So this will be my first watch review, go easy on me, eh? ;)
(Reviewed on 5/14/2015)
As mentioned in the title, this is a review for the latest model by Orient in the M-Force line, released in mid-2014. Where I am, the stainless steel/black dial goes by the model number EL07002B, while in the Japanese market it is the WV015EL, and I've also seen the number SEL07002B0 used on the Internet, not sure which area/region it's for though. It's also called the Beast II, after the first, lefty Beast from several years ago. Personally, though, I don't think they bear much more than a passing resemblance, though having never held the original Beast I could very well be wrong. The other models in the series are all EL07 as well and share similar model numbers, with slight differences based on the colour. The stainless steel/red dial being EL07002H/WV0161EL/SEL07002H0, while the black PVD steel/blue dial model is EL07001D/WV0141EL/SEL07001D0
The 2014 M-Force is a watch in the diver's style. It has a unidirectional rotating bezel and is ISO certified for diving up to 200m as well as magnetic and shock resistance. It has a solitary, screw down crown at the 3 o'clock position, as well as a stainless steel screwback casing. In terms of dimensions, it measures 49mm when measured from 9 to 3, 44mm when measured from 8 to 2, while the dial/crystal measures 34mm. The "lug-to-lug" measurement is about 52mm. Why the inverted commas? Keep reading and find out ;)
The internal mechanism is the Orient 40N5A in-house movement, with the beloved Orient power reserve indicator, hand winding and second hacking. It's found in everything from the M-Force line to the 300m Saturation Diver and even certain Orient Stars. It has kept fantastic time so far, about +2 seconds per day. Truly remarkable accuracy, even out of the box! (Update: by putting it dial down overnight, I've got about 0.2s variation per day! Amazing!)
After initially intending to get a blue Ray or Mako XL I looked at the M-Force 2014, and felt it was worth the premium and decided to go for it.
The watch came in a run-of-the-mill black Orient box with a guarantee card, nothing fancy about it. I was frankly a little disappointed, was hoping for something nicer considering the price tag. But since the box is something most people will toss aside and forget about, I guess it's not really a big deal.
This watch is big, no two ways about it! It does, however, have three redeeming qualities that allows it to be worn even by those with smaller wrists:
1) True, measured from 9-3pm, including the crown guards, it does measure a whopping 49mm. But a significant contributor to this width is the slight bulge in the casing at the 9 o'clock position, a design choice to balance the overall look of the watch. When measured diagonally from 8-2, it's actually about 44mm, not an unreasonable size for a diver.
2) The dial and crystal measure only 34mm in diameter. It helps to keep things proportional.
3) Although 13.6mm thick, the caseback has a slightly convex shape, this allows it to sit fairly low on the wrist.
Now, to get into the details of the watch. It's made of stainless steel, with several different finishes over the watch. It has two bulges; the first, crown guards at the 3 o'clock position, and the second an equally sized bulge at the 9 o'clock position. The symmetry that this achieves makes me smile a little whenever I look at it (my apologies, I can't hide my OCD!). The crown guards, the bulge across it and the parts of the case that meet the bracelet are brushed, while the remaining surfaces are a nearly mirror-finish polished steel. I personally think it strikes a nice balance, though it's perhaps a little on the conservative side. The screwback casing is standard M-Force, with the Orient logo, M-Force branding, and details around the circumference of the back. The case has nothing particularly flashy, which is perhaps a first for the M-Force line which often feature very loud design choices and angular, in-your-face notches and grooves.
The rotating bezel is black with painted indices and a lumed pip over the 12 o'clock position. The bezel appears to be covered in a PVD coating, which covers the entirety of the bezel (unlike certain watches, which have a stainless steel border on the bezels). It has symmetrical, equally spaced notches over the entire bezel which help with the grip. It has the ISO-required 120 click, unidirectional mechanism. It has a good, tactile feel, fairly easy to grip and turn without being prone to accidental movement. Perhaps most importantly, it lines up perfectly with the markers on the dial. A well built diver's bezel, all in all.
As for the crown, we catch perhaps the first glimpse of M-Force design, the now signature red ring around the crown with embossed logo over the top of the crown. The red ring, other than providing a bit of colour, serves as an indicator for the screw down crown. When screwed down to an appropriate tightness, the red ring lines up nicely with the outer margin of the crown guards. Kudos to Orient, a very nice, functional design touch there. The embossed logo is also a very classy touch, a polished Orient logo on a blasted background. It pulls out to two positions, one each to set the time and date, while the original unscrewed position allows it to be hand-wound when rotated clockwise. The screw down action is fairly good, though it is initially a little difficult to align the threads.
The watchface is covered by a flat sapphire crystal, which rests just a fraction below the surrounding bezel. I suppose that reduces the risk of chipping, though I'm not particularly concerned about that.
Finally, we get to the meat of it, the dial and watchface. It has a fairly interesting design, the dial itself is black with two finishes; vertical stripes over the center of the dial and concentric circles over the outer border of the dial. The hour markers are lumed rectangles bordered by polished metal trapezoids. This is a fairly different design from your run-of-the-mill divers that have the classic large, garish shapes that increase visibility, or the slightly more modern variants that include Arabic numerals over 12/3/6/9. The marker over 12 o'clock is the largest, while the markers at 9 and 6 are only slightly larger than the other markers. In fact, the difference is so slight, I didn't quite notice it until I really took a good hard look at it. The marker at 3 is cut off by the white-bordered date window. It, again, looks very symmetrical, something I'm beginning to notice to be a very prominent theme in this watch. Printed, white minute/second markers are located just outside of the hour markers, and line up very nicely with the bezel.
There is only one sub dial, the signature Orient power reserve meter at the 12 position. The indicator is made of the same polished metal as the hour markers and the main hands, and also has a tiny bit of lume that is fairly hard to see. The sub dial and markings itself are part of the main dial, but the numbered markers (0/10/20/30/40) are on a cut out that appear to be just deep to the main dial. An interesting variation on the sub dial here! There is a red M-Force 200m logo at the 9 position, while the Orient logo with a drop of red finds itself at 6. I think the dial is dangerously close to being too busy, but is fortunately highly visible and legible thanks to the shape of the markers and positioning of the logos and subdial. Most of the information you need can be easily seen at a glance, and it works out to be a fairly interesting dial without attracting undue attention to yourself.
The watch hands are also fairly unique, not unlike the previously mentioned hour markers. I'm frankly finding it quite difficult to describe in words, but I'll give it a go. The hour hand basically consists of a lumed, elongated pentagon ending in a pointed tip, while the other end is a frame, cut out in the center, also ending a a pointed, though less angled, tip. The minute hand is essentially a stretched out version of the hour hand, while the seconds hand is a long needle with an arrow tip. I believe the hour and minute hands are a variation of the "pencil" style watch hands.
A word about the lume here. The watch hands and all the indicators are a nice, even white colour under normal lighting conditions. The lume over the pip on the bezel is blue, while the remainder over the hour markers and hour/minute/second/power reserve hands are green. The lume over the power reserve and second hand is fairly small, and fades off relatively quickly compared to the others. The others are quite well done, however, and remain illuminated and visible till the next morning. Not the best lume, but more than good enough, and passes the quick-glance in a dark room test with ease.
The bracelet, however, is probably the biggest weakness of this watch. The bracelet, in and of itself, is actually fairly decent. It has a stamped steel, double safety clasp that feels acceptably safe with a stamped Orient logo. The links are a 3-link bracelet, solid steel with solid end links, in a brushed finish with a small section of polish over the middle link. Sounds decent so far, right? Well, here's the kicker: it's an integrated bracelet. Now, it helps to keep the watch design uniform and also helps to make it look slightly smaller, but for anyone who enjoys changing watch straps, they won't find any joy here. A pity, really, though if it's any consolation, the bracelet is of good quality, and I have no plans to change it anyway.
Overall, it's an excellent watch for the money. The combination of features (200m water resistance, shock and magnetic resistance, second hacking, power reserve) and quality construction is difficult to find at this price point, and it's a remarkably sleek looking watch for its size. A combination of the black dial and bezel keeps things understated, and a few splashes of red over the M-Force wording, Orient logo and crown ring help to keep things interesting. The unique design of the hour markers and hands also makes this very different from a typical diver. The clear symmetry of the design certainly makes me happy as well.
However, the integrated bracelet may well be a dealbreaker for some, and remains the most glaring weakness in what is otherwise a very solid design.
I hope this review has helped you make up your mind about this watch if you've been on the fence.