Blog readers will have noticed by now that after covering a topic in general, I like to give a concrete example. So – having recently discussed– today we'll turn the spotlight onto a very striking example of such a watch, the Orient Star ref. WZ0221ER.
This model was released in the early-mid 2000s, most likely 2004 (though it is hard to date more precisely). It was sold as a limited – but not numbered – edition, available only from select Orient dealers in Japan, similar to today's "Prestige Shop" releases.
Some sportier variations on the theme, using the same case but equipped with a steel bracelet and featuring a 12-3-6-9 dial, were also sold at the time – see references WZ0141ER, WZ0151ER, and WZ0161ER, having a black, white, and a kind of pearl-champagne dial, respectively.
This piece, however, was decidedly dressy. With its classically implemented Arabic numerals and Breguet hands, standing out against the silvery dial, it has a unique style that is both classy and minimalist. Coupled with the black leather strap, this watch is the ultimate dress watch for people who do not mandate that their dress watch has a round case.
Focus more closely on the dial, and its intricate nature is revealed. It's not a simple sunburst silver. The texture is so fine that in certain conditions, it takes on a milky character. When the light is more direct, though, the dial appears more like silver, and the sunburst effect is more evident.
There is another cool effect produced by clever design choices made by Orient. The Second hand is silver and often blends with the background, offering an uncluttered dress-watch-like view of the time. Yet with a slight tilting of one's wrist, it shines back into sight, for when more accurate timing is needed.
Interestingly, the Orient Star logo used on the dial and case back is the more elaborate variation. Orient more frequently uses the simpler, thin-line version of its logo, and it's not simply a matter of one being newer or older – you can see Orient switching between the versions back and forth over time, sometimes even having the same model change logo during its lifetime.
While Orient also used this elaborate logo in sporty watches, it definitely looks good in this dressy piece – and it further sets it apart from the aforementioned sportier references, which used the more common thin-line logo.
Inside the watch resides Orient's automatic caliber 487 with its 21 jewels and 40 hours of power reserve. It does not hack or hand-wind, but it does have a buttery smooth and perfectly quiet action.
Not all iterations of cal. 487 are equal. In this 48787 variant, the rotor is nicely decorated, and the OS logo is golden. The movement bridges here also have a pearlage application.
On the wrist, this Orient Star wears like a boss – as expected. It is 38mm wide without the crown, and 45mm long lug to lug, a great size for a modern dress watch. It's a little over 13mm thick including the domed mineral crystal. However, as discussed on that Cushion Cases blog post, the case design creates an appearance of a much slimmer piece.
Okay, so you say, "I'm convinced, I wanna have it." Not so fast! This is one tricky piece to find. Most JDM Orient Star of the early 2000s are hard to come by. And this, being limited distribution, is even harder. However, I know of at least one person who was able to buy a WZ0221ER recently (after I got mine about a year ago), so it is not impossible.
What would be a good price to pay for this model, should you locate one? Again, it's hard to say. I got mine for around 400 USD, almost NOS and tag still on. It felt like a fair bargain, given the quality and rarity of the watch. Still, the nature of rare Orients on sale is such that you might find one in excellent condition selling for 250 USD, or one that is scratched through and through with an asking price of 800…