Orient Place

Orient Place

Sunday, 31 May 2020

Need For Speed: Orient Tenbeat

If the story of the rarest Orient of all has whetted your appetite for obscure, legendary unicorns from Orient's past, today we have another one for you. Today we'll talk about the Orient Tenbeat, a watch that we've actually touched on briefly in this old post concerning the Orient GM.

First, a little watchmaking history. The race for movements with faster frequencies heated up in the mid 1960's, as both Swiss and Japanese manufacturers were aiming for the 5 Hz, or 10 beats per second, goal. The benefit, presumably, would have been higher accuracy than the then-prevailing 2.5 or 3 Hz calibers; the cost, most likely, greater wear of the mechanical components.

While Girard Perregaux were first to hit the target in 1966, Seiko did not take much longer to come up with their own competitor, cal. 5740c, which in 1967 was placed inside the brand's Lord Marvel watch (which, by the way, I have as well – it's super smooth to this day).

Of course, other Japanese brands could not afford to stay behind. Citizen presented its caliber 7230-driven Leopard 36000 in 1969, and soon after, in 1970, Orient presented a 5 Hz movement of its own – the 28 Jewel, incabloc-equipped, cal. 9980.

Orient seems to have taken much pride in that caliber, mentioning it in many lists of historical achievements advertised by the brand. While there is very little "behind the scenes" information from that era in Orient, the movement does not seem to bear much visual resemblance to Seiko's 5740 or to Citizen's 7230, so it was likely all or mostly engineered in-house. If that is true, it is evidence of Orient's technical prowess.

The watch itself appears to have been quite nice, featuring a cushion case, a simple yet attractive dial, and the day and date presented one on top of the other in one large window. Both day and date had a quickset option, one from the crown and the other using the pusher at 2.

Like in the case of the "rarest orient" WE0011DU, there are hardly any real-life photos of the Tenbeat available. The only ones I could find were posted years ago by this museum shop in Japan.

Once again, this watch is beyond rare. Its footprint is so faint it almost does not exist at all. And yet, surely, some Tenbeats must exist, somewhere! So if you ever come across one – keep quiet, try not to scare it; take a picture of it, mark the place where you saw it, and move away carefully. Oh, and share all the details with me!

Thursday, 14 May 2020

The Rarest Orient Of All?

We've covered some rare and unusual watches in the blog before, but the model we will be looking at today is probably the rarest of them all. It is the Royal Orient reference WE0011DU.

The Royal WE0011DU was among a few models released by Orient ten years ago, in celebration of the brand's 60th anniversary. It was, of course, the most exclusive (and expensive, by some margin) of the lot: a limited edition of just 12 (twelve!) pieces.

The specs of this beast were impressive enough, certainly close to the top of Orient's all-time releases, both in their mechanics as well as the esthetics.

The movement was caliber 48Z40, a uniquely skeletonized variant of the 48 family, similar to caliber 48B56 found in other, "standard" Royal Orient Skeletons (as much as these can be called standard). However, looking at the finish and unique bridge construction of the movement, it is obvious a lot of effort had gone into making this piece stand out.

Similar to other 48 calibers, the movement is hand-winding only, boasting 50 hours of power reserve and stated accuracy of +10/-5 seconds per day, at a frequency of 21,600 vibrations per hour.

The case of the WE0011DU was 38.5mm wide, 45.5mm lug to lug, and 10.1 mm thick. Both front and back were covered by sapphire glass, not surprisingly. The watch case and dial feature plenty of finely finished surfaces, both mirror- and satin-polished, achieved through much more manual work than even most Royal Orient models.

Looking beyond the specs, this unique Orient must have been quite a sight, and it's a shame that so little information and real-life photos of it are available! But it makes sense that costing close to 6,000 USD (roughly 2.5 times the cost of "regular" Royal Orient skeleton models!) and being produced in such a small quantity, it has become a safe-queen for most of its owners.

I do like to set some fairly tough targets for my collection, and as followers of the blog must have noted I have succeeded in acquiring some models that are very hard to get. But to be honest, I'm not even aiming at finding the WE0011DU! I'd be happy to even see some photos of this watch. Just to be sure the legendary beast even exists…

Sunday, 3 May 2020

The 50th Anniversary Multi-Year Calendar

It is a time of anniversaries – the blog's second (as posted a couple of weeks ago) and Orient's 70th – so why not look at one other anniversary celebrated by Orient a few years ago – that of the Multi-Year Calendar.

Remember the story of the multi-year calendar? It might not be the brand's highest watchmaking achievement or its most celebrated model, but it is definitely one of Orient's most recognizable designs, which has been associated with the brand since its introduction in 1965.

And that is perhaps why Orient chose to produce a special anniversary piece for this of all models. Reference EU0B005B (sometime listed as SEU0B005B or FEU0B005B) was released in 2015 as a limited edition of 2,000 pieces.

Largely similar to other references in the multi-year line up of the mid 2010's, the anniversary edition is characterized by the black IP plating of the steel case, the black dial with the yellow lower (daytime) half of the inner 24-hour ring, and the matching yellow-stitched black leather strap.

The caseback has a dedicated inscription, mentioning this being the 50th anniversary model, and the watch's number within the 2000 units produced.

This is a fairly large timepiece. Officially the diameter was listed as 45mm wide, however it measures close to 44 and I'm guessing an extra millimeter was added in respect for the crown guard. The watch measures about 53mm lug to lug, and is a tad over 12mm in thickness. Add the black and yellow color scheme, and the impression you're getting is very sporty, almost aggressive.

The crystal is hardened mineral, and the crown screws in. The watch feels properly tough and well made. Water resistance is 100m. The hands are lumed and you also get lume-dots at the hour markers, so it's also quite legible.

Now, what makes this line of watches from Orient stand out is the very busy (some would say "interesting" or "informative"…) dial. It's all quite functional though. Let's take a look at what you actually get there.

The outermost ring is a classic GMT listing of main cities around the world, each representing a different time zone. While this is not a GMT watch and the 24 hour ring does not rotate, it can be used as a tool for quick time-difference calculations: using the crown at 4, the wearer can place the timezone where he resides next to the current time (on the 24-hour ring, not the actual hour hand). Then, look for a different city to tell the time in that timezone.

Then there's the star of the show, the multi-year calendar itself. Operated in this model via the push-button at 2, every click of the button advances the calendar one year. Simply place the year under the appropriate month at the top half of the dial, and you'll see that month's weekdays presented over the matching dates at the bottom half.

Of course, every new multi-year model needs to have the year wheel updated. This particular watch covers 2015-2036. So it's good for quite some time yet!

Inside the watch runs caliber 46D40, a reliable old-school Orient movement. It is self-winding only, no hand-wind option, and no hacking. It's got the time and date, and a 40-hour power reserve. Accuracy specs are -15/+25 seconds a day, as usual with most Orient movements.

So – there you have it, a nice watch with the limited-edition-cool-factor, which is sort of limited by the fact that it really isn't that limited, at 2000 units… But overall it's a solid watch that can serve as a proper beater, feels sporty and just tough enough without being too bulky. It's not particularly better than the regular unlimited multi-year calendars, and the above text is generally true to most of them.

If, however, you like the collectors' value of an anniversary edition, then this is a decent watch to look for. While it's sold out on most online shops, it is still quite easy to find sellers on Ebay and other sites offering this model, either used or new. An unused watch would be fairly priced at around 400 USD. Or just go for one of the unlimited editions, generally priced below 300 USD.