Posted by Norman on March 26, 2020
The first watch I ever bought was the Orient Symphony II off Massdrop for $100 in 2018. I didn’t think much of it at first but after I learned more about the watch world, I have to say, I was extremely lucky. I prefer dressy watches over sporty watches and especially over chunky dive watches. I could have easily fallen prey to marketing and bought a cheaply produced fashion watch for the same price. I’d like to share my experience with the watch and hopefully help someone with their watch journey.
Here are the features of the watch:
I am a big fan of affordable dressy watches and I haven’t found any watch that can compare to the price vs. features of the Symphony II. Underneath the black dial, the case houses an automatic in-house movement complete with a sapphire crystal! For under $150 in the secondary market, the sapphire crystal is a particularly good value as most watches at this price point use mineral crystals.
A similar but more popular watch is its brother, the Orient Bambino. The 2nd generation Bambino is a well-known budget watch option that has an extremely similar look. However, the Bambino is less robust, featuring a softer crystal and 20 meters less water resistance. This extra water resistance makes the watch suitable for submersion in water for short durations of time, i.e. light swimming. On the other hand, I would be hesitant to expose a 30-meter water-resistant watch to more than just the occasional splash. I think of it as a sort of a sibling rivalry. The Bambino is the cool and popular older brother who is all talk while the Symphony is the quiet and reserved younger brother who keeps his head down and gets the job done.
Unfortunately, the Symphony II is no longer in production since the next generation has been released. You can still get them on the secondary market though. The newer generation, the Symphony III, is similar in aesthetic but lacks a sapphire crystal. Instead, it now has hacking, hand winding and a flat mineral crystal. While some people may prefer the improved movement, I would take the sapphire crystal any day of the week.
Here’s a quick comparison of these three models:
|Feature||Symphony II||Symphony III||Gen. 2 Bambino Version 1|
|Movement||Automatic||Automatic, Hacking, Hand Winding||Automatic, Hacking, Hand Winding|
|Crystal||Flat Sapphire||Flat Mineral||Domed Mineral|
The Orient Symphony II features a modern look with sharp straight corners and minimal features on the dial. The Orient logo is placed below the 12 o’clock marker, the date display is placed next to the 3 o’clock, and the sapphire crystal/water resist indicators are placed at 6 o’clock; minimal and clean. However, the case polish is mediocre and gives a blurry reflection and the alligator pattern strap has a bit too much shine for my taste. Orient probably had to make these compromises to keep the costs low.
This watch sits pretty comfortably on my 6.5-inch (16.5cm) wrist, but I plan on moving on from it soon. Its a simple and clean design but sometimes it feels too sterile, too minimal. I think Orient could have included a more sophisticated chapter ring and/or utilized different hands and markers. Perhaps a seconds hand with a more interesting counterbalance design would give this watch more emotion. Nevertheless, these issues are small and subjective for a watch built to this price point.
The Orient Symphony II also makes a great gift to a father, a brother, a son or a friend who may not know much about watches yet. The combination of affordable price and durability makes it easy on the wallet, and resilient to a new user who may not be familiar or want to deal with watch care. Although not everyone will fall in love with this kind of design, its conservatism and simplicity is something that I feel can be generally appreciated.
To the average person, Orient is an exotic-sounding, high-quality product. To the watch enthusiast, the brand is known for delivering consistent quality at a affordable price. You can’t go wrong. This is a technically solid watch and a must-buy if you enjoy the look. Most buyer’s guides recommend the Orient Bambino as the dressy starter watch because of its aesthetic and budget pricing. However, I disagree. Pick up an Orient Symphony II for yourself or a loved one while it’s still a sleeper!
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