What truly constitutes luxury flashlights? Is it simply exotic materials and lofty pricing, or is there something more?
Meat and Potatoes
As I mentioned previously, Orbita is a company that got its start catering to the elite with their luxury automatic watchwinders. People looking for a display-worthy method to keep gravity-wound mechanical watches properly exercised look to companies like this. The step from there into high end flashlights wasn’t a terrible leap.
At first blush, the Orbita Slimline and Goldlight series don’t have much in common at all. They certainly look as different from each other as they do from their cousin, the Lighthouse series. Though it hasn’t been officially confirmed to me, I am personally convinced they share a common core that ties them together as two versions of the same torch. As a matter of fact you can see fairly clearly that the Goldlight is just a more refined shell that has been installed around an already functional Slimline. This is why I have combined their reviews.
Both of these lights sport Cree XM-L LEDs powered by a single 18650 Li-ion cell and claim a maximum output of 500 lumens. The reflectors are small enough that when paired with the large die XM-L they produce a moderately floody beam, despite the smooth polish they have been given. The tints on my two samples were fairly drastically different, so I suspect there is quite a tint lottery in place.
Construction of these lights is what sets them apart. The slimline is the Orbita base model, if you will. Pure stainless steel with subtle rings machined into a straight cylindrical torch as the only distinguishing feature. It’s simple, unadorned look is not displeasing. It has a less-is-more quality to it for those that prefer the understated. It is available in uncoated stainless, or a durable Ti-Nitride finish in either black or gold.
The Orbita Goldlight on the other hand, is about as flashy in appearance as any light I have seen. This is the peacock of torches. It’s every facet (or radius) screams “Look at me!” Between the 24k gold plated endcaps from which it derives its name, you are given the choice between several beautiful materials from the manmade exquisites of carbon fiber or faux ivory to the natural beauty of exotic woods with which to wrap over the SS core. I was allowed my pick of options to review and I couldn’t say no to the magnificent Thuya burl. I will say that all of the other wooden options put up quite a fight, but in the end it was the swirled grain that made the final decision for me. Armed with excellent quality accoutrements, the Orbita’s make quite an initial impression indeed.
The apparent quality of construction aside, once again Orbita runs up against the same complaints that I mentioned about the lighthouse series. These torches appear to have electronics that have been supplied by the absolute cheapest bidder. Between having ridiculously low frequency PWM based output control, and a horrendously poor 5-mode with memory UI that requires you to cycle through the strobe and SOS every time through the modes, these lights don’t feel luxury at all. They feel like the latest and greatest “SooperDooperFire” El-Cheapo imports that sully the premise of what a true quality flashlight should be. I’m afraid I can’t sugar coat this one at all. The electronics in these torches are a detriment to what otherwise feel like they could be a decent light. Unfortunately this isn’t something that even needs more discussion. The electronics are effectively the worst I have experienced on any of my multitudinous lights. For a throwaway illumination tool, it would accomplish its task and be classified as “usable”. For a torch trying to compete in the truly high-end luxury arena, it is just bad.
The construction on both the Slimline and Goldlight are probably 90% excellent. They feel solid and durable. The Goldlight especially looks the part it was designed for. They both have one tiny hiccup that jars the experience just a touch. The slimline’s physical fault fairly minor. The machinework around the ridging feels a touch rough to my practiced hands. This isn’t any kind of pocket shredder by any stretch, but for this price point I am personally looking for near perfection. The Goldlight has a slightly stronger fault though. The metal-buttoned switch feels spongy to the push, and gritty during its long travel. This is probably caused by the fact that I suspect a fully functional rubber booted button to be hiding underneath the gold plated metal one.
I really wish this review had turned out differently. These both are lights I WANT to like; I just can’t. I wouldn’t be fond of these electronics in a cheap light, but in a torch billed as “Luxury” they are unacceptable. I seriously hope that Orbita will quickly come out with a v2.0 release for all of their models that addresses these shortcomings and brings the electronics more in line with the construction and the claims they are making.
Provided for review by the kind folks at Orbita.