Orient Place

Orient Place

Sunday, 26 September 2021

The (Rather Chubby) Case of The Orient ESAC-Q0

Earlier this month, I posted here about Orient’s use of “tonneau” (which means “barrel” in French but certainly sounds better) shaped cases, and gave some examples. Today I’ll focus on my very own chubby barrel, Orient reference ESAC-Q0.

There’s no denying what first association comes to mind when seeing this model: it is indeed very, very Franck Muller-ish. The artistic-looking numerals spread around the dial, the case shape of course, and much of the overall esthetics of the watch is undoubtedly reminiscent of the famed Swiss brand’s designs.

In fact, one might be excused for thinking that Orient has set aside its own design DNA in the styling of this piece, if it wasn’t for the fact that actually, many of these design elements, such as the extra-small hands and extra-large numerals, are quite common in Orient’s women’s models.

So is it in fact a feminine design? Perhaps this is just a women’s watch? Does it even matter?

Just a few days ago I shared here on the blog the announcement of the new Orient Star Classic Semi-Skeletons – bearing a design so gentle and soft that it completely lacked any “masculine” elements one would (stereo-)typically associate with man’s watches.

Indeed, some designs are just Unisex. Other than being subjected to one’s personal taste and preferences, certain watches are not meant to be limited by gender. I think this ESAC of mine is one such watch.

It might have been (in the past tense. It’s long since discontinued) advertised as men’s or women’s watch, or as unisex, depending on which seller ad you’re seeing. In terms of size, it’s perfectly large enough for my 7.25” wrists, at 40mm wide, 43mm long, and 13mm thick (curved crystal included). And that big fat polished steel barrel of a case makes it look even bigger.

And – if we go back to Franck Muller’s watches mentioned earlier – well, they too feature very similar designs, which other than size do not differ much between their female and male versions.

Anyway, let’s forget about definitions and comparisons and judge this watch by its own merits. I think it simply looks fantastic. There’s a white-dial version of this model that at least in photos seems less convincing; but this version in contrasting silver and black – both on the dial and in the case-and-strap match – works well.

Legibility is limited because of the small hour and minute hands, the overlapping time and day sub-dials, and the lack of any lume. Still, the high contrast helps to tell the time when lighting conditions are decent. And in any case, male or female, this is more jewelry than time-telling equipment. You’ll get better options, including many Orients, if clear legibility is your thing.

The movement here is automatic caliber 46C. This caliber offers 40+ hours of power reserve, and a standard accuracy of +25/-15 seconds per day. Mine does about -3 seconds a day, which is pretty good. People usually prefer their watch to run fast rather than slow, but given this isn’t daily wear it does not truly matter if it’s slow or fast as long as absolute accuracy is decent.

The mechanism is fairly simple. You get no hand-winding or second-hand hacking. Also there’s no quickset for the weekday, you need to set by moving the time forward past midnight, till you are in the correct day. You do get quickset for the date though, using the crown in the second position. Time is set with the crown in the 3rd position.

To be honest, given the limited legibility there wouldn’t be much need for hacking; or that given no-hacking, there’s no need for clearer legibility…

To sum it all up, this is a really fine example of inexpensive yet stylish watchmaking. The design is unassuming, despite reminding a knowledgeable enthusiast of certain more luxurious brands. The execution, as usual with Orient, is really good. No Orient-Star-level of finishing, but more than adequate.

I got this model on eBay for around 160 USD, which represents superb value even for a pre-owned watch. I would consider it very good value even if it was 250 USD, simply for its unique looks (assuming you like them), quality, and fine automatic movement.


Sunday, 19 September 2021

New Limited Edition Orient Star Watches Inspired by… The Stars

The year is still 2021, Orient Star is still celebrating its 70th anniversary, and more limited-edition watches are being launched. We are concluding the batch of new model releases that began last week with one more announcement that actually presents four different models – all are mechanically familiar, but with new dials – that are, honestly, quite attractive and unusual.


Mechanical Moon Phase

Orient's familiar semi-skeleton moon phase, in its "Classic Collection" form, is being presented now with a unique gradient green-blue colored MOP dial, somewhat similar to the recent limited edition of the Contemporary Moonphase.

The new look sure is eye-catching, some might call it too flashy, but it's definitely a design that cannot be ignored. Orient says it is inspired by nebulae. We are not going to argue over this.

Technically you get all the current features and dimensions of the other Classic Moonphase models: the movement is cal. F7M62, offering 50 hours of power reserve and +15/-5 seconds per day accuracy, housed in a 41mm wide case, and lug width is 20mm.

Front and back crystals are sapphire, with the front getting Orient's Super-Anti-Reflective (SAR) treatment, which is very effective. The case-back is also numbered, as the different references are limited:

·         Intenational reference RE-AY0111A, with a black cordovan leather strap, is limited to 100 units.

·         JDM ref. RK-AY0109A is limited to 200 units – and comes with a different crocodile leather strap.

·         Prestige Shop model RE-AY0101A is also limited to 200 units, and comes with both steel bracelet and leather strap.

The price is around $2,000 USD, with a small premium on the Prestige Shop model.


Modern Skeleton

The Modern Skeleton is another design that is immediately identifiable with Orient Star. With this 70th anniversary release it gets the glittering dial that we've recently seen on some other Orient watches, such as the Layered Skeleton limited reference RK-AV0B05E.

Specs are standard Modern Skeleton: the movement is automatic, hand-winding and hacking cal. F6F44 with 50 hours of power reserve, case width is 41mm, lug-to-lug length is 49mm, thickness is 12mm, and the lug width is 21mm. The front crystal is sapphire, while the case-back uses organic glass.

Here too, the different references are limited:

·         Reference RE-AV0118L is attached to a blue calf-leather strap, and limited to 600 pieces.

·         JDM Ref. RK-AV0118L is identical to the global version, and limited to 300 units.

·         Prestige Shop ref. RK-AV0119L is limited to 250 units, and offers both steel bracelet and leathe strap.

Prices are around 850 USD, again with the Prestige Shop model being slightly higher.


Classic Semi Skeleton

The new version of the Orient Star Classic Semi-Skeleton was announced less than a couple of weeks ago, and already it receives a limited, 70th-anniversary edition – for both the men's and ladies models.

The treatment here is somewhat subtler than the aforementioned Moonphase and Modern Skeleton editions, as is appropriate for the new understated style of the watch. The men's version gets a blue dial with sparkling "stars", and the women's model get a similar dial – plus golden bezel and crown.

The men's model is priced close to 600 USD, and includes:

·         JDM Reference RK-AT0205L with a blue leather strap, limited to 400 units.

·         Similar ref. RE-AT0205L is limited to 450 units worldwide.

·         Prestige Shop ref. RK-AT0206L is limited to 200 units, and includes two leather straps, blue and brown.

The ladies model is priced around 500 USD, and includes:

·         JDM Reference RK- ND0014L with a blue leather strap, limited to 300 units.

·         Similar ref. RE- ND0014L is limited to 150 units worldwide.

·         Prestige Shop ref. RK- ND0015L is limited to 200 units, and includes two leather straps, blue and brown.

Interestingly, while the men's model is produced in larger numbers for global distribution, the ladies' model will be available in larger numbers in Japan. Possibly an indication of the different watches' popularity in and outside Japan?


Friday, 17 September 2021

Orient Presents New Top Of The Line Skeleton Watch

As if the new line of Orient Star Skeleton models, with their F8 movement boasting 70 hours of power reserve, wasn’t enough – Orient have just presented a new flagship model to head this collection. At least for a short while – until the limited production run finishes shipping out the 200 numbered pieces.

The technical specifications of the new reference RK-AZ0003L are the same as the rest of the collection: the 38.8mm wide, 46mm long, stainless steel case houses the latest caliber F8B63 with its blue silicon escape wheel, and +15/-5 seconds per day accuracy.

The new dial appears to be even more finely finished than the original models (which weren’t half bad too). The minute track and sub-dials get black accents that contrast nicely with the silver tones of the other dial elements. And – whether you like it or not – the 12 o’clock marker is adorned with two diamonds.

Everything else is pretty much the same, such as the crocodile leather strap with its three-fold buckle, the front and back sapphire crystals, and no doubt – a high level of finishing all round.

For some added interest, Orient named this model “C / 2021 A1”, after a newly discovered comet by the same name, which is said to come close enough to Earth to be visible in the naked eye, sometime in December this year. This watch, however, is expected to be available sooner, in mid October.

The whole thing is now priced around 10% higher than the other references in the skeleton collection, MSRP placing it way above 3000 USD – among the most expensive Orients ever. Will it hold its price? How quickly would Orient be able to dish out those 200 units? Time will tell.

Thursday, 16 September 2021

New Orient “Diver Design” Sports Watches With Gradient Dials

This style of watches, which Orient takes great care to emphasize aren’t truly ISO-compliant dive watches, are among the brand’s most popular models. Following the success of the likes of Mako, Ray, and recently the Kamasu, Orient announce some new models that emphasize the dial color.

Indeed, people do tend to love the colorful dials produced by Orient, which seem to fit these fun, inexpensive watches. Red, green and blue are always in high demand. With the new models, Orient hopes to deliver what its customers want – with a little extra in the form of gradient color.

The new watches are technically identical to the Kamasu – same movement, dimensions, and overall build – but will probably not be referred to as Kamasu due to the different markers, which in this version replace the rectangular markers with round ones (except in 3,6, and 9) and replace the triangle at 12 with a trapezoid.

So, you get the same case measuring 41.8mm across, 46.8mm lug to lug, and 12.8 thick, with a lug width of 22mm and identical looking bezel and bracelet. And the familiar caliber F6922 inside. Even the case back features the same engraved dolphins as the Kamasu – while the front crystal is sapphire.

Four versions of the new model are being introduced:

·         RN-AA0810N (RA-AA0810N outside Japan) with a gradient grey dial, and steel bracelet.

·         RN-AA0811E (RA-AA0811E) with a gradient teal dial, and steel bracelet.

·         RN-AA0812L (RA-AA0812L) with a gradient blue dial, and steel bracelet.

·         RN-AA0813R (RA-AA0813R) with a bronze-plated case and bezel, gradient red dial, and brown leather strap. This model is limited to 2,000 units worldwide, and only 100 in Japan.

The new models are priced at around 400 USD (with the limited editing slightly more expensive than the rest) – making them about 10% higher than the “regular” Kamasu.