Good dive watches are few and far between, particularly if you are on a tight budget. There just aren’t that many that are both affordable and reliable; if something is cheap, then so is its quality; if it’s reliable, then it’s not cheap. The Rolex Submariner, which is the gold standard when it comes to dive watches, is way too expensive for the average joe. Even the Seiko SKX series, which are more affordable homage versions of the Submariner, still costs a pretty penny. That’s where the Orient Ray II comes in.
The Orient Ray II is the new and improved version of the original Ray, and it is possibly the best bang for your buck when it comes to entry-level dive watches. It has better movement than the original, with the same classic design people loved about it. It has also been compared on numerous occasions to the established Seiko SKX007 and SKX009, so what makes this diver such a sought-after watch?
Orient Ray II Overview
If you are just getting into dive watches, you probably want a few starter watches before you splurge on a Rolex or a Blancpain. The Seiko SKX is a favorite among watch collectors and it is often recommended as the most affordable entry-level diver. The Orient Ray II now holds that title. Like Seiko, Orient is another Japanese brand that produces high-quality affordable timepieces.
The Orient Ray II is often compared to the Seiko SKX for many reasons. First is that both watches have identical specs, even the same sizes. Moreover, both have excellent movements. However, the biggest difference lies in their pricing; the Ray II is half the cost of the Seiko SKX, making it not only a great alternative, but probably the mandatory choice if you are on a tight budget.
Orient Ray II Specifications
For the price, you shouldn’t expect something on the level of the Rolex Submariner. However, for an homage watch, the Orient Ray II gives you something pretty close to the original at a fraction of the cost. Even seasoned watch collectors have a Ray II in their diver watch collection because it’s too beautiful not to have.
- Case Material: Stainless Steel
- Case Diameter: 41.5mm
- Lug-to-lug Distance: 47mm
- Case Thickness: 13mm
- Lug Width: 22mm
- Bezel: 120-click unidirectional
- Water Resistance: 200m/660ft
- Crystal: mineral crystal
- Dial: day-date function, lume on hands, hour markers, and bezel.
- Movement: Orient F6922 caliber, with automatic hand-winding, hacking, 22 jewels, and 40 hours of power reserve.
Orient Ray II Review
Orient took a long time to develop the Ray II and it paid off. This watch is often recommended as an alternative to the Seiko SKX for an entry-level watch and it is priced at only a little over $100. The price alone makes it an attractive option, but what components did Orient compromise on to provide such an affordable diver?
The Ray II has a sporty case that should look familiar to dive watch fans. Its silhouette is nearly identical to the Rolex Submariner. The stainless steel case has a diameter of 41.5mm and a lug-to-lug distance of 47mm.
This timepiece feels like it hugs the wrist when worn. The lugs, which are angled downwards, wraps around the wrist for a snug fit and comfortable daily wear. Since this is a nearly 42mm watch, it might be slightly small for the average person. Regardless of the size, its functions remain intact. The screw-down crown, protected by guards, seals tightly and ensures water resistance up to 200m/660ft.
Mixed textures on the Ray II give it a bit of flair, making it look similar to sports watches. It has a polished finish on its sides, but only the top of the case has a brushed finished. This contrast helps make the Ray II maintain a classy vibe. At a glance, this is your quintessential sports watch. It is slightly smaller than the Seiko SKX and exactly the same size as the Mako II, from the diameter, lug-to-lug, thickness, etc.
Looking at the solid caseback, you will see Orient’s iconic dolphin logo, while the mineral crystal sits atop for protection. We would have liked to see a sapphire crystal, however this is one area where the Ray II compromises to keep costs low.
The FAA02003B9 model of the Ray II comes with a PVD coated case for a more durable effect. This version is nicknamed the “Raven” for its deep-black hue that is similar to the bird it is named after.
As expected from any decent dive watch, the Ray II features a 120-click unidirectional rotating bezel. The bezel has an aluminum insert as well as a luminous pip at the 12 o’clock position. This helps make it visible in the dark.
The coin edge of the bezel provides additional grip, making it easier to operate particularly while underwater with gloves on. However, this is not your usual coin-edged bezel. At every 10 minute marker, the notch is bigger. Since it doesn’t stick out of the case, though, it doesn’t provide additional operational benefits.
There are two color variations for the Orient Ray II. First the FAA02004B9 features the black dial that is reminiscent of the Rolex Submariner. Next is the FAA02005D9 which has a deep, dark blue hue. Both dials have a matte texture which has a bit of a shine at certain angles. There is also a chapter ring which adds dimension and depth to the dial. In short, the dial looks unique and aesthetic.
The Ray II has applied circular shaped indexes to designate each 5 minute marker except at the 3, 6, and 9 o’clock positions. Each marker has a very generous amount of lume and comes with a similar polished edge. The date window can be found at the 3 o’clock position and has a similar metal frame for cohesiveness. One small detail is that the day and date are printed black on white except for Sunday which is red on white.
Next, the hour and minute hands are comparable to other watches’ hands. They are bigger than the second hand and filled with lume for better legibility at night or in the dark. The second hand has a triangle-shaped red pointed tip which adds a bit of personality in this otherwise tame timepiece. Red has always been a color present in many sports watches, so putting it here as well as in the date window is a nice way of affirming “yes, this is a sporty watch.”
Furthermore, the prints on the dial are simplistic and kept to a minimum, with the most recognizable texts being the Orient logo at the 12 o’clock position, plus the word “Automatic” underneath it. At the bottom of the dial you will find the words “Water Resist” and “200m”, which obviously indicate its water resistant rating in case you’ve forgotten that this is, in fact, a dive watch.
Overall, the Orient Ray II’s dial has a neat presentation that is straightforward and easy to understand. Its dimensions are great and very importantly, it has bright green lume for usability in the dark. The blue dial has a striking look and feel, as if you were staring right at the ocean. The black dial version is a classic that watch collectors want to have in their collection.
For decades, Orient has relied on their proprietary 46943 movement in their watches. They have since created a newer and better movement, the Calibre F6922, and equipped their latest watches with it. Thus, owners of the Ray II and Mako II are able to experience Orient’s new automatic mechanical movement powered by a motor with 22 jewels.
The Calibre F6922 is significantly more accurate than the movement it is replacing, with an accuracy of -15 to +15 seconds per day. To prove this, you can test the watch at room temperature with the mainspring fully wound and the dial positioned up. It is recommended to run the test for at least one week to have more data to work with. On the other hand, the 46943 movement had a range of -30 to +30 seconds per day, which was simply too high. With the Ray II, you only need to manually sync your watch once a week or so instead of every couple of days.
Additionally, the Calibre 6922 has 40 hours of power reserve. To achieve this, one will have to wind the crown 30 times to fully wind the spring. This movement also includes hand-winding and hacking, which should be a staple in any modern automatic movement. You can rest assured that the quality of the movement is high because it’s made in-house at Orient Japan.
A common area where entry-level dive watches may compromise on to save on costs is the bracelet. Unfortunately, this is true of the Ray II as well. It originally comes with a stainless steel bracelet with a hollow end link and some rattle as well. The rattling effect comes from the empty spaces between parts of the bracelet and, compared to a sturdy bracelet, feels cheap and brittle. The hollow end links at 22mm don’t do anything to assuage that feeling.
With that said, the bracelet tapers down to a comfortable 20mm but there are still improvements it needs to make. The availability of NATO and rubber straps gives you some options thanks to its generic lug width. If you plan on wearing this watch everyday, then we recommend swapping out the original bracelet for a third party one. This easily “solves” the bracelet issue and puts the focus back on the positive aspects of the Ray II.
Dive watches are a luxury product, costing hundreds of dollars on the low-end and several thousand in the high-end. Even the so-called “budget” watches can be expensive, but some watches are exceptions to that rule. WIth the release of the Mako II and Ray II, Orient have shook up the market by providing a quality watch that can rival more expensive watches in terms of functionality, at roughly half the price (even if you add on the cost of a third-party bracelet).
Even between the similarly priced Mako II and Ray II, we feel that the Ray II stands out more due to its reliability. Despite being the cheaper of the two products, the Ray II continues to impress watch enthusiasts to this day. This is probably owing to its classic look and reliable movement that puts the Ray II on the radar of many watch lovers. So if you are on a tight budget and want to maximize your dollar, you should give the Ray II a try.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long will an Orient Ray II last?
There’s no denying that Orient creates quality watches that last a long time. Even if you put it through hell by wearing it everyday or use it while playing sports, the Ray II can withstand the abuse. It’s also a versatile watch given its sports watch design. You can use it while on a weekend trip but also during your 9-5. There shouldn’t be any concern whether it would look out of place or not no matter if you are in casual or formal attire.
Given its price point, you are understandably concerned whether the quality of its materials will have issues long-term. After all, it only has a mineral crystal and the bracelet isn’t the greatest. While the bracelet can be replaced, there’s not much that can be done about the mineral crystal. It will suffer some scratches over time that you can try to polish and buff out, but any deep scratches may require a full crystal replacement.
With great care, you can definitely make this watch last for years. Either way, for half the cost of the former king of budget dive watches, the Seiko SKX, and a fraction of the price of a Rolex Submariner, you are getting a long-lasting timepiece for the price.
Can the Orient Ray II be modded?
Watch collectors often mod their watches – not only the luxury ones but even more affordable watches can get great mods to further boost their value and appeal. With that said, the Seiko SKX is probably the king of watch mods. There are so many SKX parts on the market compared to other timepieces. The same cannot be said for the Orient Ray II.
If you are looking for a watch that you can mod the heck out of, the Seiko SKX is your best bet. The Ray II does not have many mods available due to its lower demand, so parts are scarce and not much modding can be done.
Orient Ray II: The Verdict
Step aside Seiko SKX, the Orient Ray II is the new king of budget dive watches. Orient has shook up the watch market by offering a quality product in the $100-$200 price range, where previously most offerings were from cheap Chinese knock-offs. Now, you can get a robust and reliable dive watch from a reputable Japanese watch manufacturer.
The Ray II has lots to like with its beautiful dial, luminous hands and markers, highly accurate in-house Calibre F6922 movement with hacking and hand-winding, as well as screw-down crown and case-back which provides up to 200m of water resistance. Its weak points are its bracelet and mineral crystal. The bracelet can be easily replaced by a better third-party one, however one should take great care not to crack the crystal.
You will be hard-pressed to find a better watch than the Ray II at this price point. It provides so much at such an affordable price. If you are a fan of modding, you may perhaps opt for the Seiko SKX which has similar functionality but at double the price.
Overall, the Ray II is a solid offering from Orient, and you should definitely consider getting it as your first dive watch or adding it into your collection. You should also consider checking out the Mako II, which is a similar product from Orient.