Review of Orient ‘Aviator’ Automatic

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Model # EM7A001D
Brand/Model:  Orient Aviator
Movement:  Japanese Automatic
Material:  stainless steel case and bracelet
Complications:  day/date display
Price:  MSRP $275 USD
Plenty of photos follow the review.  Click on the pictures to enlarge.
Orient introduced this so-called ‘Aviator’ model late in the summer of 2010.  For some reason, it didn’t catch my eye until about two months ago when this model started popping up in various people’s collections.  Orient makes five different models of this military-inspired watch (to paraphrase Orient’s words), in black dial on stainless or leather, full luminous dial on stainless or leather and dark blue dial on stainless.  The dark blue dial is the color I chose. 
While not really a true ‘Aviator’ style primarily due to the presence of a rotating bezel, one should look at this watch as more of an aviator-cum-diver and in this frame of mind, the watch works quite well.  The leather strap versions do feature a strap that has bold contrast stitching, so at least they’re trying to replicate an aviator feel there, albeit without any rivets.
What appealed to me about this watch was its overall clean, purposeful design, one that is devoid of extraneous gee-gaws, such as a wide-angle date window, overly styled Arabics or markers, goofy looking hands or other distracting design elements that seem increasingly common in many watch designs these days.  This Orient speaks in a serious, no-nonsense tone, and I can appreciate that.
The all stainless steel case is brushed on the sides and top, with only the ends of the lug tips being polished.  The case measures 43mm without the screwdown crown; 46mm crown inclusive.  Please keep this fact in mind, although this watch measures 43mm, which for some, is ‘too big’, it does not wear large!
The crown itself measures 5.9mm in diameter, which is a tad small in relation to the case.  The crown screws down and is unsigned.  Lug width is 22mm, case thickness is 12.3mm.  The caseback is polished and screws down.  The watch is factory rated for 100 meters of water resistance.  Overall, the watch has a good heft to it, although the bracelet, while of good quality, seems a bit rattle prone to me.
For quite a while, I was not a big fan of watches that feature a dial full of Arabic numbers.  For some reason, I found them distracting or too simplistic.  But my tastes have changed somewhat and I find myself able to tolerate and even enjoy a fully Arabic numeralled dial, such as on this Orient Aviator.  All the Arabics, save for the 12, 6 and 9, are of equal size, and while the aforementioned digits are larger than the rest, they are not clownishly enlarged nor do they scream at you reminding you of their position at each quarter hour.
The dial is an absolutely beautiful shade of matte navy blue, deep and dark.  It is one of the nicest blue dials I have ever seen on a watch.  A small ‘Orient’ logo in silver and red is applied under the ‘12’ Arabic with ‘Automatic’ in cursive script below the logo.  Just above the ‘6’ Arabic are the words ‘Water Resist’ in cursive and below this, ‘100M’.  Relatively subtle and not overpowering, just the right amount of wording and nicely subdued in terms of font size and font style. 
The hands may seem a bit smallish in relation to the dial and this was one reservation I had going into this purchase.  The hands are flieger style and admittedly are a bit small, but not overly so and I have found them to not be a distraction.  Outlined in gloss black with white inset lume, they work well.  The seconds hand is plain white with a lumed arrow-style tip.  I also like how the center of all the hands, where they attach to their respective pinions, are finished in black, which blends everything in and gives a cleaner look to the dial.
The Arabics on this watch really stand out and are colored a yellow-green, being screen printed onto the dial.  I know some will find this color rather off-putting and I usually don’t relish overtly greenish lume on a watch, but the tinge of yellow mellows these Arabics and the color combo actually goes well with the deep blue dial, so I like the look.  Again, a caution, as others may not like this color differential and may suffer convulsive fits, dry heaves and patchy red spots on their hands and arms when viewing said lumed Arabics.
Another note on the lume.  The hand set is white lume, the Arabics are yellow-green.  This color difference may bother some WISes.  But please note, when the lume is charged and viewed in the dark, it is nearly all the same color, with the hands being a bit brighter/whiter than the Arabics (see photo).  And the quality of the lume, in both its brightness and longevity, I am proud to announce, is superb.
A day/date display window is featured at the three o’clock position and is outlined in white, and I’m glad Orient chose to put a divider between the day and date, as I feel this gives any watch a more upscale and finished appearance.
The date is quickset, set at the first crown position in the standard quickset manner.  Instead of putting their usual (and often times annoying) pushbutton to change the day on this watch, Orient decided to save a few bucks (but enhance the appearance of this watch) by having the day be non-quickset.  You have to cycle the watch through the 9 p.m/2 a.m. and back again sequence to change the day.  This doesn’t bother me too much, but at $275 MSRP and in the year 2011, this is basically unacceptable in a mainstream, brand-name watch.
Another note on setting the day…the day is bilingual (English/Spanish) and my watch arrived displaying Spanish.  The instructions do not detail how to get the day to display in English, which can be a problem with a non-quickset mechanism.  I wonder how many non-WISes get this watch and muck something up trying to change the language.  After consultation with other Orient Aviator owners and my own WIS intuitiveness, I successfully managed to change the language to English.
What one does is to cycle the watch past midnight until the day is evenly and fully displayed in the desired language, in my case, it was English.  Then you back up the hands to before 9 p.m. and then forward them all the way past 2 a.m. and into the next day, and if you’re cautious like me about these sorts of things, all the way past midnight of the next day to assure that English will continue to be displayed.  This sequence apparently resets the action on the day wheel to display the desired language.  I’m just glad it worked and nothing got damaged in the process.
Day alignment in the window is fine, the date could be aligned a bit better, as it rides just a bit high, but not to such a degree as to be distracting.
The crystal is flat mineral and fits perfectly flush with the 60-click rotating unidirectional bezel.  The bezel has engraved numbers and markers which are infilled with black paint.  The bezel top is brushed, the sides are polished.  Bezel action is smooth and only has a bit of play.  It would be nice to have a 120-click bezel, but at least this one aligns well at the ‘12’ mark.  The bezel also has a bit of scalloping or indents between each five minute mark, for easy operation and a touch of style.
Inside this Orient Aviator is found Orient’s in-house caliber EM 46943 21-jewel automatic movement, that in typical Orient fashion, does not hack or manual wind.  Specs are 21,600 bph, shock resistance, 40+ hours of power reserve and running accuracy of +25/-15 seconds per day.  Inside my watch atelier, accuracy has been well within specification and I achieved a fine 46 hour power reserve on a full wind/shake.
The bracelet is solid link stainless steel, Oyster style three link with standard split-pin securance.  End links are folded.  The clasp is signed, double locking pushbutton with a polished stamped steel deployant.  The entire bracelet and clasp are brushed finish and complement the rest of the watch perfectly.  The bracelet measures 22mm at the lugs and tapers to 19.8mm at the clasp. 
And here goes, as regular readers are expecting, I prefer a machined deployant on any watch bracelet and if Orient can put a beautiful machined deployant on their ‘Dolphin’ model, which has an approximate retail price same as the Aviator, why can’t they do the same to the Aviator?
Overall fit and finish on this Orient Aviator is very good, save for the slight rattle in the bracelet I mentioned earlier.  The crystal is free of distortion, placed into the case perfectly flush, the bezel feel and action is completely acceptable and the dial and hands, under an 8X loupe examination, showed no defects or obvious flaws.  It’s also nice to see Orient’s lume quality continue to improve!
Comfort while wearing this watch is just right, not too heavy, it hugs the wrist well and doesn’t pinch anywhere.
Presentation is standard Orient, with a plain white cardboard outer box, and silver/black inner box with hang tag and instructions. 
I also wanted to bring up my positive experience with Orient USA, where this watch was ordered from.  There are many less-than-perfect customer service or order experiences people have had  concerning Orient USA.  I have experienced problems myself in the past.  But I am very pleased to say that with the order and delivery of this Orient Aviator, my experience was perfect.
I ordered this watch late on a Friday afternoon; less than two hours later, I received shipping confirmation complete with tracking information.  My watch was delivered on time, in perfect condition, correct model number, and all the ‘free’ items, including their now infamous ‘surprise’ watch, were included in the box.  So kudos to Orient USA for getting my Aviator to me as they should.  I can only hope this marks the start of an improved experience for everyone who orders direct from Orient USA.
List price on the Orient Aviator is $275 USD on stainless bracelet, $260 USD on leather.  Street prices for the watch on stainless is around $200 USD.  Catch it on sale at Orient at more than their usual 30-percent discount and the watch is a solid value.
Overall, the Orient Aviator has broad appeal for fans of diver watches, fans of military or pilot-style timepieces or for anyone who can appreciate Orient’s blend of reliability, value and unique looks.  They could easily expand this line with a range of dial colors, different leather straps or even a black PVD or IP finish.  Whether they will remains to be seen, but anyone who purchases this model will be rewarded with a great looking automatic watch that gets the job done, while exuding a clean, easy-to-read appearance.
Pros:  no-nonsense design, beautiful deep blue dial, Orient automatic reliability and quality, nice bright lume
Cons:  non-quickset day screams of cost-cutting, different color lume on dial and hands could bother some, where’s the machined deployant?
Verdict:  a strong value when bought right, good looks and performance in a hybrid diver/aviator design, Orient scores a nice hit with this one and is a good example why Orient has many aficionados amongst the WIS elite
Thanks for reading and enjoy the pics.
Excelsior!
-Marc

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