Watch Review: The Orient Sun & Moon Automatic

Watch Review: The Orient Sun & Moon Automatic

When it comes to the world of watches, there are really two different realms. There are automatic/mechanical watches, and then there is everything else. Yes, sure, there can be some super well-made, and very nice Quartz battery-powered watches. But nothing will ever come close to the engineering and precision of automatic watches, and the knowledge that the little thing on your wrist is powering itself through a series of intricate and tiny gears. A nice, automatic watch… well, there is just nothing else quite like it.

That being said, many automatic watches are quite pricey. The cheapest automatics are (with only one or two exceptions) at least $100, and the price can quickly go up from there. Known amongst watch lovers is a company called Orient, though, which delivers some of the absolute best value when it comes to affordable automatic watches. They do all their movements in house (as opposed to merely designing their watches and buying and using an automatic movement from, say, Seiko, which many “affordable” automatic watch companies do), and they have a real history and heritage behind their brand name. It’s a serious watch company that carries with it many years of respect. From Orient, you can buy a super nice, automatic dive watch, for instance, for somewhere between $100 and $200. And what you’re getting for your money with an Orient watch is virtually unbeatable in its price range. Nothing else, really, comes close. 

The Background

But while Orient is famous for its affordable dive watches, they have some truly wonderful dress watch options as well. There is the Orient Bambino, for one. It’s likely the most famous of their dress watch options. But then there is this absolute beauty: the Orient Sun and Moon ($250). If you, like me, have always loved moon phase watches, you’ll probably also be aware that purchasing one for less than hundreds, if not thousands of dollars is next to impossible. Especially if you want it to be automatic. The reason is that every complication you add to a dial makes a watch infinitely more, well, complicated. And, with complication, comes added cost. Which is why the Orient Sun and Moon is such an incredible, mind-blowing watch. It offers a fully automatic movement, with not one, not two, but three complications. And one of them is a sun and moon. Now, no, it’s not quite a moon phase (which shows you the phase of the moon in the month), but it truly is the next best thing. The sun rotates throughout the day, slowly transitioning into the moon by nighttime. (If you like to see some movement on your watch face throughout the day, it might actually be more desirable to you than a moon phase, which changes only subtle day over day.)

To put it quite simply: at this price, an automatic watch with this sort of functionality is simply unheard of, full stop. The value here is tremendous. Let’s get into a little bit more about what makes this watch so great.

The Design

For one thing, it comes in a bunch of beautiful color ways. There is a black face with a silver case and white numerals, on a black leather strap. There is the same thing, but in a wonderful blue. Then there is a classic white dial, with a silver case, and black strap. And, finally, there is the model that I received recently as a gift from my lovely wife: the white dial with a rose gold case and brown leather band. And my gosh is this thing good-looking. The rose gold just screams class, and the off-white, almost cream-colored dial only adds to that aura. Plus, the attention to detail on this watch face is striking. There are at least three different textures to this dial, with an outer ring, inner circle, and inner complication all being textured differently. You can a date window which very uniquely shows the previous and coming date as well. You get a day of the week dial, in which Sunday is red. And, finally, that coveted Sun and Moon dial, which has two lugs on either side. Finally, of course, there is the Orient Automatic logo on the bottom of the watch face. The hands are perfect, and reminiscent of a grandfather clock. The thin seconds hand perfects the dial. The roman numerals are perfectly done, and the dots around the outer rim are a perfect final touch. In short, there is not a single negative thing I have to say about the design of this watch. Oh, and did I mention it has an exhibition case back? Because it does. And it’s awesome. It’s dripping in classy perfection from top to bottom. For this sort of watch, at this price point, it is perfect execution by Orient.

The Details

Let’s get technical: This watch has a power reserve of almost 40 hours, so, a bit less than two days once you take it off and put it away before it will need to be reset again. The crystal is sapphire, so very resistant to scratching or cracking. The movement is Orient’s own Caliber 46B40. Finally, it’s not very water resistant (typical of a dress watch) at only 50m.

The Not So Good

Now, this watch isn’t without some slight flaws. But they are slight. One, the watch is pretty hefty. It’s face is 42.5mm and it’s just over 14mm thick. I will say that it wears a lot smaller than this, as it’s sleek and tapered, but it’s definitely a heftier watch due to everything it’s doing on the inside. The number one reason this watch would look clunky though is also my number one complaint about it: the strap. It’s total crap. It comes with a deployment clasp strap which I find annoying and clunky and not at all worth the trouble. Worse, the leather is not exactly quality stuff. Now, when it comes to a strap on a watch like this, I don’t care that it’s not so great. I expected all the cost to go into the watch itself. If it came with a premium leather strap at this price point I would be worried. Instead, I just popped the strap off and swapped it out, for just about $25, with one from Holben’s. You’re looking for anything that is 22mm and has a rose gold clasp (the metal of your clasp should match the metal of your watch face).

Value & Conclusion

So, in summary, the watch itself: 10/10, and an A+. Once you swap out the lackluster strap for something more reasonable, it wears much smaller and sleeker, and is a killer accessory to any suited outfit. Seriously. You will get endless compliments on this thing. It’s amazing. Orient has also released an updated version of the Sun and Moon for a bit more money with a slightly improved movement and a new face design, but I always preferred the complication placement on the older one. In summary, the Orient Sun and Moon V2 $250 would be a value at double or triple the price. At the price Orient sells it for, it’s a miracle and a steal. It’s my favorite watch in my collection now, and I expect it to stay that way for some time. If you’ve ever considered this watch before, buy it. You’ll love it.

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