Orient Place

Orient Place

Wednesday 29 August 2018

New Orient Models Announced

Here are some fresh news, in brief - concerning new models announced by Orient this week.

First up is a line of open heart, or "semi skeleton", models featuring the F6T22 caliber – which is Orient's latest and most upgraded open heart movement with hand winding and hacking. The new models feature an integrated bracelet and Roman numerals at 12 and 6,  thus differing from the previously introduced "Bambino open heart" line-up. You can see the new models here: https://www.orient-watch.jp/product/category/?category_id=264

I particularly like this one, with the faded grey dial – need to see it in real life but chances are that as with previous models it will look better than Orient's early marketing images!

Also new is a whole new bunch of F6922-based divers, generally featuring very familiar Orient design cues from Makos and Rays. You can see them all here: https://www.orient-watch.jp/product/category/?category_id=265

This one, I think, is kind of cool:

Thanks for reading, and please follow this blog – you'll be getting both news updates like this, and all original content (like most of my posts).

Tuesday 21 August 2018

Orient's Use of Color

One of the differentiating elements of Orient's designs over the years, has been the brand's use of colors.

Colorful dials were quite common in watchmaking in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. All Japanese brands were presenting cheerful colors – for instance the Seiko Vanac line featured richly painted dials often enhanced by faceted glasses, and Citizen had many of its cool 70s chronograph dials dyed so as to create contrast between the main and sub-dials, to give just two examples out of many.

In the 1990s however, it seemed popular tastes were shifting toward more somber, monochromatic designs, hailing the legibility of black and white, with bright colors reserved for small elements such as a red tip on the second hand.

Citizen quickly adopted this design philosophy, and much of its current line of watches is black and white. Seiko still plays with color, but – if I may – rather sluggishly (I'm thinking of that purple and blue Zimbe Sumo…) and its more successful designs stick to monochrome – such as SKX007 and SRP777. This is obviously an intentional choice, as both these brands very successfully incorporate color into their less common, high-end, Grand Seiko and Citizen's Campanola.

And yet Orient kept its designs colorful and fun throughout the years, across all models – from the basic "3 stars" up to Orient Star. In almost every Orient line there would be a color for everyone. I find this to be one of the brand's main attractions and a key differentiator.

The use of color could be fairly subtle. For instance, this first generation "EX00" M-Force, is mostly black, titanium grey, and gold. But then there's the red, yellow and blue power reserve gauge, turning an otherwise solid diver into something much more playful.

Color could be used to light up the entire dial. Consider for instance the FD models I covered on a previous post. Yes, there's also good looking black and white dialed versions of these watches, but these are definitely the colored versions that stand out.

So if you're into blue dials – a color that became very fashionable in the last 2-3 years – remember Orient have been catering for lovers of blue tint long before it became a trend.

And of course, you don't have to limit yourself to just one main color. Orient's mastery of hues and shades peaks when its designers decide to forget the rules and go all in. Very few watchmakers could pull off dials such as these:

To me, designing as well as collecting watches need not be taken too seriously. While functional, watches serve mainly as wearable works of popular art, and as such – embrace wild colors and cheeky designs whole-heartedly. Yes, you'll want to have at least one respectable, serious-looking dress watch in your collection for when duty calls, but for most daily occasions do consider adding a little (or a lot of) color to your wrist.

Sunday 5 August 2018

The Perfect Summertime Watch

What makes a perfect summertime watch? For me, it has to have the right looks, as well as a very high level of comfort – on top of all other qualities one typically desires to have in a watch.

In the looks department, the right watch needs to have color, needs to express the joy and freedom of summertime. The opposite of the austere, monochromatic looks of certain "serious" watch one would wear for work. Think holiday shirts vs. business suits.

On the comfort side of things, it needs to maintain its cool and avoid getting sticky and sweaty. It has to be light – and to have a good, weighty bracelet. Why weighty? Well, because you want to wear the watch looser on vacation. And a loosely worn watch with a big heavy case and a light bracelet becomes a pendulum. You don't want that.

Looking for a watch that should answer these requirements, I discovered Orient's "Summer Edition" watches from around 2006, in vibrant orange and turquoise versions. Both turned out to be rather difficult to find, being limited editions of 500 and 300 pieces respectively. Having expanded the search, it appeared that two similar version in red and blue were also available – though only slightly less hard to come by. In the end, I managed to get hold of this fabulous blue Orient Star WZ0211FD.

It has all the right properties. The case is 39mm wide, boasting apt wrist presence yet light enough, and with Orient Star's familiar high level of finish it looks great – so long as you don't mind the crown at 4 o'clock. The bracelet is great, solid and comfortable. And then there's the dial.

Blue and bright like the sky in August, the dial is superb. Totally devoid of text other than the Orient Star logo, the wearer can admire its texture without any disturbances. It's perfectly legible, and the power reserve makes it just a tad more interesting than a plain time-and-date layout.

Containing the old "FD" movement (later replaced with the EL models), there is no manual winding and no hacking. Probably the only real drawback of this model line, I would mind it more had it been a formal dress watch. But this one's for the holiday season. Do you really need to know time to the exact second? Pool's still open, that's what you need to know…

Now, if you wish to get your hands on of those, here's what you need to know. First – getting a specific model is hard, so you better expand your search. There's black and white but the ones I find more attractive are as following:

If you are looking for a cool look, like mine, go for either the WZ0211FD (on the left in the image below) or the limited edition WZ0281FD (on the right hand side). The image below, taken from the internet, shows both watches pictured in the same shop under similar lighting, so you can appreciate how subtle the differences are.

For a warmer appearance, you may consider either the red-dialed WZ0221FD, or the limited edition WZ0151FD in orange. Again, both pictured below in photos posted on the internet, taken under the same lighting.

Don't expect to find any of them NIB or NOS. More than a decade have passed since these were released. But if you try hard and are willing to wait, a used piece in good condition may surface. Prices may be between $250-300 on a strap, or $300-350 on the original bracelet. Given the reliability and quality of these models, a well preserved exemplar even at the top of this price range represents tremendous value for money.