The Orient Pro Saturation Diver
A blast from the past: the impressive professional Diver's Watch from Orient
Some years ago I was looking for my 40th birthday's gift. For such an occasion you'd expect to spend a lot of money, for if you're in search of a 100% in-house made timepiece with no technical complications, you might decide to spend at least 5000€ and the choice is restricted among a small bunch of brands, to those very few who manufacture every tiny component, even the balance springs, in their own workshops. Such brands are just a handful.
Is it possible to buy a high end mechanical watch without spending a fortune? It is, but you need to look carefully: they might sometimes be unknown niche brands that are, however, seldom equipped with a manufactured movement, or else they are made in-house but are unknown to the general public in Italy, or feature a product portfolio whose models are sometimes hard to find here. Two examples are the Seiko Prospex Green Sumo 50th Anniversary SPB031 or the Seiko Prospex Silver Sumo Limited Edition SPB029, or the Orient Star WZ0031DD Subaru 360 55th Anniversary if you're looking for an Orient watch. In this case I suggest to not just surf the Italian website of a chosen brand, but all the single markets' websites, where you might easily discover amazing products, as it is often the case with Japanese brands.
I was looking for a diver's watch, I more or less know all models available on the market, I then decided to search for “Diver's watch” on YouTube and of course a whole universe appeared on screen at that time. I knew that if I had to buy a fully in-house made high end timepiece at a good price, I had to go for a Japanese watch. Orient, that features a long standing history in mechanical watchmaking, in 2006 launched a diver's watch a few people are aware of and this model, believe me, deserves all the attention of a true watch enthusiast.
It is the Orient Pro Saturation Diver SEL02002B0 and it is one of the most renowned diver's watches among enthusiasts, as you will discover by just reading their comments on watch fora. After having seen it in pictures and having watched a couple of video reviews, where its features and finishing touches were clearly described, I decided to buy one online from Japan (I realized only later that I could have also bought it from Italy).
The Orient Pro Saturation Diver is a professional diver's watch compliant to the ISO 6425 certification, that is quite common among Japanese diver's watches. If you read people's comments on the web, its notoriety is second just to that of its cousin, the Seiko Marine Master 300, a true legend in its own category, if you ask any professional diver, especially overseas. What makes this timepiece so special? Launched in 2006, some years ago it has been upgraded to the final version you see in these pictures: a unidirectional 120 notch bezel, a mechanical movement with a "hacking seconds" device and a manual wind system with power reserve display on the dial.
The Orient Pro Saturation Diver looks like a stainless steel monolith, boasting a 45,4mm wide case (not crafted in one piece as it is with the Marine Master) and a thickness of almost 17mm (16,6mm), featuring a sturdy engineering and a classic design: it is extremely robust and so finely sealed that it does not need any additional Helium escape valve on its case (it is water resistant up to 300m). Moreover it has such nice finishes, that you end up with something much more expensive than you'd have expected: the case is brushed at the top and on the lugs, and is finely polished on the “carrure” and the case back.
The rotating bezel is spot on and truly is one of the pluses on any sports watch produced by the Seiko Group: whether you're buying a Seiko Sumo, this particular Orient, a Marine Master or a Grand Seiko Diver, you'll find a 120 notch bezel that is firm while idling, that features a precise micrometric twitch, a smooth resistance while notching, no vibration at all and an unparalleled sounding. Try it once, and you will feel as if anything else on the market comes from the Stone Age. The graduated scale on the bezel is unique too, as the scaling is somewhat embossed on the black insert that looks like a ceramic bezel at first sight, while it is simply made of aluminum. The dial is black, with luminous applied indexes that immediately glow green as soon as you move it out of the light. In the dark, the dial turns an astonishing luminous green. The glass that protects it is a 5mm thick sapphire crystal.
It comes with a matching stainless steel bracelet featuring an adjustable folding clasp and a security locking system, as well as a replacement rubber strap and a tool to change it, something I recommend you do as, unless you're going to use it during an immersion wrapped on top of your diver's suit, it is hard to wear it every day because of its remarkable weight. Such excellent engineering in fact, has the disadvantage of a weight that is around 220g, making it the heaviest timepiece I've ever had.
I would recommend the use of the replacement rubber strap, that is easy to change since you can insert the tool inside the lugs’ holes without scratching the polished case. By fitting this, the watch becomes pretty comfortable but remains, however, a sports watch; if you are therefore thinking of wearing it as an everyday watch, I suggest you go for a NATO strap, bearing in mind that the gap between the lugs is 22mm. It adopts caliber 40N5A, which has the Hack Seconds function (the seconds hand stops by extracting the crown out of the case) and may be manually wound up to its 40hr power reserve, which you may read into a small sector placed close to 12 o'clock. It has a 3Hz balance wheel. It does look massive on the wrist and the NATO strap, that has virtually no thickness, enhances the case’s sturdiness. Even if its design resembles that of many famous timepieces (I have heard several people refer to it as “the Japanese DeepSea”), a trained eye will notice that the design of the dial, of the hands, as well as the crown being placed at 4, are all a Japanese diver's watch's hallmark, and this makes it quite unique. The crown also deserves to be mentioned, as it is polished like the “carrure” and it has the Orient logo delicately embossed on it.
The Orient Pro Saturation Diver has been a nice surprise (and it is still very appreciated after years of ownership), even more unexpected if I consider how much I paid for it. In the US it retails for around 2100$, quite proportioned to its qualities (even relatively cheap if compared to the competition), but it may be easily found at 1200$-1500$ at online authorized retailers. The price in Japan is even more accessible but, if you're in Italy, please take custom clearance into account, as the cost can be quite substantial. You may even find it at some Italian retailers for the very competitive price of 1000€ or less, which is quite cheap if you think of its finishing touches and the quality of its design. There's nothing out there that best fits the nickname “Tool Watch”, made for a professional use, which is its ultimate purpose. The throwback is that such robustness makes it a bit demanding to wear it as an everyday watch, because of its weight. However if you're looking for the ultimate diver's watch, with the highest quality at a competitive price, this is the best choice.
For further information please visit the official Orient website.
(Photo credit: Horbiter®'s proprietary photo-shooting)
Gaetano C. @Horbiter®