Orient Bambino Review

by Chris Thorne 7

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5.0

A superb, versatile, in house Japanese automatic watch at an affordable price.

Our Rating:

Orient Bambino V2 (ER200BW) Review – A different way of thinking

Orient, a branch of Seiko, are a Japanese brand well known for their incredible value, quality control and in-house movements. And yes… when I say “in-house”, I mean in-house.

The Bambino is without a doubt one of the most well-known models produced by Orient and is the “go to” recommendation used by many enthusiasts when suggesting budget dress watch options which explains why we are now in our third generation of the Bambino (though previous generations, to my knowledge, are still in production). This particular review is based upon the second generation ER200BW which features the lighter off-white dial and rose gold coloured hands that comes on a deep chocolate strap. If you do a quick search or ask on any watch forum you will, without a doubt, be swimming in reviews about this watch.

They will all explain the value for money, the vintage aesthetics and state the very popular opinion that this is one of the best dress watches for around $100. So, after covering the usual points I’m going to tell you why this watch remains in my collection… and it’s not a reason commonly mentioned.

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First things first – the face. We are called TheWatchFace after all! The dial looks big, sizing is something I would usually and still will discuss in regards to the case but in regards to the dial alone it seems larger than you would expect, but that’s more of an observation rather than a criticism.

In terms of colour, this dial is definitely not white but it’s near enough to make you question your eyesight which is something that I absolutely love about this piece. This tone adds enough to ensure that it’s neither flat nor dull but yet isn’t a feature in itself, therefore complementing the hands and hour markers perfectly. Speaking of the hands and hour markers, the rose gold colour dauphine shape hands are the perfect length.

No short hands that were designed for another watch here! The hour markers used an adapted version of Romans, using a single baton (or 1) at 5, 7, 9 and 11 to ensure symmetry. This clever use of markers keeps the dial perfectly balanced while still retaining the drama that I feel comes with romans. The date window at 3 doesn’t seem out of place but doesn’t really add anything to the aesthetics of this watch, I feel overwhelmingly indifferent towards the date on this watch.

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Moving on to the case, measuring in at 40.5mm without the sizeable feature crown. As previously mentioned, this piece does look quite big for a 40.5mm watch – especially when you’re used to wearing sports watch that comes in at this size or smaller. This is mainly because the dial takes up so much of the watch, the piece isn’t actually that large at all.

Before I started thinking about writing this article I hadn’t worn the Bambino in a while, slowly convincing myself that I should sell it due to its size. However, as soon as I started giving it some well overdue wrist time again I quickly realised that it definitely isn’t too big.

Not at all! This piece measures in at 11.8mm thick which is already quite thin, factor in the height of the domed crystal and the bulged caseback which leased you with a side profile that looks and feels incredibly thin. The thickness, or should I say thinness, of this watch when combined with the relatively short lugs makes it very wearable for people of varying wrist sizes.

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In regards to finishing, Orient have really put a lot of effort in to this piece despite its modest price tag. The top of the case, bezel and underside are all highly polished while the sides have been lightly brushed which makes this watch appear so much more expensive than it truly is.

The crown is definitely grabs your attention as it used a kind of half diamond/half onion style, something that the first and third generations were not gifted with but a feature that I absolutely adore. Not only does it look great but it also makes the setting the time/date so much easier.

I was initially concerned that the prominent crown might dig into my hand as I’m wearing it but thanks to the slightly recessed case where the crown meets it is not an issue in the slightest.

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The previously mentioned domed crystal adds character to this piece in the bucket loads, dramatically increasing the vintage appeal to this watch and is undoubtedly worth the extra millimetres of thickness that it adds.

An amazing side effect of this addition is the distortion that comes with it, where this is usually seen as a drawback, in this case it makes the face appear curved. At least, I assume that the dial isn’t curved? It certainly looks it!

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The movement is Oreints own Caliber 48743 automatic movement, designed and developed entirely in house. Though I understand that this is a relatively simple time and date movement, it’s really impressive that Orient have built their own movement from scratch despite being under the Seiko umbrella and could probably have gotten away with using a Sekio movement to power their watches.

The Cal. 48743 beats at 21,600bph (the same as a Miyota 8215 but less than an ETA 2824) so the second hand sweeps smooth enough for most people though under close inspection can seem slightly jerkier than it’s more expensive rivals. I’ve had no reliability issues with my piece and is very accurate. Though Orient has a good reputation for building solid movements, this is the only Cal. 48743 that I have owned or tested.

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The strap on the Bambino is a dark chocolate, 21mm, thick leather two piece with lighter brown stitching that comes with an expensive to the touch Orient branded buckle. The strap is fine and you won’t have a problem with it, though it was a little hard to break in.

Some (mainly the vintage guys) would argue that the strap should taper more towards the end and personally I don’t understand why Orient chose 21mm when a 20mm would look just and provide more options for aftermarket straps which is something I’d definitely recommend doing at some point. On a personal level, if I used my Bambino as a dress watch I wouldn’t use the stock strap.

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“IF” I used my Bambino as a dress watch? Yeah, you read that right. I don’t. My Bambino is a tool watch… okay maybe not quite but it’s definitely not a dress watch! In case you haven’t already noticed, I wear mine on a grey NATO (20mm looks better than 22mm in my opinion) and it looks great.

Sure, it’s an amazing dress watch but the Bambino also has this quasi-military look, think Sea-Gull 1963 and it’s an aesthetic that I absolutely adore. The Bambino on a NATO perfectly fits my lifestyle, on a day to day basis I’m active but not adventurous and this Orient can handle everything that is required of it. I’m not going to dive in to a lake with it but it’s water resistant enough for you not to worry about.

The case is well built and is yet to show even a slight scratch after a year of ownership and it’s ridiculously comfortable on the wrist. What more could you want?

Strengths:

  • Versatile aesthetics
  • Subtly beautiful dial
  • Slightly vintage looking
  • Fantastic size
  • In-House movement
  • Affordable

Weakness:

  • Very average factory strap
  • May feel slightly big in some circumstances
  • Not very exclusive

To conclude, the Bambino V2 is a fantastic dress watch especially for the price. It’s slightly vintage aesthetics in a more contemporary but yet still usable sized case make this an easy recommendation for anyone who is looking for an entry level dress watch. It can be dressed up with a suit or dressed down with a NATO which, if you ask me, is how this watch should be worn.

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Comments (7)

  1. Awesome review! I have one myself. Had a hard time deciding which ver. to go with. Finally getting the v1 white dial er24005w. Hope I’ve made the right choice. Haha.

    1. Good luck! Hope you like it :)

  2. “An amazing side effect of this addition is the distortion that comes with it, where this is usually seen as a drawback, in this case it makes the face appear curved. At least, I assume that the dial isn’t curved?”

    The dial/face is “curved”. I have the first generation.

    1. I guess I should say the dial is doomed, just like the crystal.

  3. I should have started with this….

    Really enjoy your reviews, thanks for taking the time. Very informative!!!

    1. Thank you Joe!

  4. I’ve not seen a Bambino in real life but it remains one of the watches that I notice on Amazon or various other on line shops when browsing. It always gives the impression of being a well designed, well built timepiece and I’m always surprised at how affordable they are.

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