Orient Place

Orient Place

Sunday, 20 June 2021

The Orient Star Survey Has Closed, And a Winner Announced!

Over the last two weeks, 99 questionnaire forms have entered our survey and were found to be eligible to participate in the draw, for a chance to win a new, limited edition Orient World Map Diver re-issue.

The winner was selected by means of double randomization: first, each entry was given a random number between 0 and 1, generated by Excel. All entries were sorted in the order of these random values, thus eliminating any importance of the original order of entry.

Then, a random number between 1 and 99 was drawn, again using Excel's random number generator. The number came out 87. So the winner was the 87th entry in the sorted list.

And now that we got the geeky part covered, we can tell you who won... Congratulations, Luke from the USA!

We have reached out to the winner via email to inform him of the good news and to arrange the delivery. We hope the watch reaches you quickly and that you will enjoy it - and many thanks to everyone who participated!

The blog would like to thank Orient – Epson Europe for creating the survey and of course - for providing the World Map watch as a reward!

Sunday, 13 June 2021

Orient Star Layered Skeleton Watch Review

Call it an open heart dial, call it a semi-skeleton watch, whatever name you use – the concept of watches that offer a glimpse into the mechanical movement has been a familiar design theme of Orient since 2003.

Earlier this year, Orient presented their latest iteration of the concept, dubbed "Layered Skeleton", aiming to add depth to the dial by dividing it into two stacked layers. Today we'll be reviewing one representative of this new model: the Layered Skeleton reference RE-AV0B02Y (RK-AV0B02Y in Japan).

How It Looks

When I first saw Orient's official photos of this model, I thought this watch needs to be seen to appreciate whether the design works. When I first saw it with my own eyes, I thought: I need to wear this a little longer to make up my mind. A week later, it becomes clear why there's no easy answer here, as there are a number of aspects involved here.

  • Is the watch impressive? It pretty much is. Elements like the case finishing and the five-link bracelet make an immediate visual impact, and the view into the beating heart of the watch can also impress, particularly those who are not used to semi-skeleton dials.
  • Is the watch elegant? One might argue that the mixing of steel and gold-toned markers, or even the very notion of multiple dial layers, each with different etching, does not meet the conservative definition of elegance. In terms of outline and proportions, though, it's all very harmonious.
  • Is the watch pretty? The answer is obviously subjective. I would say it is definitely not ugly, and it has some cool design elements. However, at no point did I feel I want to stop work and just look at it – which is what a truly beautiful timepiece should make me do.

So now that we've established why assessing this model's looks is so complicated and inconclusive, let's dive into the details.

First, the dial, which is a complicated affair here. The top layer is brown and carries a fairly clear herringbone pattern. Underneath it is a blue layer which, upon closer inspection, shows a kind of paisley pattern with leaves and flowers. The texture on both layers is subtle enough in most lighting conditions, though it can burst into a more powerful presence under strong, direct sunlight.

The elements above the dial are all quite stylish and finely executed, including the hands, markers, and the Orient Star logo. If you're not too concerned with the mixed use of gold and steel hour markers, you will likely find the dial attractive and well made even under the magnifying glass.

Below, cut-offs in the dial provide a view of the balance wheel and a few other bits of metal. The sight of the engine room is far from Haute Horlogerie but is not too shabby either.

The famed Orient Star quality reveals itself more prominently in the outer workings, namely case and bracelet. The case (seen before in other Orient Star models) has beautifully flowing lines, and its complex shape features alternating finishes of vertical brushing (top of the lugs), polishing (chamfers and bezel), and circular brushing (case sides).

The bracelet too looks good with broad brushed links separated by thin polished links, and its visual connection with the case works well. The milled clasp at its back looks good too.

The exhibition case-back allows further observation of the mechanism. The movement's backplates are adorned with perlage, while the rotor has some very subtle Geneva stripes and a golden Orient Star logo. Nothing that we have not seen before, but no flaws here either.

All in all, it's a mixed bag. If one were to judge this design by dress-watch standards, a disappointment would be the likely result. However, consider the Layered Skeleton a casual, or even sporty, watch to wear to the office and to the pub with the boys after, and it makes more sense. Like many Orients, you have to accept that it is not following common conventions other than the brand's own, and then you can start to like it.


How It Wears

The Layered Skeleton is not a lightweight at just over 150g, but it is very comfortable to wear nonetheless. You feel certain heft, but in a reassuring way, unless one is really used to very small, light watches. The 41mm wide, 48.3mm long case lies smooth on the wrist, and the downsloping lugs ensure the bracelet also wears well, spreading the weight evenly around the wrist.

The bracelet is definitely high-end, a clear differntiator of Orient Star from "Mere Orient" watches. It is flexible enough, yet feels robust and secure. Needless to say, you will experience no hair-pulling at this level of quality.

The clasp too is comfortable, easy to use, and does not protrude or push into the skin as in too many other watches.

Will it fit under a cuff? The watch is not particularly slim, being nearly 14mm thick. However, it's smooth enough to slide under your sleeve if it's not too tight.

So it's comfortable to wear but isn't too small. What wrist sizes are we talking here then? I reckon 6.5" and above would wear it well. Under 6.5", its wrist presence may appear bulky – or manly, depends on one's perception… – so trying it on before buying would be recommended.


How It Functions

The movement driving the Layered Skeleton's is Orient's caliber F6F44. A member of Orient's current crop of modern, 50 hour movements, it is expected to maintain its siblings' reputation for long-term reliability. The accuracy measured on the sample unit reviewed was +12 seconds per day, which is within the stated -15/+25 specifications.

Like all current Orient Semi-Skeletons, this watch includes the power-reserve indicator, and does not have a date function. And, like many of the brand's open heart watches, it features the small seconds in a sub-dial. I tend to like this configuration, as the power-reserve and small-seconds create certain symmetry on the dial.

Legibilty is excellent: despite the busy dial, the hands stand out in all lighting conditions, including direct sunlight – and fairly dark spaces. Telling the time is therefore always quick and easy. There is some lume on the hands and dots next to each hour markers, so you get some night-time visibility as well – not dive-watch levels of it, though, but every little helps.

Practicality is fine. You get 100 meters of water resistance, which is fairly good for a watch that's not a diver or a tool watch. Front crystal is tough, AR-coated sapphire; The case-back, being less prone to scratches, is covered by mineral glass.


The Bottom Line

Objectively speaking, what we have here is an impressive watch: it is constructed and finished to Orient Star's usual high standards and features some original design ideas; and it is a practical, comfortable daily wear that's powered by a robust and reliable automatic movement. On paper, a very worthy Orient Star.

Subjectively, I was left a bit cold by the Layered Skeleton. Not sure exactly why, but I felt that the dial was perhaps too technical for my liking, and the color scheme did not excite me too much either. Possibly, bolder colors could lift this design to a higher level: imagine this dial having a red top surface, with piano-black lower plate…?

That said, colors are indeed very much a matter of personal preferences. If you do like the overall design concept, it's worth checking out the other references in the series, as you get versions with a white/silver dial, black, and that limited edition sparkling green color.

Prices for the Orient Star Layered Skeleton are generally in the range of 800-900 USD, meaning they are selling at close to MSRP. Not a cheap watch, then, so you'd absolutely want to make sure you like it before committing to the expense. If the style speaks to you and you do go ahead and make the purchase, the execution will not disappoint.


The blog would like to thank Orient – Epson Europe for providing us this Orient Star Layered Skeleton watch for review

Sunday, 6 June 2021

We're Handing Out An Orient World Map Watch!

Hello to all blog followers and readers. Today we are giving you a chance to win the limited edition Orient World Map Diver, courtesy of Epson-Orient!

And here are all the details…


What You Can Win…

The prize we are giving is the limited edition World Map, reference RA-AA0E04Y, with the lovely multicolor map that so authentically resembles Orient's original 1969 model. This is one of just 900 export units produced by Orient (in addition to 300 units sold in Japan). Its list price is around 480 USD.

Note: the reward watch is the item that has been reviewed and photographed in our review article. It has not been resized or worn (I used the white-dial model for on-the-wrist testing). Other than posing for some photoshoots, it remained in the box and is new and practically un-used: a worthy prize, then!


What You Need To Do…

To participate, you will need to fill out this questionnaire, concerning the Orient Star brand, prepared by Epson-Orient Europe. It includes 15 survey questions, plus 3 more questions to help us get in touch with you in case you win!

In order to be eligible for winning, we ask that you complete at least 13 of the 15 survey questions – this is important for the brand, as the purpose of this survey is obviously to get to know you better, and to learn how you perceive Orient Star and its watches.

The form is in English, and we ask that answers are written in English as well (doesn't have to be mother-tongue level… just clear enough to be understood).

Needless to say, only one survey submission per person is allowed.

Note: you may submit your forms between now and June 20, 2021 at noon (CET). Forms submitted later will not be eligible to participate.

How The Draw Works…

It's very simple:

  1. On June 20, after the time for submitting answers has ended, we will take all the forms that have been submitted.
  2. We would exclude all forms with less than 13 survey questions answered.
  3. We would also exclude any forms that include gibberish or unclear answers, and any forms with missing contact information.
  4. One form will be randomly drawn.
  5. Then, we will contact the happy winner via the Email address provided, in order to arrange the shipment.


And that's all there is to it. Now go fill in that survey, and good luck!

Sunday, 30 May 2021

Orient "World Map" Hands-On Review

In February this year, Orient announced the re-issue of its famed, now-ultra-rare, 1969 "Map Dial" World Diver. Dubbed the World Map diver, the new watch immediately drew the attention of fans of the brand in general, and those familiar with its vintage diver legacy in particular.

Therefore, I was very pleased to receive two World Map versions for review – the limited edition reference RA-AA0E04Y (or RN-AA0E04Y in Japan) with its multicolor true-to-the-original dial, and the regular production ref. RA-AA0E01S (or RN-AA0E01S) with its ivory dial.

As a general rule, I evaluate watches based on their own merits, but here it's difficult to overlook the historical context behind the design. So before I begin to discuss the pros and cons of the "World Map", I'd like to briefly describe how it works as a re-issue.


Old vs. New

Not all watch brands treat their legacy designs the same way. Many so called "reissues" are in fact "homage" watches, that take certain elements of the original and blend them with more modern elements, typically larger cases, trying to emphasize the progress made by the company. Not so with Orient.

This isn't the first time Orient makes a new iteration of an older design that's almost impossible to tell from the original. But with the rather elaborate and very distinct visual footprint of the vintage world diver, the way it is being preserved by the new watch is absolutely impressive.

It's easier to say what has changed than to point out everything that is the same. So, you have a slightly larger case (43.5mm vs 42mm); the day-change push button has been omitted, as both day and date are now set from the main crown; and you have some very minute changes to the dial text, mainly the word "automatic" now added, and the tristar symbol removed.

You can see it in the pictures; my vintage World Diver is on the leather strap, while the new World Map is on the steel bracelet. The map image is absolutely identical, down to replicating the original Pantone color codes.

Okay, now that we got the historical comparison out of the way, let's move forward and focus on the new watches, shall we?


How They Look

The World Map immediately stands out as an original design, very much unlike any other diver or sports watch currently on the market. The large lugless case and the unusual internal 24-hour bezel provide a distinctive outline, even before setting one's attention onto the illustrated dial.

Naturally, while the overall shape of the watch is very simple, all that's interesting is taking place under the mineral glass. The dials, both the white version and the multicolor, are lovely in different ways. The white one is restrained and elegant, definitely more versatile in appearance; the colorful version is vibrant and playful, and increases the already-high standout factor of this model.

The 24-hour rotating bezel adds to the playfulness; to be honest, anything you can have in a watch that one can play with while wearing it, without messing with the time adjustment, is good. Watches are meant to be fun, aren't they?

That said, there is something very misleading about the dial and bezel. They'd make you think there has to be some clever way of telling the time in different cities in there. Well, in theory, that might be possible – but in practice, finding your current location or destination on this map is challenging to say the least.

In other words, if you are the sort of person who insists every element must be usable and functional, the World Map is likely to drive you mad. To enjoy it, you have to appreciate it's just a fun watch, and the "worldly" side of it is little more than an artistic expression.

Zoom in on the details, and you won't be disappointed. The map, particularly on the white dial, is printed in crisp precision. The hands are pleasantly shaped, and the date window is attractively framed. Considering the price point, there is nothing to complain about: the dial has depth, and all the elements are well proportioned and sit together nicely.

Also worth mentioning are the two crowns and the coin-edge bezel. Particularly on the white dial version, the gold tone of both bezel and crowns emphasize how well they match. Some might not like the two-tone finishing though, but of course, they can turn to one of the other references (like the blue or green dials, which I have not seen in person).

Regarding the bracelet, again, there are pros and cons. It looks nice enough, with the alternating brushed/polished finishing that mimics a five-link bracelet (though the links are single pieces). My main gripe is that the brushed part does not really connect with any other element in the watch, as the case is entirely polished.


How They Wear

We've already mentioned this is not a small watch, and a width of 43.5mm without the crowns might seem daunting to some. However, notice the total length of the case is only 46mm, meaning most people of average wrist sizes should be able to wear the World Map diver without it overhanging.

On the wrist, the watch is truly very comfortable. The 156g weight feels reasonably distributed between the case and the steel bracelet. The bracelet is really fine for the price, and is certainly of better quality than what Orient offers with some of its cheaper models. The end-links are solid and the rest of the pieces feel solid too.

This also means you don't have to adjust the bracelet for perfect tightness to avoid it swinging around, as might happen when big watches hang on cheap bracelets or thin straps. You can wear the World Map diver as tight or as loose as you like.


How They Function

Let's first look at the basic operation of the watch. Using the crown at 3 to wind the movement and to set the time, day and date, is easy enough. Winding feels a little rough and sounds more like grinding than the gentle meshing of tiny teeth on little wheels, but that is common to many Orients that use caliber F6922 (more on this, later).

Note that while this watch is dubbed as a diver, the crown does not screw in. Some hardcore dive watch fans might snub at this, but at least you get simpler operation and – unlike some Orient divers – zero crown wobble.

The crown at four is used for turning the bezel. As noted before, we're not taking the world timing functionality of this watch too seriously – I'm treating the bezel as a fidget toy. As such, it is harmless fun and "works" nicely.

The movement here is Orient's very widely used F6922. Its stated accuracy is between -15 to +25 seconds per day, but the pair of World Map divers I got faired much better. The white-dial watch was doing about +1.5 seconds per day – and kept this accuracy both during the three days I was wearing it and two days after – almost till the very last drop of power-reserve juice. That's quite impressive.

The multicolor version which I have tested but did not adjust the bracelet and therefore did not wear, was doing +6 seconds per day, mostly resting on its back, and that too is a very good result.

As far as legibility is concerned, it is a bit of a mixed bag. On all versions of the watch you get big, contrasting hour and minute hands, enabling very quick and easy telling of the time at decent lighting conditions.

However if it's precision you're after, then finding the second hand is a bit more challenging. Especially on the white dial, the thin hand – which looks about the same color as the lines that make up the map – just gets lost against the background. This is a little better with the multicolor dial, and I suspect it would be the blue and green dial versions that may offer better spotting of the seconds hand.

Using the lume for night-time reading of the time is also tricky. The hour and minute hands are lumed and sufficiently visible – but the lumed hour markers reside on the rotating bezel. Which means, if you accidentally move the bezel while it's dark, your time reading would be off.

Orient refers to this as a diver, and it does have a water resistance of 200m. So, while not ISO certified and lacking a screw-down crown it would not count as a professional diver, the World Map has the everyday waterproofness most of us practically need.

That said, I would certainly not call this a tool watch. Glass is mineral and is raised slightly above the bezel, making it prone to scratches; and the big, shiny case is also likely to get bumped if worn carelessly for outdoor work.


The Bottom Line

Like many Orients, the World Map diver is not a perfect watch, nor is it the most practical timepiece ever. It is clearly a case of "design first, function later," and that is obviously not a flaw in the process but a conscious decision. Honestly, I find this a refreshing approach, which is true to the brand spirit, stretching all the way from the original World Diver of 1969 to recent Orient models.

On the plus side, you get a handsome design – in fact a few versions of it – that is well executed, producing a cool watch that's got the looks and the wrist presence. It is comfortable, and driven by a reliable movement. Above all, the World Map is a fun product that is a faithful representation of the Orient brand and its legacy.

On the other hand, you get a number of drawbacks in the practicality department, such as the imperfect legibility and a rather useless world time function.

Like many Orients, this is a watch for people who are either collectors or fans of the brand, who don't care too much about practicality (and probably have a few other watches on rotation that could make up for any of this model's flaws). It may well also be appreciated by anyone looking for a stylish and attractive wristwatch or who sees watches as jewelry rather than serious time-telling machines, but prefers something of higher quality and prestige than "fashion watches".

In other words – the World Map diver might not be a watch for everyone – but there are still many people out there who are likely to love it. And if you are such a person, go ahead and get yourself one – the price (typically 400-500 USD) is fair, and the quality won't disappoint you.


The blog would like to thank Orient – Epson Europe for providing us these World Map diver watches for review.