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/