Orient Place

Orient Place

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! 
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