every respectable watch brand, Orient too has a rich history of dive watches.
And as the company continues to see divers as being very central to its current
offering, Orient fans are well-advised to get acquainted with these early
divers. Below we will look at the Orient divers of the 1960s.
until 1963, Orient had settled for referring to some of its models as
"swimmer" and "showerproof", indicating that the watch case
was waterproof to some extent. But then, as the demand for watches that can be
actually worn in the wet grew both in Japan and overseas, Orient had no option
but to dip its feet in the water (not too deep though, as back then 40m was
about the benchmark depth rating for a dive watch).
Auto Orient Diver
first automatic diver was produced in a number of different versions between
1963-1968. It was driven by a robust movement, caliber 670, in either its 19 or
21 jewel version.
Auto's came in different dial colors (generally silver or black, and possibly a
gold-toned version too), hour-hand shapes (arrow or pomme), and bezel (black or
steel rotating, or fixed). They were generally around 38-39mm in diameter, and
if in good condition should look great and be perfectly wearable today.
fair asking price for one these Calendar Autos today would be around 1,200-1,500
USD for a watch in decent condition, depending on the specific version, not New
Old Stock but not too shabby either.
model that arrived roundabout the same time as the Calendar Auto, was the
Olympia Weekly Diver. This watch used caliber LCY, the latest version of the
hand-winding movement introduced a few years earlier and used in non-diver
Olympia models, to which Orient added a weekday wheel.
smaller than the Auto at 37mm, the Olympia was sized like a normal 60's watch.
Two dial versions were made: silver, and black.
slightly smaller in diameter, these would usually sell for a little less than
the Calendar Auto. Anywhere between 1,000-1,200 USD would make sense.
Auto Orient King Diver
was perhaps the most classically yet uniquely designed diver of the '60s,
which is why Orient chose to present a perfectly
of it for its 70th
not having a true compressor construction, the Weekly Auto King Diver was
styled like a super-compressor with the winding and time-setting crown at 4,
and the crown for turning the inner bezel at 2. It was a big watch, 43mm wide
and 50mm long, which makes for a substantial wrist presence even by today's
Weekly Auto was being produced between 1965-1968. Inside was the very
interesting automatic caliber 660. In the near future, I'll be posting a new article
dedicated to this watch and movement!
Weekly Auto Orient King Divers in good condition would sell for around 1,500
introduced the World Diver in 1967. This watch was intended for travelers, and
so while it was made as water-resistant as some other Orient divers of that
period, instead of a divers bezel it had an internal 24-hour bezel. This
enabled the owner to tell the time in different time-zones. You can read more
about this watch, and particularly the rare Map Dial version, here
of the World Diver were produced well into the '70s. There were different dial
variations, and even the movement was updated, ranging from the older cal. 1942
to calibers from the 46xxx family with 21 jewels.
older, black dial versions would normally sell at 100-200 USD. Newer or rarer
variants could go higher, reaching 400 USD or more; and then there's that map
dial. One of these sold for 3,000 USD earlier this year.
is one of the more mysterious Orient divers of the 1960s. It was quite an
impressive piece, capable of withstanding 30 bars or 300m depth – way above
other Japanese divers at the time. And yet it has no mention in Orient's
historical records. It's not even clear when exactly it was produced, but the
use of the lion logo indicates it was the late sixties – possibly 1967 or later.
guess I can make is that this model was intended for export, with a 21 jewel
version for Europe and a 17 jewel version for the US (where more jewels equaled
high duties paid). The case might have been sourced from a Swiss case builder
as it appears similar to Swiss Skin-Divers of that time (Titus is often
mentioned in this context). It was around 37mm wide (38 with the bezel).
of information leaves much room for guessing and this affects pricing as well –
I have seen sellers asking for anything between 500 – 2,500 USD for decent
looking Skin Divers.
the new breed of Orient divers grew larger in diameter, the company understood
it still needed to take care of customers with thinner wrists. So, in 1968 they
presented the Surfin' Diver, a cool dual-crown diver, which was only 36mm wide
and 42.5mm lug to lug.
movement exactly laid inside of the Surfin' diver is hard to tell, so scarce is
the information. It appears to have been a 25-jewel variant of an older
movement, cal. 1323. That was a small, hand-winding only caliber, previously
used for some Orient dress watches – where it settled for only 17 jewels.
case back was decorated with an image of a surfing woman (which was an
indication of the designated target market), and the reference started with 323
– usually indicating the movement family, but I'm not aware of any caliber 323…
movement was used, the Surfin' was a nice little diver. If you find one, be
prepared to pay something in the range of 800-1,000 USD.
full auto was presented around 1968 (the exact time is difficult to tell today…
as are many other details on this watch), probably intending to serve as a
simpler replacement to the Weekly Auto, while retaining its overall style.
Personally I feel the Weekly, with the crowns located precisely at 2 and 4,
looks better than the Full Auto with its crowns at roughly 2:30 and 3:30.
the Full Auto had what seems to be a twin brother, a watch named the Freshman
Auto King Diver. Both appear to have used the same 17 jewel movement and the
same 42mm wide case. However, the difference, other than the model name on the
dial, is that the Full Auto's internal bezel has marks every 15 minutes while
the Freshman's bezel is marked every 5 minutes.
versions of this diver configuration would probably cost today between
1969, Orient began fading out its dual-crown configurations and adopting a
style more commonly associated with the brand: one where a crown at 3 would set
the time, a crown at 4 would rotate the inner bezel, and a pusher at 2 provide
a quick-set for the date.
of the first models using this configuration was the AAA "Deluxe"
King Diver. It was 42mm wide, again a perfectly modern size that was very
substantial back then. The movement at first was automatic caliber 4951 with 23
jewels. Later a 30 jewel version emerged.
AAA Deluxe would continue to sell in the early '70s when it would be
accompanied by an ever more sizable brother, the 45mm Chrono Ace King Diver.
early AAA King Divers in good original condition would fetch 800-900 USD. You
might encounter a higher asking price for the rare 30 jewel version; the Chrono
Ace King Diver would typically sell for less, around 500-700 USD.
possibly skipping a few more minor variations on the above themes and models,
we'll wrap up this post with one of the crown jewels of the 1960s line-up of
Orient, the AAA Deluxe 1000 King Diver, a little beast built to withstand the
100 bar pressure at a depth of 1,000 meters.
this watch, Orient used a 37.5mm case sourced from CRS, a Swiss manufacturer
who back in the sixties had provided such cases for numerous brands, as very
few had the capability of offering such a deep-diving construction. Inside,
Orient had installed its caliber 4973 automatic.
to their rarity (and I suspect their Panerai-ish looks) this model can fetch
quite high prices nowadays, exceeding 1,500 USD.
in this review were taken from multiple sources, as no single source today can
provide a complete gallery of vintage Orients… pictures were taken from the
blogs of Watch
Moichi Ichidai, Yeoman's Watch Review, La Relojeria Vintage
(who has added a very nice Orient section), old Orient publications, and
various old sales ads. Weekly Auto Orient King Diver and Map Dial World Diver
photos, though, are mine.