Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Orient Diving Sports Automatic M-Force Titanium DV01002B - A capable watch on paper but lost a key DNA at the design stage, A Review

I have been following the Orient brand very closely for the last few years. Currently I have eight in my collection. The most prolific line under the Orient brand that I collect is the diver series.

Last year, on 26 March 2013, Orient released an updated version of it famous M-Force series. For the first time, titanium was used as the based material for the watch. Up to that point I have in my collection two previous versions of the M-Force, the WV0091E as well as the model before that, the WV0021. It was obviously natural that I target to acquire this latest M-Force as well.

After more then a year, I finally got the opportunity to source for one. As usual, I got one of my main internet trader http://citytime.my to get me one. I was able to get it for RM1,100 compared to the retail price of RM1,750.

As usual, the review will first start from the point of receiving the package from the postal service.

I must say the service by Pos Malaysia is impressive. It is common to be more impressed with the international couriers but the service offered by Pos Malaysia from tracking to delivery speed is comparable.

In my case, http://citytime.my is in Kuching, Sarawak. Within 24 hours, before noon the next day, Pos Malaysia was able to get the package on my desk.

That is efficient.

One thing I like about http://citytime.my is their packaging. Although not elegant, the use of old newspapers, pieces of cardboard paper and the prodigious amount of tape ensures the package is secured and nothing, and I mean nothing would shake the content during transportation.

I believe there were three levels of packaging that helped protect the watch box! Anyway, after wrestling with the the tape and bits and pieces of old newspapers, I got a box with a clean white sleeve.

The watch box comes in two layers. The first layer is a box-like structure in dark blue with the Orient logo and brand prominently printed on the top in silver. The word "M-FORCE" is also printed on the box.

Inside this box is the main watch box. Looks similar to the previous one but opens upward and hinged at the back. Here you can see the watch resting on a larger black velvety pillow.

The watch is huge. With a diameter of 47 mm and a thickness of 13.6 mm, you need to have a relatively big wrist size to carry the watch well. Despite the size, the use of titanium for the case and bracelet helps reduce the weight penalty that usually comes with watches of such size. The material has dramatically enhanced its wearability. Titanium is highly resistant to corrosion especially in seawater, making it a material that is particularly suited to diver's watches. For the bezel, which is susceptible to external shocks, stainless steel, which has greater scratch resistance than titanium is used. The use of different materials for the case and bezel has produced a watch that is both lightweight and strong. In fact, if this watch is made entirely of stainless steel, the weight would be double of what it is now. 

The watch comes with a seal tag. This is only the second time that a Japanese watch I bought comes with a seal tag. The first was when I got my Citizen Signature Grand Touring. Making of such a tag is not expensive. However, the value of the impression it gives to the receiver is very high. For the owner, the seal is like a stamp-of-approval of highest quality. Although such assumption has no merit, it goes to show that Orient knows how to play the perception game.

Orient also took the effort to print a small sleeve for the bracelet that highlighted the fact that sapphire crystal is used on the watch. Flipping over the seal tag and you will also see the suggested retail price for the watch in Malaysia, RM1,750.

Two other documents that come standard with the watch is the manual as well as the guarantee notification. Orient only provides a one year guarantee on its watches. I also found a name card from http://citytime.my.

On of the shocking development of this new M-Force is the lack of power reserve indicator which has been synonymous with this line. When it first came out back in early 2013, I was so disappointed that I didn't even put this watch is my list of possible purchases even though I have been collecting the last two editions. However, common sense prevailed and I decided to put this watch in my 'must have' list.

The only other complication for this M-Force is the date function that is set in a window situated at 3 o'clock. It is a good thing that the date window did not replaced the 3 o'clock marker completely. Meanwhile, only the 12 and 6 o'clock markers uses Arabic numbering.

The dial on this watch is black. Apart from the brand and logo, the more obvious wordings are the words "Automatic" and "200 m" in white; and the word "M-Force" in red. The chapter ring is coloured yellow and minute markers are printed on it. The hours and minutes hands as well as the main markers are covered with luminous paint. The tip of the seconds hand is also lumed but is bordered with red paint.

As highlighted earlier, the dial is protected by sapphire crystal. Although not mentioned in any formal documents or reports, I believe Orient subject the inner part of the crystal to anti-reflective coating treatment.

The ridged bezel is painted black using the PVD process and a luminous pip at 12 o'clock is provided. The bezel is uni-directional and moves with 120-clicks for a full turn.

Like the previous M-Force models, a red band around the crown is standard and helps user confirm whether the crown has been screwed down properly.

The lug width of this M-Force is 24 mm and the lug-to-lug width is 55 mm. The pinhole on the lugs of this model uses the through-and-through method which allows for simpler disengagement of the bracelet from the watch case. This makes it easier for owners to replace the bracelet with a thick leather strap. I think such a combination would make the watch look even more rugged.

The standard bracelet that comes with this watch is solid and uses the pin-and-collar system for resizing. The pin-and-collar system used by Orient for this watch is very difficult to use. Due to the small size of the collar and the fact that there is no brace for it in the hole, each time you put in the pin, the collar will just go out on the other side. As such, you have to brace one side of the pin hole with something before you attempt to put back in the pin.

I would suggest Orient to re-look into this in their next offering. The size of the bracelet allows a more easier system to be incorporated such as the screw-in-pin method. This make resizing a much easier exercise.

From the photo above, you can just about see the slight curvature to the watch case. This has a very positive impact to how it sits on one's wrist which I shall explain later.

The large crown on the M-Force has the brand etched on top of it. It is also protected by two shoulders protruding from the casing. The large gear-like treads on the crown provide the necessary grip for those wearing gloves. This makes it a very useful companion in active environment. This is the very reason the M-Force was created; a watch able to sustain tough situations.

The bracelet features a three fold double locking clasp with push button to prevent falling from the wrist should a malfunction occurs. The bridge that links the two sides of the bracelet is a pair of stamped plates. The word "Titanium" is stamped onto this part.

As a diver's watch, I am surprised that Orient did not provide a diver's extension system into the clasp mechanism. If you need to wear a wet suit, you cannot use this watch.

From a design perspective, the bracelet looks too basic; 'low-end'. For the price-point that Orient set for this watch, I would at least expect it to look more refine. It should have all the necessary bits-and-pieces such as a diver's extension system to be able to do the job it was designed for. A quick fix to this problem is perhaps Orient could consider providing an additional strap with the bracelet. This would be much appreciated by people living in colder regions (you don't want to wear something with a metal bracelet in winter!) as well as those that use it for diving. Instead of rubber, canvas is a good alternative strap material.

For example, the following four photos are from my own personal collection and shows a wide variety of similar brands with good looking bracelets. Why can't Orient follow the examples?

Standard bracelet from Ocean7
Standard bracelet from Citizen Signature series
Standard bracelet from Seiko Landmaster
Standard bracelet from Deep Blue Depthmaster

Like the previous M-Force models before it, the case-back is a screw-down and devoid of any major graphics apart from a small brand and logo stamped in the middle. Around the peripheral of the case-back, important information about the watch is etched.

The Orient Watch Company limited is a subsidiary of the Seiko Epson Corporation which is part of the Seiko Holdings Corporation conglomerate. Orient, like its sister brand, Seiko produces everything in-house. This allows the company to have a treasure chest of intellectual property unique to Orient. However, this is where the similarity with Seiko ends especially when it comes to how they perceive market perception.

Seiko does not bend over backwards to prove its watches are up to certain quality such as COSC  Standards since their watches are made at even higher tolerances. Orient on the other hand utilise available standards to prove the same point to consumers.

For the M-Force series (including this model), Orient subjected them to be certified under the by ISO 6425 diver’ s watches standard, the ISO 764 anti-magnetic watches standard as well as the ISO 1413 shock-resistant watches standard. Very seldom you get a watch at this price point capable of many things.

As highlighted earlier, this will be my third M-Force. It is interesting to note that all three have different physical appearances. For example, on my EL03, the crown is at 4 o'clock, the date window at 4 o'clock and the power reserve indicator is at 1 o'clock. On my EL06, the crown is at 9 o'clock, the date window at 3 o'clock and the power reserve indicator is at 6 o'clock.


The mechanical movement used in this model is the Orient in-house Caliber 4075A which is made in Japan. A self-winding with hand-winding movement capability and second hand halt mechanism. Operating at the 21,600 vibrations per hour range the watch has 22 jewels. Power reserve is estimated to exceed 40 hours.

The accuracy of the 4075A movement is good. There is no obvious handicap in that department.

This watch has been water rated to 200 meters making it suitable for scuba diving.

I have a 7.5 inch wrist. At 47 mm, this watch is close to the limit what I could wear before it starts to look ridiculous (in my view at least). The weight savings does make the wearing experience much bearable. 

The larger markers and the large Arabic numbering at the North and South quadrants of the watch dial does make it easier for referencing. The yellow and the bits of red makes the watch livelier, in my opinion.

The choice of a 24 mm bracelet for this watch is a good one. It helps make the watch looks 'normal in size' by way of perspectives.

The following picture also shows the benefit of the curvature designed into the watch case. It actually 'wraps' around the wrist instead of just 'sitting' on it.

The safety clasp has enough flat space to put a lot of information or graphics on. Orient chose to put the brand and logo on it. Nevertheless, there is still a lot of empty space available if you want to etch something on it. It does look a bit like the Autobot logo doesn't it?

To some extent, I am surprised by the quality of the titanium bracelet and casing. It is not the texture and colour that I would expect of titanium. In fact, it looks very stainless steel-like.

Despite the size, the thin watch case makes it relatively easier to have on with formal wear. However, the watch feels plain. Yes, it is livelier due to the use of colours but the M-Force spirit is missing. I am sorry to sound like a broken record by the power reserve indicator is the key to the M-Force genre. It seems silly but people relate the genre to that simple watch complication.

The word 'M-Force' is defined by Orient as 'Mechanical Force'. The power reserve indicator is the manifestation of that core branding that a lot of owners can relate to. By eliminating the power reserve indicator in this latest rendition of the M-Force, a lot of people would would have considered getting one decided against it. I too nearly took that decision.

I believe Orient got the same 'not-to-flattering' vibes from the market and recently launched the latest rendition of the M-Force, the EL07 which thankfully re-introduces back the power reserve indicator.

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