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?

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