Orient Place

Orient Place

Thursday 1 October 2020

Cushion-Cased Orient Watches

The cushion case: it's not quite square; it's definitely not round. It allows for a wider stance than tonneau cases, which are typically only a little broader than the strap; it's easier on the eye than right-angled tank cases; and to a collection of round watches, it would add some visual interest and originality.

Despite the above, cushion cases were not very common among Orient designs throughout its history. It appears that they were reserved for "special occasions", usually for dress watches. Indeed, while some brands like their cushion cases big and robust like a Panerai, Orient preferred to use this style with thinner, more elegant models.

Let's look at some examples…

The Orient Fineness, introduced in 1967 with caliber 3900, is a perfect example. This was the world's thinnest day-and-date automatic movement at the time of its introduction (and probably for some time after).

Encasing it in a cushion shape was a perfect way to present the thinness of the watch (even though Orient also released traditionally round versions of the Fineness as well). The unique shape provides further distance for the case to slope and thus for its edges to appear as slim as possible.

Another line of models launched round about the same time as the Fineness was the Deluxe Orient (DXO), equipped with different variants of the Cal. 49xx family. Some of these DXO's were also presented in cushion shape.

Take a look, for instance, at the lovely blue dialed sample above, powered by caliber 4941. The picture, courtesy of watch owner Anthony Leung shows the effect of the shape on wrist presence. These watches were barely 36mm wide, but the added visual weight of the metal in the corners of the case gives it the appearance of a 38mm piece.

A more recent example can be found with Orient Star ref. WZ0011FH and WZ0021FH. These were the first of Orient's Open Heart watches, presented in 2003.

Here again, a cushion case is used to provide an appropriate framing to a new movement (here, caliber 46S50) and a new design style. Despite this model being far from slim, at nearly 13mm thick, the shape of the case makes it look elegant and distinguished.

In fact, more cushion-cased Orient Stars were probably presented around the mid-2000s than during any other time in the brand's history. These included references in the ER line (time and date), EZ line (power reserve and date sub-dial), and NR (smaller versions of ER and PF models, for women or young buyers).

Consider for instance the reference WZ0221ER pictured above. It's a beauty for sure, and we'll dedicate a blog post to it, soon. For now, look at the low profile of the sides of the case: The overall thickness of the watch is almost three times the height of the case side, but viewed at an angle, where the thickness would normally be very obvious, it just disappears. The watch presents a perfect slip-under-your-cuff slenderness, just like a dress watch should.

Orient's current line up does not include any cushion case models. Would you like to see a new cushion-cased Orient Star dress watch? Tell us what you think, in comments below, or on our Facebook page!

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