While much of the so-called microbrand market leans pretty hard on the whole "new vintage" trend (shtick?), that doesn't mean it's the only option for a dive watch enthusiast on the hunt for something a bit more insider (and uncommon) than your run-of-the-mill Seikos or Hamiltons. Enter Orion Watches and their Calamity Diver, which makes a strong argument for a more modern dive watch with broad appeal.
A relative newcomer, Orion has produced a handful of well-received watches that struck a balance between field and dressy designs, but the Calamity is their first go at making a dive watch. Offered only in steel with a trio of dial colors (black, green, and the navy blue shown here), the Calamity is 40mm wide, 11.3mm thick, and 48mm lug to lug. Thickness is measured at the top of the domed sapphire crystal, with the case flank being closer to 10.5mm thick.
The proportions are great for a legible and very wearable dive watch that manages to feel both solid and svelte on wrist. From the moment I sized the steel bracelet, I was surprised by how much the Calamity felt like my old Omega 2254 Seamaster. It's not quite as flat, but it does sit low, the bracelet isn't especially thick, and the lug shape ensured a nice fit on my 7-inch wrist. One note of fair warning on the bracelet, it's hard to size. While I might have had a prototype example, the design uses pin and collar fittings and required not only a pin pusher (duh) but also a pair of pliers and roughly the force I might attribute to a field wisdom tooth removal. Your results may vary and once sized it certainly doesn't matter, but those pins put up a fight.
From a design standpoint, the Calamity is legible and modern without being overly stark. The bright orange accent on the seconds hand adds some welcome warmth, and the matte dial works really well with the bright white applied markers, and is offered only in a no-date execution. Dial text isn't out of control and just about everything on the dial and the ceramic bezel is lumed with blue-glow BGW9 Superluminova. The lume works well and while BGW9 isn't the longest lasting option, it does glow nicely and ensures a crisp white daylight color for the markers and hands.
With a mostly brushed case accented by thin lines of polish on the lug facet, the Calamity has a large knurled crown protected by sloping crown guards. The bezel is nicely integrated into the case, with a crisp action and subtle but functional engraved grip on its edge. The large and easy-to-operate crown does screw down and helps to support the Calamity's 666 feet of water resistance.
In a move uncommon to much of the microbrand space, the Calamity houses a Swiss ETA 2892 automatic movement. Considerably thinner (and more costly) than the more commonly seen 2824, the 2892 is one of ETA's more premium off-the-shelf offerings. At 3.6mm thick, the 2892's dimensions help to keep the Calamity as thin as possible while providing a rate of 4 Hz, and a power reserve of 42 hours. Visible via a display case back, the 2892 in the Calamity is finished in a simple but effective enough manner and it's nice to see this movement being used in the creation of a slim diver.
With the bracelet sized, the Orion wears beautifully and does so with minimal affectation beyond being a dive watch. It's unassuming, bright, clear, balanced, and casual without being lazy or brash. It's a great size, it checks all the dive watch boxes, and refreshingly it does so without making any heavy-handed or inauthentic references to vintage dive watches (or a date display).
As with any microbrand watch, while the Orion Calamity is an interesting and appealing alternative to some of the more common players in the enthusiast dive watch world, it also has to compete on their level. With an asking price of $1495, Orion has positioned the Calamity above the sub-$1000 range and the more established microbrand competition of Halios, Raven, Unimatic (and many many others). With the move towards a much more expensive Swiss movement, Orion has to contend with competition from brands like Farer, Monta, and even Oak and Oscar.
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Those brands fought for each and every one of their customers by making great products that connected with specific niche audiences that had already been around the block with many of the watches common to the top 10 lists in your average Google search result. While certainly above the entry-level price point, with the Calamity I think Orion is showing that they understand the microbrand audience and have been thoughtful in their approach to designing an appealing dive watch with a thinner-than-usual profile, a subtle but engaging design, and an entirely non-vintage wrist presence.
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