With a name that sounds like a chemical compound that could sedate a horse, the RA-AC0H is clearly not the most popular timepiece in Orient’s lineup. However, it's a reasonably priced flight watch that can give Laco and Stowa a run for their money.
I think the RA-AC0H could be 10x as popular if Orient gave the piece an official name and stronger marketing. In this article, I will show you why it might be one of the best bang-for-the-buck pilot's watches on the market.
Orient Pilot (Ra-ac0h)
With the RA-AC0H, Orient tries to stay true to original pilot watches that were used in the mid-20th century (WW2). This means a relatively large case (42.40mm) with protruding lugs, which gives their pilot watch a near-50mm tip-to-tip distance.
Accordingly, these lugs are pretty flat, which always makes the watch feel a bit bigger than it actually is (compared to a heavily curved set of lugs). For this reason, I can't recommend the RA-AC0H for anyone with sub-6.5'' wrists.
However, I must say that the Orient Pilot is extremely thin for a mechanical watch, which makes it a must-have for guys that wear long sleeve shirts.
Orient Pilot (Ra-ac0h)
100m / 10 bar
At around $200, the Orient RA-AC0H offers incredible value. For instance, it comes with an in-house F6722 caliber.
This is a super reliable automatic movement that offers the option to hand-wind the mainspring. Additionally, it has seconds hand halt (hacking), which allows for precise time setting (a must for pilots).
With 22 jewels, 40+ hours of power reserve, reasonable accuracy, and Japan's legendary reliability, the F6722 is a true gem. However, it's good to note that it beats at a low frequency of 21,600 bph, so the seconds hand sweep could be smoother.
For this price point, it's no surprise to see that the RA-AC0H uses a mineral crystal. While a sapphire crystal would've been nice, I'm not sure the $50+ price increase that comes with it would appeal to the RA-AC0H's target audience.
With 100m of water resistance and a screw-down crown, I consider the Orient Pilot to be a true GADA watch. Indeed, it can be worn comfortably in the air, at ground level, and underwater (to a certain point). This is my definition of a true beater watch that you can wear throughout the day, no matter which activity you're planning on.
Depending on how you will use your RA-AC0H, you should adapt your model choice. The Orient Pilot watch can be purchased with a nylon, leather or steel bracelet. If you plan on swimming with it a lot, definitely steer clear from the leather model.
On the other hand, if your most important criterion is comfort, you should get the nylon strap. However, most third-party straps will look amazing on the RA-AC0H, so you should mainly look at the dial color to guide your decision.
What would a pilot watch be without great lume? Nothing worse than rescuing your fellow comrades in a nighttime mission and failing to properly time your attack because of a lack of legibility.
To counter this problem, Orient applies Nemoto's luminova treatment on the hour and minute hands. This is a reputable formula that will shine brightly in a green color. However, this lume cannot compete with its cousin Super-Luminova (the Swiss alternative).
Orient Pilot (Ra-ac0h)
316l Stainless Steel
As I mentioned earlier, the RA-AC0H tries to stay as close as possible to the original 1940s Pilot's watch. This means that its main purpose is to be highly legible and functional, styling comes second.
Orient put a lot of effort into making this watch as easy to read as possible. For instance, they enlarged the Arabic numerals, used a smaller Orient logo than usual, and used a two-tone seconds hand for brighter contrast (this is mostly true for the blue-dialed version).
Furthermore, Orient tried to make sure that the RA-AC0H's dial is completely uncluttered. For instance, they removed scripts that are usually found underneath the hands (ex: 100m WR or Automatic). Also, the date display's tiny size makes it functional but not too crowded.
One thing I find odd is that they use the same sword hands as the previous version despite making the numerals larger. I think this makes the hands look a bit underwhelming compared to the other oversized elements of the dial.
Not only is the Orient RA-AC0H offered in several colorways, but you can also choose from three different textures. As you will see in the "variations" section below, the three finishes available are sunburst, matte, and grainy.
Of course, the RA-AC0H's case is fully brushed through and through. This is evidently to avoid being detected by enemy troops since a polished finish would reflect tons of light.
Forget about all the numbers in the name, the important section is "01". As you will see, the four models in this collection are numbered 01 to 04 after the AC0H.
The Orient Pilot 01 is the only watch in the lineup with a steel bracelet. As you probably know, affordable Orient watches usually come with cheap bracelets. For this reason, I recommend ordering a 22mm third-party strap when purchasing the 01 model.
With its vibrant blue dial, the 01 is the only variation that comes with a sunburst finish. I also think it's the most legible since the white/blue contrast is quite bright.
The AC0H02's idiosyncrasy is its gunmetal grey case. Also, the charcoal dial has a grainy texture that makes it look like asphalt. This model is the one I affectionately named the "Orient Stealth Pilot" for its dark configuration.
This is a great piece if you're looking for something understated that will fly under the radar. It also has a very legible dial.
The RA-AC0H03 is strongly reminiscent of the Seiko SNK809. The two watches share a similar matte black dial with an easy-to-read Arabic numerals layout.
The AC0H03 isn't the most adventurous watch of the collection, but it is certainly the most versatile of the bunch. Depending on which strap you put it on, it can be paired with pretty much any outfit you can think of.
The AC0H04 is probably my favorite watch in Orient's pilot collection. This one has a matte yellow dial that's quite tame (in a good way) compared to other much brighter yellow dials out there.
Additionally, it is the only timepiece in this lineup that comes with black numerals, which offer a crisp contrast. This one is great for out-of-the-box collectors, but it might be difficult to find the perfect outfit to pair it with.
I hope you liked this review of what might be the best affordable Japanese pilot's watch on the market. For such a reasonable price, I think the RA-AC0H might also be one of the best bang-for-the-buck pieces in Orient's collection.
Let me know in the comments below which of the four models you prefer and why!