One very general definition of "Value For Money" says, it is "a measure of quality that assesses the monetary cost of the product or service against the quality and/or benefits of that product or service, taking into account subjective factors such as fitness for purpose, along with whole-of-life costs such as installation, training, maintenance and disposal, and wastage."
In the world of watches and watch collectors, "fitness for
purpose" does not concern solely the purpose of telling the time… as the
purposes for buying a watch might include the joy of owning and observing it,
expressing one's social status, as well as a sense of accomplishment in
acquiring one's grail or a watch from a highly coveted brand.
Since we are talking about subjective goals, can we refer to a brand or
watch as being objectively "good value for money"? To our point, can
we describe a brand like Orient as a "VFM watchmaker"?
A product can be thought of as objectively good VFM if it can be shown
to be equal to or better than any comparable product, yet costing less. In this
sense, if you were to take all dive watches and found out they all provide
similar functionality, display similar quality, yet most of the cost 1000 USD
and one costs 200 USD, then we might be tempted to claim this one watch offers
better VFM, in an absolute way.
That might not be true though; because if one of these expensive watches
is, say, a reputable brand that even non-watch-nerds recognize and admire, and
the rest are not – well then, would that not justify the price difference, at
least to some buyers?
In that case, you could say "the 200 dollar watch is the best value
for money, as long as brand recognition is not a consideration of the
buyers". In other words, while there may not be a single "objectively
best VFM" it is possible to divide buyers into a number of segments
characterized by specific requirements, and then to identify the best VFM
product for each of the segments.
Mind you, this still requires certain conditions are met. In the example
above, if not all the dive watches were similar, and the least expensive one
was of lower quality than the thousand-dollar models, then calling it VFM would
have been subjective, and would depend on an individual's willingness to settle
for lower quality.
And, if one watch was more expensive than the rest but exhibited significantly better quality – some buyers might have argued it's actually the expensive watch that is great VFM, because the price premium asked was perceived as more than justifiable.
So, What About Orient?
We're not just philosophizing here, right? This blog is about Orient,
and is Orient is often mentioned along with other Japanese watchmakers as a
maker of generally good VFM products. Can we say this is true, in light of the
analysis we just conducted?
We said the first thing to do is understand the market segments. In my mind, Orient generally targets consumers who:
- care more about functionality and less about branding (and I'm not talking about brand loyalty here but about "brand prestige");
- do care about design and looks but not necessarily on visual symbols of "luxury" (as opposed, for instance, to cheap watches that present guilloché dials copied from traditional Swiss designs);
- appreciate a mechanical movement's reliability over time, while not demanding it offers chronometer accuracy.
This seems a very specific group, but in fact covers a lot of consumers,
and is probably targeted by many watchmakers – not only Japanese. Several
German brands for instance come to mind, as well as some entry-level Swiss, and
I feel that in this segment of the market, it is nearly impossible to
point out any watch or brand that are objectively best VFM. Here you will find
watches ranging from 200 to 2,000 USD, generally none being
"perfect". The 200 dollar watch would usually lack solid end-links,
or fine case finishing, or sapphire crystal, or lume, or whatever. The 2,000
dollar watch might have all of these components – but then, it will be let down
by its price, where justification again would be only subjective.
Would an Orient Kamasu or Bambino present good value for money in this
segment? Yes, it probably would. A person would rarely buy one of these and
feel he did not get his money's worth. But, might a Timex, for instance,
present similar good value? Well, I usually prefer Orient's designs and
character, but I cannot say a Timex is less of a good VFM. This, then, is
What about Orient Star watches? They'd be 2-3 times as expensive as "regular" Orient models, or more. But you get better bracelets and cases, more
complications, a little more of everything. Once again, when you buy an Orient
Star you are most likely going to get a great value for your money. But can you
say without a doubt it is better value than, say, an 800 dollar Mido, or a
1,200 dollar Hanhart Pioneer (just giving examples from my personal
collection)? The Mido has chronometer accuracy; the Hanhart has an immaculate
finishing and bracelet (and charm); both of them cannot be considered expensive
for the qualities they carry, and neither asks for any real "brand premium".
And Then Again…
We cannot ignore the magic of an inexpensive watch. As collectors, the
chance of buying ten 200 dollar watches instead of a single 2000 dollar watch,
is enticing. It creates an added value, that is on top of the value of any single watch – that is, the value of a collection.
In other words, while we could argue that a Kamasu has a similar
value-for-money "ratio" as the Mido diver, per a collector's budget,
there is an appeal in getting a Kamasu, and an M-Force, and a Bambino, for the
Price of one of those (admittedly very good) Swiss watches.
And while indeed there are other brands that could claim both decent VFM
and affordable prices, I see the broad and diverse range of affordable timepieces
from Orient as what really constitutes it as a VFM brand for
Anyway, that's my opinion, and my personal analysis… what do you think?
Let us know what you think, in comments below, or on our Facebook page!