Orient Monarch Review

Share this story:

For those of us without deep pockets, Orient watches present an incredible value. With their solid built quality, reliable workhorse movements (in-house, I might add), and often pleasing designs, they are hard to argue against, and they’re often on the short list when people ask us to point them in the direction of affordable and well-built mechanical watches.

One thing that Orient does exceptionally well is dress pieces. The ever-popular Bambino series is a great case in point, as are numerous watches across their Star and Classic collections. Today, we’re going hands-on with a new member to the latter–the Monarch.

ORIENT_MONARCH_DIAL1

Introduced in early Fall 2015, the Monarch is a unique vintage-inspired addition to the Orient family. I say unique because it is one of the few manual winders in the brand’s catalogue. Beyond that, it also features a domed sapphire crystal, a power-reserve indicator, and an exhibition case back–elements not often seen on a watch priced at a MSRP of $335, but even less so in a watch costing $234.50, which is the price after coupon. Let’s take a closer look.

Advertisement
$335

Orient Monarch Review

Case
Stainless Steel
Movement
Orient Caliber 48C40
Dial
Silver Sunray
Lume
N/A
Lens
Mineral
Strap
Leather
Water Resistance
50m
Dimensions
40 x 45mm
Thickness
13mm
Lug Width
18mm
Crown
push-pull
Warranty
1 Year
Price
$335

Case

The Monarch features a polished stainless steel case coming in at 40 x 45 x 13mm. It’s a great modern size for a watch, but perhaps a bit larger than I would prefer for a dressier piece both in terms of diameter and height. Nevertheless, the bubble-like case wears well on the wrist, and it feels somewhat smaller than what its dimensions might suggest. This is achieved through the subdued lug-to-lug length (relative to the diameter of the case), and the break between the mid-case and the bezel. The watch also settles quite a bit into the wrist, so the 13mm height isn’t as obvious when worn. One of my favorite case details is the exaggerated onion crown, which has a slight tube at its base resulting in a small protrusion that recalls vintage pieces and also results in a much easier grip for winding.

ORIENT_MONARCH_CASE2

Sitting atop the dial is an ever-so-slightly domed sapphire crystal. The sapphire is a nice touch at this price, and it’s far more pleasing aesthetically than a flat sapphire would have been. With that said, an acrylic crystal with a higher dome could have been a good option as well. On the flipside, you’ll find an exhibition case back. Along the perimeter of the metal part of the case back are some of the specs, which includes the 50-meter water resistance rating. There is an attractive fluted ring surrounding the glass aperture–a nice little detail that only highlights the mistake of the exhibition back (more on this later).

Dial and Hands

Orient describes the color of the dial as eggshell, but I would liken it more to a silvery white with a discrete sunray finish. Sunray dials can be a mixed bag depending on the execution, which in the case of the Monarch is actually quite nice. The finish here is subtle, so much so that you do not immediately notice that it’s there. It’s a nicer choice than just plain white, which can at times look flat and plasticky if done wrong.

ORIENT_MONARCH_DIAL3

The ornate typeface immediately pops. It’s the star of the show, and it’s certainly an interesting choice. The aesthetic is a bit of a “love it or hate it” situation, and while I am personally a fan, I could see how the look can be a bit much for others. It’s an exaggerated typeface and while I do have a soft spot for vintage railroad watches, I do think Orient could have achieved a similar effect with a more subdued typeface. In fact, the chapter ring along the edge of the dial utilizes a typeface that would have been ideal for this very purpose.

Paired with the dial is a set of Breguet hands, painted blue to mimic the effects of tempered steel. It’s a bit brighter than what you would find with tempered hands, and at times the paint reflects the light so dramatically that the hands become the focal point of the dial.

ORIENT_MONARCH_DIAL6

Right below 12 o’clock is a well-executed power reserve indicator set for approximately 40 hours, and above the 6 is the classic Orient logotype and crest logo with the word “Mechanical” in fine script. The inverse here is nice. I love the inclusion of the PR indicator, which brings a nice balance to the dial and actually serves a functional purposing. Overall, the whole thing comes together nicely.

Advertisement

Movement

The 48C40 driving the Monarch is a basic but wholly effective workhorse from Orient. It has 21 jewels, a beat rate of 21,600bph, it hacks, and it features a power reserve indicator. Initially, the 48C40 was used through Orient’s pocket watch range, which makes sense given that it’s one of the few manual Orient calibers (a similar movement was also used in the manual wind collection Orient released five years ago commemorating its 60th anniversary).  Overall, it’s solidly built and reliable. With that said, it really isn’t worth seeing through a case back. It’s not a particularly attractive caliber, featuring a large plate meant to cover up the fact that this is essentially an automatic movement with the self-winding bits removed.

ORIENT_MONARCH_CASE3

While I have no issue with the reverse engineering (though it does account for some of the thickness), the execution is certainly a bit pedestrian, and the watch would definitely benefit from a solid case back with some sort of ornate embellishment. As it stands, there is some light perlage, but it’s not as nice as what you might find on a higher-grade ETA 2824, though given the price of the Monarch that may be an unfair expectation.

Straps and Wearability

As you might expect, the strap that comes paired to the Monarch is perfectly serviceable. It’s a plain black calfskin strap with a slight taper, and while it works, it’s certainly a safe and somewhat boring choice. With a 18mm lug width, the Monarch can accommodate most aftermarket straps, so the options are endless. With the white dial and blued hands, the monarch would work great with some warmer brown tones, or even something as light as whiskey (see Gallery).

ORIENT_MONARCH_WRIST1

It’s a bit of a bulkier watch, but I found it perfectly comfortable for daily wear. As already mentioned, the watch does dip into the wrist a bit so you don’t experience the full 13mm height when worn. I’ve had no issues with shirt cuffs, so if you’re looking for a dressy daily wear watch for the office, the Monarch works.

Conclusion

The Orient Monarch is another great addition to the Orient stable. It’s a great companion to the ever-popular Bambino, and with a price tag that isn’t much greater there is a lot of bang for the buck here. It’s one to consider if you need a daily work watch, and it’s also different enough that it can find a spot in a collection without feeling redundant.

ORIENT_MONARCH_DIAL8

The Monarch is available in two other flavors: white dial with a gold-plated case, and a black dial with a stainless steel case. To purchase, head over to Orient Watch USA. Don’t forget to use discount code ‘WORNANDWOUND’ for 30% off, bringing the price down to $234.50

Advertisement
Images from this post:
Ilya is Worn & Wound's Managing Editor and Video Producer. He believes that when it comes to watches, quality, simplicity and functionality are king. This may very well explain his love for German and military-inspired watches. In addition to watches, Ilya brings an encyclopedic knowledge of leather, denim and all things related to menswear.
ryvini

32 responses to “Orient Monarch Review”

  1. 200 Fathoms says:

    I think you want “deep pockets,” not “steep.”

  2. IronMike says:

    How long is your discount good for?

  3. TrevorXM says:

    You know what this is? It is the watch that really shows Japanese humour that shows up on occasion in their approach to manufacture. I’m thinking those cute faux retro mini cars they do, for example. That exaggerated font is what makes the watch. It looks “oriental” and goes with the antiquated logo and even the name of the company! The whole thing has a playful, retro-feel. Its only missed opportunity is with the back. This is the place where an engraved or stamped Orient symbol would make this a completely realized retro-cheese masterpiece that could not be resisted, and right up there with the Mako USA. It makes me smile.

  4. Paulb says:

    Strange decision to give this watch 18mm lugs and not 20, but otherwise, this seems like a well designed bargain.

    • khj94704 says:

      1:2 lug width to case width (or slightly bigger) seems like a golden ratio of sorts, I was guessing this was another 42+ mm case. Definitely a strange decision to throw off the proportions with the narrow lugs instead.

  5. Bruce says:

    This one is definitely on the list. Was surprised when I realized that Orient doesn’t usually make hand winding only watches. All of mine are strictly automatic!

  6. Никита says:

    Was tempted by the watch since the first time I saw it. Hand-wound, which is very rare (unfortunately) for Orient, with charismatic dial, cool hands, little touches like retro crown guard = it could be perfect, but this display back really bothers. Anyway for $234.50 it has no competitors at all. Well, maybe 1…

  7. Curmudgeon says:

    I can’t think of a single thing I don’t admire about this watch, and that’s extremely rare for me. If they don’t sell hundreds of thousands of these, then something is really wrong!

  8. Svetoslav Popov says:

    The watch is pretty nice, but that movement is soo ugly. I don’t have problem with the font, but really don’t like painted blue hands. It is a mixed bag for me in the end.

  9. jester68 says:

    Im putting together a list of watches i want. This is definately going on that list.

  10. notfunny2u says:

    I’m really going back and forth on this piece. On value alone it’s a great buy, but I love the font 50% of the time and hate it the other half. I agree with the comment that said it showed a sense of humor. Id called it “theatrical”. If I had a spare 250 in a jar, I’d do it, but I have to be a bit more judicious, and I’m probably gonna have to pass. I own 2 Orients already and my 2nd gen Bambino is my favorite watch. If only for that damn font….

  11. odusm says:

    utility in one word

  12. Nicholas VanRysseghem says:

    I have this watch, in the eggshell, and let me say is is an absolute work of art! It is perfect in every way. The sunburst dial is so subtle, its hardly noticeable, except to give the face a nice sheen. I bought it when it first came out (sort of) on black Friday, and got 50% off and free shipping! However, when I purchased it, it said “semi-domed sapphire crystal”, now the website is stating its just “mineral crystal”. What’s up with that?

  13. Rob Crenshaw says:

    I just got this watch today, it’s better than the review suggests. $220 to my door from Orient including tax, it’s far better finished/feeling than my Alpinist or Cocktail Time, a similar use watch whose case isn’t well-finished for the price and twice as thick as it should be. Both those watches should be in this price range. The 38mm is perfect, in fact I showed it to a friend who grew up in the “bling”watch generation and he thought the size perfect. The light pearl dial looks expensive, the blued hands are more purple than the pictures suggest (correct blue is very difficult for computer screens) so they don’t feel like “we tried to fake blued hands” but instead “we chose a deep purple blue and had them dipped in paint”. My friend, who knows nothing of watches but recognizes a quality look and feel, thought the watch cost $3K. He thought the Cocktail Time in the hundreds of dollars. The 13mm doesn’t bother me for this case, it’s rounded and “mini-pocket watch” feeling, and very simple with a great carefully chosen font. The manual movement is a nice touch, cheap automatics have a clunky feel this movement doesn’t, and the PR indicator a wonderful bonus.

    • Nicholas VanRysseghem says:

      It is mineral crystal. Not saphire.

      • Rob Crenshaw says:

        I am sure you are correct sir! I have a bad habit of using the words glass, mineral, sapphire, and crystal interchangeably when discussing the see-thru fronts and backs of watches.

        • Nicholas VanRysseghem says:

          Lol its just the Orient website, videos, etc, said it was saphire crystal, for at least a few months when the watch first came out. Recently they changed the website from saphire to mineral. When I inquired about it, they said them stating it was saphire was a mistake. I didn’t mean to sound rude, but just a little annoyed at Orient, as the deciding factor when I chose to buy the watch was the fact that i thought it was saphire

          • wow, that’s lame. We didn’t know that either… going to have to update the post to reflect that.

          • Rob Crenshaw says:

            To be fair, does it really matter on a watch this inexpensive? And fwiw, the movement is nothing to look at anyway since there’s no rotor and the non-moving rather large faux-finished pot-metal plates are a bit like applying cheap lipstick to a pig. 😉
            And I did not take your comment as rude at all; it was factually incorrect and thus thank you for offering the truth according to Orient themselves!

    • Skip says:

      I often buy alligator straps for Seikos and Orients where the strap costs more than the watch. I simply do not care.

  14. Nick says:

    I bought one. I’m new to watches having worn Timex Expeditions and Swiss Army quartz watches most of my life – never too late to pick up a new hobby!. The power reserve complication is something that really makes living with mechanical watches easier. My first mechanical was a Seiko 5 without hand winding (4R36 movement does allow this and I will be buying a new Seiko 5 with this movement) and continually running down on the weekends was a pain. The Monarch is simple, beautiful and sized very well especially when taking the bubble shape of the case into account. I have worn the watch for 3 weeks never having had it run down. I have only once re-set the time and that was to synchronize with the exact time online (second hand is hackable). Orient strikes me as one of the rare finds in today’s world – an company with true integrity to its mission and values. Whenever I find such companies I reward them with my business.

  15. Cepillin1183 says:

    The font does not bother me. I’m thinking, why not a Seiko ‘Laurel’ type font? but then I could never get passed Orient copying another watch so shamelessly. So I’m left applauding the quirk and originality of Orient designers, something entirely their own when everything has pretty much been done over and over. I think if they repeated this font on other watches it would become “that Orient type font” and would be liked precisely for that,

  16. Arash says:

    Hi every body,
    It’s about 6 months that I am owning this watch and I have been very happy with it up to now. But just today, I noticed something:
    Today when winding it, after the power reserve indicator was almost aligned to the full position, I decided to go little bit further to feel it with my hand that it is full (something that I don’t usually do). But surprisingly I found out that I can continue winding it for ever, and nothing special happens. I didn’t feel any great resistance in between. Now I am little bit worried that I might have damaged the watch. Although as I said I didn’t feel passing over the boundary of a considerable resistance. However, up to now it has been working fine (it happened about one hour ago). But just I thought it might be good to ask other people who own this watch if they have had any similar experience or they know any about this issue. So, any help is hugely appreciated 🙂

    However, Ilya Ryvin (the writer of this article) has mentioned something in this article that makes me hopeful about every thing being OK with my watch. He has said that the movement of this watch is in principal an automatic movement that has been modified and has lost its rotor. And as automatic watches have a clutch mechanism that prevent them from being over-wound, I am thinking maybe that clutch system still exists in this watch and that’s what makes it possible to wind the watch for ever without feeling any considerable resistant boundary.

    • TC says:

      Don’t you think it will be silly in 21st century that mechanical or automatic watches from any manufacturer came without overwind protection?