Orient Place

Orient Place

Sunday, 9 December 2018

Orient and the Art of War

Like many other watchmakers, Orient occasionally releases co-branded models, produced in honor of, or in cooperation with, other non-watch brands. From time to time I would take the opportunity to look at some of these special editions, which could be of interest to both collectors of Orient watches as well as fans of the other brand.

Today I am looking at one such cooperation: the Orient "Art of War" edition, produced in 2005.

I'm not the biggest expert on action figures in general, or Art of War in specific. But according to the brand website, " Berserk: Art of War is a series of character statues and figurines released by Art of War". Apparently, there are many collectors and fans of Art of War merchandise, which probably inspired the cooperation with Orient.

For the purpose of this endeavor, Orient provided two special models, each limited to 200 pieces, only differentiated in the color of the dial – one white, the other black. Interestingly, both do not feature any Orient branding – the dial, crown, bracelet, and even the movement rotor, are marked with the Art of War logo, and the case side is marked "Berserk". That might indicate that at the time, this was a much more prominent and familiar brand than Orient.

This piece was based on the 2004 "FA" line of watches, featuring a time display, power reserve at 12, month sub-dial at 6, and a "world time" bezel. The Art of War models particularly resemble the WZ0101FA (white dial version), and the WZ0081FA (black dial).

The Art of War pieces were each priced at 65,000 Yen at the time. Surprisingly, this was below the list price for the regular FA models (73,500), although in fairness, keep in mind the standard watches were often discounted by retailers whereas this was only obtainable through the official merchant at ticket price.

While very rarely seen "in the wild", one such Art of War item is being offered on eBay at the time of writing this article:

Please note I have no affiliation with the seller, and do not vouch for authenticity or quality, so buyer's caution is advised! Also note, the photos of the Art of War watches above are taken from the official Art of War website.

Sunday, 25 November 2018

Even More Colors

You should know by now – I love colors. I already wrote about Orient's use of color before, but I keep getting back to this topic every time I come across more wonderfully colored pieces from this brand.

One of the most extravagantly vibrant collections in Orient's history was the Sea King, "SK" for short. Some of these SK's boasted dials so flamboyant, I've seen online comments doubting their authenticity, suggesting they have been repainted or something. Well, they're not (at least, they needn't be)… these are the true original designs.

I'm not 100% sure how unique to Orient were the colorful bezels used in this collection, vs. other vintage divers, but I definitely do not see other brands' watches go on auctions featuring so many hues and shades.

The SK models in the above picture (all from the web… my own personal SK is actually black as night J) are only a small selection, from the wide range of shapes and color combinations available in this line. They are really cool and every Orient collector definitely needs to have at least one SK in his watch-box!

Another line of Orients that produced many vivid items was the M-Force. I should definitely write a review of the old M-Force… one of my favorite watches, no doubt. Until I do, feast your eyes on some of the brighter M-Force models, again picture taken from the web:

This brings me back to another favorite of mine, the good old multi-year calendar ref. WV0131EU. Well, that one actually looks quite tame compared to this red-hot variant:

Amazing, isn't it… even for me this is almost too much J …but just almost.

The brand's current line-up might seem restrained, compared to some of these older models, but there are still some very lively pieces on it. Here are just a bunch of them:

Have you got, or seen, a uniquely colored Orient? Share a photo! you can post links to an album in comments to this story, or share actual phots on our facebook page. 

Sunday, 11 November 2018

A Very Special Orient Chrono Ace

Even among Orient's fairly diverse collection of cool and funky watch designs, there are some models that stand out. One of those unique pieces which also happens to be a great favorite of mine, is a 1969 Chrono Ace "Special" edition, encased rather unusually in TV style.

But before diving into the peculiar – and handsome – design, let's take a step back and get familiarized with the Chrono Ace family. Introduced in 1969 and lasting only a few years, the Chrono Ace (or Chronoace… both options would show up in searches) was a fairly broad line of models, featuring various designs, ranging from fairly basic models all the way up to the King Diver. All Chrono Aces (CA for short) were driven by variations of the same movement, separated only by their jewel count. There were calibers 42940/50/60/70/90, featuring 21/23/25/27/33 jewels respectively. All featured weekday and date wheels, and a quickset button for the date.

I picked up this particular CA a few years ago at an online auction, at what is probably 1/3 the price it could fetch today considering its shape and condition. It has what is known as a "TV Case", a design that is very rare in modern watches. TV cases were more commonly used in the sixties, but even back then not many brands used them extensively (Rado is an exception that comes to mind). At 39 mm across, its case is fairly large for the era, making it quite wearable even by today's standards.

The watch is in absolutely mint condition, including the case, dial and acrylic glass; and the movement works very well, keeping time within 30 seconds a day – which I consider satisfactory for a 50 year old movement with no service history – and the operation of the crown and quickset button is buttery smooth.

A close inspection of the dial reveals the high quality of manufacturing applied here. The brushed finish is fine, and the original paint holds strong on the dial, markers, and hands. The tall hour markers, representative of late sixties and seventies designs, are clean cut and perfectly aligned to the dial.

In short, this piece is a joy to watch – and, given the right strap, is a joy to wear too. The original bracelet (which I have kept) is, like many old Japanese bracelets, too tight for my wrist. Given the lugless design, a watch like this needs a strap that is very soft, to enable it to wrap closely around the wrist (lugs lift the edge of the strap off the wrist, allowing certain additional thickness and stiffness). As the pictures show, I was able to find such a soft leather band that also matches the dial and marker colors very nicely.

Do you also have an unusual vintage Orient? Then, why not share it with the blog readers… you can post links to an album in comments to this story, or share actual phots on our facebook at https://www.facebook.com/OrientPlaceBlog/

Sunday, 28 October 2018

Can Orient and Luxury Watches Make Good Friends?

Orient is traditionally recognized as a manufacturer of watches for the budget-conscious consumer. However, conscious consumers often have different budgets for different occasions and a person can definitely like to wear an expensive watch to work or special events, and then have some inexpensive watches for other, less formal or more physically-demanding situations.

Having recently discussed this with one of the blog's readers, who confessed to having some fairly luxurious pieces in his collection besides his Orients, I thought it would be interesting to explore this topic: the way Orients can fit into the collection of someone who also owns some higher-end timepieces. Here are some examples from my own collection.

Case No. 1 – Feeling Blue

If I were looking for a dressy piece with a touch of blue (perhaps to fit a bluish outfit) – here are a couple of items I would be able to find in my safe. On the left is a Jaquet Droz "Grande Seconde Quantieme Côtes de Genève". A perfectly fancy, very Swiss watch, of current production. On the right is a 1971 Orient GM.

The price ratio between the two is about 20:1. The Swiss is a decidedly high-end piece, with a finely finished in-house movement, chronometer accuracy, and highly detailed dial. Jaquet Droz is a highly regarded brand within the Swatch group. It is a watch one can take to any business event or social function with pride.

And yet, as an owner of that lovely JD watch, I have no problems wearing the Orient. It too has an in-house movement, similarly high-beat, with a proud legacy (being originally a King Seiko movement); it might not be a chronometer but still displays admirable accuracy after nearly 5 decades of operation; it too has a beautiful dial that withstood the test of time well. It wears great, has lovely dress-watch proportions, and is thoroughly enjoyable. While it might not be as impressive from a few feet away like the JD, on the wrist it just works, and on occasions when making a buzz is not really required the Orient does the job just as good.

Case No. 2 – Getting Red Hot

If I were looking to up the ante and demand that the crowd pays some more attention to what I'm wearing – a red hot dial could do the work. Here are two leading candidates from my collection: on the left is a Citizen Campanola, Mechanical Collection "Beniake" with multi-layered red Urushi dial, one of the most shamelessly lavish pieces I own (or in fact, ever saw. Really, in direct sunlight it is explosive). On the right, a limited "Prestige Shop" edition Orient semi-skeleton.

The price ratio between the two is about 15:1. The Campanola boasts a ludicrously elaborate dial, a high-end Swiss movement (by Citizen-owned La Joux-Perret), and is a proper conversation piece.

Still, the Orient is nothing to be ashamed of. With its deep, purple-red wine colored dial, cool view of the movement, and – again – very comfortable dress-watch proportions, it looks fantastic. While not the extravagant attention grabber like the Campanola, it still gets noticed.

Case No. 3 – Classic Black

In the end of the day, after all that red and blue, one often wishes to turn back to classics: the little black dress, sorry, dial. Here, I have side by side two old favorites of mine: to the left is a Grand Seiko SBGR019, one of the Japanese masters' best examples of immaculate craftsmanship and utterly thoughtful design. To the right, an Orient Star WZ0041FR.

The price ratio between the two is about 10:1. The Grand Seiko is a beast of a watch – a perfectly executed and polished piece of classic Seiko DNA enhanced with an unusually complicated dial that looks completely black indoors, but reveals an intricate texture in the sunlight. It also boasts endless little details that one would typically not notice until one understands that they are simply missing on most any other watch out there.

What the Orient Star lacks in prestige and refinement, it more than makes up for in character. It too has many little details on its dial that add up to a very charming wearing experience, and then they're all packed into this beautifully shaped case – which, while being no competition to the Grand Seiko, definitely stands out as a fantastic example of watchmaking, punching well above its price point.

So in summary – as someone collecting and wearing watches at many price levels, I can testify to the charm and practicality of Orient watches; they provide a great choice of wearing options for when one does not want to take his more expensive items out, or when a slightly more restrained outfit seems to be appropriate.

What do you think?