Orion Field Standard Review
Ah, the Field Watch. There’s something so alluring about the simple, clean designs and the thought of adventure that they inspire, thoughts that usually arise when I’m trapped in my office on a beautiful day. I got the opportunity to check out a newly released field watch from Orion Watches, called the Field Standard, and was so impressed with the review unit I received, that I ended up ordering one for my collection.
If you are unfamiliar with Orion watches, allow me to give you a quick rundown. Orion was started by Nick Harris as an effort to further his horology skills, as well as fund himself through watchmaking school. Nick got his start in watchmaking through attempting to fix a family heirloom watch - an Omega- and began practicing on old Seiko movements that he bought online. That led to modifying Seiko watches that ultimately became Watches by Nick, his first venture. Orion is the evolution of Nick’s watchmaking experience, and represents his first watch line.
The case of the Field Standard is clean, utilitarian, and one might even say vintage. Measuring in at 38mm in diameter, with a lug to lug of 49mm. The 38mm diameter might scare some away, but rest assured that the watch wears very nicely and is balanced out by the longer lug to lug width (those lugs, by the way, are drilled). I found the case to be comfortable and well proportioned for my ~6.5” wrist, and I imagine it would work well for nearly anyone.
At the 3 o’clock position is a massive 9mm diameter knurled crown signed with the Orion logo, which screws down providing 100m of water resistance. Gracing the back of the case is a simple, but quintessentially field watch engraving, simply stating the model name and water resistance.
Orion offers the Field Standard in a few different finishes, full polish or a blasted/polished combo look. My original review prototype that was provided to me had the full polish, but I opted for the blasted option on my personal watch.
Dial, Crystal, Bezel
The dial on the Field Standard follows many of the traditional design elements found on a field watch: 12 hour and 24 hour scale, limited text, and maximum legibility. Despite looking cool and making me feel adventurous whilst wearing it, the 24 hour scale proved to be very useful even in my sedentary office life. Anyone who has ever tried to coordinate an international conference call knows that it’s a huge pain, and I appreciated being able to quickly determine the time on a 24 hour scale for scheduling purposes (your use case may vary).
The hands are a classic cathedral style, and are lumed, as are all the numerals on the dial. Unfortunately, this is the one that I felt the watch fell short. The lume isn’t particularly bright or long lasting, which is slightly disappointing for a tool watch, however I found that it wasn’t as big of a deal as I thought it would be. With that out of the way, let’s move on. I particularly liked the red tipped seconds hand, a nice splash of color against an otherwise conservative dial. For my personal piece, I opted for the handset off Orion’s other model, the Orion: 1, while keeping the red tipped seconds hand off the Field Standard. Came together for a cool look, I think.
Topping the dial is the thick, domed sapphire crystal. The domed design added an interesting magnification effect to the dial depending on the viewing angle, increasing the legibility even further. The crystal was coated with a deep blue AR coating, which, when viewed in direct sunlight, painted the dial with a beautiful blue hue, making it almost feel like a different watch entirely. Surrounding the crystal and dial is the polished steel bezel (regardless of case finish). Orion states this polished aspect is so that every individual watch takes on its own story and personality throughout its ownership.
Beating inside the Orion Field Standard is the ever reliable Seiko NH35, a solid choice for this watch, and one that I’m sure many people will be happy to see. The NH35 is an automatic movement that provides hacking, handwinding, and a date functionality. During my review period and ownership thus far, timekeeping has been plenty accurate, and I expect it to continue that way for years to come.
Orion provides a few different strap options for the Field Standard: Black or brown crocodile pattern integrated leather, or a NATO strap from Toxic Nato. While the integrated leather strap is very comfortable, and looks great thanks to the gapless design between lugs and case, I found that the Field Standard really shines on a NATO strap. I have a huge mess of NATO options, and found myself trying a different NATO pattern or color every day that I wore the Field Standard (my frequent strap changes were made even easier thanks to the drilled lugs). A simple strap swap changed the entire personality of the watch, and nearly everything matched with the clean design of the Field Standard.
You may have your own opinions and experiences with Micro-Brands in the world of watches, but I believe that many of these Micro-Brands are creating some of the most interesting watch designs in recent years, and Orion is no exception. From the clean case design, to the utilitarian dial, the 38mm size...I enjoyed every second wearing this watch. In fact, it’s the only watch I’ve worn to work that my coworkers have ever commented on. Throughout the week, I had 6-7 people individually ask about it, who makes it, where I got it, etc, and none of those folks are “watch people” either; take that as you will.