Orient’s M-Force diver’s watch is a retro-modern ISO diver for less than $500
When Orient launched the M-Force diver’s watch in 1997, the world was a decidedly different place. Hong Kong was recently out of British hands, and the vitriol surrounding the most controversial American political topic of the day (stem cells) looked set to tear society apart. However, 25 years later, the world is as before. After a quarter of a century, The Simpsons still defends the title of longest-running animated series, society is still restless, and David Byrne is still a genius. Putting 1997 further in the rearview mirror, the launch of the first M-Force was closer to Watergate than it is today.
Orient’s age of 72 is by no means the longest in the watchmaking world, but it’s the kind of heritage young watch brands ask, borrow and steal to achieve. For Orient, everything comes with the territory. While Orient’s eldest and eternal rival, Seiko, has suffered round after round of mitosis, resulting in a diverging family tree, Orient has spent nearly three-quarters of a century developing watches that are still at least comparable and the do with a fraction of the marching band. The 25-year-old M-Force line then presents itself as the perfect demonstration of this long steady march.
When launched, the M-Force collection was proudly marketed as the culmination of “three Ms”. Mechanically inclined, the automatic caliber represented the first selling point while the case design of the 90s was encapsulated by the second “M:” maverick. Finally, due to its size of 47mm, the third “M” stood for (need I even say it?) “massive”. It’s that charismatically serious salesmanship that plays perfectly with the M-Force’s neo-retro vibe; Don Draper shouldn’t accurately place M-Force marketing right next to his style somewhere between Tamagotchis and LA Looks hair gel.
In 2022, Orient gets bonus points for leaning into that level of schtick instead of timidly brushing it under the rug. Indeed, for the refresh of the range in 2020, the brand has added a fourth “M”. Celebrating the “magnificence” of the Earth’s natural beauty, Orient salutes the planetary attributes, concrete and theoretical, via three dial colorations. Fit for a diver’s watch, blue represents the boundless sea, while orange makes up the glowing mouths of the high seas that continually grow our planet. More abstractly, the lovingly textured red dial is meant to evoke the vitality and strength of our planet.
What really gives the new M-Force line character, however, are the bold design elements that made the original great. Take for example the must-have chunky crown guard. Adding presence to an already authoritative profile, it embodies the “functional” elements that make us dream of the 90s – wipers on headlights, anyone? Even the numbers on the one-way bezel give off matrix vibes, reminding us to be grateful that printer technology has advanced enough that paper jams are a thing of the past. Expect….
Of course, while retro fun makes this watch special, the specs are seriously modern. The dimensional indexes are framed in silver and very luminous, while the partially skeletonized hands allow maximum visibility of the dial while appearing in the dark. Color-matched chapter rings allow for precise minute tracking, as does the bezel, which, with 60-minute ticks, means it’s easy to time daily activities with precision.
The double-fold clasp features micro-adjustments (a modern staple) and the sapphire crystal has anti-reflective coatings, further proving the M-Force’s chops as a modern diver who can run with the big dogs. To this end, 200 m are ensured by the screw-down caseback while the screw-down crown is both robust and robust.
Inside, the M-Force proudly sports the in-house caliber F6727 movement which, by design, is more shock resistant than its rivals. Representing a change, however, the F6727 lacks the power reserve indicator that was made famous by previous generations of the M-Force, but retains the date window at 3 o’clock. To complete the design, the M-Force comes either on a high quality black dive rubber or a stainless steel bracelet with fitted end links.
Add it all up and the M-Force scratches a very particular itch – namely, that of a watch with meaningful specs but doesn’t take itself too seriously. From a design perspective, it’s refreshing to see a watchmaker taking style cues that depart so radically from the most standardized style: the diver’s watch. If the M-Force has only one lesson to teach, it’s the importance of keeping watchmaking honest. The price is $450 (blue/rubber dial) and $495 (black dial/strap, red dial/strap, black dial/rubber). For more details, please visit the Orient website.
Model: M-Force AC0L
Dimensions: 45mm diameter (including 47.3mm crown guard), 52mm between lugs, 13.2mm thick, 20mm lug width
Water resistance: 200 meters
Housing: Stainless steel
Crystal: Sapphire (with anti-reflective coating)
Movement: Caliber F6727 (Automatic, time & date)
Power reserve: 40 hours
Strap/Wristband: Stainless steel strap with double push-button folding clasp, or black rubber strap with pin buckle clasp
Price and availability: On sale at orientwatchusa.com for $450 (blue/rubber dial), $495 (black dial/strap, red dial/strap, black dial/rubber)