Different watches have different unique qualities that define them beyond their mere technical specifications. For me, the quality of the Orient Star WZ0081EJ is simple: since receiving it a couple of months ago, I just look for every excuse to wear it. This old beauty is just so darn adorable. In fact, pardon me for the comparison, but it reminds me of Cartier watches in how it just wears so well with everything from jeans and tee to suit and tie.
But before we dive into the details, let's take a step back for a bit of history.
The WZ0081EJ was part of a series of models presented by Orient between 2007-8 that was powered by caliber 40G, and which included references with both round and tonneau cases.
The 40G movement is an unusual beast, as it included some of the features of new Orient movements, while still retaining some elements of old. Most notably, it is the only Orient caliber to feature both manual winding and second-hand hacking – like all the more modern movements – and the old click-button for changing the date.
The specific reference at hand was curiously the more expensive of the series, at around 600 USD – despite coming on a leather strap while most of the other versions included a steel bracelet (which usually costs more). Indeed it was good quality crocodile leather (not the aftermarket strap shown in photos here) but that's still rather unusual, and seems to be attributed to the special rose-gold coating and dial paint.
Speaking of coating and paint… I'm not sure if the piece I got was put through too much hard work, or that the coating applied was not the best quality, but it definitely lost much of its original golden haze in favor of a rather patinated-bronze appearance. Honestly, I'm not complaining – maybe I'm too much of a sucker for the brand but I just like how it looks now. Was this degradation of the color intentional? Who knows.
And, still on the subject of paint – you can see the eggshell texture of the dial. It's this texture that makes the dial color a very confusing one… It's blue, and it's also black. It's the miniature shaded areas that make the face of the watch look dark, almost black, most of the time – but when the light hits it right, it turns blue.
All in all, the combination of rose gold and dark blue really works beautifully. Even the white date window does not bother me too much, as it matches the white lume on the hands. It's not just a pretty sight, but also very legible, from every angle, and even at low light.
On the wrist, it is superbly comfortable. The 38mm wide case sits flat, and while it's fairly thick at its center (13.1mm) it slopes from end to end and side to side, contributing to its elegant appearance.
But beyond all technical details, there's that quality I've described in the first paragraph. Like a true Orient, this watch is full of charm – some of it comes from what are obviously intentional design choices, and some of it is just that mix of strangely aged coating, new and old movement features, and that air of timelessness that surrounds it. It is somehow both modern and vintage.
It took me a while to find this watch. Generally, Orient Star "EJ" series models are not too common, and this reference seems particularly rare.
EJ's do however pop up occasionally, so it's worth keeping an eye open. At the time of writing this, I'm seeing on eBay one round cased WZ0091EJ with an asking price of around 300 USD, and one silver-dialed tonneau WZ0051EJ asking for around 700 USD. I'm also seeing on Yahoo Japan a black-dial WZ0061EJ asking around 400 USD. This represents the typical price range for these watches.
As with most pre-owned Orient Stars, if you find one in good condition, you are getting plenty watch for your money!