Review of Orient 300M Pro Saturation Diver

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Model # CFD0C001B/EL02001B

Brand/Model:  Orient 300M Pro Saturation Diver
Movement:  Japanese automatic
Material:  stainless steel case and bracelet, included rubber dive strap
Complications:  date display, power reserve meter
Price:  MSRP:  $2,150 USD; Street Price:  $1,505 USD




Plenty of photos follow the review.  Click on the pictures to enlarge.
  
In the world of watches, nothing can ignite debate like asking the question, which dive watch is better, a Seiko Marine Master or an Orient 300M Pro Saturation Diver?  It’s like the eternal question, which castaway would you rather go out with, Ginger or MaryAnn?  Or at the grocery store, paper or plastic?  The list could go on and on.  


I’ll squelch the debate about the dive watches right away, so we can concentrate on the review at hand.  The Orient 300M Pro Saturation Diver beats the Seiko Marine Master hands down.  This is not meant to be a comparison review, as I don’t own or haven’t owned a Marine Master, but I have handled and inspected a couple at various watch meets, so my opinions are grounded in reality.
The Orient 300M Pro Saturation Diver debuted about five years ago and was marketed as both an Orient and Orient Star, depending on which region of the world you lived in.  The watches were identical, except for the name.  The Pro Saturation came in yellow, orange and black dials, with I believe a two-tone black dialed model as well, if my memory serves me correctly.
The current lineup (at least in the U.S.) is a black dial and orange dial, with both branded as an Orient.  The prices have gone up considerably as of late, but with Orient USA’s standard 30-percent discount, this watch can be had for $1,505 USD brand new, and often can be purchased used in the $800 USD range.  The cheapest I’ve seen a Marine Master would be $1,200 to $1,500 USD used and new, the price is the same or more than the Orient’s MSRP, up to nearly $2,600 USD.  So just on price, the Orient wins the race.
During the past year or so, Orient has upgraded the Pro Saturation Diver with three useful and wanted features.  The bezel is now a 120-click variety, but most importantly, the movement can now be handwound and hacked thanks to the new Caliber 40N5A movement.  Hurrah!
What makes the Pro Saturation Diver unique is that it is designed for mixed-gas diving but does not have a helium escape valve, because the case has been designed to prevent any build up of helium without the need for an external valve according to Orient.
The Pro Saturation Diver starts with a stainless steel case with beautifully polished sides and brushed lug tops.  The case is substantial, measuring 45.4mm without the large signed screwdown crown.  With the crown, the case diameter is 50.4mm, with the crown itself coming in at 6.8mm with suitably sized crown guards protecting it.  The Orient ‘O’ logo is etched on the end of the crown, with the crown having full flutes, although they are not especially deep.  Due to the size of the crown, it is easy to screw/unscrew and use to set the watch.  The screwdown action could be a bit smoother, with about three turns to lock.
Case thickness is hefty, at 16.9mm.  Lug width is 22mm.  The lugs are also drilled, which makes strap changes easier.  The caseback is polished and heavily embossed with the Orient logo, which looks very cool.  This watch has definite wrist presence and is not for the faint of heart!
The watch is factory rated for 300 meters of water resistance.
The flat sapphire crystal is anti-reflective coated and is almost 5mm thick per Orient’s web site.   The crystal has a slight beveled edge and fits flush with the bezel.  The bezel is a beauty, as previously stated, it’s a 120-click unidirectional style, with a super slick anodized aluminum insert with nicely painted inset numbers and markers.  The bezel resembles a ceramic style and has a super smooth viscous fluid-type action with no backlash.  Superb!  A lume pip is inset on the bezel at 12, but the inset painted bezel arabics and markers are not luminous.
The Pro Saturation Diver has mild detailing on the dial.  The black color is a deep, pure black, but not glossy, I would call it semi-matte.  The large lumed markers are applied and the silver toned hands have ample amounts of lume on them.  Needless to say, the quality of the lume is excellent and shows how far Orient has come in this regard.
The quickset date window is located at the 9 position, directly across from the standard 3 position you normally see a date display at.  The date wheel is black on white and could align better within the fairly small date window.  It would be better to have a white on black date wheel (would look much cooler against the black dial), a larger window and proper date wheel alignment, especially at this price point.
The power reserve meter takes up the upper right quadrant on the dial and is slightly recessed, with a simple silver pointer showing how much power reserve the watch has, calibrated in hours.  The meter goes from 0 to 40 hours and is accurate.  I’ve always liked power reserve meters on watches and this is one complication that Orient seems to specialize in, as many of their models have this feature. 
Above the 6 marker is the Orient logo, the words ‘Orient’, ‘automatic’ and ‘300M’ (in red).  Tasteful and not overdone.
The new 40N5A movement hacks and manually winds and turned in a fine 46.75 hour power reserve in my testing.  Orient specs on this movement are 22 jewels, with the movement beating at 21,600 vph.  Accuracy has been +15/24 hours, which is acceptable, but I wish it was tighter.  Orient specs are +25/-15 seconds per day, so it is definitely performing within the stated range.
Orient also claims to install a heavier rotor in these models, to assure winding when under water.  Second hand sweep isn’t the smoothest, but I’ve seen worse.
Many owners of the original Pro Saturation Divers without the hack/handwind movement reported chronometer spec time keeping. 
Marine Master fans will say loudly that the Seiko 8L35 (26 jewels/+15/-10 seconds per day stated spec) automatic movement in the Marine Master is better and I will concede that it is a finer caliber, but not so much so to command a $500 to $1,000 USD price premium.
The Pro Saturation Diver comes with a very nice stainless steel solid link bracelet with solid end links and a ‘glide-lock’ adjustable deployant clasp.  The bracelet has three links across and is brushed and polished.  The clasp is signed, with a pushbutton release and a double lock safety clasp.  The glide lock portion is heavy stamped stainless steel.  A push-pin mechanism next to the flip lock on the clasp activates the glide lock and allows the clasp to extend for fitment around a diving suit.  Fully extended, the glide lock allows almost 31mm of extra length to the bracelet. 
I sized the bracelet (with those damned Seiko style collars that are located on the ends of the pins instead of in the middle of the pins like most watches that use a pin and collar system) and found the glide lock clasp to be too long for my thinner wrist.  The clasp, while curved, measures about 47mm straight across compared to a more standard clasp measurement of 42-43mm.  This extra length caused the clasp to jut out too far from the bottom of my wrist and made the watch too floppy while wearing it. 
Since I’m not a fan of rubber straps, I didn’t install the included rubber dive strap (nice quality, signed Orient).  I purchased an aftemarket Morellato black leather strap that has been treated to have the feel of a rubber strap on the outside.  This aftermarket strap has met my needs and is the strap that is shown in the photos.
I wish the stainless bracelet would have worked for me, but please, Orient, get rid of those collars and pins and either use screws, standard split pins or a pin with the collar in the center link.  I’m sure the bracelet would work well with those of a thicker wrist and the quality of the bracelet is fine, and better than the wider linked bracelet on the Marine Master.
Presentation is in keeping with a diver/tool watch, large inner and outer black boxes with the watch, included rubber strap and strap change tool (quite nicely done in aluminum) all inside.
In my opinion, the Orient 300M Pro Saturation Diver is a true tool watch and a superb piece of work.  It beats the Seiko Marine Master handily, because it has a sapphire crystal vs. a Hardlex mineral crystal, costs substantially less, has a power reserve function and a much nicer bezel.
The watches are equal in terms of water resistance, bracelet/clasp features and quality, fit and finish and lume brightness.
The only place where the Seiko outshines the Orient is the movement, but the movements in both watches hack and handwind and are very comparable in specs, so this is somewhat debatable.
At the end of the day, the Orient 300M Pro Saturation Diver is hard to beat.  It’s a watch for the ages.  An outstanding piece!
Pros:  great all-around feature set, new hack/handwind movement increases functionality, superb looking bezel, unique case design 

Cons:  pin/collar system on bracelet has got to go, bracelet glide lock mechanism too bulky for some, date window too small, date wheel alignment should be better

Verdict:  the Orient 300M Pro Saturation Diver is better than the Seiko Marine Master and at a considerable cost savings.  If you want a beefy, cool, quality Japanese dive watch that won’t break the bank but will do everything you ask of it, this is the watch for you.

Thanks for reading and enjoy the pictures.

Excelsior!

-Marc


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