Orient Place

Orient Place

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.