Bald and bearded is Nick Harris, the man behind Orion Watches.  There are plenty of one man watch brands out there, but few that come with the gusto and expertise of Orion with Nick at the helm.  Nick began by modifying Seiko watches, which eventually led him to watchmaking school and becoming a salt of the earth Watchmaker.  I followed Orion on Instagram and through the story segments and posts, I got to see the Calamity come to life.  Nick had not yet graduated watchmaking school, but was close.  The Calamity was almost complete and prototypes were in the wild.  While this was not Orion’s first watch, it would easily be its most ambitious.

The Orion Calamity mounted on an Erika's Original MN orange strap

Lasting Distress

Looking at the definition you might raise an eyebrow at naming a watch Calamity. “A disastrous event marked by great loss and lasting distress and suffering.” The Calamity certainly isn’t going to cause Orion any lasting distress or suffering, so why name it that?  I’m sure he has his reasons but when I look at this watch I can come to my own conclusion.  There is no shortage of microbrand dive watches out there.  What there is a shortage of is good microbrand divers.  Parts bin dive watches are all too common and their manufacturers are having no qualms in trying to get into your wallet with them.  The Orion Calamity isn’t a parts bin dive watch, nor is it a good dive watch…it’s a great dive watch.  What the Orion Calamity will do is create lasting distress and suffering for its competitors – and there are good reasons why.

Rather than opting for a Seiko NH or standard ETA 2824 movement, the Calamity uses the higher-grade ETA 2892.  This ETA can be found in watches from Bell & Ross, Breitling and IWC.  Those are some heavy hitters and the Calamity shares the same beating heart.  Another benefit of the 2892 is its thickness, or lack thereof.  Thinner than most movements you will find the microbrand space, this allows the Calamity to sport a total thickness of only 11.3mm (it tapers down to around 10mm at its thinnest point).  Combine this with a curved case back (you read that right, curved case back) and you have an extremely comfortable watch.

The Orion Calamity on a NATO strap

Beauty in Simplicity

After you are done admiring the thinness of the Calamity’s case, your attention might turn to the dial.  A simple handset and markers, filled with a ton of lume, allow the Calamity to be incredibly easy to read.  There isn’t a bunch of unnecessary hash marks or a chapter ring to distract you from reading the time.  The bezel is also extremely legible and a joy to turn.  One of the standouts of the face of the Calamity is the splash of color on the seconds hand.  Regardless of the colorway you choose (Black, Navy or Drab) you will have an orange seconds hand.  On my black dialed version, this provides just the right amount of color as to not distract you from the rest of the watch.

I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with Nick on a few occasions.  If you get to know him and his opinions on how the owner of a watch should feel about their watch, you will understand the design of the crown.  The crown is huge, about 2/3 the size of the case.  This makes perfect sense after Nick tells you that you should enjoy winding and setting the time of your watch.  It is one of the most important functions of a mechanical watch and the crown on the Calamity allows you enjoy this activity immensely.  The Calamity is one of the smoothest winding watches I’ve ever owned.  I often have to question if I’m actually winding it or just spinning the crown.  I love it.

The Orion Calamity on a Barton Bands leather strap with contrast stitching

Risk

Nick made a bold choice in entering a premium space with the Calamity.  It was a risk for him and he put his confidence in the modern watch buyer to understand what makes the Calamity special and what an outstanding value it is.  The Calamity quickly because one of my favorite watches to wear.  All the small things in the Calamity came together to make an amazing package.  Orion will continue to make watches like this.  Watches like the Calamity create distress for other watch companies, distress that will last unless they can keep up.

More images of the Orion Calamity

Check out the Orion Watches website