There’s just something about a “panda” dial that seems to get the attention of any watch collector, independent of buying budget. There are great examples of these in just about every price range, but after searching and owning many of the options in the sub $1,000 market, I can say with confidence the Orient wv0041tx is one the best options, aesthetically and mechanically speaking.
A panda dial is a light colored dial (almost always a chronograph) with dark sub-dials that creates the color scheme of a panda bear. These dials (along with the inverse “reverse panda”) have become fan favorites and with good reason. However, it seems like most budget options always fall short in one way or another.
The Orient wv0041tx (also known as the Neo 70s) gets just about everything right in terms of design. The primary color the dial is a very clean white. Often times, an off-white, beige, or very light color of dial is used for panda dials. This chips away from the high contrast needed to execute that desired look. However, the Orient’s true white creates a fantastic contrast. Right along this avenue, the entire dial has only two colors, black and white, with the exception of the Orient logo. This creates a very clean look that other brands often get wrong by adding colors that distract from the black and white theme.
A great example of this back and forth between black and white can be seen between the dial and subdials. While the dial (white) has black markers on it, the subdials (black) have white text on them. This goes a long way to further the well-executed design.
Another aspect that Orient hit right on the nail, in my opinion, was the execution of the chronograph pushers. They are long (without being too long), wide enough to offer a good grip (without being too wide), and allude well to vintage designs. In my humble opinion, this is the best kind of pushers. The fact this style is used in some of the most iconic chronographs suggests I’m not alone in this line of thinking.
The Orient wv0041tx features a solar power movement with a reportedly power reserve of six months, though I have never tested this reserve that long. This may seem like a downside to many mechanical watch lovers, but at this price range (under $250 USD), I think it is a fair and reasonable choice of movement.
All of this is packed into a 41mm-42mm case that wears very well on the wrist. The lug width of 22mm, while large for some, wears proportionately to the rest of the design. Minimal, but tastefully executed, lume can be found under every indices and hands. Finally, it offers 10 bar water resistance, which isn’t surprising for a chronograph. It will endure day-to-day water, but I wouldn’t suggest using it to time your deep-sea dives.
· I’ve raved enough about my love for this design, but it’s worth mentioning again. This is executed nearly to perfection and works better than some panda designs in watches 5 times its price.
· Speaking of price, a sub $250 price point is extremely reasonable for a watch like this. I can easily see Orient charging $100 more and still selling them like hot cakes.
· If you follow my Instagram account, you can attest to the strap versatility of this piece. Perhaps it’s another compliment to the design, but this watch is a strap monster.
· The solar powered movement, while a downside to some, is an absolute plus for me and many budget collectors. This is strictly personal opinion, but let’s face it, at $250, you weren’t going to get a mechanical chronograph, at least not a great one. Getting a solar powered one over a run of the mill quartz is appreciated.
· Believe it or not, I wouldn’t say this watch is perfect (who would have thought, huh?). I found the stock bracelet to leave a lot to be desired. However, at this price range, I think it would be unusual to demand a high quality bracelet.
· I really wish this were 2 millimeters smaller. Had this been 39mm or 40mm, the size would have resonated well with its 70’s namesake. But alas, maybe I’m fighting a losing battle of love for small watches.
I’ve owned over 5 panda watches (after researching just about every single one out there), and this is the one for me that checks the most boxes in my long list of requiremens. There’s no way around it, there are some absolutely incredible panda chronographs out there (I’m looking at you 35th Anniversary Omega Speedmaster). But as a value proposition, this one takes the cake.
This piece is, to my knowledge, not available through the Orient website. However, I, like many others, have found various online sellers on Amazon or eBay. I can't recommend this one enough!