Nick Harris has big plans after completing his watchmaking training. By the time he graduated from watchmaking school he had already started Orion Watches, originally using the brand to fund his education. The dream was to do it all: hands, dials, cases and movements, and to do it on a scale that wasn’t limited to producing a few six-figure watches every year. At the time, US infrastructure was sparse, to say the least, and he knew it would be a long, challenging task. He tottered with unstoppable fatigue. After years of doctor visits that ended with more uncertainty, Harris accepted that his strength wasn’t coming back. Remarkably, he didn’t abandon his plan—he embraced it. He couldn’t do everything himself, but he could bring others together to create a community of watchmakers and fabricators, finishers and machinists who could share ideas and resources and eventually lay the groundwork for the slow-moving American watchmaking infrastructure. – Allow him to realize his dream.
Orion Watches started as a modding project to support Harris while he was in watchmaking school and grew into a full microbrand after he graduated. But there are things that set it apart from other smaller brands. It is a legacy based on the quality of the watches and the reputation and knowledge of the person behind them, not real or fictitious. And the person behind them is not a real watchmaker, enthusiast or designer or entrepreneur; This has the occasional downside, but ultimately it means the watches are designed with precision in mind, carrying out all the testing and servicing inside and out. In a way, the Orion has been the field standard through-line since the beginning: it started as a Seiko mod, then the third model offered on Orion’s first case platform, and now has been reestablished with the brand’s Hellcat case and bracelet platform. The Orion Field Standard is a deceptively simple watch that is pleasing at almost every turn.
As mentioned, the Orion Field is housed in a standard Hellcat case (with its matching bracelet). This is a good thing. The 39mm case is an impressive 10.5mm-thin, but that’s just the spec sheet. Here’s the real trick Crooked Caseback (which can be seen in many of the pictures in this review). Comfort has been a hallmark of the Orion since the first models with their long, swooping lugs and continues with the introduction of a curved caseback in the Calamity Diver. Here, the curvature already lowers the trim profile and allows for effortless wear, with gently curved lugs and 47mm lug-to-lug. The case is decidedly more refined than most field watches: a long polished chamfer on the edge, fine brushing and a concave polished bezel offer more everyday versatility than other field watches, but it comes at a higher cost. Mark surfaces (note, some pieces are made with blasted surfaces). The wide screw-down crown has pronounced knurling for a precise grip and helps ensure 100m water resistance.
The Tesseract is one of the more recent models offered by Orion, which uses the same case and bracelet as the Field Standard, but with a striking hand-made dial with a repeating Tesseract pattern. That watch was one of the first Orion models to bear fruit of Harris’ community-building efforts, as the dial was joined by fellow American craftsmen. But the field standard is not that; The dial won’t wow anyone, but it’s refined and complements the case. Underneath the sapphire crystal, one of the subtle design elements I appreciate is the printing from the center of the dial out and the stepping-up in the indices: numerals 13-24 are simply printed in white, and the 12-hour markers are printed with Super-LumiNova BGW9, slightly raised, and high- There are polished applied indicators. It’s the most subtle change in attention to detail you’ll find in Orion watches.
The loom on the field standard is perfect for almost any use I can imagine, the hands shine brighter and more evenly than the printed numbers. What shines is how much light the polished indexes are receiving; In low-light environments, you almost don’t need a loom and can rely on reflective markers. The hands have a stylized syringe style, chevron division through the minute hand. Their high gloss allows them to catch the light brilliantly, but without light they feel a bit lifeless. One thing I would like to fix is the lack of date. First, leaving out the date allows the dial to maintain its visual balance in all axes. Second, you might think that a field watch needs a date for functionality, but this is not true of historicity or modernity. The A-17 military spec (it succeeded the original A-11, which lacked a 24-hour scale) did not call for a date display, and even contemporary examples of field watches are replete with dateless dials from brands ranging from Vaer to Formex (and even Rolex, if you count the Explorer I).
The screw-down caseback is a thing of elegance. While the high polish does attract scuffs, it’s delightfully devoid of all the specs and branding you often encounter on casebacks (be it a Timex or FP Journe). Instead, Harris engraved the constellation of Orion (see the belt?) on the curved surface, the stars in which were accurately scaled, and Betelgeuse identified with the actual star. Under the hood is the ever reliable Miyota 9039. Since its introduction to the market in 2018, the 9039 has become the go-to movement for smaller brands seeking the perfect no-date movement. The movement has a 42-hour power reserve, a beat rate of 28,800 vph and 24 jewels. Accuracy is quoted by Miota at -10/+30 seconds per day and every movement is tested by Harris. While -10/+30 may not sound great to those with unrealistic timekeeping needs, I can anecdotally confirm that there are many watches with this movement that run better than that.
One of the highlights of this watch, and other Orion models that share the platform, is the bracelet. When I first reviewed the Orion Hellcat, the bracelet hadn’t been released, so I wanted one. Now, having experienced it, I was blown away. The clasp is a stock option I’ve seen on other smaller brands of bracelets, and it’s one of my favorites because it maintains a slim profile and clean look and provides a secure closure. The bracelet itself is on another level. It’s flimsy to the point where you might think it’s cheap, but once you handle it, its quality is evident. The links have great articulation, which combines with their svelte profile to create excellent comfort on the wrist. From a design perspective, I prefer scalloped polishing on the base of each link. One thing to pick on here is that the bracelet doesn’t offer a quick-release (Harris isn’t yet convinced of the benefits, arguing there’s a high fail rate that would result in an unusable bracelet); There are no drilled lugs (which is good because it keeps the case clean), and the bracelet-case fit is A lot at ease. That said, having the spring bar tweezers makes it easier to remove/seat the bracelet. Once you get the hang of it, the watch looks great on a variety of straps, given its simple black/white/steel design.
In its third iteration under the Orion name, the Field Standard is more than just another model from another small brand. This indicates the maturity of the brand, which like most big brands, revisits and refines its designs rather than focusing on the new-new-new stream. Chatting with Harris about Orion and the field standard, he comments that his goal is and always has been to make a worthwhile fix. It’s an interesting take on the idea of building something that lasts. Something can be made to last for a long time, but doing something that actually makes people want to fix it so they can continue to enjoy it is a very different endeavor. I’ve handled and reviewed nearly every model Orion has produced, and each one achieves Harris’ goal. As is the field standard, other models wear very well, making them difficult to remove at the end of the day (and even harder to send back after a review!). The Field Standard can be seen as just another field watch—which it is—but it’s a refinement of the idea that represents a brand and a person trying to do a little more and be a little different, to build watches with a long vision. America through aid cooperation. I think this is something we can all get behind. Orion Field Standard Price is limited to 40 pieces $725. For more information, please visit Brand’s website.
> Brand: Orion
>Model: Field standard
>size: 39mm-wide, 10.5mm-thick, 47mm lug-to-lug
>when The reviewer wears it personally: Offers the ability and versatility to be worn on straps almost all the time, outside of rugged adventure
>Friend we recommend it first: Someone looking for a single watch that can be worn for almost every occasion, or a more seasoned collector looking for a versatile affordable piece from a brand with a real story.
>The best feature of the watch: An absolutely stunning case with a curved back, as well as an incredibly thin and comfortable bracelet; Readable
>The worst feature of the watch: dial can play a little flat at a glance, lume is adequate, strap changes can be a pain,