Orient Place

Orient Place

Sunday 31 March 2019

Orient Star Moon-Phase Watch Review

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.

Sunday 17 March 2019

DAKS Fashion House and Orient Watches

As promised, the blog will occasionally take a look at co-branding initiatives where Orient have produced watches for other brands. The transition from the previous co-branding project we covered couldn't be sharper though, as we depart from the realm of Japanese action figures and arrive at the highly regarded and utterly British fashion house of DAKS.

"Established in 1894, DAKS produces luxury clothing and accessories for both men and women. DAKS is a holder of 3 Royal Warrants; representing our long standing relationship with the Royal Family and the outstanding quality of our products." (description taken from the DAKS website).

The cooperation between Orient and DAKS began in 2006, with a fairly modest release, of what Orient refers to as "pair models" – i.e. a couple of similar watches produced at "his" and "her" sizes. Those were fairly inexpensive quartz watches costing around $400 USD – not a lot considering the DAKS upmarket positioning.

A few years later, however, the cooperation picked up and DAKS moved into a higher segment of the watch market. Between 2009 and 2010 the two brands introduced a number of cool watches, all based on existing Orient designs but given the "DAKS touch" – mainly focused on the DAKS House Check, a unique checkered pattern identified with this fashion house.

At the top of co-branded offering were three watches based on the Royal Orient Cal. 48A40 (EG). These included a couple of pieces very similar to the Royal Orient ref. WZ0021EG, and a pocket-watch. Like the Royal Orient model, these watches were priced at around $1,800 USD.

The three pieces were encased in Sterling Silver and their dials were adorned with a texture reminiscent of the DAKS check; the straps provided for the wrist watches were also decorated with the familiar check pattern on the inside.

The following photo is taken from an old sales ad by an Orient AD. All other photos were taken from official Orient releases.

Another interesting DAKS model was the retrograde, based on Orient's familiar cal. 40A52 (note that this DAKS is not using the more finely regulated and decorated Royal Orient variant, cal. 40B50).

Orient launched two retrograde models, also featuring the checkered straps, and finely check-textured dials. They were priced at around 1,200 USD – similar to the equivalent Orient Star retrograde models.

Finally, Orient also produced a line of high-end ladies' watches, under the tagline "Elegant and Traditional". These were quartz watches, encased in stainless steel with rose- and yellow-gold toned versions, embedded with 24 diamonds and having a crown set with gemstones. The models were priced at just under 1,000 USD.

Nowadays, it's not too difficult to come across the simpler quartz DAKS models, many of which are solar-powered, on auction sites. However the mechanical DAKS pieces are very rare findings – and presumably were not being produced in very large numbers to begin with.

Are Orient's DAKS watches of any particular importance to collectors? Most likely not. While rare, not many people are looking for these items, and it does not seem that they have been at any time a central piece for the DAKS house – and currently, there are no watches featured on their website.

However, for avid Orient collectors, there's still a point of interest here. For instance, if one is looking for a pre-owned Orient Star retrograde and has the opportunity to buy a DAKS variant, this might be an interesting proposition – a chance to get the same Orient Star quality watch in an unusual guise.

Would you choose a DAKS-branded watch over the standard Orient, given the chance, or not? Let us know what you think!