Orient Polaris GMT: An Affordable GMT Watch

Orient Polaris GMT Review

If you’re eyeing the Orient Polaris GMT watch you are just in the right place. I’ll tell you everything about it in this review – the things you’ll love, the things you’ll hate, and the things that will leave you baffled.

This is a men’s dress watch, and the size of the case makes it pretty clear that it was not supposed to be a unisex watch.

At the same time, the features make it clear that this watch was designed for the world traveller, who needs something strong, durable and functional.

Orient Polaris GMT Specifications

The Orient Polaris is one of the best affordable GMT watches. It’s not exactly a cheap watch, but it has sapphire crystal glass, automatic movement and a GMT dial. All of which are features we are used to seeing on some really high-end watches.

Before we get to the detailed features of this dress watch, take a look at its basic specs:

  • Orient Cal. 40P51 automatic movement (hand-winding & hacking)
  • Sapphire crystal glass
  • 42 x 11.98 mm stainless steel case
  • Brown (faux) alligator leather grain strap with deployment clasp
  • 50m / 165ft water resistance
  • Date window at 3 o’clock marking
  • GMT dial – 24-hour format
  • Push/pull crown at 3 o’clock

This is a watch intended for travellers, people who can really take advantage of the GMT function. If that dial is not really up your alley, I suggest you take a look at some others – Vincero watches are a lot cheaper, and look just as elegant. You will still wear a beautiful watch on your wrist, but you’ll actually save some money.

But if you’re here specifically for that GMT dial, then great! You can read all about it, and the other features of the Orient Polaris GMT in the rest of our detailed review!

Polaris GMT Hand
Orient Polaris GMT Hand
Polaris GMT Dial
Orient Polaris GMT Dial
Polaris GMT Power Reserve
Orient Polaris GMT Power Reserve

The GMT Dial

The dial of this watch is designed so that you are able to track two different time zones. The face of the dial is white with guilloché detailing, and it has a lot of things going on. There are the normal hour and minute markings (batons), and then above those there are the GMT Arabic numeral markings. Those are slightly bevelled, which gives the dial a very clean look overall.

At the upper part of the dial, just below the 12 o’clock marking, you can see the power reserve. It is not too detailed, but it shows you just enough information to know when your watch is about to run out of power. The power reserve hand is very short, and it is blue, just like all the other hands.

The Polaris watch actually has 5 different hands – hour, minute, second, GMT and power reserve. And all of them are blue – but like really blue. The color especially contrasts with the white of the dial, so your watch is easily legible at all times.

The GMT hand is particularly interesting – it has a hollow tip, which has a little bit of lume in it. You can set this hand to a different time than the other hands, which allows you to easily keep track of time when you are in a different time zone. Or, if you prefer military time, you can just set it to the same time as the other watch hands.

The dauphine hour and second hands allow you to tell time just like on any other wristwatch.

The dial of this watch is really busy, and yet it looks pretty elegant and simple at first glance. But, you can also see the Orient logo at the 9 o’clock hour marking, and the GMT indication at the 6 o’clock hour marking. That’s all in addition to the date window at 3 o’clock.

The Case & Bracelet

The case of the Orient Polaris GMT is one of the best features about it. It is very elegant, which makes sense since this is a dress watch. The steel is highly polished and looks very smooth and shiny. But it is rather big – and this is something that’s hard to notice until you actually hold the watch in your hand.

The case diameter is 42 mm and it is 11.98 mm thick. The lug width is 22 mm, and the lug to lug distance is actually 48 mm. Those are without a doubt measurements of a men’s watch. But, if you have smaller wrists, the watch will probably look too big on you, since it will easily take up your entire wrist.

Also, at 11.98 mm this is a rather thick case. But it’s gorgeous on either side – the bottom of the case is see through, and you can see the mechanics behind the automatic movement of the watch.

The crown is at 3 o’clock, and it has a push/pull mechanism. You use it for adjusting everything – hacking the watch, adjusting the date and setting the GMT hand to the time you want.

Polaris GMT Bracelet
Orient Polaris GMT Bracelet
Polaris GMT Clasp
Orient Polaris GMT Clasp

The dial is protected by sapphire crystal glass, which is a shocker for the price. Sapphire crystal is a premium material, used in watches have price tags in the tens of thousands of dollars. It is resistant to impact and scratches, and the most durable type of glass used in watches.

It has just one small downside – in case you manage to break it, the glass will shatter into about a million different pieces. And you can’t repair it; you can only replace it, which will not be a cheap adventure by any means.

The bracelet is really underwhelming. And it helps understand how a watch with such a sophisticated case and movement could be so affordable.

It is a brown leather alligator grain strap with a deployment clasp. The clasp is fine – it’s a dual button deployment clasp, which makes putting the watch on and off quick and effortless. But the strap itself is not a part of the watch you’ll enjoy – for one thing it is brown, and that’s not a color I like. Plus, it’s basically faux alligator leather.

Personal preferences aside, leather gets dirty pretty fast, and it’s not particularly easy to clean. It also creases, and after several months or a year, you will notice serious creasing in the strap of your watch, especially around the area where you tend to buckle it.

The Automatic Movement

The Orient Polaris GMT watch has in-house automatic movement – Orient Cal. 40P51. And you can actually see the rotor from the back of the case. It has an Orient logo imprinted on it, but honestly it doesn’t look as luxurious and sophisticated as it does on some other Orient watches.

The automatic movement supports both hand winding and hacking. This is particularly useful if you want to set two different watches to the exact same time.

The general benefit of automatic movement is the power reserve. With the Polaris GMT, the power reserve is 40 hours – meaning that the watch will continue to tick for 40 hours max, when it is fully wound up. The indicator on the dial will let you know how many hours of ticking you have left in your watch at all times, which is very useful.

Additionally, the automatic movement is the most visually appealing of all. The second hand doesn’t tick, but rather sweeps over the time markings – so you can actually see time fly by.

And it has one downside – it is the least accurate of all watch movements. But the Polaris GMT is fairly accurate, with an average discrepancy of + 1.6 seconds/day.

Water Resistance 

The Orient Polaris GMT is water resistant up to 50 meters / 165 feet. That’s pretty decent water resistance, and actually about 50 meters more than you would normally expect from a dress watch. But perhaps something you would expect out of any watch that will set you back half a grand.

There are no other dive watch features in the Polaris GMT, other than a bit of lume in the GMT hand. Additionally, remember that the watch has a push/pull crown – I would not feel completely save swimming or diving with it because of that. But you will be fine if you get caught in the rain with this on your wrist, or if you don’t feel like taking it off when you want to shower. 

Final Impressions Of The Orient Polaris GMT Watch

The Polaris GMT watch by Orient is a classic. It is one of the best affordable GMT watches on the market, which is the main reason why so many people are interested in it.

The GMT dial allows you to keep track of time in two different time zones, which is perfect for the frequent traveller. The dial of the watch is very busy, but not overwhelmingly – the white background with guilloche and circle detailing looks elegant before anything else. The automatic movement of the watch is smooth and remarkably accurate. Sapphire crystal covers the dial, and keeps your watch safe and in one piece even after nasty corner bumps.

The one thing I’d change would be the bracelet – it is faux alligator leather, and in a nasty brown color. The deployment clasp is a welcome addition, but the bracelet itself feels cheap and tacky. Luckily, that is the one part of the watch that you can replace in just a few minutes, so it’s not something I will hold against it.

Bottom line, the Orient Polaris GMT is a watch with sophisticated exterior and interior, and an attractive price tag. Because of the high-end features, I can be a little bit lenient with the underwhelming strap.