For the past twelve years, the classic EM65 watch has without a doubt been the most popular Orient watch in the US, and a top seller overseas. The watch embodies Orient Watch as a whole, a timepiece that looks, feels, and performs way above its price point, built with an attention to detail and reliability that’s unmatched in its weight class. Today we’re going to discuss how it got to where it is today as well as the evolution of this famed collection.
The EM65 was first released in late 2004, and featured 200m of water resistance, a 60-click unidirectional bezel, a day and date display, and the workhorse 46943 in-house made automatic movement. When openly discussed amongst enthusiasts, the watch was referred to by its long model number. This habit became tedious, and a couple of years later it was given a nickname. Around 2010, the EM65 would be joined by another diver-inspired timepiece. It served as a fantastic foil to the sporty design of the EM65: instead it employed a classic diver design and brighter lume. The two often became the subject of debate, with collectors commenting on which was better, or which should they add to their collection.
About four years later, Orient Watch USA thought about how they could make their top selling watch even better. A survey and discussion was started on Reddit’s /r/watches, and after thousands of survey responses and comments, it was clear what needed to be included in the next great dive-styled watch. It was not until the summer of 2015 that the product from this dialogue came to fruition. The EM65 USA was unveiled and became an instant hit. It included nearly everything the community had asked for, including a sapphire crystal, a 120-click bezel, solid bracelet end links, and improved luminescence. It was also offered in a never-before-seen colorway as well: Stark White.
After years of development, Orient had perfected a new watch caliber, the F6922, an automatic, hand-winding and hacking movement. It was built to succeed the oft-revered 46943 movement, which had powered Orient watches reliably for more than 40 years. Among the first watches to be powered by the new in-house caliber were the AA02 which were released in April 2016. While the aesthetic for the most part was unchanged, changes included a 120-click unidirectional bezel, a matte bezel insert, and the loss of the day-changing crown at the two o’clock position—which was eliminated by the new movement.
The EM65 USA had sold out in early 2016, and quickly became one of the most sought-after timepieces in our collection. It was only a matter of time that a successor was created, and two months after the arrival of the AA02 and the AA02 USA II was released stateside. Again, the aesthetic was unchanged, but the movement was upgraded. It is arguably one of the most complete casual diver-styled watches in our collection, and without a doubt a timepiece with an incredible value proposition. What does the future hold for the AA02? Only time will tell. The original EM65 has been discontinued, and have ultimately been replaced with modern renditions. Bonus: The watch on the right is the called Dolphin, a 2009 release which doesn’t quite fit into the EM65 history timeline, but was definitely inspired by it. The domed bezel is certainly a fantastic design quirk.