Impressions of Orient Saturation Diver EL02001B (OS300)

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Impressions of Orient Saturation Diver EL02001B (OS300)

Post by conjurer on 2012-09-13, 13:46

Growing up in Chicago in the 1960s, I used to watch Diver Dan on kid's daytime TV on WGN:



Diver Dan with a fake fish

I don't know if watching this silly kid's program got me interested in dive watches; indeed, I recall almost nothing from that program other than it got in the way of The Three Stooges shorts, which is what I really wanted to watch. But, at any rate, I like dive watches, and I finally stepped up to one of the Baddest Boys on the Block:



The Orient Sat-Diver, aka the OS300. While I really like Orients, and dive watches in general, a few things put me off the OS300--one was the size, because, well, it's really big. The main thing was the price, with an MSRP of around $2200 US. Street prices for this seem to be around $1300 (which is what I paid for it, from Watches88 in KL. Now, I'm not one to throw around money in this hobby, and $1300 is a lot of jack to me, especially on an Orient--this is, indeed, the second most I've spent on a watch, the most being on a Doxa 1000 Divingstar. Luckily, I like this watch. I like it a lot.

Most deep divers available out there carry far deeper ratings than the OS300, and most of them have some sort of helium-release valve. Supposedly what happens with sat divers is this: helium molecules get past the seals and invade the watch case, then they expand as pressure decreases and end up blowing the crystal out of the case--hence the HE release valve (I'd assume that unscrewing the crown would do the same thing, but I'm no diver.) The OS300, which is rated to a relatively modest depth of 300 meters, is designed to not let the helium in to begin with--much like the far more expensive Seiko Marine Master, which I suppose this Orient is based on. Even though the Orient isn't rated to 6500 meters, it's designed to be a working diver's tool watch that's useable for any sort of diving. Also, being Japanese, dive watch ratings tend to be rather conservative anyway.

There's no mistaking what the OS300 is designed to do, however; it's a big ole watch, no error:



It measures, 3-9, a tad over 45mm; lug to lug is 52mm. It's an astonishing 16.5mm thick, and the lug ends are 21.5mm. The superb bracelet tapers to 17.5mm at the clasp and is a relatively modest 3.5mm thick.

Taking a tour of the case, the crown is located, like every other Japanese diver in the world, at the four o'clock position, and is well covered by guards:



The crown itself is large, 6.7mm, and is simply a work of art in terms of the machining and finish; it take four twists to seat it down, and in doing so one feels very precise tooling in the threads--a little bit of downforce and rotation seats it perfectly. There's no wobble in the crown, either, and winding is smooth and without grit.

The bezel is a machined piece of steel, with the time indices milled out and filled with white paint. The edges of the bezel are also artfully milled and polished. It's easy to grasp but rather hard to turn. It's 120 click with almost no backspin. The indices line up perfectly with the minute and hour markers on the dial:



The case itself is well machined and finished--it's not quite as nicely done as it is on the Seiko Sumo (one of which I sold to get funds to buy the OS300) but it comes across as a bit more of a tool watch than a dress diver. The case is alternately brushed and polished, and the polishing, while it doesn't stand out too much, is very well done indeed. The crystal is a thick slab of sapphire, I've heard about 4-5mm thick, and has AR coating front and back (although I've already managed to get a scratch on the top AR coating. Whaaa.) Even the caseback is supercool:



Inside is the Orient inhouse caliber 40N5A, a 22 jewel automatic movement that both hacks and handwinds. It has a stated power reserve of 40 hours, although I think that might be understating it. Accuracy is very good, too; on the wrist for 16-17 hours the movement gains two or three seconds; off the wrist, dial up on my nightstand, it loses a couple of seconds. Having read of other collector's experience with this watch, both with the new and old non-hacking-non-handwinding movements and their superb accuracy, I'd guess that Orient carefully regulates these watches before shipping them. Unfortunately, like other Orient movements, this one gets a little goofy when the power reserve drops below about 20 hours--it seems to slow down quite a bit, perhaps losing 10 seconds or so if allowed to sit for 20-30 hours dial up.

The dial on the OS300 is simple and elegant at the same time. The hour markers and hands are filled to brimming with lume--I suppose Seiko Lumabrite, but I don't know this for a fact. The printing of the logo and such is very good:



And the iconic Orient PR indicator, while easily readable, doesn't stand out like it does on the OS-GMT:



The lume does a great job; it burns like hell, and is even better than it is on the Seiko Monster, the gold standard for lumatics:



It lasts all night, and easily passes the Conjurer-quick-glance-in-a-dark-car test.

Now, I don't normally like big-a$$ watches, especially thick big-a$$ watches. I owned an Ocean 7 that was like a hockey puck on the wrist, and while the OS300 is big and thick--no jokes, please--it actually sits on the wrist pretty well:





Much of this has to do with the bracelet, which is very fine indeed:



It looks like a multilink bracelet like you find on a lot of Orient Stars, and while it may well be, it's actually a three-piece that's cleverly made to look like more. The important thing is that it's designed and engineered to hold the massive case close to the top of the wrist. It feels like high-quality, which wasn't the case with the Doxa Divingstar, which felt, in comparison, a little cheap. The bracelet is sized with the standard Japanese pin-and-collar system that's a PITA but works well here. The clasp is the real star:



With its racheting sleeve. While on the wrist, it can be release with simple backforce on the clasp safety, thus allowing for a wetsuit or simple weight-gain from an overeating of pasta--this is why I like it, BTW, since I'm unlikely to ever get into a wetsuit:





To adjust it tighter, it rachets back into the sleeve, just like handcuffs--indeed, it would be a perfect watch for Invicta's Michael Davis, bringing back fond memories of his youth.

So, what have we got here? Thirteen hundred bones is a lot of money, and is the OS300 worth it?

Well, yes. I think it is. What we get is a real dive watch, with an inhouse manufacture movement, an inhouse case and bracelet (I believe the clasp is, however, Seiko--which owns a controlling interest in Orient--as it looks exactly the same as the MM.) The OS300 exhudes quality and, in its own toolish way, elegance. It feels good on the wrist (although you'll never forget you've got it on.) It keeps superb time. Compare this to a high-quality Swiss diver that's pretty much all made in house and laugh at the price difference. My cat Smokey even likes it, and he doesn't like nothing:



If you want a real dive watch and have the jack, try this one out. It's a total winner.

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Re: Impressions of Orient Saturation Diver EL02001B (OS300)

Post by mrneddles on 2012-09-13, 14:02

Goddamn good read and sharp watch. I wonder about the longevity in your collection given its size.

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Re: Impressions of Orient Saturation Diver EL02001B (OS300)

Post by Ocean on 2012-09-13, 14:17

Great review Conjurer. This is actually a review I have been waiting to see since you first talked about getting this watch. Wish you had a Seiko MM300 to compare it to, as I think they are in the same ball park.

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Re: Impressions of Orient Saturation Diver EL02001B (OS300)

Post by conjurer on 2012-09-13, 14:20

mrneddles wrote:Goddamn good read and sharp watch. I wonder about the longevity in your collection given its size.

Thanks, Doc! I've had if for over a month now, and I've never let it run down since I keep wearing it. Granted, I'm not one to keep anything until I die, but it's a keeper for now.
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Re: Impressions of Orient Saturation Diver EL02001B (OS300)

Post by conjurer on 2012-09-13, 14:21

Ocean wrote:Great review Conjurer. This is actually a review I have been waiting to see since you first talked about getting this watch. Wish you had a Seiko MM300 to compare it to, as I think they are in the same ball park.

Thanks, O! I wish I had an MM too, but this is about my price limit. I think jason recliner over at Lords has both, and would be happy to compare them for you.
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Re: Impressions of Orient Saturation Diver EL02001B (OS300)

Post by AJC on 2012-09-13, 16:57

good show chap

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Re: Impressions of Orient Saturation Diver EL02001B (OS300)

Post by conjurer on 2012-09-13, 17:15

AJC wrote:good show chap

Thanks, homes!
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Re: Impressions of Orient Saturation Diver EL02001B (OS300)

Post by Mortuus on 2012-09-13, 23:30

I gotta tell you, Conj, your reviews are so excellent that I can't even bring myself to be jealous of them. As usual, a perfect mix of humor, excellent writing and, of course, an awesome watch. Unfortunately, we didn't have Diver Dan in Smell-A, but we did have Sheriff John and his [semi-]famous 'Put Another Candle on my Birthday Cake (I'm Another Year Old To-Day)' tune...no wonder us baby-boomer 'Angeleno's are soooo skrewed-up... Shocked

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Re: Impressions of Orient Saturation Diver EL02001B (OS300)

Post by conjurer on 2012-09-14, 01:04

Mortuus wrote:I gotta tell you, Conj, your reviews are so excellent that I can't even bring myself to be jealous of them. As usual, a perfect mix of humor, excellent writing and, of course, an awesome watch. Unfortunately, we didn't have Diver Dan in Smell-A, but we did have Sheriff John and his [semi-]famous 'Put Another Candle on my Birthday Cake (I'm Another Year Old To-Day)' tune...no wonder us baby-boomer 'Angeleno's are soooo skrewed-up... Shocked

Thanks for the kind words, Mort! I do appreciate them.

It's interesting how much all of us were shaped (or, in my case, misshaped) by our TV experiences. It makes me wonder what our parents had? Radio clowns? Funny pages heroes?
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Re: Impressions of Orient Saturation Diver EL02001B (OS300)

Post by wottime on 2012-09-14, 21:50

Superb. Always enjoy your reviews, watches, and pics. Thanks much.

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Re: Impressions of Orient Saturation Diver EL02001B (OS300)

Post by conjurer on 2012-09-14, 22:56

wottime wrote:Superb. Always enjoy your reviews, watches, and pics. Thanks much.

You're welcome, wot! Thank you!
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