For the last decade or so, Orient had the complete monopoly of the "vintage affordable mechanical dress watch" segment. Even if this seems like a very particular niche, Orient sold hundreds of thousands of Bambinos since its inception.
Back in 2017, Timex changed the game: they released their first mechanical watch since the '80s. They decided to re-release the Marlin, a classic mechanical watch with proper vintage styling.
Now that the Orient Bambino has a serious competitor, I have no choice but to confront them one another to see which one's the best. My goal is to help you choose between the Orient Bambino or Timex Marlin based on your collector's profile
40.5mm / 42mm
21mm / 22mm
18mm / 20mm
10mm / 13mm
46.5mm / 48.5mm
41mm / 48mm
Both the 2nd gen Bambino and the Timex Marlin are offered in two different sizes. The Bambino V1, V2 (left picture), V3 and V5 are all equipped with a medium-sized 40.5mm case. The Bambino V4 stands in its own category at 42mm (right picture below).
The Timex Marlin is also offered in two sizes: 34mm for the hand-wound version (left pic below) and 40mm for the automatic model (right pic). All of these options are there to make sure no one's left out - people with small wrists (6.25'' or less) should get the 34mm Marlin, medium wrists (6.25'' to 7'') can choose between the 40mm Marlin or 40.5mm Bambino, and large wrists (7''+) are better off with the Version 4 Bambino. Of course, these are recommendations and not rules.
You can notice the V4 Bambino's case diameter is 2mm bigger than the automatic Marlin, but the lug-to-lug is only 0.5mm longer on the Bambino. This is because the Bambino has a bigger dial-to-case ratio than the Marlin does. Also, the Marlin's lugs protrude a bit more, compared to the Bambino's curved lugs.
Another measurement that varies greatly from one watch to another is the case thickness. The 11.8mm thickness stays the same no matter which Orient Bambino you choose. On the other hand, the Marlin goes from a 10mm to a 13mm thickness depending on the case size (the slope of the crystal is proportional to the case diameter).
34mm vs 40mm Marlin
The reason why the Bambino is much thinner than the similarly sized Marlin is simple: the top of the Bambino's domed crystal is flat, while the Marlin has a fully rounded crystal. The slope of the crystal makes both of these timepieces easy to slide under your cuffs.
The 18mm and 20mm lug width of the Marlin are pretty standard, so finding a replacement strap won't be too hard. On the other hand, The Bambino V1, V2, V3 and V5 have a 21mm lug width, so third-party options can be limited.
30m / 3 bar
30m / 3 bar
Stainless Steel / Exhibition
Stainless Steel / Exhibition
None / Hands Only
As stated above, both the Bambino and the Marlin sport a domed bezel. The difference between the two lies in the material used. The mineral crystal of the Bambino is quite common for entry-level watches and it provides a healthy amount of scratch and shock protection.
In contrast, Timex uses an acrylic crystal for the re-release of the Marlin. This material is much more shock-resistant (almost unbreakable), but the tradeoff is a very easy to scratch surface. Fortunately, these scratches can be polished off to give a brand-new look to your watch.
The Bambino and the Marlin are equipped with a stainless steel case. On both watches, the water-resistance is rated at 30 meters (withstands splashes) since they use a push and pull crown. This crown is unsigned on both the Orient and the Timex, and they all have a similar notched pattern.
For versions 1 through 4, Orient uses a standard stainless steel back with an engraved logo, while the most recent version (5) has an exhibition case back.
As for Timex, the 40mm Marlin has an exhibition case back and the 34mm Marlin gets a stainless steel case back that is made to look almost identical to the original Marlin's case back. (as pictured above)
Both the Bambino and the Marlin 34mm dials are completely lumeless, in accordance with dress watch traditions. On the other hand, the 40mm Marlin goes for a modern approach, with lightly lumed hands. The lume is very tasteful and discreet, so it shouldn't deter you from getting the 40mm Marlin.
Sea-Gull ST6 / Miyota 8215
Automatic + Hand-Wound
Hand-Wound / Auto
20 / 21
+8 to +12 Secs / Day (user experience)
+- 30 / -20 to +40 Sec/Day
All Bambinos use the Orient in-house F6724 automatic movement. This caliber is known both for its reliability and for the features it offers. For example, you get both hand-winding and hacking, two features that are prized by collectors.
Apart from that, the F6724 is pretty basic: low frequency, reasonable power reserve, and 22 jewels. I couldn't find the precision benchmarks online, but from my own experience and from information collected online, you can expect your Bambino to gain about 10 seconds every day.
Apart from the Marlin, Timex exclusively sells quartz and solar watches. This means it wouldn't be profitable to build their own in-house movements for this very model. Instead, they buy generic movements from trusted manufacturers.
The 34mm Marlin uses a Sea-Gull ST6 hand-wound caliber. If you don't know, Sea-Gull is a Chinese watch company that built itself quite a good reputation over the last 65 years. The sturdy ST6 goes back to the Marlin roots, offering nothing but hand-winding.
The 21.600 bph frequency and 40 hours power reserve are on par with the Bambino, but the 20 jewels used are a bit more old-school.
The 40mm Marlin is equipped with an 8215 automatic caliber from the Japanese company Miyota. The difference with the ST6 is pretty much only the automatic winding, since the frequency, power reserve and lack of hacking are all the same. Also, the Miyota 8215 is rated for -20 to +40 seconds per day accuracy.
Vintage - Dress
Vintage - Dress
Sunburst or Matte
Applied indices or numerals
Numerals / Indices
Leather or Bracelet
Leather or Bracelet
If you're looking for variety, the Bambino is undoubtedly the way to go. Versions 1 through 5 all have several color schemes available, so you're certain to get something you like - the collection offers everything from matte dial to glossy sunburst finish, Arabic numerals to roman numerals to baton indices, etc..
The Marlin is a bit more restrictive when it comes to variety. Even if you get to choose between 8 color schemes for the 40mm, you can only get applied indices and sunburst dial. The only one that stands out from the lot is the "Snoopy" special edition, but it is almost impossible to get.
It's the same story for the 34mm Marlin, which has 7 color schemes (including women's styling), but you're stuck with Arabic numerals and sunburst dial.
Once again, the hand variety is much greater from the Bambino collection than it is from the Marlin. The latter gets regular sword hands on both the 40mm and the 34mm (albeit a bit different from one another). Conversely, the Bambino lets you choose between Dauphine, Baton or custom hands.
Band / Bracelet
The seemingly large price difference between the Bambino and the Marlin makes a lot of sense when looking at the leather band quality. To keep costs down, Orient uses a very cheap leather band or steel bracelet for the Bambino, meaning you almost have no choice but to get a third-party strap.
On the other hand, Timex partners with the S.B. Foot Tanning Company to provide outstanding leather bands. You can be assured that the original bracelet on your Marlin will be comfortable, durable and beautiful, so there's really no need to buy a new strap. I can't vouch for the bracelet quality since I haven't tried it, but Timex usually has a good reputation in that matter.
Date displays are always a controversial subject when it comes to dress watches. Some purists hate them since they think dress watch dials should be as minimalist as possible. If you're part of that clan, you should get the 34mm Marlin as it's the only dateless dial.
On the other hand, if you think a date display is essential, you can get any Bambino or the 40mm Marlin. Each of these feature a very small window, which tells the date without taking too much dial real estate.
$110 to $150
$200 to $250
As I said earlier, the Timex Marlin is the most expensive of the two by quite a large margin. First of all, it's hard to compete with Orient on pricing, as they mass-produce millions of mechanical watches, compared to Timex which only has one mechanical timepiece.
Another factor that justifies the price you pay for the Marlin is the history behind it. It was first released back in the 1950s, named after the robust fish (which also implies the water resistance). The current Marlin is based on the 1965 edition, and it's damn near identical.
On the other hand, the Orient Bambino is just starting to build its legacy, and the mass production can't justify a higher price. Conversely, the limited amount of Marlin produced made it go out of stock pretty quickly.
Finally, the leather band that comes with the Marlin is that much better than Orient's strap, so you need to add 20-30 bucks to the Bambino's price to take into account the third-party strap.
When it comes to warranty, both watchmakers offer a one year warranty, but quality control is excellent for the two companies, so you shouldn't need one anyway.
If you happen to have a problem with your watch, Timex and Orient have great customer service, so you shouldn't have any warranty problems, as long as you bought your piece from an authorized dealer.
I give Timex the highest brand ranking because it is known and beloved by watch enthusiasts and average Joes alike. Timex has a good reputation all over the world for its quality timepieces, but also for its historical significance.
On the other hand, I give a medium brand rating for Orient, since it is very well-known in the watch world, but usually unbeknownst to the ordinary citizen. This doesn't mean it isn't a good company, but it will most likely be praised by enthusiasts only.
Since the styling of the Marlin and Bambino are quite similar, I think the first factor to determine your choice should be your wrist size. As I mentioned earlier, small wrists should get the 34mm Marlin, medium wrists can choose between the 40mm Marlin or V1,2,3 or 5 Bambino, and large wrists should get the V4 Bambino.
The second factor determining your choice is the importance you give to historical significance. If owning a part of history is important for you, and you want something with a story behind it, you should undoubtedly get the Marlin (either 34 or 40mm).
The final factor is simply your personal situation. For example, if you're on a tight budget get the Bambino, if you need lume get the 40mm Marlin, etc..