Orient Place

Orient Place

Thursday 24 October 2019

The Orient Star Outdoor Watch Hands-On Review

Orient's line of "Outdoor" watches was introduced earlier in 2019, and very quickly got fans of the brand intrigued. The seemingly simple design, largely devoid of many of Orient's common design features (like open hearts and other non-functional dial elements) made it very clear that this watch is all about the quality of execution. Therefore, I just had to get my hands on one of these, and check how good it was in person! Luckily – I did not get one, but two…

The versions sent for review included the black-plated reference RE-AU0202N (which we'll refer to as "the black" in the review, for simplicity), and the non-plated ref. RE-AU0204L (which we'll refer to as "the blue"). It is worth noting that Orient recently updated the line-up (or rather, released similar watches with new references, RK-AU0209N and RK-AU0211L respectively). Depending on the store / source, you may find either reference being offered, both legitimate – and of course, additional versions of the Outdoor.

The common features to all Outdoor references include a 41mm wide stainless steel case, 49mm lug-to-lug dimension, and thickness of 12.1mm. At the heart of the Outdoor is Orient's caliber F6N43, which hand-winds and hacks, and features a central second hand, date wheel, and power-reserve display.

How It Looks

The Outdoor has been designed by Orient as a "field watch", which implies a military appearance, ruggedness and usability. Some people have described its look as resembling a "pilot watch" which to me makes sense, as I've always felt that a field watch is often the same as a pilot watch, only smaller. Whereas classic pilot watches are often 43mm or larger (Orient's own pilot watch is 42.4) and true field watches were 38mm or less, the size of this model puts it in a very sensible sweet spot in the middle.

Titles and labels aside, it is quite a handsome time piece. The big markers and large crown help it achieve a more substantial wrist presence than the size alone would suggest. This is particularly true for the blue Outdoor, with its shiny metal and more contrasting dial.

The dial layout is very pleasing. Its symmetry is only disturbed by the small date window Рwhich thankfully does not cut into the lovely marker at 3. The black Outdoor features a kind of greyish-brown dial while the markers and hands are mostly "vintage-cr̬me" color Рa very warm, pleasant kind of combination. The blue Outdoor's dial is deep dark blue with a very cool sunburst effect (and a certain texture that's hard to describe but has a sense of deep layer of paint) and white markers and hands Рcreating a different, yet equally attractive impression. Which version is nicer is very much down to personal tastes.

Yet, the Outdoor does not immediately smite you with the sharp, crisp visual impact that some Orient Star models produce. Rather than having an immediate effect, what the Outdoor does is grow on you, slowly. It takes some time to appreciate the subtleties of the design and notice the manufacturing quality.

One such area that reflects the quality is case finishing. It's interesting to compare it with Orient's lower end field watch, the "Defender", which was reviewed on the blog a few weeks ago. While the Defender is definitely a quality offering for its price, it is easy to see how the brushing on the Outdoor is finer; and, compared to the blocky lugs of the simpler watch, the Outdoor's lugs are nicely chamfered.

Another element of the Outdoor that stands out is the crown, which is simply beautiful – especially when examined closely.

How It Wears

The Outdoor wears very comfortably on the leather straps with which the models we received were provided (some Outdoor versions are provided with nylon bands). The straps are supple and of very good quality and their initial stiffness did not require a lot of wearing to soften and adjust to my wrist.

The strap is attached to a folding clasp which is, likewise, of decent quality and easy to use. Its outer side is nicely brushed, and adds to the overall look and feel of the watch.

The one thing that would probably annoy some owners is the 21mm lug width. This size, generally considered non-standard, limits the choice of replacement straps to an extent (although there are still many 21mm strap options).

On the wrist, the watch feels good, just like a 41 x 49mm watch should: it is the perfect size which most buyers should be able to enjoy. The lugs are well curved to keep close to the wrist and give it a good, warm hug.

How It Functions

Operation of the watch is easy enough; the large crown is super-grippy and easy to screw open or lock-down, and to wind and set the time and date.

Now we're getting to the heart of the watch; that is the movement. The two watches sent for review did not perform the same.

The black Outdoor gained 5 seconds per day, a good result which is on par with most Orients reviewed on the blog and of course, well within the -15, +25 specs. The blue piece however gained an exceptional 27 seconds per day; that is outside the specs, and is not typical of the brand. It might be a problem with the loan unit received; anyway, if one were to buy an Orient Star with this deviation, it would be wise to have it replaced (of course, if an older watch gradually speeded up to +27, it would probably be easy for a decent watchmaker to fix it).

Legibility on both versions of the Outdoor was excellent. The blue variant had the higher contrast, but honestly all Outdoor models would be good enough thanks to the large, clear markers and hands.

Lume is also very good, and remained clear and visible long after exposure to even the faint sunlight just before sunset. All in all, this is a core requirement from field watches, to be quickly and easily legible at all times, and the Outdoor performs this part of the job very well.

One last parameter of field watch functionality is its robustness and durability. The Outdoor's water resistance is rated to 100 meters, which is secured using the screw-in crown. That's not exceptional, but sufficient for most everyday uses that do not involve long immersion in water.

The straps, however good looking and matching the watch esthetically, will probably not be the best choice if one wishes to really engage in outdoor activity though. For that, we'd recommend either one of the versions that come with a nylon band, or simply to replace the strap with a nylon or rubber one (or any specialty leather strap that has increased resilience to water and sweat).

The case, too is a consideration, and like we mentioned on our review of the Defender – black PVD is cool, but loses its charm after some wear and tear, so if looking for tool watch usability one of the "bare metal" versions is preferable.

The front crystal is properly tough sapphire; the case-back is mineral crystal though, which is sensible choice but needs to be taken into consideration when taking the watch off "in the wild".

The Bottom line

The Outdoor is a very handsome, well made watch. By and large it does deliver on the promise of sporty, outdoor capabilities, offering good legibility and reasonable (while not entirely "tool-watch-like") durability. Above all, it offers some real nice touches that, while not immediately evident, do present themselves over time and reveal the "Orient Star" quality of the execution.

In comparison with the more basic field watch from Orient, the Defender, the Outdoor has more finely executed case and dial, sapphire crystal, higher quality straps and bands out of the box, and a movement with 50 hours power reserve (10 more than the Defender). It's also worth noting that like most of Orient's line-up, the Orient Star comes with 2 years manufacturer's warranty, versus one year for the non-Star models.

Outdoor versions are officially around 750 USD, and generally available online at around 550 USD. If this was a Swiss watch, it would present incredible value, considering the merits of the watch; yet even as Japanese watches go, it is a very decent offering.

The blog's verdict: The Outdoor is somewhat different from most Orient Star designs – many of which are either classically dressy, or (like the skeletonized models) quite extravagant. Instead it is subtle, very pleasant to look at, but takes time to appreciate its quality. Bottom line is, if you like the style of the Outdoor, its execution will not disappoint you. It is definitely worthy of the Orient Star moniker.

The blog would like to thank Orient – Epson Europe for providing us these Orient Star Outdoor models for review.

Thursday 10 October 2019

Orient Go Blue

A catchy title might have been "Orient's got the blues" but there's nothing sad about this, on the contrary: Orient are launching 7 (!) new models – or rather, versions of existing Orient Star models – that proudly wear gold and blue as a symbol of global connection, since – as Orient puts it in its recent announcement – Blue is the color of the sky and the sea which connect the world.

One of the models that stands out (and got a separate announcement by Orient) is a version of the new Orient Star diver. Reference RK-AU0304L features a blue dial and bezel, gold-toned markers and hands, and – unique to this reference – the bezel sides are blackened.

This model is priced slightly above the other members of its family, probably as it comes bundled with both steel bracelet and a divers' silicon band, and due to the blackened bezel. Orient limit the new model's production to 1,200, of which 500 are allocated for the domestic Japanese market.

The other six models did not get an announcement of their own, but they are definitely nice enough to deserve attention.

The Orient Star Moonphase watch gets two versions. Ref. RK-AM0009L would be offered on leather strap, and limited to 500 units; ref. RK-AM0010L, though similarly priced, will be bundled with both steel bracelet and leather strap, and will be limited to 200 units sold exclusively on Orient's Prestige Shops.

Orient's "Modern Skeleton" will also get a couple of versions. Ref. RK-AV0111L, offered on leather, will be limited to 2,000 units (of which 800 reserved for domestic market), while 200 units of Ref. RK-AV0112L will be packaged with a bracelet and a strap and sold in Prestige Shops.

Finally a pair of semi-skeleton models would be offered, for "him and her": ref. RK-AT0008L is based on Orient's contemporary open-heart model, while ref. RK-ND0008L is a new version of Orient's classic ladies' open-heart watch. Each of these is limited to 500 units.

The blog's verdict: any addition of blue and gold to the line-up is welcome, and seven new additions are particularly so. The new diver is definitely a looker and is expected to be the favorite of many, and the new color combo also works very well for the contemporary semi-skeleton.

Now – maybe it's time for some other colors? Not enough grey dial versions on the line-up, we think – and it's definitely time for more yellow on those divers!

Sunday 6 October 2019

Orient's Contemporary Collection Models on Mesh

Last month we were very excited with Orient's announcement on the release of the brand's new automatic pilot watches. So we understandably neglected another announcement made more or less around the same time. We can go back to it now.

This was not an announcement of a completely new line of watches; instead, Orient launched a few versions of existing models in its Contemporary line on a new mesh band.

Now, the contemporary collection is essentially where Orient positions watches focused on those segments of the market looking for more modern looking watches. These typically feature very clean, minimalist designs or watches that perhaps have more elaborate designs (like Multi Year Calendar or Sun & Moon models) but are still laid out cleanly and stylishly.

It therefore makes sense that for these consumers who look at Orient's contemporary models as a higher quality alternative to "fashion watches", the brand would offer watches on steel mesh – which is very much a love or hate thing, but is definitely seen by many as a comfortable and fashionable alternative to standard bracelets.

And it further makes sense that these mesh bands are offered as options for the Contemporary collection's more simply designed, modern looking models.

The models on top – references RN-AC0E05N, RN-AC0E06E, and RN-AC0E07S – are 40mm wide automatics, costing around 260 USD plus tax. They are basically the same as some existing Contemporary Collection models previously available from Orient on either leather straps or conventional steel bracelets.

The models below, featuring small seconds are references RN-SP0005N, RN-SP0006E, and RN-SP0007S, are quartz, 39mm wide and costing around 180 USD plus tax. These two are simply new variations of existing references in the Contemporary line.

The blog's verdict: well honestly, we're not the biggest fans of mesh bands; but if you're gonna have mesh on your Orient it might as well be branded Orient rather than being a generic band, so… why not? We approve.