Review: the Lorier Astra

Since Lorenzo and Lauren Ortega started Lorier Watches in 2018, their stated goal has been to make a watch that you could wear everyday for the rest of your life. With the new Astra, they’ve come as close as ever to achieving that lofty goal.

For those few of you who may be unfamiliar with the brand, Lorier has, over the last five years, taken the enthusiast world by storm. Since their public unveiling in 2018, Lorier has produced a series of vintage inspired watches that punch way above their weight — both in fit and finish, as well as design consideration.

I got my first Lorier, a Neptune V.2, in the fall of 2019 and wore it just about everyday for a year. It was the first dive watch that really stuck around in my collection and, during the early days of the pandemic, it was my constant companion. I adored that watch. With its bulbous Hesalite crystal and simple painted dial, it was undoubtedly the watch that taught me to love dive watches.


Review: the Lorier Astra

Stainless steel
Miyota 9015
Blue, silver
Stainless steel bracelet
Water Resistance
100 meters
36 x 44mm
Lug Width
Screw down

If you know me, or if you were to read my take on the “3 Watch Collection for $5000,” it should be obvious that I still love dive watches. I wear a dive watch most days and would offer up that, pound for pound, dollar for dollar, a rotating dive bezel is the most useful added function a watch can have in day-to-day life. I use mine for cooking, tracking my work day, sending covert signals in wrist shots (pip at 8, for the TGN-ers out there), and — in particularly dull moments — as a fidget spinner of sorts.

I love the legibility, the ruggedness (that I have mostly no real need for), and the versatility the dive watch format provides. But the reality is — unless you’re Jacques Cousteau, James Cameron, or James Bond — I’m not sure that a dive watch is a solution for the prospective “one-watch-collection.”

What I mean to say is that while the dive watch may be the ultimate tool watch for everyday life, one does not necessarily require that tool for every day of that life.

Historically, this has been well understood by brands. Production across the industry generally skews away from the over-spec’d dive watches, GMTs, and chronographs many of us (myself included) seem to covet, and towards simple everyday watches the likes of which people have been wearing for decades.

So while Lorier continues to make a tremendous assortment of dive watches, GMTs, and chronographs for the many of us (myself included) who seem to covet them, they have, since the 2019 release of the Falcon, also continued to evolve their lineup of simple, everyday three-handers.

When the Falcon was first released nearly five years ago, it followed closely on the format of the original Lorier Neptune, with a 39mm big-crown case and three-link bracelet. That has been followed up by two subsequent redesigns, with the current Falcon serving as a svelte time-only sports watch in the lineage of the Explorer, Alpinist, or Railmaster.

The new Astra has a lot in common with that watch. In practical terms, the Astra shares the Falcon’s 36mm case. That’s a good thing too, because the 9mm thick (11mm if you include the domed Hesalite crystal), and compact 44mm lug-to-lug make for an immensely wearable, and enjoyable, size.

The Astra also, like most of the current Lorier lineup (excepting the Gemini chronograph), uses a Miyota 9 Series movement, in this case the Miyota 9015. While earlier Lorier releases relied on Seiko NH movements, the shift to Miyota has allowed Lorier to produce noticeably thinner watches, without impact to their performance or quality.

As relates to the Miyota 9 Series, some prospective clients may have concerns about the winding rotor “wobble” known to exist in this movement series. I can comfortably say that after a little under a week wearing these watches, any incidental rotor noise wasn’t noticeable enough to bother me, though obviously your mileage may vary on that front.

For as much as the Astra pulls from the Falcon, it more than sets itself apart. Where the Falcon pulls inspiration from mid-century adventure watches, the Astra comes at a similar format from a slightly different direction. 

Lorier directly cites the Breitling Transocean, Universal Genève Polerouter (read more about the reaction to the news of UG’s imminent revival here), and the Rolex Datejust as inspirations for the Astra. It’s not a stretch to imagine that early Grand Seikos, JLC Scientific Watches, or pre-dive watch Omega Seamasters were also on the mind as the Astra came into existence.

The basic formula of thin, water resistant watch in a stainless steel case on a bracelet with a moderate amount of lume and possibly a date unites these designs and, while it seems like a simple recipe to follow, that supposed simplicity belies a remarkable complexity.

In his 2006 book, The Laws of Simplicity, John Maeda, then a professor in the MIT media lab, said that “Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious, and adding the meaningful.” At the end of the day, what all these watches have in common, and what helps to set the Astra up for success, is not their ability to subtract the obvious, but rather their effectiveness in adding the meaningful. The Lorier Astra is replete with small details that, at first glance, may be easy to miss but which, in total, help make the Astra a very special watch.

Lorier has always shown a clear eye toward the past in the designs of its watches, but where the Hydra SIII or the Neptune feel like a modern interpretation of previous decade’s aesthetics, the Astra is the first Lorier that genuinely feels like it could easily have been designed in some long gone decade.

That said, interacting with the watch offers a decidedly modern build quality. The crown screws down with certainty and, while the winding and setting positions can be mildly tricky to find (they feel a little close together), both actions feel robust and self-assured.

The case itself, as on the Falcon, is well machined and as well finished as you are likely to find at this price, and the bracelet is wonderful. Lorier has spent a lot of time focusing on their bracelets over the years, and the results speak for themselves. With the Astra, we have a five-link bracelet that tapers from 20mm at the lug to a delightful 16mm at the clasp.

Some might be inclined to compare the five-link bracelet to a famous bracelet from another brand, but as someone who regularly wears a vintage Rolex Datejust on a Jubilee bracelet, the bracelet of the Astra wears more like some vintage beads-of-rice bracelets, in particular some of the slightly flattened examples frequently found on certain vintage Omegas.

The clasp itself is relatively short, and feature a few positions for micro-adjustment of the bracelet, making it really easy to not only get the right fit, but shuffle the links around to get the clasp exactly where you want it in relation to the watch head.


And on that note, it’s worth noting that adding and removing links is a breeze thanks to the use of slotted, single-sided screws to hold the bracelet together. The evening I got both models of the Astra in hand, I had them both resized in under 5 minutes apiece. That a micro-brand like Lorier can do this for a few hundred bucks, while the solution continues to elude far larger and more established brands continues to boggle the mind (though now is not the time for that diatribe). Suffice to say, the Astra bracelet is a pleasure to interact with, and puts to shame bracelets found on watches two or three times as expensive.

Now, a second ago I mentioned that I was loaned both models of the Astra for this review. Lorier produces the watch in two variants. The Core Collection Astra, essentially the standard production model, comes equipped with a white opaline dial, while the Cosmic Blue Astra, listed by Lorier as a Special Edition, has a primarily blue dial.

These dials are the standout feature of the Astra. The distinct combination of printed dial features, applied markers, and luminous elements offers a unique wearing experience among Lorier watches. The Astra’s dial is rooted in two sought after vintage aesthetics, the crosshair dial and the sector dial. 

While the crosshair design reaches across the centermost portion of the dial, connecting the makers, the luminous ring of BGW9 Superluminova is clearly the more eye-catching dial feature, especially on the Cosmic Blue dial, where it sits in stark contrast to the deep blue of the dial. This tracked luminous ring draws direct inspiration from the “Nitelite” marker rings found on certain old Polerouters, and provides a lovely framing device for the whole of the well laid out dial. A roulette date wheel gives the watch a welcome pop of color on even numbered dates, although I found it to have less of a notable impact on the Cosmic Blue option than on the white.

The Lorier logo, with its delightful Chevron, and the ‘50s-esque cursive Astra word-mark slightly break up the vertical line of the crosshair and, along with the modified (and lumed) dauphine hands, feel right at home on the dial of the Astra. I will say, for as much as I enjoyed the Astra overall, those hands felt like potentially the one real weakness in the watch. 

The more I looked at them, the more I felt like they were ever-so-slightly out of proportion with one another. On future versions of the Astra, I might prefer to see a slightly longer hour hand paired with a slightly shorter minute hand, as well as the shifting of the luminous pip further down the seconds hand toward the center of the dial. On a watch that gets so many of the subtle details right, I am hesitant to gripe about such small misses, but I think it speaks to just how well the rest of the watch is designed that I even noticed.

The overall effect of the watch proves vastly different depending on which color Astra one chooses. The Cosmic Blue is, without a doubt, the slightly bolder choice (though neither option feels particularly like a stretch). It makes itself known in a way that the white tries to avoid, and generally presents a slightly sportier aesthetic than its opaline counterpart. The deepness of the blue also feels a hair more contemporary, in a way that some might like, and others might reject if truly in search of a vintage aesthetic.

For me, the white feels like the way to go. The subtlety of the luminous ring, the increased impact of the roulette date wheel, and the monotone quality of the watch mean that the Core Collection Astra feels like a watch, no more, no less. In fact, it may well be my new answer when someone randomly asks me, “what watch should I get?”

The Lorier Astra hits every point it needs to, stripping out all the obvious, and adding back in nothing but the meaningful. It’s the sort of watch I could have seen my grandfather walking into a boutique, picking out of the display case, and wearing to death for the next 40 years without a second thought — and that’s a hell of a thing.

The Lorier Astra is currently available for Pre-Order in either color on the Lorier website, with an expected delivery date of Spring or Summer 2024. Lorier

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A native New Englander now based in Philadelphia, Griffin has been a passionate watch enthusiast since the age of 13, when he was given a 1947 Hamilton Norman as a birthday gift by his godfather. Well over a decade later, Griffin continues to marvel and obsess about all things watches, while also cultivating lifelong love affairs with music, film, photography, cooking, and making.