Orient Star Retro-Future Bicycle Watch

Orient Netuno 500m Diver Hands-On Review

Netuno is one of the most iconic models of Orient Brazil, the unique
branch of the Japanese brand discussed in a previous
blog post
. The watch not only goes deeper than any other current
Orient with its 500-meter rating – it also went further to become possibly the
most popular worldwide of the Brazilian sub-brand's designs. Popular in Google
searches, that is, as getting your hands on one is not so easy unless you live
in Brazil or visit there.

Luckily I was able to get hold of a Netuno, officially reference 469SS073,
thanks to my friend Ron G. who is always on the hunt for big massive watches to
fit his, well, big massive arms!

The dimensions are formidable: case width is 48mm, excluding the crown,
while the bezel is 46.5mm across; the case is 54mm long from lug to lug, and
18mm thick; lug width is a somewhat unusual 23mm.

Inside ticks the good old caliber 469 – very old in fact, as it's been
in production for almost 50 years. It doesn't hack and doesn't hand-wind, but
it is known to be very reliable – and serviceable.

The presentation of the watch is quite impressive. Inside the box, you
find the watch attached to a mesh bracelet; a second steel bracelet with solid
end links; and a bracelet changing tool along with some spare screws.

I approached this watch initially with much apprehension and low
expectations. I anticipated a watch that would be rough and unrefined, and
considering its size – possibly not even wearable for my only slightly larger
than average 7.3" wrist.

So let's get this out of the way: I was wrong, okay?... Okay. Now let's
get to it.

How It Looks

It looks good! The sunburst-blue dial is charming, very similar to the
Japanese brand's blue dials. However, there is an added three-dimensionality,
created thanks to the raised and sloped chapter ring, into which the large hour
markers are set.

The markers are big and bold, trapezoid at 12, 3, 6 and 9, and round
elsewhere. At three you also get a thin, elongated window presenting the date
and day of the week. These do not interfere with the overall aesthetics of the
dial, which is expansive enough to afford to host these added elements, as well
as the larger-than-usual Orient logo.

The hands, too, are large and easily discernible even at low light,
contributing to the super-high legibility of the watch. Completing the overall
looks is the divers' bezel, where the aluminum bezel has apparently been
painted and finished to resemble ceramic as much as possible.

Turn the watch on its back and you'll find the big Orient "O"
symbol in fine relief. The same symbol is also stamped on the crown.

The overall design of the watch is very masculine and pronounced, and in
this sense it is quite different from the likes of Orient
and Kanno. Here you get plenty of sharp angles and no less
than 8 hexagonal screws adorning the case, including the four used for keeping
the bracelet in place. Not sure if all the other four are functional, or just
provide the visual balance (and possibly one of them conceals the helium
release valve that this watch is equipped with).

The case sides are polished while the top surface of the lugs is lightly
brushed. There's no chamfering or any other fancy finishing here, and the lines
where surfaces meet are generally just slightly rounded off.

No complaints on the visual side then. The Netuno looks as tough and
bold as it was probably intended, but it is far from ugly – in fact, the big
blue dial is just as nice as the Kamasu's.

How It Wears

Well, that's the BIG question, isn't it? The answer is, it wears better
than expected, despite its substantial 240g heft (more than the 230g of the Orient
300m Saturation Diver

The wearability owes much to the mesh bracelet. While I am generally not
a fan of mesh, stylistically, there's no denying its benefits when attached to
a big diver like this one. It is very easy to adjust to the right size, over
skin or divers' suit, so a snug fit is always ensured.

Thus, as the watch does not dangle around, its weight is felt much less.
In fact, I was able to completely ignore it as I spent a few hours of work,
mostly at the keyboard, with the Netuno on my wrist. It's also worth noting
that the bracelet did not pull any hair, a sign of good quality mesh.

The watch also comes with a standard steel bracelet. I did not size it
to wear (because, as mentioned, I got it on loan from a friend) but like the
mesh, it seems to be of good quality. Much in the spirit of the watch case, it
is solid, got decent heft, and quite well made, despite having a very simple
and uniform finishing. So, not as impressive as an Orient Star or the OSD
bracelet, but should get the job done.

Note that the Netuno uses screw bars, not springbars, to attach the bracelets. While screws are generally thought of as a safer mechanism, they're not as convenient as springbars for owners who like to change straps often - and, they are not at all suitable for those who prefer Nato straps.

How It Functions

First thing to check with a new watch is crown operation. The screw-down
crown of the Netuno is very easy to lock and unlock, and the threading feels
precise. Caliber 469 does not hand-wind, so the first position of the crown is
idle. The second position is used to set the date, and the third – to set the
time. All these tasks are easy to accomplish, the crown is large and grippy,
and does not wobble like the Mako / Kamasu crowns.

Note that while some cal. 469 variants include a quick-set button at
2:00 for setting the day; this one doesn't. So, you'd be setting the day first
by moving the time forward, then get the time set, and then the date – assuming
you're doing it at hours when date setting is allowed. Otherwise you'd probably
want to get the watch set to the day before, set the hour to afternoon, then
set the date of the day before – and finally, move the time forward to the
current date and time.

Now let's examine the bezel, a classic 120-click unidirectional divers' design.
It feels solid and turns with a healthy click. It does have some back-play
though. Comparing it with the Japanese divers, it feels and looks more robust
than the Kamasu's – yet having a little more play – and certainly does not come
close to the Saturation Diver (but then, very few watches do).

Accuracy is decent for a 469-based watch, and the Netuno tested ran fast
about 17 seconds per day. That's not glorious accuracy, and most Japan-made
Orient I've tested are better – but it is within specs. As the movement is
non-hacking, there is little point in trying to adjust it to much higher

One thing that did not really meet my expectations was the lume.
Considering the size of the markers and the nature of the watch, one would
expect some seriously impressive and long-lasting light show. However lume is
only average. It does benefit from the size of markers and hands, so at first telling
the time in the dark is effortless, but lume intensity diminishes quickly and
half an hour later was too faint to see unless the room was pitch black dark.

The Bottom Line

The Netuno is officially priced at around 1,300 Real, which is currently
about 240 USD – thanks to the dive that the Brazilian currency took in 2020.
It's rare to find it selling for global customers, and then the price would
usually be closer to 400 USD, which would have been the right price about a
year ago. That is more or less the price range for the Kamasu, where common
colors would be close to the lower limit, and rarer ones – higher.

Considering what you're getting for this amount of money, the Netuno is
an incredible deal: a real automatic divers' watch, rated to 500m, two good bracelets,
helium release valve and all, for 240 or even 400 USD is very uncommon. Add
shipping and taxes, depending on where you live, and it's still bound to make a
very compelling proposition.

The build quality is more than satisfactory. At this price, you'd be
comparing this watch to crowd-funded projects where quality is unlikely to be
better overall, or to Chinese divers where you'd most likely be looking at very
unoriginal designs. With the Netuno you're getting what looks like an Orient
design on steroids, with a very reliable movement, solid build quality, and
decent finishing.

One downside is the crystal, which is not Sapphire. A big watch like
this is bound to get bumped against various obstacles now and then; the mineral
glass is thick and unlikely to break easily, but it will most likely collect
scratches over time.

The other drawback is the movement, being non hand-winding, non-hacking,
and not the most accurate. Avid Orient fans would appreciate the 469 for its
legacy, and it will likely keep working with minimum maintenance for decades,
but objectively speaking, it is outdated.


The blog's verdict: Orient Brazil's 500m diver is, perhaps unexpectedly,
a winner. It might not be the best choice for most watch buyers who are looking
for a modern, modestly-sized, refined desk-diver. But if you're looking for a
big, bold piece of metal, with lots of character and wrist presence that cannot
be ignored, then the Netuno has some of the best value-for-money in both the
southern and northern hemispheres.

The blog would like to thank, again, our friend Ron G. for lending us
his watch for a few days. Enjoy your Netuno, Ron!