Orion Calamity Review

A thin dive watch with no compromises

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 Orion 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.


On the Wrist

The name of the game when it comes to the Calamity is comfort. Orion created the Calamity to be comfortable in almost every way possible. I’d like to think they have achieved that. After wearing the Calamity for some time, I have to say that it is one of the most comfortable watches I have worn.


There are a few elements going into what makes the Calamity so comfortable. A gentle turndown of the lugs and an immediate drop off from the bracelet are two things that make a difference, but those can be had on any watch.


The other two things that are more difficult to achieve are the case thickness and the caseback design. The case thickness tapers (because of the caseback) from 10.5mm to 11.3mm. The caseback is curved so it conforms to the top of your wrist, rather than sitting on top of it. All of this is not only a novel design but put together in a way that makes the watch fit great from every angle.

I also found the Calamity to be a pleasing watch to look at. Granted, you want every watch you buy to look good, but the Calamity’s dial looks good and the shape of the case when viewed straight on simply has a great look. The thin lugs juxtaposed by the large crown create a dynamic look.


I’ve rambled on about how comfortable the Calamity is, but it is also extremely legible. The dial is symmetrical with large triangle and rectangle markers and a great handset. Take the quickest of glances at the Calamity and you’ll have no problem reading the time.


Dial Details

After you are done admiring the thinness of the Calamity’s case, your attention might turn to the dial.  As I discussed above, the markers and handset make the Calamity easy to read. Orion has done a nice job making the dial simple and clean but also maintaining the hash marks and details dive watch lovers want.


The chapter ring has hash marks flanking the markers with coordinating pops of orange at the cardinal positions. The seconds hand just grazes every other hash mark (with the others being slightly shorter). It is those small details that make the Calamity’s dial so good.


Speaking of the seconds hand, 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) it will have an orange seconds hand.  The orange coordinates well with any dial color but it looks especially good with the navy dial.

Case, Bracelet & Bezel

I discussed some of the case’s dimensions previously but there is more to the case than just how thin it is. The lug-to-lug length of 48mm will give the Calamity plenty of wrist presence without taking over but it remains subdued because of the thinness and turndown of the lugs. The 40mm-wide case will fit into that fits any wrist dimension. Despite the crown being so large, I did not find that it dug into my wrist at all.


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 his watch, you will understand the design of the crown.  The crown is huge, about 2/3 the size of the case.  Crown operation is one of the most important functions of a mechanical watch and the Calamity allows you to enjoy this immensely.


The polished chamfers that run down the length of the case are thin but add a nice dimension to the case. These chamfers flow right along to the excellent bracelet. The first thing I noticed with the bracelet was how tight the tolerances were on the endlink/case. You don’t often see these types of tolerances on microbrand watches.


The bracelet is well-executed. The links all have a nice heft to them and articulate fully, allowing for maximum comfort as they drape around the wrist. The polished chamfers on the bracelet are a nice touch and look great as they play with the light.


Orion offers two options for the Calamity’s bezel. The standard ceramic bezel is fully lumed and pairs nicely with the dial color. The other option is a steel 12-hour bezel which looks fantastic with the navy dial. I found the bezel tension to be a bit tight and had difficulty turning it on some occasions. This is mainly because it sits extremely close to the case so it can be hard to get a good grip.

Rather than opting for a Seiko NH or standard ETA 2824 movement, the Calamity uses the higher-grade ETA 2892.  One benefit of the 2892 is its thickness, or lack thereof.  Note: If you buy a Calamity from Orion today, it will now include the Sellita SW300 with a redesigned black rotor.


Final Thoughts

Orion made a bold choice in entering a premium space with the Calamity.  It was a risk for them, and they put their confidence in the modern watch buyer to understand what makes the Calamity special.  The Calamity quickly became one of my favorite watches to wear.  All the small things in the Calamity came together to make an amazing package.  Orion has continued to make watches like this as evidenced by the Hellcat (review here).

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 have no qualms 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.

Check out more Orion Watch reviews from The Watch Clicker

Check out the Orion website

Case Width40mmThickness10.5-11.3mm
Lug-to-lug Height48mmLug Width20mm
CrystalDomed SapphireStrapBracelet
Water Resistance200 metersLumeSuper-LumiNova® BGW9
MovementETA 2892/Sellita SW300Price$1,495

More Images of the Orion Calamity

Comments 2
  1. I have been wearing my calamity on the daily for the past year. insanely COMFORTABLE, +/- 4 seconds per day, finishing is stunning, lume to read by. and that crown, i find myself handwinding it just to use it. 11/10 so worth the price.

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