Orient Place

Orient Place

Thursday 27 August 2020

The Other 8 Beat Orient Movements

More than two years ago, I wrote about the Orient GM. That watch used caliber 26960, an 8-beat (or, 4 Hz) movement that Orient borrowed from Seiko, where it was called caliber 5216A.

Well, it turns out the GM was not the only 8 beat movement ever used by Orient. So today, we'll look at three more examples – one dating back to the late sixties, and two other closely related calibers presented in the 2000's and put to use in Royal Orient models.

Caliber 41320 (and possibly additional caliber 41xxx family members) was an 8-beat, hand-winding movement, small enough to fit in watches designed for women and boys.

The exact origins of this caliber are very hard to track down. It looks a bit different from other Orient movements of the time, so its design may have been based on some Swiss movement. It was, however, manufactured by Orient in Japan.

We found this movement in two types of watches from the late sixties and early seventies. First, it was used in a unique dive watch (pictured above), smaller in diameter than Orient's King Divers, which replaced the 1968 "Surfin' Diver". The other type of watch using caliber 41320 was a line of ladies' models, named Orient Lausanne.

Why Orient chose to put a hi-beat movement in watches intended for boys and women, is not clear… it does however hint that the movement was indeed borrowed from an outside source for its small size, and the higher frequency was just a "side effect".

Note that some versions of the Lausanne had a higher jewel count of 21 / 25 stones vs. the basic movement's 17 stones. The higher versions may have been used in more expensive Lausanne references.

Caliber 41320-based watches are quite rare nowadays, but one would occasionally pop up on sale. I did not see any such piece in really good condition recently though. So it is quite difficult to say anything about the quality of these pieces. If any reader has first-hand experience with this caliber, please share your impressions with us (here in comments, or on our Facebook page) – that would be very interesting!

Some three decades passed before Orient returned to hi-beat territory. It was in 2004, at the re-launch of the Royal Orient moniker, that Orient chose to present a new high-end movement developed in-house: caliber 88700.

Cal. 88700 featured 30 jewels, 45-hour power reserve, +6/-4 seconds per day accuracy, automatic and hand winding, central seconds, a date wheel, and – yes! – 28,800 beats per hour frequency. That must have made Orient engineers very proud, and the achievement was mentioned in any historical reviews published by Orient ever since.

The first model to use the new movement was reference WE0011JA boasting a lovely silver dial with high decorations. Next followed ref. WE0021JA (same dial, different logo), WE0031JA (black dial), and WE0041JA (same dial, leather strap instead of bracelet).

Four years later, in 2008, Orient presented caliber 88A00, which was very similar in design and specs, but with the addition of a power reserve indicator. Two models would be using the 88A00: reference WE0011JB (silver dial) and WE0021JB (black dial).

And that's it for now. You have the complete chronicles of Orient high beat movements: the 8-beat cal. 26960, cal. 41xxx, and cal. 88x00; and the 10-beat caliber 9980.

Photos of Lausanne models and of the 8-beat diver were obtained from various sale ads of pre-owned watches.

Thursday 13 August 2020

Orient Sun and Moon Watch Hands-On Review

Orient began producing watches with the Sun and Moon complication in 2007. The idea was simple and ingenious: people love the notion of a moon-phase complication for its romantic and classic looks; however, the price of a quality moon-phase watch is quite high. But then, Orient had a caliber with a small 24-hour display. So why not take that 24-hour movement, spice it up by letting it rotate a disc presenting the sun and the moon, and give watch buyers something very similar to the phases of the moon, at a fraction of the cost?

Over the last 13 years, the idea has evolved, the design changed slightly, but the concept has remained the same. Today, a visitor to Orient's website would find no less than five different types of Sun & Moon watches, each with numerous dial versions. These include the last generation of the non-hacking, non-hand-winding cal. 46-based model; a quartz version in a small case designated as ladies' watch; and three designs based on the modern F6 automatic movement – the "contemporary" model, which means more streamlined, sportier case and simpler dial, an open-heart model, and a "classic" design. It's the latter one that is the subject of today's review.

Specifically, we are looking at the classic collection's white-dial version of the Sun and Moon watch, with the Japanese reference RN-AK0005S – also known as RK/RA-AK0005S or (F)AK00002S. First presented in November 2017 alongside a few other dial variations, the model remains in production and is generally available to buy.

How It Looks

The watch boasts a collection of design elements, each being stylish and well made in its own right. It's a matter of personal preferences though whether one finds the end result attractive or not. Fans of strict symmetry may well disapprove of the dial layout; people who are willing to accept that dial elements can be happier if allowed to roam the watch face freely, are more likely to appreciate it.

The dial starts off nicely with a breguet-inspired design, where the main surface features an attractive guilloche texture. The hour and minute tracks that surround it are marked with Roman numerals and dotted intervals, respectively, and are adorned with a subtle circular pattern.

The Sun & Moon display is located at 5, and the weekday sub-dial is at 10 o'clock, both featuring wavy, circular patterns. Under the magnifying glass, all these patterns appear to be very well executed, including the stylish date window. While not every minute detail might be immediately visible to the naked eye, they do combine to produce a crisp visual impression of high quality.

The star of the show, of course, is the sun and moon disc. The sun is painted in gold tone and shines nicely against the light blue "sky". The stars sparkle similarly against the darker shade of blue representing night-time. No matter what time of day it is, they will provide a lovely dash of blue color that contrasts effectively with the white dial and adds depth to it.

Sure enough, the result is fairly busy. Most of the dial space is taken up with the sun & moon display, the day sub-dial, and the date aperture. The little vacant spot that remains has been decorated with the Orient logo. That said, Orient has plenty of clean-dial dress watches (like the Bambino), so fans of minimalist design are well looked after. This watch, by contrast, targets buyers who are not deterred by complications, and prefer dials that are a bit more, shall we say, "action packed".

The watch is not all dial though… It also has a very nice case. It's polished all around, and features a display case-back. I liked the stepped shape of the lugs; I find that the top "step" plays nicely with the bezel of the watch to create a very coherent design. This is something that you can't really tell by looking at most photos of this model.

All in all, seeing this watch in person did not disappoint at all. This model was made to be pretty and to present an attractive and elaborate dial, and it succeeds at that.

How It Wears

Like many Orients that come in for review, this one is on the larger side, being 42.5mm wide, 14mm thick, and 50.5mm long, lug to lug. With the wealth of information on its dial it didn't look too big – and, honestly it did not feel too big for my liking either. Whether a watch wears large or small often has more to do with how its size is perceived than actual wearing comfort and heft. With its curved lugs, wearing comfort was definitely not a problem.

The watch isn't too heavy either, at 94g. I'd generally say 100g is where you start to feel the heft of a wristwatch, so this is just right.

The watch is held securely in place by the attached leather strap. The strap is okay – nothing to write home about. It's lightly padded and a bit stiff, but it should soften with use. Orient has equipped it with a folding clasp, which is not top of the line but not too shabby either. For the price, it's good, works well, and makes the wearing experience just a tad more "luxurious" compared to a simple buckle.

Strap width is 22mm, so if one wishes to replace it with a different, perhaps more supple leather strap, that should be easy enough.

Bottom line then – a very wearable watch, and its sporty nature and packed dial mean it does not feel too big for its own good. You can see it below on my 7.3" wrist; and as I usually like to mention when discussing watches of these dimensions, if your wrist is smaller than 7", or if you prefer smaller watches, it's best to try the watch on before buying.

How It Functions

Crown operation on this watch is fairly standard and easy. The crown does not screw down, so it's just a matter of pulling it out to the third position to set the time; pushing it to the second position to adjust the day and date, turning clockwise or anti-clockwise; and pushing it back in to wind.

Thankfully (from purely a convenience point of view), there's no need actually to set the moon phase here… the sun and moon disc is just a visual illustration over the 24 hour mechanism and is thus synchronized with the main time.

The movement you're winding in this case is caliber F6B24. Power reserve is 40 hours, and accuracy specification, as with all F6 movements, is +25 / -15 seconds a day. Also as with most F6 movements tested by the blog, the actual accuracy we've measured for the sample unit we got, was +7 seconds a day.

As far as legibility is concerned, there's really nothing to complain about. In the daytime, there's plenty of contrast between the hands and most dial elements. Despite the dial being so busy, there's never really a situation where the hand would "hide" somewhere. Telling the time is always easy.

Nighttime is also a very simple affair – simply, you won't be telling the time in the dark. There's no lume here, which is typical of a dress-watch design. Plus, using fatter hands with room for lume would simply not fit the style of the watch.

Everyday usability is fine, as long as one keeps in mind this is not a tool watch. Water resistance is limited to 5 bar, and it's one of those pretty watches you'd want to keep shiny and bright, not dented and scratched. Front crystal is sapphire though, just in case...

The Bottom Line

This version of the Orient Sun and Moon is officially priced at around 450 USD. Many online sellers nowadays offer it at closer to 350 USD, but you can find it at even lower prices. For instance, Long Island Watch, which is a reliable retailer, now present a sale price of $270.

What you get for your money is an utterly charming watch, which offers a very satisfying combination of reliable mechanics with looks that are slightly quirky, but never boring. And that really is what I expect to get from an Orient. The quality and attention to detail make this a watch that should make most buyers happy, even at 350-400 USD, let alone if you get it at a better price.

Needless to say, no watch can satisfy everybody, and neither can the Sun and Moon. Many would find that its design clashes with their striving for simplicity, or conflicts with their obsession with symmetry. Some might wish it was a bit smaller. But if you like what you see in the photos and you're okay with the case dimensions, you will not be disappointed putting the Orient Sun and Moon on your wrist.

The blog would like to thank Orient – Epson Europe for providing us this Orient Sun & Moon for review.

Wednesday 5 August 2020

New Versions of the Orient Star Modern Skeleton and Orient Kanno

Today, Orient was particularly kind to us… not only did it launch a new model, the "avant-garde skeleton", but it also released a bunch of new references under two existing line-ups, the "Modern Skeleton" and the diver-style sports watch widely known as "Kanno".


Modern Skeleton

This is one of the more recognizable Orient Star models. Considering its price, it's also proven to be quite popular, thanks to the very high level of finishing (Orient uses the term Zaratsu, just like the famed Grand Seiko polishing technique). Today this is also the Orient Star with the most variations, offering now no less than 13 references – including the three new additions.

Reference RK-AV0113S features a white dial, a stainless steel case and bracelet. Ref. RK-AV0114E is said to have a green dial (looks more like teal in photos) with gold accents, and likewise comes on a bracelet.

RK-AV0115B stands out of the lot, having a bronze-plated case, black bezel, black leather strap, and black dial. Bronze plating has become a thing lately with Orient, it seems – not necessarily a bad thing, as bronze adds gold tones that are more subtle and less glitzy than actual gold PVD. Not sure if this plating actually patinates with time, as solid bronze cases do…

Like all Modern Skeleton versions, these references feature automatic, hand-winding and hacking cal. F6F44 with 50 hours of power reserve, and have a front sapphire crystal and organic-glass caseback. Case width is 41mm, lug-to-lug length is 49mm, thickness is 12mm, and the lug width is 21mm.

Pricing of the new Modern Skeleton versions is similar to the old versions, i.e. around 800 USD, with the bronze-plated version being a little more expensive at 850 USD.



The 44mm Kanno is perhaps a little less popular than its smaller, sapphire-equipped brother Kamasu, but still an important offering from Orient, and it is now added some trendy new colorways.

Ref. RA-AA0912B (also RN-AA0912B) features a black dial and pepsi (blue-red) bezel. Ref. RA-AA0913L features a blue dial and blue-orange bezel. Ref. RA-AA0914E (also RN-AA0914E) features a green dial and bezel, and RA-AA0915R (or RN-AA0915R) has a red dial and black bezel.

As opposed to the four references above, which are attached to a steel bracelet, ref. RA-AA0916L comes on a leather strap. It has the same blue dial, blue-orange bezel combination like AA90913L.

In addition, Orient will be offering two limited editions that would be available in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Philippines, Hong Kong, Taiwan and China.

Ref. RA-AA0917B (which will also be available in UAE), having a black bezel and dial, will feature a two-tone bracelet as well as golden bezel rim. Ref. RA-AA0918S will feature a white dial and black bezel. Both of these references are limited to 1,010 pieces.

The unlimited editions will be priced same as existing Kannos, i.e. a little over 300 USD. No word on the pricing of the limited editions – we can expect similar price tags, with the two-tone variant being perhaps a little higher.


New Model Announcement: Orient Star Avant-Garde Skeleton

It's been a while since Orient presented a new skeleton model – not semi-skeleton or open-heart, but a full skeleton design. Well – the wait is over!

Actually, it's only almost over, as the new model announced today by Orient is not truly a full skeleton dial and movement like the old "DX" line was. The new "Avant-Garde Skeleton" shows more watch intestines than most semi-skeletons, but leaves enough dial to keep the watch more legible, and also look more robust, and less delicate than the previous model.

So what are we talking about here? Let's take a quick look.

It's a new line of sporty looking watches, five references at the moment. The case is 43.2mm wide, 49.2mm lug to lug, and 13.7mm thick. Front crystal is sapphire, while the back is mineral. The models differ in dial, case and bezel colors:

RK-AV0A01B (also RE-AV0A01B) is stainless steel with black bezel and crown, and the dial is black with silver-tone elements. It comes on a steel bracelet.

RK-AV0A02S (also RE-AV0A02S) is stainless steel, bezel and crown, and the dial is mostly silver-tone with only a little black elements. This one also comes on a steel bracelet.

RK-AV0A03B (also RE-AV0A03B) is all an black case, bezel and crown. The dial too is mostly black with some dark red elements. It comes on a black leather strap with red lining.

RK-AV0A04B (also RE-AV0A04B) is bronze-plated case and crown, with a black bezel. Its dial is black with a kind of yellowish, or mustard-color elements. Its strap too is black with the same yellowish stitching.

RK-AV0A05B is the limited prestige shop edition. The case and bezel and dial are mostly black, but are accentuated by the gold tone of the crown, bezel screws, and various dial elements.

Another unique element of the limited edition is found on the bezel, which has been drilled to look like a sportscar's brake disc. 

Inside the Avant-Garde Skeleton runs Orient's automatic, hand-winding and hacking caliber F6F44, featuring 50 hours of power reserve, and presenting small seconds and a power reserve indicator (but no date).

The watches further feature a screw-in crown, and 10bar (100 meters) water resistance. Prices are between 950 – 1,150 USD, so even in this perspective, they are positioned somewhere between Orient's semi- and full-skeleton.

A very interesting announcement then. These are not cheap watches but they don't look cheap either, as their design is elaborate and construction appears robust and quite impressive. We hope to see these in the flesh, soon!




Sunday 2 August 2020

What Is Orient's "Jaguar Focus"?

If you've been following Orient's recent announcements of models celebrating the brand's 70th anniversary, you probably noticed the occasional mention of "Jaguar Focus" when referring to a dial with gradient color, lighter at the center and darker outside.

This term goes back to 1970. At the time, there was a growing movement of colorful watches, and apparently, the management at Orient felt this was becoming "a thing" and decided to put more emphasis on it. The result was a couple of gradient dials, one in a kind of golden-green hue, the other more like greenish-grey, covered by a faceted glass to enhance the effect further. Orient named the style "Jaguar Focus" and launched a marketing campaign around it.

Over the years, Orient returned to this style from time to time, although later on they did not use the term Jaguar Focus. As Orient did adopt a rather colorful approach to their dial design, this became just one more option in the available variety of styles.

This year, as Orient dug into its archives for some valid legacy assets, the Jaguar Focus was brought back to life not just as a design cue but also as a term. And deservedly so, as it's not just the brand's 70th anniversary, it is also this Jaguar's 50th

Three new Jaguar Focus models were presented in 2020 – which we've covered before. There were the limited editions of the Weekly Auto Orient King Diver (ref. RN-AA0D14G) limited to 2700 units; the Retro-Future Camera (ref. RN-AR0204G) limited to 2300; and the 200m diver (ref. RN-AC0K05G), limited to 2500. All three feature a similar gradation of the dial color from light golden brown to dark brown, almost black.

There you go – another piece of Orient history explained!