Orient introduced caliber F7X62, featuring a brand new mechanical moon-phase complication, in the summer of 2017. This came as a very welcome step-up from its fairly popular "sun and moon" complication (which was in fact a visualization of a 24 hour indicator).
The Orient Star moon-phase line up has been gradually expanding since then, and now finally the blog got its hands on one of these interesting models: the blue dialed reference RE-AM0002L (or, on the Japanese website, RK-AM0002L).
Personally, I've had two concerns upon seeing the watch in photos: that the dial was overly cluttered, and that the "semi-skeleton" feature, which Orient is very much fond of, would really detract from an otherwise very classic style of watch.
Regarding the latter concern I must say I'm still not fully convinced of the necessity of this feature that punches a hole through the beautiful dial of this watch. I'll need to let this sink in for a while. I would have loved to see a non-skeletonized version done by Orient.
Regarding the first concern however, I was very much relieved to see the watch in the flesh. There is a lot of visual (and actual) depth to the dial, at least in this blue colored version, which helps distinguish its different elements. The excellent anti-reflective coating of the sapphire crystal further improves legibility. The case is just the right size at 41mm, not wearing too large yet allowing ample breadth for the dial to present itself and allow one to appreciate the view.
And yes, the dial looks great. The decorations are subtle, and add a sense of quality and finesse without overshadowing the main purpose of the watch, which is to show the time – and indeed, the phase of the moon.
The moon phase disc is sweet – not anything we've not seen before in moon phase complications, but still good looking. The date and moon section of the dial is very well made.
Overall the watch feels solid like Orient Star watches typically do. The movement is nice enough to observe, both through the sapphire case back and through the front window.
One other thing to mention – which some publications and sale ads for the watch have not emphasized – is the improved accuracy of the F7X62 movement: boasting a respectable (for the price range) +15/-5 seconds per day, as opposed to +25/-15 on most Orients.
The model we're looking at sells nowadays for around 1,200 USD. Some of the more limited versions of the moon-phase, or ones that come on a bracelet, sell closer to 1,800 USD. These are still fair asking prices for a mechanical moon-phase from a respectable brand. Some close competitors I can think of include the Frederique Constant Moonphase Manufacture, which generally sell well above 2,000 USD, and the Christopher Ward Grand Malvern Moonphase, selling for roughly 1,800 USD. At 1,200 USD the Orient does seem a very fair proposition.
So, there you have it. A fine offering by Orient, combining good looks, Orient Star quality, and the mechanical moon-phase complication. While not very useful, I see moon phase displays as a good answer to the question "how do we make a dial more interesting, while keeping it functional and not decorated just for the sake of decoration". Whether that is at all a question that you find relevant and worthy of the 1,200+ USD price tag – that's entirely up to you.
The blog would like to thank our avid reader Mr. Boaz Barnea, who allowed us some time to play with, and take photos of, his personal Orient Moon Phase.