An Excellent Choice for the Value-Conscious Mechanical Watch Enthusiast
The Monarch is another excellent example of what I love about Orient Watches: affordable and well-made, distinctly-styled and mechanically competent.
As of the time of this review, the MSRP of the Monarch is $335 (though I bought this one off of Amazon for $160). The Monarch is a classy dress watch that is rather conservatively styled (once you look past the serif hour markers). This model comes with a leather strap, stainless steel buckle, and an exhibition caseback.
Like the Bambino, which I still maintain is the best automatic watch you can buy for under $250, the Monarch hits that sweet spot where what it brings to the table greatly exceeds what it costs to eat there. You won’t find another quality mechanical – let alone with a power reserve complication – at this price point until you start looking at no-name Chinese-manufactured movements.
In many respects, the Monarch is a great example of affordable mechanical watchmaking. Let’s take a closer look.
Orient Monarch FDD03003Y0 Technical Specifications
- Model Number: FDD03003Y0
- MSRP: $335
- Case Diameter: 40mm
- Alternate Models: None
- Movement: Mechanical, Orient Calibre 48C40
- Complications: Power reserve
- Power Reserve: Approximately 40 hours
- Water Resistance: 50m / 165ft
- Crystal Material: Mineral
Conservative Style, Just
The cream-colored dial has a slight sunburst effect, though its more pearlescent than the sunburst that you see on something like the Seiko Alpinist. This slight effect works constructively with the texture on the dial, helping the blue hands and black hour markers stand out.
The only other color to the dial, aside from the hands, is the touch of red at the center of Orient’s logo. I like how the hands contrast against the dial; they are easy to read and are satisfying to look at. Of course, legibility is dependant on lighting: there is no lume on the Monarch, so it’s strictly daytime viewing only.
I don’t think the Monarch is a good looking watch, but I also don’t think it’s bad looking either. The fonts used for the hour markers, power reserve indicator, and logo are all different. In fact, the dial has four different typefaces which makes it feel disjointed. Most out of place are the hour markers, which are quite stylized but not something I find outwardly attractive.
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However, if you and the Monarch aesthetically jive, you’ll be happy to know that it is otherwise a well-done watch that was made with precision. It looks and feels high quality, and this is also true when viewed under significant magnification. All the markers and printing are applied with care.
The hands, including the one used for the power reserve, are ion-coated blue. From what I can see, the application is even- there are no marks or imperfections on them that stand out, even when zoomed in. Depending on the angle you view them at, their color shifts from a rich blue to almost black.
Simple is also the theme when you look beyond the dial. The crown is knurled and the buckle is engraved, but otherwise, the case is clean and comes with minimal fanfare. The black leather strap is an excellent pair and completes the understated design.
A Reserved Hand-Wind Movement
I just can’t resist a good watch pun ;). The Orient Calibre 48C40 is a hacking hand-wind movement that beats at 21,600 bph. The beat rate gives the second’s hand a noticeable “tick” as it circles the dial.
When fully wound, the power reserve display at 12 o’clock will indicate 40-hours of reserve. Using toolwatch.io, I observed accuracy of about +18 seconds per day (average over a three week period).
The rear exhibition window shows a finely decorated and machined movement, which catches the light and is satisfying to the eye. There’s no rotor, but despite its absence, you don’t see much as the movement obscures most of the gears and rotors. You can see the balance wheel in motion, but that’s about it.
A Strong Package That Brings a Lot to the Wrist
If you’re someone wanting a watch that’s a bit different than the usual, the Monarch is a pretty strong choice. In addition to the relative rarity of a hand-wind mechanical at this price point, the Monarch offers good quality that doesn’t require much in the way of concessions from its wearer.
For me, the inclusion of the power reserve indicator at 12 o’clock is a nice reminder of its horological underpinnings. Mechanical watch movements may require hand-winding, but they are typically lighter than automatic movements (and also less complicated). Owners should get many trouble-free years out of the Monarch.
I’m happy to see that Orient is still doing what it does best: building good quality watches that are affordable and value-focused. Given its street price of $160 – $200, the Monarch offers the segment a lot of watch for the money.