With a unique and robust design at an affordable price point, the Orion Watch Project is everything a microbrand should be.
Orion Watch Review
Nick Harris made a name for himself within horology by modding affordable Seiko’s. As well as your every day bezel, face & hand mods, Nick focused on hand engraved cases, which set him apart from the rest. Unfortunately for fans of his previous work (myself included), he’s moved on from modding and is currently putting himself through watch school. Fortunately for us though, in order to fund this he’s developed his very own micro-brand; Orion, and I had the pleasure of having one shipped across the Atlantic for a closer look.
I must admit, much like my former views towards Seiko, I never held micro-brands in particularly high regard. Of course that all changed once I got my hands on the Orion 1. I was genuinely shocked on opening the package that the watch box was indeed branded with Orion, a nice touch from such a humble manufacturer. Within the box lay the watch, along with business cards and operating instructions in the same format.
The first thing that really caught my eye was the sapphire crystal. I suspect it’s the same style Nick used for his mods as it has a beautiful blue antireflective coating. This genuinely deceived me into thinking the dial was much bluer than it actually is. Below this misleading dial sits a wonderfully clean dial. Applied batons adorn each hour, with 12, 3, 6 & 9 all triangular. All 12 are filled with lume, as do the Alpha hands, though not so generously.
As expected there is an outer minute track printed in white, but at each hour there is a subtle change in colour to blue. A very minor detail, but one that ties in beautifully with the inclusion of ‘100m/330ft’ (referring to the water resistance of the watch) in blue printed at 6o’clock. Immediately below this is ‘Automatic’, and at 12 you’ll find ‘Orion’, both printed in white. Undoubtedly the highlight of the dial is the white crosshair, lining up perfectly with the inverted triangles on the quarter hours.
Staying true to himself, Nick has decided to do his own thing and design a unique watch case, whereas most other micro-brands would go down the route of using a stock case. By doing this, he has not only given the Orion line it’s own identity, but it’s also allowed him to incorporate the watch’s most distinct and, in my opinion, best feature; the oversized crown. Coming in at around 9mm, it’s an absolute monster that makes using the screw down crown not only a breeze, but an utter joy.
The crown is signed, while the sides have been given a hearty grip. The crown is protected with guards that slope out of the side of the case and around to the lugs in one swift curve. The top of these lugs are brushed, whilst the sides and bezel are both highly polished. The lug to lug length comes in at a whopping 49mm, meaning the 38mm case will cater for the majority of wrists. Although this length is actually longer than what I would normally allow myself to wear, it’s very comfortable and isn’t overpowering on my wrist.
The lugs are also drilled, which is a feature I adore on watches and one I wish would appear on modern pieces more frequently. They are, however, slightly off centre if I’m nit picking. The stock strap is a black leather style with contrasting white stitching. The ends are fitted around the case which, although helps to detract from the lengths of the lugs, becomes a huge pain when trying to fit the strap back onto the watch. The strap itself isn’t the best quality I’ve come across, and I feel that perhaps in the future it may pay dividends to fit the watch with a steel bracelet as standard.
The case back is unsigned, something that doesn’t particularly bother me, nor would I expect, on a watch at this price point. Beneath this you’ll find the workhorse Seiko NH35 movement, which of course is hackable and allows handwinding. The overall thickness of the case is XXXX, which once again prevents it from coming across too small.
Overall, I’ve been blown away by the Orion, and it’s a watch I’m surprised to say I would consider owning, though I would prefer a 34mm version. It’s unique nature, along with the superb finishing and robustness gives it a personality I did not believe would be possible from such a small scale operation. There are of course things that could be improved on, but with this being the first of what I hope will be many from the Orion Watch Project, I can only commend Nick on what he has achieved.Please don't forget to share: