The Orient Star brand was born 70 years ago, in 1951 – just one year after the birth of Orient itself. We are now entering the 70th anniversary of Orient Star, a milestone that has already provided us one major launch (the new Orient Star Skeleton and 70 hour movement) and is expected to yield more releases and announcements.
This, then, is a good reason to take a quick look at the history of Orient Star. We're not going to go into the details of specific models in this review, but more to understand the roots and DNA of the brand.
The DNA of Orient Star
Orient takes pride in the heritage of its Orient Star line. Despite producing some quartz models for women, the brand is positioned primarily as a manufacturer of mechanical watches since its first model until today.
The nature of mechanical watches, as items that are passed on from generation to generation and transcend temporary trends, is important in the narrative of the brand. It is also a significant element linking its very first model with the latest, as despite advancements in watchmaking technologies, the fundamental concepts of mechanical watches have remained unchanged.
Looking at some of the marketing content and stories released by Orient, it seems they also see the concept of "joy" as key. They describe it as an attempt to provide owners with the joy of being fascinated by the mechanics, of connecting with the past, and naturally – of wearing the watch. I see this concept as true to the end product: Particularly as opposed to the seriousness with which many European watchmakers perceive themselves, there is something lighter, and often fun, in Orient's watch designs (not just the Orient Star models, by the way).
A Brief History of Orient Star
The Following "lineage tree" of Orient Star appears in the company's Japanese website – I've taken the liberty of translating it…
The earliest models on the tree show the very quick evolution from the 1951 Orient Star design, which visually is very much "early 20th century", to the 1957 "Dynamic" model that presents the kind of dress-watch esthetics that are acceptable even today.
The rest of the diagram ignores some really beautiful Orient Star models, as it seems to focus less on looks and more on substance, that is, mechanical innovations that the brand sees at important steps in its history.
Such important steps include, of course, the introduction of series 46 calibers, the ancestor of modern Orient movements that continued to evolve into the 46-F6, F7 and F8 movements. Though that has not been unique to Orient Star, of course.
We can see some familiar elements of Orient Star watches mechanics that also have a significant implication on their design: such are the Power Reserve indicator, introduced in 1996, and the Semi-Skeleton introduced in 2003.
The original diagram had only reached 2017. As I've already broken the shame barrier by translating it, I saw no reason why I could not just extend it to 2021. So, here goes – my interpretation of what Orient Star's lineage tree would look like, had it been drawn today.
Orient Star Within The Orient Range
Today Orient Star represents the top of the Orient line in terms of quality and pricing. It is worth noting that this was not always the case.
Royal Orient became part of the brand's portfolio in the late 1950s, taking over the top of the range, before itself being overtaken in the early sixties by the even more expensive and luxurious Grand Prix line.
Later in the 1960s and 1970s it seems that the Orient Star name disappeared, in favor of such marks as Orient Deluxe and specific high-end models like the Fineness and the Tenbeat.
The 1980s appear as a period in time where the Orient range was less exciting and quartz became a more prominent part of the brand's offering. Luckily, the 1990s marked the return of the mechanical movement to center stage, along with the reappearance of Orient Star, which from then on kept its place as a higher-end sub-brand that is characterized by excellent quality and finishing, with only the occasional Royal Orient releases overshadowing it.
Incredible value and quality from a long established Japanese watch maker. Love the brand. Always on the lookout for vintage models.ReplyDelete
another great post as always...i am waiting for other 70th releases as the skeleton didnt really speak to me....awaiting your updates...ReplyDelete
Thank you! As always I'm watching out for any news and will post updates on upcoming models as soon as possible!Delete
Adore Orient Star. Utter quality. Great to see my Orient Star Seeker GMT on their timeline.ReplyDelete
I enjoyed readding thisReplyDelete
can you tell me what is differece between ordinary orient 46 move series and orient star's 46 mov't?ReplyDelete
Technically speaking, a 46 is a 46. They're the same basic architecture. There were many versions however. Some versions were used more by Star and Royal models, for instance 46T was Orient Star Royal GMT, similar to the basic GMT movement but better decorated. BTW I am planning a story about the 46 movement - currently scheduled for end of April... so keep following :)Delete