Orient Place

Orient Place

Wednesday 26 December 2018

Orient Watch Photo Contest Reminder

I hope everybody is enjoying their holiday ... and while you're at it, don't forget our Orient Watch Photo Contest is still open!

We already got a few great photos posted, so you're welcome to go on our Facebook contest thread and Like your favorite photos. But most importantly - post your own photos to join the contest!

Here again are the rules:

1.     Visit the contest post on our Facebook page, here

2.     To participate in the contest – post your best photo of an Orient watch as a comment on that Facebook post. One photo per participant, please, so choose your candidate photograph wisely!

Note - It doesn't necessarily have to be your own watch (and we wouldn't be able to tell if it is, anyway) but it has to be a watch that you personally photographed.

3.     Get as many Likes as you can; and don't just wait for Likes to happen… invite your friends – especially if they appreciate watches – to visit our page and Like your photo – and any other photo they think is good. Visitors are not restricted to liking just one photo.

4.     The contest will run on our Facebook page until January 1st, 2019, noon CET. Until then you can post photos and get Likes – but of course, the sooner you post your photo, the more time you'll have to get Likes.

5.     The blog also gets one vote for the photo we like the best.

6.     After voting concludes, there will be a final head-to-head contest between the two photos that got the most Likes.

Now – to make things interesting, we also have a humble reward for the winner, which Orient watch fans should appreciate: two authentic and very detailed Japan Orient Store brochures!

Okay, six days to go - that is plenty of time to get that perfect Orient shot... good luck!

Thursday 20 December 2018

The Orient Place Holidays Photo Contest

It seems everyone's running a photo-shoot contest nowadays – so why not have a contest of our own? After all, Orient watches are so photogenic!

So – today we're announcing the Orient Place Holiday Season Photo Contest. And here's how it is going to be:

1.       On the Orient Place Facebook page, there is a new post with a link to the contest announcement (i.e. the blog post you're reading right now)

You can visit the Facebook post directly, here

2.       To participate in the contest – post your best photo of an Orient watch as a comment on that Facebook post. One photo per participant, please, so choose your candidate photograph wisely!

Note - It doesn't necessarily have to be your own watch (and we wouldn't be able to tell if it is, anyway) but it has to be a watch that you personally photographed.

3.       Get as many Likes as you can; and don't just wait for Likes to happen… invite your friends – especially if they appreciate watches – to visit our page and Like your photo – and any other photo they think is good. Visitors are not restricted to liking just one photo.

4.       The contest will run on our Facebook page until January 1st, 2019, noon CET. Until then you can post photos and get Likes – but of course, the sooner you post your photo, the more time you'll have to get Likes.

5.       The blog also gets one vote J for the photo we like the best.

6.       After voting concludes, there will be a final head-to-head contest between the two photos that got the most Likes.

Now – to make things interesting, we also have a humble reward for the winner, which Orient watch fans should appreciate: these two authentic and very detailed Japan Orient Store brochures!

Alright then, what are you waiting for? Go post those photos!

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?

Sunday 14 October 2018

Orient's 60th Anniversary Models

We all like to celebrate our anniversaries (until we start feeling too old, that is…) and so very often do watch brands. Orient, founded in 1950, celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2010 with a bunch of very cool limited edition pieces.

Among the models released were the cool "rock star" duo, the WV0361PM and its female counterpart – WV2371NQ, limited to 300 pieces each, and the Orient Star "Retro Future" ref. WZ0071DK – also limited to 300 pieces and fairly expensive.       

Then there was the impossibly hard to find, Royal Orient ref. WE0011DU, limited to only 12 pieces. More than just a unicorn, this is a legendary beast never seen in the wild. Other than its catalog photos, I have yet to see proper wrist shots of the WE0011DU. If you ever come across one, please share with me!

For my personal collection, I picked up the more classically elegant of the 60th anniversary releases – ref. WV0021DT. I think this might be one of Orient's nearest to perfection dress watches to date.

The watch features a 39mm case, boxed mineral crystal glass, and numerous design elements common with some of Orient's popular dress watches – albeit here in very pure form, blending a gold plated case and a finely textured silver dial.

This model does include two more unique elements, one more obvious – the other hidden inside. Immediately apparent is the use of a vintage version of the Orient logo; while I have nothing against Orient's current logo, I know many people dislike it, and there is no doubt that the logo on this edition looks classy and really matches its dressy nature well.

The second unique component is the hand winding movement Orient chose to use with this model. Orient does not often use hand-winding (i.e. no automatic winding) calibers in its modern pieces. In the last decade it had one such caliber that was being used with slight variations in a number of watches, most recently the "Monarch". However to the best of my knowledge all recent Orient hand-winders, such as the Monarch's caliber 48C40, were time only (plus power reserve) – whereas the 60th anniversary caliber 48N40 features the date as well.

A perfect dress watch then, suitable for celebrating the 60th anniversary of a brand well known for its dress watches. The ref. WV0021DT, and the non-gold-plated version WV0011DT, were each limited to 1,500 pieces – and can still be found occasionally on EBay and various online stores at mostly reasonable prices (500-600 USD) for used items, and higher if claimed little or no wear.

It is also worth mentioning, that with the abundance of models released by Orient in 2010 (both anniversary editions and other new releases), there was also one miscarriage, a model that was spoken of but never actually released: a 60th anniversary limited Orient Star Classic Retrograde. Who knows what this watch would have been like? Well, Orient, your 70th anniversary is just around the corner – you can still surprise us!

* All photos of the WV0021DT are mine; photos of other models featured above are taken from Orient's catalogs.

Wednesday 3 October 2018

New Limited Editions of Orient Moon Phase Watches Released

Orient announced today the release of two new models in its Mechanical Moon Phase line-up, each limited to 500 pieces.

The new versions are generally similar to the existing line-up, having the same 41mm case and dial layout. There are some visual differences, of course: Ref. RK-AM0007S features an ivory, or "cream" colored dial - similar to the older limited edition ref. RK-AM0003S - but it drops the gold-toned bezel and Orient Star logo of the old model in favor of a more subdued all-steel finishing.

Ref. RK-AM0006L resembles the existing model ref. RK-AM0002L, having a similar blue dial, but here Orient actually made it a bit flashier, featuring gold-toned hands (as opposed to silver colored hands in the older model). Orient also replaced the silver-toned inner ring and sub dials with darker shades - dark grey and blue - for a more classic look having a nearly all-blue dial.

Both models retail price is 170,000 JPY, just like the rest of the moon phase line-up.

Please note, the photos above are taken from Orient's press release. For more news and stories, please follow the blog! 
You can also follow by liking the blog page on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/OrientPlaceBlog 

Sunday 30 September 2018

Dress Watches and Orient

What is a dress watch? There are many definitions and opinions, but most would agree a dress watch is an elegant, dressy (duh!) timepiece that generally matches business and formal attire. This category consists of watches that are smaller and thinner than sports watches (so they can fit under a long sleeve), typically wear on a leather strap (that should match one's shoes and belt), and include minimal functionality – so as to fit in the smaller case, and to enable one to see the time at a quick glance (since a long stair at your watch would not be seen as good manners in a formal event).

These definitions can be quite limiting. If a watch is to be kept fairly small and minimalistic in design, and avoid obscuring the dial with elaborate decorations and complications, it might seem that differentiating one brand or model from others could be quite daunting. Of course there are still many options to make a specific watch unique – by combination of dial color and texture, hands and markers, case shape and finishing etc. However, generally speaking, it is true that with dress watches, other than with the use of precious metals, making a watch stand out as being of a much higher quality or price-point, when seen at a distance of over a couple of feet, is difficult.

This, I think, is where the opportunity lies for brands such as Orient to excel. Orient is skilled at manufacturing watches at "just the right level of quality" – i.e. that they just look good enough to appear more expensive than they are, but not boasting such unnecessarily fine details that would make them actually expensive.

As most of you would know, Orient has indeed seized this opportunity, and has been known for decades as producer of fine dress watches that not only fit under your cuff but also in your wallet. Orient's Bambinos, Monarchs, Symphonies and Howards, to name but a few, are dressy automatic watches that you could buy for less than 200 USD. Slightly fancier models, like the open heart Bambino can be found under 300 USD. And yes, Orient Star models that offer greater "finesse" are available at still reasonable prices, 400 USD or more, depending on the model. You can see a bunch of these Orients pictured above (this one photo is from the net, not all mine...)

Here are a couple of favorites from my collection – the "Oreo" ref. WZ0071DG (that I covered on a previous article), and the Orient "60th anniversary" model ref. WV0021DT (which I'll probably be covering sometime soon!).

To me, these exemplify Orient's skill at making dress watches. The Oreo is seemingly simple – a time only piece that even the most purist of dress watch aficionados would appreciate – but it stands out thank to the uniquely styled dial combining a black center and a white ring, both having a warm, eggshell-like texture. The anniversary model features an older version of the Orient logo, rendering it slightly more vintage-like, and adding a touch of class to the dial.

One other feature which I believe sets good dress watches apart, is that they would look good in black and white. For no better reason than simply adding to that old-world charm of getting all dressed up in a suit or a tux.

This just works, don't it…

So – what's your favorite dress watch?

Sunday 16 September 2018

Catch of the Day - Orients for Sale

Here again are links to more unusual or rare Orient watches that are currently available to buy online. I have no affiliation with the sellers, and do not vouch for authenticity or quality, so buyer's caution is advised!

First piece to catch my attention this month is this very handsome Orient Star ref. WZ0041EJ. According to the seller this has practically not been used. The star (pun intended) of the show here is obviously the dial, which has a beautiful reddish-copper hue.

Case diameter is around 38mm without the crown, which is a decent size for a dress watch. It has probably spent around 10 years in the box – long enough for it to ripe. It's time someone buys and enjoys it! I would definitely have done so if it wasn't for another red-dialed Orient that just landed on my desk a few days ago…

Check it out here – if no one has bought it already…

Now, for something even rarer and quite striking – this is what seems to be a fairly priced Royal Orient in excellent condition. This is "Orient Star Royal" ref. WZ0011FC, a real classy piece. This too has a beautiful dial combining different textures. Case diameter is 36mm.

The watch is available on Rakuten here; There are of course various online services that would help you get it shipped outside of Japan. I personally often use ZenMarket, which is quite convenient. For example, you can see the same watch on ZenMarket here.

Last one for today – this one is really rare – an Orient Star automatic chronograph ref. WZ0011DS. This model uses Seiko's famed chronograph movement, a close relative of the one sourced by Tag Heuer for its own chronographs.

The link is for a physical store in the Philippines, and whether or not it is actually still in stock and would they ship it globally is pretty much a mystery. But – doesn't all this just make a hunt more exciting? This piece is definitely worth the effort. Let's just hope the store withstood the ferocious Typhoon Mangkhut.

You can find the store's Facebook status here – price is not mentioned, but expect 4 figures in USD.

Please note I'm sharing the photos provided on the respective sale ads for these watches. I definitely recommend searching online for more quality photos, on the wrist and in various lighting conditions, to get a better feel for what the watch looks like in real life.

Tuesday 4 September 2018

More new Orient models!

Looks like it's that time of year again... it's only been a few days since the last announcement, and here come more new model announcements from Orient.

Ladies first - a new line-up of women's models have been announced, essentially smaller (30.5mm in diameter) versions of the men's classic semi-skeleton models. They come on either leather or steel bracelet, and are fairly elegant, and reasonably priced at around $450 USD.

Next up, are a few new versions of the recently slimmed-down models, the slim semi-skeleton and slim date. The more interesting ones, pictured below, are the limited edition slim-date, in deep blue, ref. RK - HK0004L, and the Prestige Shop model in deep reddish-brown, ref. RK-HJ0006B. Interestingly, Orient mention these models' cases are Zaratsu polished (yep, like Grand Seiko).

Orient also introduce some new color combinations for their familiar line of "contemporary skeleton" models. This one, ref. RK-AV0010E, is interesting - with a dark green dial, some golden elements, black PVD case, and limited to 500 pieces.

Orient point out the difference in the new models, compared to old "open heart" models - the view into the movement does look much better with the new caliber F6T22.

That's it for today. For more news and stories, please follow the blog! 
You can also follow by liking the blog page on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/OrientPlaceBlog 

Monday 3 September 2018

The "Map Dial" Orient World Diver

If you've been following this blog closely, you would know I have a thing for colorful watches. A skilled designer can use the watch dial as a canvas and turn it into a little work of art.

The Orient "World Diver" was never a part of that artistic category, with most specimens found featuring a black dial. It was originally introduced around 1967 as a very utilitarian timepiece. While it featured a standard 12-hour dial layout, it had a 24-hour rotating inner bezel, and city names printed on the circumference of the dial. By adjusting the bezel to show the time in the city you're in, you could tell the time in other cities. At 42mm without the crown, the World Diver case was considerably larger than most watches at the time, allowing the busy dial to be read with relative ease.

In 1969, however, Orient decided to do something a little bit more special, and issued a version of the World Diver featuring a drawing of a world map on the dial – instead of printing city names. While theoretically providing the same functionality, this was clearly not as easy to use as city names printed in white on black… this was Orient doing its "thing". Art for art's sake.

Finding a "Map Dial" World Diver proved to be far more difficult than most watch-hunts I've went on before. There is no information on the number of Map Dial pieces produced, but apparently there were not too many of them. This must have been considered a very special model, as it was even featured in Orient's official 60th anniversary commemorative book, published in 2010.

After a few months of searching, I've finally come across a private collector in Spain who was willing to sell his specimen. After some pleasant conversation and negotiation, I acquired this very unique item.

I was not disappointed. This watch was obviously produced to rather high standards. The dial withstood 5 decades with honor, showing no signs of patina or fading – and I must point out that in all the (very few) photos of other Map Dial pieces I saw online, the dial seemed to be in the same pristine state.

For an engine, the watch uses the highly robust caliber 4694, a 21 jewel, 21600 BPH movement. This replaced the 27 jewel, 18000 BPH caliber 4971 which was apparently running some older versions of the world diver. The caliber 46 family is known to have produced real workhorse movements and this one is no exception, the watch winds quickly and keeps excellent time for its age, within a few seconds a day.

So to summarize, a fantastic watch, its accurate and reliable movement and modern case size making it perfectly suitable for daily wear. It is yet another example of Orient's ability to producing real gems – and also, a great example for how patient hunting pays off in the end!

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I would also like to mention the strap featured in the photos. Since the watch did not come on its original bracelet (that would probably be too much to ask for!) I looked for a matching vintage-style leather band, and once again found a great looking and fairly priced item at Martu's online shop. I've purchased a number of straps from this small Chilean business, run by a very talented lady, so happy to recommend it.

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Final note for today: I just launched a Facebook page for the blog, where I'd be posting updates whenever anything new is posted on this blog, at: https://www.facebook.com/OrientPlaceBlog

You might find following that page more convenient to you than following the BlogSpot website, in order to be notified of new content. To do that, go to the link and Like the page, or click "Like", or simply click on "Like" under "Follow Orient Place on Facebook" on the right-hand menu.