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10 min read·May 21, 2020

The Best Mechanical Dive Watch Under $300: Orient Kamasu Review

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Let’s face it, whether you are a professional diver or not, dive watches have become the watch style of choice for many in the last several years as societal norms have rapidly become more casual. With these changes have come more options of watches of this ilk occupying the more affordable price tier, creating some rather stiff competition. As if you have ever searched for affordable dive watch options chances are you have been bombarded with endless talk of the Seiko SKXs, Citizen Promasters, and new microbrands jumping into the mix for what seems to be every other week. Yet with the SKX becoming discontinued and prices rising, Orient has jumped the pack in establishing themselves as probably the best choice for an entry-level mechanical dive watch (in my opinion). In fact, a year ago, I made a video where I hailed the Orient Mako ii in a video review as my choice as the best entry-level mechanical dive watch. However, at that time, the Kamasu and the Kano had yet to be officially announced, but now with them here for a while, I think it is time to revisit my claim and see for a bit more money how much better the Kamasu actually is. First looking at a run-down of the watch from a high-level:
Case Size: 41.8 mm, Thickness: 12.8 mm, Lug Width: 22 mm, Lug-to-Lug: 46.3 mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 200 m, Movement: Auto Orient F6922

Wearability

One area where the Kamasu thrives is in the case of wearability, unintended pun there, as the case itself is simply well proportioned. The 41 mm case diameter really does not tell the entire story here as the watch wears closer to that of a 39 or 40 mm case with the help of the compact lug-to-lug of just 46.3 mm, a lug-to-lug that when compared to a popular everyday models like the Seiko Sarb 033 and 035, is barely a milimeter more. How this is achieved becomes easier to notice once you look at the Kamasu from its side profile, showcasing highly rounded out lugs that tuck without sinking beneath the bottom of the screw-down caseback. The lugs have a brushed finish on the anterior side with it gradually transitioning to a higher polished side of the case. The execution does not exhibit a stark transition in the finish given the absence of a hairline bevel of any sort but does look a bit more premium than other Orient divers available. Adding to the momentum of this one-upping the rest of the catalog, the Kamasu also comes with 120-click unidirectional bezel that is smooth in its action, given the help of deeply grooved notches in the bezel edge, with owing showing present but subtle play in the bezel. In addition, the lettering and markers on the bezel are a substantial step up in terms of the design in comparison to the mako ii and ray ii in my opinion. Casting across the dial we have a flat sapphire crystal that assists in the watch’s rather slim profile for diver at 12.8 mm. So with the design and case function, there is a lot of good across the board especially for the money, but there are certainly some areas that could improve. The first point that I have noticed with many orient divers, in general, is the ratio of crown size to crown guards seems to be a bit off, with the crown here appearing to be too small for the protruding crown guards, showing gaps between the two, which is a minute detail, but I think making a correction here to round out the crown guards and eliminate the gap would enhance the look of an otherwise rock-solid case for the price.
In addition, the bracelet, like many watches of this price tier, is an area where the affordability is felt a bit. The three link bracelet follows an oyster style meeting at a fold over locking clasp with a two button release  and four micro adjustment points that can be accessed with the help of a strap tool. The bracelet is not necessarily bad or anything, but given the watch’s 22 mm lug width, it will provide basically endless strap options, so I would opt with getting it on the factory rubber making this an even more affordable piece and purchase a couple natos, maybe spending a bit more on a third party bracelet option out there,or a leather strap, and  yes I wear my divers on leather and don’t feel bad about it. However, overall we have wearing experience that is exceptional for the price, as the Kamasu will be accommodating to both those that are not often comfortable with watches above 40 mm on their wrist while not scaring away those with larger wrists, as I would say anyone from a 6 inch wrist to an 8 inch wrist can have a lot of fun with this.

Design & Dial

So even at this point in the review, we have already mentioned the Orient mako ii and ray ii a bit, with upgrades this watch has in regards to its bezel and added sapphire crystal, but where the Kamasu really begins to gain separation from its Orient peers, is with its fresher take at the orient diver design. Looking at the dial of this blue dial variant, one of several other variants offered, we see a mild textured finish that looks very cool when looking at in the little with a reserved semi sunburst finish as well.
On the channel I have had the opportunity to shoot and play with a lot of fun watches, and this dial actually reacts to light pretty uniquely, looking its true blue in when directly in the light and darker when in the shadows, all while exhibiting a nice level of texture when getting extremely close to the macro lens. And I don’t want to take this too far as there are still signs of this being a $200 watch in some of the finishing on the indices, but for what this watch is, I think it outputs a nice end product that is unique.
At the three o’clock we have the day date function, outlined in a steel frame. Which on the subject of, mine also has dual languages,  featuring all the days of the week in Spanish, but I have seen other models offering different languages so perhaps something to consider for those where english isn’t their native tongue. At the 12, the applied orient logo and the 6, the writing  of the watch’s very capable 200 m of water resistance in clean cursive. One final distinction with this dial that stood up right away was the absence of a chapter ring, with the minute markings appearing right on the dial, which I actually prefer quite a bit, and  with all of the issues some Japanese watch brands have aligning these pesky little things, this seems even more like a good move.

Movement

Flipping this watch over, we have a closed, screwdown caseback with simple printed emblem in the middle, protecting the automatic Orient F6922 inside.A movement that has become the common player within Orient’s lineup of dive watch and operates in a straightforward manner.  Following unscrewing the screw down crown at the three, the user can change the date by rotating counterclockwise and the day by rotating clockwise. At the farthest pulled out position, this watch is fully hackable stopping the second by way of the balance and gives you the ability to set the time to the exact second with ease. The automatic F6922 operates at 21,600 vph, has an accuracy of -15 second – +25 out of the box with this model running just 7 seconds fast a day, it is hackable (stops the second hand at the farthest pulled out position), and has a power reserve of 40 hours.
And I don’t want to go over the top in praising this movement, as at its core, this is a very basic, entry level mechanical caliber, but when looking at the competition in the price range, you begin to appreciate what Orient is providing for the money.

Conclusion

One of the most asked questions I get on Instagram is where to start for getting a first automatic watch. It is a question that is usually asked with providing little to no context about the situation or the other watches being considered by that person asking. But regardless how deep I get into the situation of the person asking, I always feel confident saying Orient is a good place to start.  Are the watches the greatest pieces in the world, no, but with watches like this Kamasu, you are getting an honest product that is great for the money, and most importantly, fun to wear.
And with the SKX demanding higher prices, the mako ii and ray ii needing a refresh, I think the Kamasu is an amazing choice for those looking to get a tough, yet attractive dive watch for $200-$250, that can serve both a seasoned enthusiast looking for a new piece to play with or for those just getting started.