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 – which 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-crΓ¨me" color – a 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 – creating 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.

21 comments:

  1. Very fond of these models. Apart from the leather band which is nice, but for an outdoor use, IMHO it would have been better to supply it with a strong Nato or canvas stap…πŸ˜‰

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    1. Agree! I believe some of the new references come with both leather-padded nylon band AND a second, regular nylon band - these should make good choices for outdoor activity.

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  2. But…It seems, there are some nylon straps for this range. Is it supplied as an extra bracelet with the watch or optional ?

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    1. Unfortunately no, depending on the version you choose, you get either leather or canvas+nylon - not both.

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  3. Cool watch and great review! Added to my wanted list πŸ˜€.
    Suggestion: Barton has a great collection of 21mm straps to chose from in case you want swap to something else πŸ‘

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  4. Keeping this old post going:
    I just received the blue version of this watch and it's a remarkable bargain considering the handsome looks and quality. OS in a highly underrated brand. A comparable European watch with these features and level of finish would be 2-3x the cost. I'm truly impressed.

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  5. 100m WR is plenty for most swimming activities. With a yearly pressure test, & replacement of gaskets as needed, it should be fine.

    Even without a screw-down crown, a well made 100m WR watch will have a crown that is quite difficult to pull, without using a fingernail and a lot of effort.

    I probably won't go in salt water, however, I plan on jumping off rocks with a 10ft drop into a river. Even doing that, it won't exceed this watch's rating. I think my 100m WR Orient Star retrograde will also be fine for freshwater swimming.

    There is a lot of myth about the risk of intrusion, for under 200m WR. Marc from Island Watch disproved the static pressure myth. Just know that much of the fear is irrational, and not backed up by math.

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    1. I agree, the 100m rating should suffice to shower or take the occasional short swim. That said, if were buying a watch with the specific intention of spending a lot of time in water I'd opt for something that's really geared towards watersports, even if just because there's so many diver watches out there...

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    2. Agreed, maybe a Seiko SNE573 is what I need- something better for saltwater, and some diving.

      Also, I meant to type, "DYNAMIC pressure myth", not "static".

      I almost went for a Seiko SARB017 Alpinist, but figured the 100m WR (& screwed crown) of the Outdoor would suffice, at least for depths of 10ft or less, freshwater only.

      It will be subjected to much longer than a short swim though, that's for sure. I'm sure it'll be fine, as I won't be going too deep.

      [The Outdoor, bought used, near-mint, was a much better deal than what a clean SARB017 costs. In my opinion, anyway. I really like my RK-AU0204L, just need to grab a 21mm strap that is good for the water.]

      Orient (and Seiko too, I think) even claim their 50m rated pieces are good for light swimming, but I'm too scared to try that!!

      Of course, for a prized or discontinued timepiece, it's probably never worth the risk, especially with so many great and affordable divers around, like you said.

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  6. Do the high quality brushings still visible for the black PVD version ?

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    1. Less so than the plain steel. It won't give you that rough brushed look (that I too like) but it will give off a fine matte black appearance.

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  7. I only wish they had some protective coating for the bare steel versions, something akin to Seiko's "Diashield", etc.

    That being said, mine hasn't picked up any scratches, yet...

    I am thinking of trying a product called "ProtectaClear", from Everbrite Coatings company. (No, I am not sponsored by them).

    It seems to look good on stainless-steel jewelry- I'll update here if it works out.

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    1. Thanks! Waiting for your update. Of course a true test would have you try to force a scratch, which I wouldn't recommend :)

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    2. My Gen-1 Mako has a truly thrashed up case, bent lug, etc. I'm only keeping it to eventually re-lume and swap the dial into a Gen-2 Mako. It'll make a good test mule, hehe.

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  8. Terrific post as always. I am considering buying one of these and knew you would have a thorough review of them. Thanks!

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    1. Thank you! I appreciate the feedback, it's great to know these reviews are helpful. And I must say, almost three years on I still remember this model very fondly.

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  9. Love the watch however find the lack of service in UK totally frustrating especially now that I have tested the crown stem to destruction (literally) and can find no one willing to help me obtain replacement parts.

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    1. That is indeed frustrating. Maybe contact TUS (https://www.tuswatches.com/) who are unofficial resellers of Orient in UK, and ask if they have any options to exercise the manufacturer's guarantee, or at least suggest local watchmakers able to service the watch.

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