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Orient Open Heart Automatic Review | Finally, A Viable Orient Bambino Alternative!

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I’m on a roll with these ‘killer’ blog posts and we’re not even a crime website! Last time, I showed you the super-thin CasiOak killer and this time it seems to be Orient’s turn. For nearly a decade now, the Bambino range has been known to provide some of the best value entry-level watches in the industry. With stellar looks and good specifications for a low price, it’s no surprise that these have become the entry point into mechanical watch collecting for many people.

I even reviewed one of these a couple of years back, as it represented the benchmark for affordable watches at the time. My main gripe with the watch was the sizing, a sentiment shared by other watch reviewers. At 40.5mm wide, the majority of models were just a touch on the large side for dress watches, especially for those with slim wrists. They did release a couple of variants in different sizes, including an even bigger 42mm model and a 36mm unisex version called the 5s. The latter in particular caught my eye, given my thin wrists, however, it came with two major caveats. Availability and affordability.

Right from the beginning, the 36mm version was very difficult to track down, especially for non-exorbitant prices. Most sites were either permanently sold out or had this listed for well over double the price of the rest of the bambino line-up, for no good reason.

 

Orient Open Heart Watch

As such, I’ve kept half an eye out for something to fill that void. One afternoon, I was browsing Jomashop and something popped up that looked familiar. An automatic Orient dress watch that looked akin to V1 bambino, but with an open heart. I clicked through to the product page and not only did it look beautiful, but the spec sheet had it listed at just 38.5mm in diameter; the perfect mid-size that I had been searching for.

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I spoke with Jomashop and they kindly agreed to send it over for review purposes. If you’re not familiar with Jomashop, they are an online retailer with a massive array of very aggressively priced watches and other accessories. I’ve bought from them myself numerous times because the products are genuine and the shipping system is really good, even across the pond. I’ll link this watch throughout this article if you want to take a look.

 

Watch Dimensions

Is this really the alternative we’ve been waiting for then? Well, the dimensions certainly get us off to a promising start. In addition to the 38.5mm width, this watch is 10.9mm thick and has a lug to lug of just 44.9mm. Compared to the bambino the case is deeper but it has a flat crystal, meaning it’s thinner than the Bambino overall when taking into account the large dome on the latter.

As expected, this fits my skinny 15.5cm wrist very well, with no chance of any overhang. In an ideal world, I’d like the watch to be slimmer, to compliment the other small proportions; but I suppose we can’t have everything. It does give much more of that classic dress watch aesthetic that was somewhat diminished by the Bambino’s sizing.

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It has a slightly wider bezel and a similar level of finishing; though from what I remember, the Bambino’s may have been slightly sharper. This FAG03001D0 (fantastic product name, I know) has polished flanks and brushing atop the lugs.

While we’re on the topic of the lugs, I have some good news for you. Rather than the awkward odd lug widths of Bambino models, this Orient has traditional 20mm lugs; meaning many of your existing straps will work without any unnecessary gaps.

 

Water Resistance & crystal

What's more is that the screw-down case back on this model helps the watch to achieve a water resistance of 5-bar, which is also more than it’s predecessor, which has the basic 3-bar splash resistance. While not a necessity on a dressier watch, it will give you a safety net should the watch become submerged at some point.

Unexpectedly, the upgrades don’t end there. What I hadn’t realised is that this one also houses a sapphire crystal over the dial; which is an improvement over the mineral used in the Bambino (at least when it comes to scratches).

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I feel like these three factors are things Orient fans have been crying out for for the last few years, so it’s pleasing to see them finally implemented into one of these watches at an affordable price.

 

Bracelet

Even the stock band is better than most of the Bambino models, with this solid link bracelet being a notable upgrade to the fairly poor leather strap present on the Bambino I previously reviewed. While the end links are hollow and the push-button clasp is basic, it is altogether usable and the three micro-adjustment holes do allow for fine alterations. The watch looks equally as good with a variety of straps, which is made possible by that standardised lug width.

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Movement

Of course, I wouldn’t have chosen this watch if there wasn’t plenty to see. Through the case rear, you can lay your eyes on the mechanical movement within. The automatic mechanism here is the same as in the Open-Heart Bambino, the hacking and hand-winding F6T22. While basic in appearance, I’m certainly not complaining, given the cost of the watch.

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Watch Dial

Up front, we have a small viewing window, where you can see the escapement assembly whirring away. This is inset within a glorious blue dial that bursts with colour even in dimmer lighting conditions. It’s a little tricky to compare this with the more muted grey dial on the Bambino that I featured, so it’s hard to tell which dial is done to a higher standard; though this FAG0300 appears brighter.

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The faceted markers are quite simple, with no luminescence, though the alignment is on-point throughout. My favourite handset makes an appearance here too and thankfully doesn’t suffer from the shortness issues present on some Orient watches. The dauphine minute hand extends pretty much right to the markers, as does the slim second hand, which beats its way smoothly around the perimeter.

Overall, it’s a great looking watch and I’m starting to be converted by these open heart watches. I’m not sure I’ll ever appreciate full skeleton models, but it’s interesting seeing the heart of the watch pump away in plain sight. With this model in particular I’ve noticed that the dual chamfered rings surrounding the hole play with the light very nicely and do a good job of complementing the highly reflective indices.

 

Final Thoughts

While I think it’s a very smart looking watch, I think perhaps it lacks some of the character found in the Bambino line-up. Despite the open-heart configuration, Orient has clearly played it safer here, with less radical design cues; most notably the absence of the whopping dome on the crystal.

Nevertheless, I think for many of you, this watch will easily fill in that void in your collection and not only the size, but the range of upgrades are very welcome indeed. While there is a couple of other models in this range, I’d like to perhaps see what a non-skeletonised version of this watch looked like; as I think this is a great foundation for a series that I was otherwise not familiar with.


BEN’S WATCH CLUB RATING (4.5/5):

 



WATCH THE FULL ‘ORIENT OPEN HEART AUTOMATIC REVIEW | FINALLY, A VIABLE ORIENT BAMBINO ALTERNATIVE’ VIDEO BELOW: