Few watch brands can create a design language for their watches that translates well into multiple models. Dive watch design cues generally don’t transition to a field watch in any way that makes sense. Coming hot off the heels of the Calamity, Orion Watches are looking to make that design language consistency happen.
Orion undoubtedly knocked it out of the park with the Calamity, creating a watch that was thin, comfortable, and looked great. The Orion Hellcat is the latest field watch from the brand since the Orion 1 several years ago. Can Orion take the magic from the Calamity and bottle it up into the Hellcat? Let’s find out.
On the Wrist
I reviewed the Orion Calamity several months ago and remarked on how comfortable it was on the wrist. Thanks to the curved caseback carried over from the Calamity, the Hellcat is one of the most comfortable watches I’ve worn (especially for those not on a bracelet).
Even though the case of the Hellcat is somewhat flat, the watch still hugs the wrist in a way that makes it comfortable for all wrist sizes. The case design does not rely on sloping lugs or lug-to-lug distance to achieve this comfort. The caseback finds a perfect seat on the top of your wrist and nestles in for the long haul. I’m not sure why this feature isn’t used by other brands because it truly is comfortable and a simple solution to cases that do not fit everyone’s wrist.
There is nothing pointed on the Hellcat. Every surface is beveled or rounded in a way that lends a satisfying feeling while being worn. Even the large crown, an Orion calling card, doesn’t dig into the wrist.
As I mentioned above, the case of the Hellcat is somewhat flat. If you have very round wrists, this might affect how it looks on the wrist but does not degrade from comfort. I don’t see this being a problem unless your wrists are extremely small. On my 6.75” wrist, the Hellcat fit nicely and the lugs did not extend past the edges of my wrist. Presence on the wrist and comfort were perfect. I will say it again, this is an extremely comfortable watch.
Readability is something that shouldn’t be ignored, and the Hellcat nails it. The black dial with bright white printing makes it easy to read at a quick glance. The lack of applied markers and the only polished areas on the face being the hands make it simple to read in direct lighting, even with a glare.
When you first look at the Hellcat, your first thoughts might be that the dial is simple, utilitarian, and understated. However, there is more going on as you examine the dial.
The matte black dial’s crosshair at the center is elongated on the left and right sides. The top and bottom of the crosshair are cut off where they meet the Orion name and logo at 12 o’clock and Hellcat & Automatic at 6 o’clock. This helps maintain the symmetry of the dial, which is further aided by the date window at 6 o’clock.
A proprietary font is used for the numerals on the dial. The font doesn’t appear too classic or too modern, striking a balance that makes the dial unique without hindering readability. The numerals are flanked by a minute track that alternates between being filled with black or gray at 5 minute intervals. This is a nice touch that helps the Hellcat differentiate itself from other field watches.
The markers at the cardinal positions are trapezoids. The marker at 12 o’clock is elongated and split down the middle to assist with orientation. All markers and numerals are filled with BGW9 lume.
Syringe hands are the perfect choice for the Hellcat. Breaking away from run-of-the-mill baton or sword hands, the handset on the Hellcat pairs nicely with the font and markers on the dial. The seconds hand is a polished steel stick that contains no lume.
Case & Strap
Depending on which dial color you choose, the Hellcat is either polished or bead blasted. The burgundy dial is polished, while the example seen here is bead blasted. Orion made the bead blasting a little more interesting by adding a polished chamfer that runs the length of the case. I can’t recall many other (or any for that matter) watches that have employed a polished chamfer on a bead blasted case. It further enhances the contrast between the two surfaces and creates a nice effect.
Modestly sized at 39mm in diameter, 47mm lug-to-lug, and 10.5mm thick, the Hellcat checks all the right boxes on paper. Whether your wrist is large or small, I wouldn’t be concerned about any of the dimensions. They are all put together the right way in combination with the curved caseback, creating a beautifully fitting watch.
Something that is not apparent right away is the concave bezel. The bead blasting disguises it slightly, but it may be more apparent on the polished, burgundy dial variant. It’s another small touch that adds character to the Hellcat.
A screw-down crown adorned with the Orion logo helps ensure the 100m water resistance, which is more than adequate for a field watch. You should have no reservations about getting the Hellcat wet or a dunk in the mud.
The caseback features the Orion constellation, a fitting adornment. Underneath the caseback is the Miyota 9015. My only real complaint here is that the rotor was a little loud when it got spinning from a flick of the wrist. This is more of a Miyota issue than an Orion issue.
Included with the Hellcat is a handmade leather two-stitch strap. For the most part, leather straps included with modern watches are more than serviceable, but I really enjoyed the strap included with the Hellcat. It was supple and pliable out of the box, but the main reason I enjoyed it was the length. When you order a Hellcat, you can select from 3 different strap lengths to ensure a proper fit without an extra-long tail. It’s a nice touch. Orion has also shared that a bracelet will be launching later to fit the Hellcat.
It isn’t easy to take a design that worked so well on one type of watch and transition it to another type of watch. Orion has managed to do that going from the Calamity to the Hellcat. The curved caseback, smart sizing, and overall comfort have all found a new home in the Hellcat.
Relatively speaking, it is easy to make a watch where the dimensions on paper please a crowd. It’s entirely more difficult to make a watch that takes those dimensions and makes them secondary to other elements making the watch comfortable to wear. Orion has achieved this with the Hellcat. The dimensions are solid and will make a lot of people happy to see them. However, they will be infinitely happier once they get the Hellcat on their wrists and feel how comfortable it is and see how good it looks.
|Lug-to-lug Height||47mm||Lug Width||20mm|
|Water Resistance||100 meters||Lume||Super-LumiNova® BGW9|
More Images of the Orion Hellcat
Check out the Orion website