Orient Bambino Review – Top Notch Automatic Watches

orient bambino review

If you are looking for your first automatic dress watch, it’s hard to find a better one than the Orient Bambino. Everyone already knows the tremendous value offered by the very popular Seiko SNK809 which is perhaps the most recommended entry-level automatic watch. However, the SNK809 is not a dress watch; the Bambino is. In this Orient Bambino review, we will be looking into why it is the perfect starting dress watch.

Orient Bambino Review

If you haven’t heard of Orient before, they are a Japanese watch manufacturer founded in 1951 in Tokyo. Today, they are under the ownership of Seiko Group. Something you might find interesting – Orient produces all of their own movements in-house in Japan.

With their Bambino line of watches, Orient’s aim is to provide a beautiful dress watch with solid automatic movement and a sophisticated look, all at a price point that is criminally low. Have Orient achieved all of their goals with the Bambino watches? Let’s take a look.

Style

There are many variations of the Orient Bambino when it comes to style and color scheme. We will primarily be focusing our review on the 2nd generation version 1 and 2nd generation version 3, our personal favorites. We will provide a brief overview of the rest in the “Variations” section.

The Case

orient bambino dial

Let’s start this review off by examining the case. The Orient Bambino has a stainless steel case with a polished effect on all of its top surfaces, and brushed effect on its side surfaces. The overall look can be described as simple, minimal, and reserved.

It has a round case with a diameter of 40.5mm (the version 4 measures 42mm) and a thickness of 11.8mm (the version 4 with stainless bracelet, Small Seconds, and Open Heart version are 12mm thick). While it’s still on the smaller side, for a dress watch this is pushing the limits. At 40.5mm, it is still optimally sized as a formal-wear watch.

The lugs are reserved as well, extending seamlessly from the case. The lug-to-lug distance measures 46.5mm, and the band width is 21mm (the ver.4 has a width of 22mm). In order to maintain the seamless aesthetic, the lugs are not drilled for the spring bars.

Turning the watch around, we can see that the screw-down caseback is made of solid stainless steel, polished to a mirror sheen, displaying an elegant engraving which reads “Orient Automatic.” On the Ver.4 stainless bracelet, open heart, and small seconds models, a glass exhibition window on the screw-down caseback lets wearers see the automatic movement moving around inside – a nice touch.

The Dial

orient bambino dial side

Depending on which version of the Bambino you are looking to get, the dial can look drastically different from model to model. For instance, the two models that are the focus of this review, the gen 2 version 1 and version 3, the version 1 has a more vintage and sophisticated feel, whereas the version 3 has a more modern and minimal appeal. Both do well as elegant and formal dress watches, yet are wonderfully different.

All versions of the Bambino include the Orient logo applied at the 12 o’clock position, the Orient name printed beneath it, as well as “Automatic” printed in elegant cursive beneath that. Note that the Bambino always follows a consistent color scheme: the color of the emblem matches the color of the main hour markers, but the shield will always be red.

Above the 6 o’clock position you will find the words “Water Resistant” printed in a beautiful cursive font, and in tiny font next to the 6 o’clock marker it reads “JAPAN MOV’T” and the model number. Overall, not many words are printed onto the Bambino’s dial so as not to ruin the formal and clean aesthetic, and it works well for this type of watch.

The Crystal

All versions of the Bambino feature a large domed hardened mineral crystal that raises the watch’s thickness to 11.8mm. Looking at it from the side, you will notice that the height of this transparent window accounts for approximately a third of the watch’s height. Somehow, Orient have managed to cram their automatic movement in the remaining chassis to maintain a lean profile. The Bambino should have no issues sliding under the sleeve of a jacket or long-sleeve.

The clarity of the glass is excellent, and the large curve does not inhibit the watch’s legibility even when viewed at an angle. However, if you are looking at it from the side, you can notice a slight distortion of the tips of the hands and markers.

Additionally, the domed crystal will cast a crescent-shaped shadow in bright light on the dial. This is not a complaint, but something to be aware of if you prefer your dial to be completely unblemished.

The Date Window

Like most watches, the date window is located at the 3 o’clock position. The date is displayed as black text on a white background on nearly all versions, with the exception being the open heart version which doesn’t even have a date window. The only versions that give the date window a frame are the version 1 and version 4 models –  a look that moves away from the modern and pushes it towards the vintage style.

Up until this point, nearly all aspects of the dial across all of the watches in the Bambino collection are the same. But where these variations differ is in the way the dial markers, hands, crown, and band are handled. Let’s see how the markers differ.

The Markers

orient bambino wrist

The version 1 features dauphine-style applied markers with a rectangular shape that tapers down on the end pointing towards the center. It is polished and grabs your attention immediately. These markers match the aesthetic of the version 1 hands perfectly and exudes a vintage feel that is reminiscent of the Omega Constellation. This watch looks like it’d fit just in in an episode of Mad Men.

On the other hand, the version 3 model retains a sleeker profile with applied, polished markers in a baton shape only at the 3, 6, 9, and 12 o’clock markers, with thick printed line marks for the other hours. While the version 1 also has printed line marks, the version 3’s marks are longer and extend all of the way to the edge of the dial. Overall, this look is cleaner and more modern looking.

A special mention must be given for the “open heart” version of the Bambino which alludes to the small window on the dial that gives a glimpse of the complex engineering of the movement from the front of the watch. Through this window, you can get a sense of the oscillation of the balance wheel, the pulsation of the hairspring, and the release of the escapement wheel which beats 6 times per second (21,600 beats per hour).

This open heart design is visually interesting, and the window is small enough that the watch’s other features can still draw your attention. However, it does take away from the clean style that the rest of the watch exhibits. Furthermore, dress watches are meant to have a “clean” aesthetic, so it is up to the individual whether the open heart design is too much of a visual distraction that decreases its usability. At the very least, it’s nice that Orient has provided this unique option.

The Hands

For the Orient Bambino version 1, the dauphine minute and hour hands, as well as the thin baton-shaped second hand, are all polished and have a matching color with the hour markers on the dial. These components work together to catch the light so beautifully, one cannot help but admire it.

The version 3 utilizes rectangular baton shapes for the hour, minute, and second hands. These match the hour markers on the dial perfectly to exude a sleek, modern look.

An interesting detail for all versions of the Bambino (barring the “small seconds” variation) is that there is a small bend applied to the pointer side of the second and minute hand which match the curve of the domed dial and glass. This is not a visual detail one can notice looking straight one, however it’s quite clear looking at it from an angle. This has no bearing on the hand’s functionality, but it’s a cool detail.

The Crown

orient bambino crown and crystal dome

For all versions of the Bambino, the crown is located at the 3 o’clock position. It is appropriately on the smaller side to adhere to the classy look that the watch is going for. There are no crown guards which further solidifies it as a dress watch and not a diver.

The crown is domed, with a smooth and polished surface and an engraving of the Orient lion-and-shield crest. Along the sides, the crown has fine teeth for additional grip when turning.

Depending on which version you get, specifically the versions 2, 4, and 5 of the “small seconds” and “open heart” models, the crown will be shaped somewhat differently. For these variations, the crown is thinner where it attaches to the case and flares wider as it turns away from the case. This design is reminiscent of the classical style that old pocket watches have.

We think the crown on all versions of the Bambino gives off a classy vibe and is executed well.

The Bezel

The Bambino has a fixed, stainless steel bezel with a polished appearance and rounded corners which matches the case. It is minimal in size and almost seems like an extension of the case. There is not much to say here except that it is an intentionally subdued component that contributes to the overall clean look of the watch.

The Band

orient bambino strap

There are numerous strap options for the Orient Bambino. The version 4 even gives the option of upgrading to a stainless-steel bracelet.

For the version 1, the included band is a two-piece alligator leather strap that comes in either black or brown. It also has a polished buckle (gold or silver depending on the watch color). The alligator strap is perfect for maintaining the vintage theme and compliments the dauphine hands and markers.

The version 3 includes a smooth leather strap, either brown or black depending on the watch color, with a polished buckle that comes in gold or silver. The smooth leather texture lends to the modern feel of the version 3 and also compliments the simple baton hands and markers.

For all of the Bambino models that come with a leather band, the color of the stitching matches the band to obscure it as much as possible. This is probably a wise decision by Orient which keeps the bands looking formal.

The band width for nearly all versions is 21mm, and the version 4 has a band width of 22mm. For a formal watch such as this, the width is slightly on the larger side, and the same can be said of its case diameter which is also a bit large for a traditional dress watch. With that said, the proportions of these components are balanced and help to achieve a dressy look.

Overall Style

No matter which version of the Orient Bambino you get, the overall style is executed so well, especially considering the price point. There are so many variations of the Bambino, and the various styles lets wearers select a look that best suits their personal preferences. Each variation has a unique look that will captivate all eyes that glimpse at it.

For example, the version 1 achieves a classic, vintage look with its dauphine markers and hands as well as alligator leather strap. The version 3 pulls off the sleek, modern look with rectangular baton markers and hands as well as a smooth leather strap.

The paring of the colors, applied polished accents, dimensions, fonts, rounded edges – these little details all add up to make a stylish wristwatch. Being a dress watch, the Bambino fits well in formal settings but will also look at home in a business casual setting as well.

Comfort

The Orient Bambino is a dress watch, which means its dimensions are smaller than field or dive watches. The smaller case diameter, thickness, and crown makes it an extremely comfortable watch to wear for longer periods.

With that said, as we mentioned in the style section, the Bambino’s 40.5mm diameter is on the larger side for a dress watch which tries to be reserved, but is still comfortable and within an acceptable dress watch size range.

The 21mm band is also slightly wider than you’d expect for a dress watch, but it is comfortable and keeps the 40.5mm case from sliding or rotating. Ideally, the band width would be reduced to 20mm or even 19mm, but as it stands it is satisfactory.

Another detail regarding the watch band is the thickness of the leather. Thick bads are generally stiffer, less forgiving in movement, and generally less comfortable. The opposite issues arise if a band is too thin; it will be less durable and will not feel as secure when worn.

The Bambino’s included band is the perfect middle-ground and offers you the best of both worlds. Even though the band is made of leather, it never pulls your skin or hair. The strap includes seven tang holes to give you some leeway with adjustment, ranging from 5-½” (140mm) to 7-⅝” in ¼” (6mm) intervals.

Next, the Bambino has a case thickness of 11.9mm, which is reasonable and keeps the watch close to the skin for optimal comfort. As we mentioned above in the Crystal section, the domed mineral crystal accounts for approximately 1/3rd of the height. The rounded edges of the domed crystal ensures that the watch can easily slide under the cuff without catching on it, as dress watches should.

The next consideration is the Bambino’s weight. Weighing in at a mere 2.3oz/65g with strap, the Bambino is a lightweight watch. While the feeling of a solid watch is reassuring to some, for a timepiece designed for formal wear, a thin profile and light weight is ideal, and the Bambino meets this expectation perfectly.

The Automatic Movement

orient bambino caseback

The Orient Bambino uses the Orient caliber F6724 in-house Japanese automatic movement. The “small seconds” version uses the F6222 movement, and the “open heart” version uses the F6T22. The details given below apply to all movements except where noted.

All of these movements are in-house movements which is a respectable feat. After all, the movement is the key component of a timepiece, and a brand that manufactures their own movements instead of sticking in some other brand’s movement is a sign that they are the real deal.

Each movement beats 21,600 times an hour (6 beats per second). When fully charged, the Bambino has a 40-hour power reserve, meaning it will continue beating for 40 hours after last being charged. Keep in mind that the lower the charge left in the reserve, the less accurate its timekeeping becomes.

If accuracy is a major concern for you, then rest assured that Bambino includes hacking, handwinding, and regulating capability. In other words, if the accuracy out of the box isn’t to your standards, you can adjust this yourself with the right tools. You can also ask your local watch service shop to assist you.

As for hacking, this isn’t some computer wizardry, but rather the capability of stopping all hand movement on the dial so you can precisely set the time. In some other watches, the hour and minute hands will stop, but the second hand will keep ticking. Handwinding is the ability to turn the crown and charge the mainspring while in the full-in position.

The accuracy is officially listed as +25/-15 seconds a day, however you can probably get within +15/-15 a day.

Additionally, the movement has 22 jewels (24 in the “small seconds” variation). This means it has 22 contact points where moving components apply jewels to decrease friction and maintain accuracy in the movement.

Finally, date complication is a great way to keep track of the calendar. This feature is not included in the “open heart” F6T22 version. The date changeover begins at around 10pm and completes around 12:00am.

Usability

Reading off of the Dial

Many dress or formal watches sacrifice usability in order to achieve a certain style or visual aesthetic. This is the reason why countless dress watches are so simple as to be nearly useless except as a fashion statement. With that said, we feel that the Orient Bambino balances both style and usability well.

First, not only do the hour markers on the dial look great, but they are very usable despite not having Arabic numbers. In the version 1, the applied markers help the eye parse the information given by the watch easily, and the polished markers help take this further by reflecting light. At almost any angle, light will reflect off of the faceted angles of the markers, helping to see where they are.

The version 3 has a more minimal style, definitely trending toward the usual dress watch style, and its hour markers are simply longer, slightly thicker printed lines. With that said, subtle details help them to stand out such as the longer length and thickness of some lines.

Second, polished hands easily catch the eye and lend to faster reading. There may be some difficulty reading the minute and second hands because they do not extend all the way to the markers. However, you can still get a good idea of the time within a few minutes with just a glance. You can still tell the time precisely if you take an extra second to look at the dial.

Having said all of this, the usability of the Orient Bambino is exceptionally high by dress watch standards, since many have little or no markers at all. Again, this is a dress watch, not a field, dive, or sports watch, so precision is not the highest priority in their design.

The date window is sized just right for readability while still keeping the dial clean. Black text on a white background gives the perfect contrast to quickly see the date.

Rotating the Crown

Next, the crown is also sized appropriately in relation to the rest of the watch. The side of the crown has teeth which gives additional grip. It’s also quite easy to stick your fingernail between the case and crown from the top or bottom and pull out the crown. In other words, the crown is easy to adjust when needed.

The crown can be set to three positions:

  • Full In: Rotate the crown clockwise to hand-wind the mainspring. This is not a screw-down crown, so you can quickly grab the watch and begin winding all in one motion. A screw-down crown must be unscrewed before winding, so if you are not a fan of having to do this extra step then you will like this functionality.
  • First Click (Middle Position): Rotate the crown counter-clockwise to adjust the date.
  • Second Click (Full Out): Once fully out, rotate to adjust the time. The hands are temporarily disconnected from the mainspring in this position so that they will not keep rotating as you are trying to set the time. This is known as “hacking”, and it allows you to perfectly sync the Bambino to the atomic clock.

Once you are finished adjusting, just push the crown all the way in so it can keep ticking again. Make sure to perform any of the above steps while the Bambino is turned OFF to avoid any damage.

Durability

Covering the dial of the Bambino is a large dome shaped mineral crystal that could lead to durability problems. To start, there is nothing protecting the glass from direct contact; in fact, it extends above the bezel whereas some watches have the crystal below the bezel.

Furthermore, a mineral crystal glass is not as robust and scratch-resistant as the much high quality (and pricier) sapphire crystal. This is not so much an issue when worn indoors at formal events, but if you are planning on wearing this to more active situations then you may end up with a few scratches on the glass.

A similar complaint can be made for the polished buckle hardware. Since these are located on the bottom of the wrist where it will often be resting on table or counter surfaces, then the polished finish will quickly accumulate scratches and imperfections than if it were brushed. This is not a major complaint, but something to keep in mind.

Water Resistance

The Orient Bambino is listed with a water resistance rating of 30m/100ft. While far below the water resistance of a dive watch, don’t be fooled by its listed rating. We feel that even claiming it has any sort of water resistance is being generous. We do not recommend submerging the Bambino underwater; you should not wear it while swimming or snorkeling, let alone diving.

The extent of the Bambino’s water resistance is to protect it from occasional exposure to water such as while washing your hands or getting caught out in the rain. You will remember that the crown is not a screw-down crown; there is no seal or gasket to keep water from entering. As such, it is best to treat this watch as if it would get damaged by water. If you are looking for a watch to wear for diving or other water sports, then look for a diver and not a dress watch.

The Strap

Finally, let’s discuss the included leather strap. This is a classic two-piece leather strap with buckle and tang hardware. Two leather loops are also included to hold any excess strap length and keep it from flapping about. The strap is connected to the case with spring bars that must be accessed inside of the lugs. We found the strap to be straightforward to use, of sufficient quality, and adequate for the Bambino.

Best Orient Bambino Variations Review

The focus of this article was primarily on version 1 and version 3 of the Orient Bambino. In addition to the other versions, there are also the “Small Seconds” and “Open Heart” models which we have not covered. This section aims to provide a brief overview of the ones we have missed for the sake of completeness.

Orient Bambino Small Seconds

The Small Seconds is one of the most popular and in-demand models in the Bambino line. The “small seconds” refers to the sub-dial dedicated exclusively for tracking the seconds, and it is located just above the 6 o’clock position. Since the sub-dial tracks the seconds using the small second hand, then there is no need for the usual long second hand that most watches have.

Inside, you will find the F6222 movement which is similar to the movement found in the V1 and V2. It has a 40 hour power reserve, 21,600 beats per hour, has 24 jewels, and allows for hacking and handwinding. Overall, the Small Seconds sports a minimal style that is timeless and gives off a classy vibe.

Orient Bambino Open Heart

Like the Small Seconds, there is a defining characteristic of the Open Heart model which is the skeleton dial that lets users get a glimpse at the complex mechanical movement turning inside. Since the movement is the heart of a watch, then being able to see it visibly makes it an “open heart”; who needs an exhibition case back when you can have this?

There are three color varieties of the Open Heart model you can get: black, brown, and blue respectively. This gives you the option to select the color that best matches with your wardrobe. In addition to the open heart design, there is also a transparent caseback if you want to see the movement in action with even more detail. The Open Heart truly bares all, and fans of complex engineering will love how much of the internals they get to see.

Orient Bambino V2

Next, the Bambino V2 is one of the best-selling models in the line-up, and one look at it will tell you why. The Bambino V2’s individuality shines through with its pinkish-gold case, dauphine-style markers, and elegant design fit for a gentleman.

Even the markers on the dial match the case. With how polished and reflective it is, no matter what angle you view the dial at, you can always get a clear reading of the time thanks to their beautiful sheen.

Inside of the V2 is the F6274 automatic movement with hacking and handwinding. It is also water resistant up to 30m, but with a watch this elegant, we don’t feel like testing it out. The case diameter is 40.5mm which is small but actually above average by dress watch standards.

Many of the features found in the Bambino V2 are also present in the V1, which we have written about in great detail above. Suffice it to say, the successor to the V1 looks fantastic and gives off an elegant, classy look that will be sure to turn heads.

Orient Bambino V4

As soon as you lay eyes on Bambino V4, you will be enchanted by the mesmerizing ocean blue gradient on the dial. As the color reaches towards the edges, it gets darker and darker until it transitions to a strong, contrasting black along the edge of the dial. The white markers stand out against the black, keeping legibility high.

The included strap is also black and made of high-quality leather that is durable and comfortable to wear. The case diameter measures at 42.5mm, which is a bit on the larger side for a dress watch, but should still fit snugly on an average sized wrist. The case has a perfectly round shape which gives off a vintage watch look.

Orient Bambino V5

The Bambino is all the way up to version 5 now, and it is characterized by a stainless steel case, strap, a convex mineral crystal glass, and an exhibition caseback. As is the case from the version 3 onwards, it continues to have a clean, modern look by keeping the dial free of distracting sub-dials or unnecessary markings.

Next, the Bambino continues the trend of providing quality functionality and components at an affordable price often less than $150. You will be hard-pressed to find a watch of similar quality at this price range.

If you are not a fan of wearing a leather strap, the included 3-link strap with concealed closure is easily adaptable to any size and may be something right up your alley.

Orient Bambino Open Heart Small Seconds

If, after seeing the Open Heart model you thought “Wow, that’s really cool!” And then you saw the Small Seconds model and thought the same, then you are in luck. With the Bambino Open Heart Small Seconds, you can get both the open heart and small seconds sub-dial in one watch, as well as a stainless steel strap that matches up with the style of the case. You will either love this design or hate it, but you can’t deny that it’s fascinating to look at.

The legibility of this model is drastically reduced since the two sub-dials are so visually distracting. The seconds sub-dial overlaps with the open heart, which further creates a stronger visual element that pulls eyes towards it. Unlike the other Small Seconds models, this one does not have a date window located at the 3 o’clock position, so the visual “weight” of the watch is entirely focused on the left side of the dial.

This model has a listing price of around $400. You are paying a premium not just for this incredible design of the sub-dials, but also because of the sapphire crystal and transparent caseback, features often found on luxury watches. Fans of complicated watch designs that also want a durable watch will love the Open Heart Small Seconds.

Orient Bambino Review: The Verdict

Over the course of this review, we have found the Orient Bambino to provide many benefits – a nice surprise considering its affordable price tag. Of course, its price and functionality varies slightly depending on which variation you purchase, however as a whole the Bambino line of watches are well-executed stylish dress watches that look more expensive than they are.

Additionally, the in-house automatic movement with hacking and hand winding is yet another welcome surprise at this price point. The fact that Orient produces their own in-house movements is something we take our hats off to.

With that said, it’s not all rainbows and sunshine. There are some downsides to the Bambino that you should be aware of. First and most obvious is the large domed mineral crystal glass. Since it sticks up so much, it accounts for 1/3rd of the Bambino’s height, it is a prime target for hitting the sides of doors, countertops, or bumping into things in general.

Similarly, the polished buckle hardware located below the wrist can easily be scratched simply by resting it on a countertop. With how easy it is to scratch the crystal and the buckles, the Bambino may not be the best option as a daily driver.

However, if you are looking for an inexpensive watch with automatic movement that you will only take out for special occasions, then the Orient Bambino is a great choice. There are plenty of options to choose from in their extensive line-up and numerous style options available for you to find what best fits your style.

If the Bambino will be your first automatic dress watch then you can hardly go wrong with an automatic watch that looks as stylish as this, with hacking and hand-winding, many variations and mods to choose from, at an affordable price, and by a reputable company like Orient.

Photo Credits: GreatAffordableWatches