If your faith in affordable watches is ever shaken (not that there is reason for it to be) you can always turn to Orient to deliver something that will reinvigorate it. Their collection is markedly diverse, which is refreshing to begin with, powered by their own mechanical movements, well made and always well priced.
Of the many type of watches that Orient makes, they tend to pull off military inspired watches particularly well. As a genre that is very well represented by brands, it’s rare for anyone to seem different, but Orient’s designs manage to. A few months ago we looked at the Sparta, which was fun and unique, with a somewhat vintage appeal. Today, we’re going to take a look at the Defender, which is a more modern take on the aviator/field watch, with a cool and different look, great features and, yup, an amazing price. The watch features the 46B40 automatic caliber, date function, day hand, 24-hour hand, 100m water resistance, mineral crystal and an MSRP of $250. But, as with any Orient, if you enter the coupon code “wornandwound” you’ll get 30% off for a total of $175.
Case: Matte Steel
Movement: Orient 46B40
Water Res.: 100M
Dimensions: 42 x 48mm
Thickness: 12 mm
Lug Width: 22 mm
Crown: 6 x 3 mm
Price: $250 ($175 w/ coupon)
The case of the Defender, in true military style, is pure function. Measuring 42 x 48 x 12 mm, the blasted steel case is a nice medium size. It also features 22mm lug width, which is a bit wider than I expected, but works with the overall proportions. The matte steel adds a rugged quality to the design, preventing reflection and staying true to the mil-inspiration. From above the design is traditional with slab sides, robust but short lugs, and a thick bezel. From the side things are as to be expected as well, the only detail of note is the slight bevel on the raised mineral crystal, which throws the occasional glint of light.
The most standout feature of the design is the off-center screw down crown, which sits at 3.5. Fairly wide and flat, the crown has a very simple design and no branding. The off-center placement simply makes it a bit different looking, but also helps prevent it from digging into your hand. Oddly, the crown is polished rather than matte, contrasting with the rest of the case. Though matte would have made more sense, the mix of materials didn’t bother me and doesn’t stand out too much.
The case back is screw down and made from polished steel. It’s no fuss either, with basic details and an etched logo. Overall, the case is well made and executed. Though lacking in any real surprise details, the classic design makes sense and works with the design. There isn’t much finishing to speak of, but the matte blasting is nice and even, and doesn’t soften the edges of the case too much.
The Defender’s uniqueness and personality all reside in the modern military styled dial, starting with the face color itself. Though simply called “grey” the color is an interesting granite color that has a bit of warm brown mixed in. The result is something less sterile than “grey” would indicate, as well as more unique, that plays well with mil-colors like olive and khaki. The main index is a series of large molded lume shapes in a slightly off-white color that are all applied to the dial. The large rectangles and split triangle at 12 are very bold and aggressive, creating great legibility and a very modern style. Since the markers are all applied and fairly thick, this creates a nice depth to the dial as well as adds some texture.
Between the applied markers are small white lines for minutes/seconds for easy time-telling. On the perimeter of the dial is an angled chapter ring with a minutes/seconds index that consists of white lines to a precision of 1/5th a second and numerals at intervals of 5. This index makes at a glance reading all the easier as well as increases the technical, function driven military aesthetic. The added depth form the chapter ring is a nice touch as well.
Moving in, there are two sub-dials for the 24-hour times and day at 10.5 and 3, respectively. Both sub-dials are slightly debossed into the dial and feature circular graining for some nice texture. The 24-hour dial is quite a bit smaller than the day dial, and has a cool symmetrical index design. The larger day dial has a railroad index with each day of the week inscribed with their typical three letter abbreviations. Oddly, there are also marks between the days, though the hand only points at these marks for a brief period in the middle of the night. As the most unique element of the watch, these two dials add a lot to the overall design. Not only are they complications that add value, they have a funny asymmetry that gves the watch an odd, yet cool look.
At 6 is a date window that is outlined with a thin white line. The date is presented in black on a white surface. I personally am a big fan of 6 o’clock dates. They are usually more vertical in shape, which is appealing, and don’t break the symmetry of the dial as much as a typical 3 o’clock date would. That said, this dial is already asymmetrical, and the 3 o’clock space is taken up by the day dial, so 6 was clearly the best spot.
The Defender features thin Roman sword style hands in black with lume fill for the hour and minutes. Though a bit small, they suit the look of the watch. The seconds hand is a thin white stick with a large counter-weight and a pointed tip. Both sub-dials have small white leaf hands, which work with the design as well. That said, I do wish the day hand was a touch larger.
Lume is present in all of the large markers as well as the hour, minute and seconds hand. The lume is of average quality, and since the markers are large does add visibility in the dark.
Movement: Orient 46B40
Inside the Defender is the Japanese made Orient 46B40 caliber. This automatic movement features 21-jewels, date, day hand, 24 hour hand, ~40hr power reserve and a frequency of 21,600 bph. For a watch this price, this is a very cool movement, especially since it offers the 24-hr and day as sub-dials. That said, it has a couple of drawbacks. Though not significant to daily use by any means, given the style of watch hacking and hand winding would have been nice. The more significant issue is that the day does not quick set.
The date is set by pulling the crown out to first position and turning it counter-clockwise, as per usual. I expected the day to set by turning it the other way, clockwise, but that doesn’t do it. Unfortunately, you have to turn the time forward X days to get to your desired day. This is a nuisance if you switch your watch often and let your non-worn watches run out of juice, but if you have a winder or plan on wearing this watch daily, it’s not an issue. Even if you have to set the day manually every time you wear it, it’s annoying but not devastating.
*correction: The day can be set by turning the time between about 10 pm and 4am, back and forth. This is indeed faster than going through entire days.
Straps and Wearability
The Defender comes on probably the nicest strap I’ve seen from Orient. It’s a soft and supple black leather with a touch of padding that tapers slightly from 22 at the lugs to 20 at the buckle. The leather has a really nice natural pebbling to it, giving it a very natural look, reminiscent of bison leather. There is a single line of cream stitching running around the edge, adding a touch of contrast, but not too much. The quality of the strap feels deceptively high, adding to the overall appeal and value of the watch. Most importantly, it looks nice with the watch. The texture plays of the rugged case and the cream stitching pairs with the granite dial and creamy markers.
There isn’t really a downside to the strap other than it is perhaps a touch dressier than the watch itself. It goes without saying that this style of watch looks great on NATO straps as well. On either olive or khaki Maratacs with matte hardware, the Defender took on a much more aggressive look. Both colors work very nicely with the granite dial, and the sheen of the nylon emphasizes the matte case. Since the watch also has a 100m water resistance, it’s a great option for sport activities potentially involving water. In that circumstance, a nylon NATO is also best suited.
On the wrist, the Defender wears very nicely. The 42 x 48 x 12mm case is very comfortable, not too big or small, quite thin and lightweight. This is the kind of watch you can put on and forget about, making it a great daily wear. The look is both subtle and bold in that it doesn’t shout, but like other military/tool watches has a strong design with high legibility. The look of the watch speaks to both field and aviator styles, but has a distinctly contemporary feel. Like the name itself, it makes me think of fighter jets and the like.
In terms of dress, the watch speaks more to casual, classic and masculine attire, but isn’t so sporty as to be inappropriate at the office. The granite dial adds an interesting element that works well with more muted and washed colors. A pale blue oxford, charcoal slacks and black shoes would be a nice office pairing, while a dark denim jacket, green shirt, jean-cut khakis and black work boots would be great on the weekend or at a bar. Varying the strap type or color will open this one up even more.
The Orient Defender will not only remind you of how awesome affordable watches can be, it will make you wonder why so many expensive watches are so boring. At $175 after coupon (enter “wornandwound” at check out!) you’re getting a very full-featured watch with great build and cool design. The automatic caliber with added complications (24 hour, day hand and date) is enough to make a watch this price standout, but the fact that it is genuinely nice and interesting looking makes it a winner. The dial is also wonderful, with a lot more depth and texture than one normally finds at this price. The only issue I had was with the non-quickset day, but that can be excused at this price. It’s annoying, no doubt, but not a deal breaker. Please note the correction in the movement section
So, if you’re looking for a military aesthetic at a winning price point, the Orient Defender is a great option. The granite color is very cool and I recommend it, but the watch also comes in khaki (sold out at the time of writing this), black and blue (only available with bracelet) should it not be your style. For those of us out there with Seiko 5 SNK’s in our collection, the Defender is a nice alternative to switch with as it has a larger case and added 24-hour dial. Similarly, for those who love that watch, but can’t pull of 38mm, the 42mm case of the Defender should suit you well.
by Zach Weiss
review unit supplied by Orient Watch USA