I love this watch. Love, love, LOVE it. Though it’s no more than three months old, it’s fast becoming one of the few that I will NEVER let go of. The Orient RN-AA0008B, aka the Ray III, is a good watch, perhaps even a great one depending on where you’re coming from.
It’s not perfect, however.
Before we dive in (pun most definitely intended), let me explain why I’m so into it.
See, I’m sure most of you guys and gals out there understand that watches are more than just tools to tell the time, right? Watches, to most of us, have a story connected to them. Be it an experience sourcing for said timepiece or inheriting them from a family member or loved one, a watch is so much more than the sum of its parts.
In the case of this particular watch, the story begins even before it fell into my possession.
*grabs popcorn* “K, I’m listening…”
In September 2018, my significant other and I visited Japan for two weeks and while that trip wasn’t exactly a watch-hunting holiday, I told myself I had to acquire my first diver there to mark the occasion. I started with a bit of research and zeroed in on either an Orient Ray or Mako.
So, it was decided there and then before we left Malaysia that I had to return with an Orient. Fast forward to Japan and things started to go downhill from the first few days. While on the hunt, I had stumbled upon a brochure in a BIC Camera outlet with pictures of some very tasty divers from Orient. One of them was the Ray III.
Naturally, I asked the staff about it in a mixture of broken Japanese and sign language. I was then told that they didn’t have it in store. “Okay, no problem. I’ll just try the next few outlets,” I told myself. As the trip progressed, I was faced with more or less the same result. Halfway in, the thought of not being able to get the watch dawned on me.
BUT THE WANT WAS TOO MUCH.
Then, in Kyoto, the bad news broke. A staff at yet another BIC Camera outlet had successfully translated to me that the Orient RN-AA0008B and its siblings were only set for release in Japan on September 19 2018.
My stomach churned, my palms started to sweat and a lump formed in my throat.
We checked our departure date again. It was the 18th of September – a mere 24 hours before the watch was set for release. I would miss the release by. Just. One. Day.
I tried asking them if it was possible to work out a solution, no matter how crazy it sounded.
“Can I reserve one and have it delivered?”
Actual footage of me at that moment.
I spent the entire day in a daze, trying to compartmentalize the disappointment. I fumbled my way through one gorgeous temple after another and ate anything I could get my hands on.
It didn’t work.
I swear that even if you saw me smiling in the photos, I was dead inside. Every single time I tried to push the thought away, the employee’s face pops up in my mind, replete with head shakes and giant Xs made with her arms.
A day or two passed and things got a whole lot worse. While we were winding down after a day of temple running, we were notified that our flight out of Osaka was cancelled due to damages from Typhoon Jebi. Several phone calls and emails later, we were exhausted but contented. We had sorted our replacement flight out.
It was due for September 19 instead.
“Eh?! September 19?!”
It took both of us a full minute or two to realise what that meant. Truth be told, I was too busy with my chocolate chip mint ice-cream to even notice the sudden windfall. It was my partner, over her matcha ice-cream, who had jumped like she had just seen a ghost.
“Wait. Does that mean you can actually get the watch?!”
As soon as that opportunity registered in me, my eyes went wide. We both stared at each other and without warning…
Actual footage of us at that moment.
Ladies and gentlemen, if there ever was a clear example of the saying, “Every cloud has a silver lining…”, this is it. Soon enough, our last day in Japan arrived and we popped into another BIC Camera outlet, this time within Abeno Q’s Mall in Osaka. To be frank, the pessimist in me expected to go home empty-handed because come on, they won’t have stock on the actual day of its releas-
There it was, sitting inside a nondescript display case alongside the other newly-released models. In true Japanese efficiency, the latest collection went live at dealers nationwide on the very same day we were scheduled to fly out.
The rest, as they say, is history.
On our final day in Japan, I managed to get what I wanted after encountering multiple setbacks throughout the trip. See what I mean about watches having stories of their own to tell? The Orient Typhoon Jebi is a prime example of this.
Now, on to the review of the Orient RN-AA0008B aka Ray III aka Orient Typhoon Jebi.
Firstly, let’s get the figures out of the way. The Ray III retails for ¥32,000 but foreigners get a tax-free rate. Couple that to a discount for using a credit card and yours truly flew home with the Ray III for RM776. Not too bad when you consider I also bought an aftermarket Bambi silicone strap to go with it.
Measurements include a case diameter of 44.2 mm (excluding the crown), a lug width of 22.1 mm and a lug-to-lug figure of 49.7 mm. Thickness is measured at 13.1 mm while the watch weighs a total of 109 g.
Inside, the Orient Ray III features the in-house F6922 movement. Operating at 3 Hz, the 22-jeweled movement adds hacking and hand-winding capabilities over its 46943-equipped predecessors. Power reserve is officially rated at 40+ hours although I’ve noticed that mine knocks on the door of the 48-hour mark consistently. Also, Orient quotes an accuracy rating of +25/-15 seconds for the F6922 in the Ray III. Mine is averaging +12.9 seconds per day.
The water resistance for the Ray III is rated at 200 metres (20 bar). More than enough for 99% of the watch’s target audience, I reckon. Also, another cool feature of this being a JDM model is the day display is available in both kanji and English – why you would bother with the latter is beyond me, though.
“Okay, enough numbers for now. How does it feel?”
For starters, it wears pretty small despite its measured 44 mm width. Initially, it did feel a tad too large for my 6-inch wrist but after spending some time with it, the watch kinda’ shrinks. The Mako III I tried on was indeed smaller and suited my wrist more but it didn’t tug at my heartstrings the way the Ray III did.
Aesthetically, I find it to be rather conservative-looking despite a bright red, 120-click unidirectional bezel. The bezel itself features a matte aluminium insert with a ridged edge that, thankfully, faces downwards instead of upwards like in the Mako/Ray II. As a result, the bezel is oh-so-slightly easier to grip and operate with wet hands/gloves.
Unfortunately, the first negative also crops up here. The predecessor had a lumed pip at the 12 o’clock mark on the bezel along with minute markers for the first 15 minutes. Both are missing on the Ray III. On the upside, turning the bezel is quite the tactile experience. One that’s made better with a click-click-click noise that doesn’t sound too cheap despite its affordable price tag. However, I noticed a fair bit of free play when turning the bezel counter-clockwise.
Moving on to the stainless steel case, Orient has decided to go with (lightly) brushed and polished surfaces here. Personally, I’m a fan of these kinds of combo finishing as it gives the watch some added pizzazz whilst maintaining its tool-like persona. The gently sloped lugs are not particularly long which helps it wear better on smaller wrists like mine. Elsewhere, the knurled crown resides between oddly small crown guards and features the Orient logo in print. Unfortunately, no engraved logos to be found here – again, unlike its predecessor. Tsk tsk.
“You get what you paid for, right?”
In a sense, yes. Which brings me to another flaw – the crown. No, I’m not particularly bothered by the lack of engraving. What irks me was when I unscrewed the crown, held it between my fingers and noticed that the whole thing wobbled.
Questionable build quality aside, the crown itself had an air of no-nonsense to its operation. It’s not exactly buttery smooth when you wind it up. Instead it felt… industrial. A tad coarse, even.
Elsewhere, the Ray III comes with a mineral crystal while the rear features a solid screw-down caseback. The only decorative element to be found is a pair of printed dolphins chasing each other. Again, the Ray II had the same motif but it was engraved instead.
I’m not sure about you guys but I’m starting to pick out a pattern here.
Orient Ray II > Ray III?
Not exactly. Moving on to the dial, this is where things start to really differ aesthetically from the Ray II. The flat black dial is kept simple with minimal texts, an applied Orient logo and a simple cutout for the day/date window at 3 o’clock. The latter is framed with a pair of horizontal white lines – a small detail that naturally draws one’s eyes towards the window. With sufficient light, the rehaut is polished enough to reflect the minute markers and part of the indices.
The applied baton indices are straightforward in appearance with a twin setup at the 12 o’clock mark. Compared to the Ray II, the sword hands on the Ray III are a bit slimmer in design while the centre second hand features a small triangular tip with lume. Speaking of lume, don’t quote me on this but seeing as how Orient is a subsidiary of the Seiko Epson Corporation, I can understand that Seiko’s LumiBrite may have found its way on to the Ray III.
Whatever kind of luminescent paint it may be, the Ray III has plenty of it slathered on all three hands and indices.
Yes, the stock silicone rubber strap. Pluses for comfort and pliability while a huge minus goes to the actual length of the whole thing. With a 6-inch wrist, there is a lot of excess strap once I’ve put it on. Now, this would’ve been solved if not for the keeper that stops a good inch shy of the top lugs.
Why? The stock strap features a very pronounced rippled design which makes sense for diving applications. The deeper you dive, the higher the pressure and the rippling allows for the strap to compress accordingly. Without these built-in tolerances of the strap, your watch will slide off, a passing 90+ year old turtle will then devour it, you panic, lose track of your dive time and you die.
Aside from that, the strap itself features a smooth outer construction while the inner part is textured. At one end, the dolphin motif is seen again, embossed into the strap. Flipping it around, the Orient text is stamped into the aforementioned textured surface. A brushed buckle and minimal texts (’22’ and ‘China’) written on the inner portion complete the other end.
I already mentioned it at the start – I love the Orient Typhoon Jebi. However, if we were to bar the experience of the hunt for it across Japan and judge the watch based on its entirety, I’d rate it a solid 7.5 out of 10. It’s not the apex diver but for the money, I reckon it represents fantastic value.
Looking for a solid, entry-level diver’s watch with engineering integrity and brand heritage? The Orient RN-AA0008B Ray III should be high on that list.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to start planning for my next trip back to Japan.
*EDIT: Since March/April 2019, this watch is apparently known as the ‘Kano’ and is listed as such on the Orient US website. However, a check on the Japanese website reveals that the ‘Kano’ name is absent.