a very versatile look that would fit most occasions. Certainly welcome at work or the bar. Wear this with a grey oxford, jeans or slacks and you’ll be good to go. Naturally, it wont look out of place under the cuff of a blaze either.

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Conclusion

There’s a lot to like about the Curator, especially for the price. The power reserve, in-house automatic, sapphire, interesting dial with unique finishing make for a very wearable and cool watch. Style wise, it’s really a great looking piece that will work with anything you wear. Versatility in our book is one of the strongest assets a watch can have, so it’s great to have it in an affordable package.

The only draw back for me was the sort of bland case, but I think that is over shadowed by the successes of the dial and the wearability of the watch. So, if you’re in the market for an easy to wear watch with hints of vintage styling, but a modern profile, the Orient Curator is a very solid option. For $290 after a 30% coupon, this is a genuinely great value for what you get.

OREINT_CURATOR_WHOLE1

Review watch supplied by Orient USA
by Zach Weiss

Images from this post:
Zach is the Co-Founder and Executive Editor of Worn & Wound. Before diving headfirst into the world of watches, he spent his days as a product and graphic designer. Zach views watches as the perfect synergy of 2D and 3D design: the place where form, function, fashion and mechanical wonderment come together.
wornandwound zsw
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22 responses to “Orient Curator Review”

  1. No denying it’s a lovely watch. However I just can’t get over the fact that the comany is called ‘Orient’.

  2. austin says:

    great review – Seiko SARB033 or 35 is a great parallel to this Orient Curator. though lacking the power reserve, the Seiko has a more interesting case, and very similar dauphine hands/applied marker layout.

    Can’t beat 30% off though! Thanks Worn & Wound!

  3. Josh says:

    Adding the sapphire is what really makes this the deal that it is.

    I personally like the Orient Vintage (FFD0F001W0) better because of the white dial and blued hands, along with the sapphire crystal. I should have picked one of those up when they were able to be found for under $260.

    At this point, I strongly prefer watches with hacking and handwinding, but I still recommend Orient as an excellent value brand.

    • Will F. says:

      Also, fantastic that their movements are truly in-house at such a low price point. Seiko gets a ton of hype for making “in-house” movements, when their movements are produced by a completely different company under the Seiko banner and can then be slapped into their cases.

  4. Rob says:

    Sorry for being a so negative, but i really dont like these orient watches and there are way too many already on this oherwise great site. Im really looking forward to every new post, and I feel damn desolated when i have to see another orient again and again. My problem with orient is – beside its really uncool counterfeitish name – that they have a lot of very rubbish looking models, some of them like cheap chinese pieces of $10 junk like i just cant like the better looking ones…

    • Will F. says:

      Orient has been around (in it’s current form) since 1951. They have roots dating back to 1901.

      They make their movements in-house, which is more than can be said for even Seiko (whose movements are made by Seiko Epson/Seiko Instruments, not Seiko Watch Co) who is the company regularly touted as being the most reasonable “in-house” company on the market.

      I can understand not liking some of their designs, but Orient’s name dates back to when they were making watches in what was called the Orient.

      You should probably check out their Orient Star line before you call their lineup “rubbish”.

      FWIW I don’t own an Orient, nor am I likely to in the future (dress watches aren’t what I’m looking for), but they make some great offerings if you wake up a bit.

  5. Rob says:

    (I mean desolate) but thanks much for all the great reviews, it’s still one of my favorite sites! Keep up good work!

  6. Hello W & W !

    Currently I subscribed to four electronic watch review publications, including my recent subscription to W & W.

    While I enjoy the other three which are oriented primarily around haute horology brands, W & W has become my favorite for substantially personal reasons.

    W & W is down to earth, realistic, and matter-of-fact honest. It addresses and satisfies my dreams, interests and desires in the mechanical, sub $2000 price range.

    Even better, W & W has introduced me to many other brands in the price range I can afford. I am so pleased to be timely informed here at W & W as to the developments taking place in the ateliers of small, independent watch makers.

    Your shared attraction to, respect and appreciation for quality mechanical watches shines through in every review.

    Thank You!

    Dave Franklin

  7. Rob says:

    @Will F.

    Yes, you’re totally right, and i also know all these great facts about the manufacturer, i was talking about their style only…

  8. Rob says:

    And i know their “star line” too… what could i say, im not really impressed, but its just maybe my taste…, actually what i have (and i like) so far is a nixon ticket, a longines evid. chrono, a junghans max bill chrono, a mondaine simply elegant (all these in black), and now i want to buy a omega speedy pro, a uniform wares 302 and an aark iconoc bw – which I saw first on your great site. So this kind of “style” is what i miss form orient watches, and its not really a question of price. But this is just my opinion only…
    Cheers

  9. Rob says:

    (but maybe te right word here is not really “style”, but rather “character”…)

  10. I love you reviews, they are really good, i love this watch too, the movement is soo good. Thanks Worn and Wound for this :).

  11. Basile says:

    Hi there, I live in France and I realize orientwatchusa.com doesn’t ship outside US… Do you know any other way than eBay to get this great Orient Curator if not located in the US ?

    Thanks for your feeback!

  12. mike says:

    Lots of bang for the buck.

  13. Roy says:

    Great review. Thanks Worn and Wound

  14. Arnold says:

    It’s funny how many people get hung up on the company name. Probably the same people who wear a Citizen because they don’t want a watch from Asia.

  15. Russ says:

    Nice looking watch. I love the reviews here. As another poster said, down to Earth and basic, no pretensions.

    I have an Orient, and an Orient Star. While they are both good values, the Star Retrograde is easily equal to my higher priced Swiss models, with the added benefit of being in-house and unique. I rarely run across another Orient.

  16. Rj says:

    nice looking watch.

  17. Think I found a typo: “and had now(no*) issues with power reserve.”

  18. Skip says:

    This watch is only $200 at Long Island Watches, and it comes in white and black dial as well. I think I am leaning towards the Orient Star Classic ($400). I also find that Orient watches make great gifts.

  19. Serguei Roudnev says:

    I got it from creationwatches.com located in Singapore. Accuracy was minus 15 seconds per 24 hours. In 5 month watch started to stop every day and in the same position of hands. I shipped watch for warranty repair. It lasted for 5 month more …. Since I got it back to me the accuracy was minus 30 seconds per 24 hours. And in 1 month the watch stopped while mainspring was fully charged…I shaked it nicely a few times without success. I dared to open a “back door” and figure out a lot of small trash left by a watch master. Touched slightly a balance wheel to let it wind – no success. It looked like it was something inside – much deeper from the surface – so I removed a rotor and pushed a wheel on the mainspring barrel in clockwise direction – balance awaked at once and watch was ticking for about 1 hour and then stopped again. I repeated this experiment 7 times. the result was the same. Second hand stops in position of 53 seconds every time when watch stops. For now I guess that some trash is placed on the hour wheel or too much oil was left on the main spring inside the barrel.. I wonder for now: “Should I invest some more money for the local watch specialist” or should I buy Swiss Eta like Jazzmaster from Hamilton, but I hate pink gold cases!? Let me say in addition that I have a collection of watches including Soviet watch as Raketa and Poljot – these watches never stop and much more reliable in job in different situations. So what do people pay for today? A collection of wheels assembled without accuracy and love to watch? To my mind the mechanical watch made of steel must cost 100 dollars even if made in SWISS. Because mechanics is just mechanics.