There are two main category of modern dive watch. The purpose-built tool-watch with function at the forefront, and the dress diver with pleasing aesthetics and comfort taking precedence over deep-dive performance. Most dive watches will sit somewhere between the two extremes, and the new Orion Calamity certainly veers towards the dressier end of the spectrum.
From a background in the Seiko modding world, Nick Harris launched the Orion 1 (read our coverage here) two years ago with the aim of creating a brand that fuses modern and vintage elements, producing watches that smaller-wristed watch lovers could appreciate. Whereas the Orion 1 and the Field Standard came in at or under the $500 mark, the latest offering comes with a significant hike in price ($1,495), putting it in competition with some pretty serious watches from more well-known marques. That said, in my estimation, the Orion Calamity is a slim and elegant diver, it’s moderately sized, and it boasts specs and finishing that, I hope, justifies the higher price point.
Review: Orion Calamity Dive Watch
Drab Green, Blue or Black
40 x 48mm
One of the big draws for this watch on paper is its thickness, or thinness rather. It is listed as 11.3 millimeters tapering down to 10.5 millimeters, and the reason for that unusual measurement is the curved case back. As you’ll hopefully be able to tell from the photos, the case is at its thinnest right in the center with a slight curvature out towards the lugs. That arc is followed by the sapphire display back and the stainless steel surround.
The upshot is a watch that sits very comfortably on my seven-inch wrist—very comfortably indeed. I honestly cannot say just how much of that may be due to the curvature or how much of it is due to the overall dimensions hitting my sweet spot, but whatever is causing it, it sure makes for a great fit.
The case is almost entirely brushed with the exception of only a few polished slivers hidden away throughout the watch. The brushing is fine enough to avoid a tool-watch facade, but it is still pronounced enough to create a good deal of contrast against the polished bevels on the lugs. The Oyster-style bracelet gets the same brushed finish, and thankfully there are no polished center links.
Slim is in
The crown is large with appropriately beefy crown guards to match. Although the crown isn’t quite as oversized as the one seen on previous Orion models, it does feature the same polished knurling—it’s become a bit of an Orion trademark feature. That same knurling is also seen around the outer perimeter of the rotating bezel.
The bezel is unidirectional with 120 clicks. Each click feels precise with very little back-play, and the knurling offers reasonable grip despite the thinness of the bezel edge.
The Calamity comes with a choice of three dial colors: Black, Blue, and a “drab” Green. Black would probably be my ideal choice from those on offer, but I have to admit that I have been pleasantly surprised by the Green dial. There are comparatively few green-dialed watches on the market and I was worried this would be an illustration of just why that is the case, but it works. “Drab” can have negative connotations, and while it is a candid and accurate description of this particular shade of green, it’s precisely that dullness that makes the color much easier to live with.
All three dial choices have a matte finish, which aids in overall legibility, but it does leave the dial looking a little flat at times. A double-domed sapphire crystal with an internal AR coating plays its part in offering a clear view of the dial underneath. With each variant, the ceramic bezel insert matches the dial color, but at certain angles (or under certain lights) the difference in tone between the dial and bezel becomes more apparent. The bezel features a stylized triangle at 12, and all bezel markings are covered with the same BGW9 Super-LumiNova luminous paint that is found on the hands and dial indices.
The dial markings deliver precise symmetry and a clean aesthetic through large, acute triangles at the cardinal points, and slightly smaller blocks for the other hour markers. As I wrote above, all hour indices are lume-filled, and they’re finished with polished surrounds. I particularly like the way the small polished elements on the dial and on the hands are just enough to penetrate the neighboring flatness of the dial, much in the same way the beveled, polished edges do for the case.
Inside the Orion Calamity, and visible through the curved exhibition case back, beats the automatic ETA 2892-A2—a cousin of the more commonly seen ETA 2824-2, but with a few choice differences. Better shock protection is a bonus, but the main driver for its selection here is likely the 1 millimeter in height that the ETA 2892-A2 does away with. Other differences are less noticeable (it has a slightly longer power reserve of 42 hours), and the caliber still beats at the same 28,800 bph.
As standard, the ETA 2892-A2 caliber also features a date wheel which, in the case of the Orion, has not been removed. The associated “phantom” crown position and date click-over are still present, and that’s one of the few areas where I feel a concession has been made to avoid extra costs.
As a dressy diver, the Calamity comes supplied on a solid oyster bracelet featuring a brushed surface finish. The links are solid, but they’re fairly thin with a gentle taper, offering a very comfortable wearing experience. Neither the watch nor the bracelet are particularly heavy in absolute terms, but together it all feel dense and cohesive. I prefer to wear dive watches on their bracelets, especially on well-made ones, where the added weight also gives greater balance and avoids wrist slop.
The curvature of the case back follows through into the lugs and comfort is outstanding. I found that the lugs sit just as close to the wrist as the middle of the case does, which is something not all watches achieve, even very comfortable ones.
In addition to the phantom date wheel mentioned above, the only other potential concession is the clasp. It functions well, and visually it is entirely in keeping with the bracelet, but the push-button, flip-lock clasp doesn’t quite feel up to the same high ideal as the rest of the watch. Furthermore, the absence of a diver’s extension is worthy of note, though I’ll admit it won’t impact my wearing of the watch.
Taking a step back and looking at the whole package, there are four main aspects that need to be considered: the fairly original and well-executed design, the overall quality in finishing, the slimness and associated comfort, and the price. Several design choices mean the price is considerably above the previous models. Whether these decisions represent a refusal to compromise on the watch Nick Harris wanted to make, and whether the market agrees with the importance of those choices, remains to be seen. There’s no arguing that the $1,495 asking price might be considered a barrier to entry for a fairly young brand without the track record to prove they can compete happily alongside more well-established names. However, it’s also clear that this is a well-designed and executed watch.
If you can make that equation balance in your mind, then there’s little doubt this would make for a great “beach to boardroom” wrist companion. Orion
Brad stumbled into the watch world in 2011 and has been falling down the rabbit hole ever since. Based in London, Brad's interests lie in anything that ticks, sweeps or hums and is slightly off the beaten track.