Orient Place

Orient Place

Sunday 26 September 2021

The (Rather Chubby) Case of The Orient ESAC-Q0

Earlier this month, I posted here about Orient’s use of “tonneau” (which means “barrel” in French but certainly sounds better) shaped cases, and gave some examples. Today I’ll focus on my very own chubby barrel, Orient reference ESAC-Q0.

There’s no denying what first association comes to mind when seeing this model: it is indeed very, very Franck Muller-ish. The artistic-looking numerals spread around the dial, the case shape of course, and much of the overall esthetics of the watch is undoubtedly reminiscent of the famed Swiss brand’s designs.

In fact, one might be excused for thinking that Orient has set aside its own design DNA in the styling of this piece, if it wasn’t for the fact that actually, many of these design elements, such as the extra-small hands and extra-large numerals, are quite common in Orient’s women’s models.

So is it in fact a feminine design? Perhaps this is just a women’s watch? Does it even matter?

Just a few days ago I shared here on the blog the announcement of the new Orient Star Classic Semi-Skeletons – bearing a design so gentle and soft that it completely lacked any “masculine” elements one would (stereo-)typically associate with man’s watches.

Indeed, some designs are just Unisex. Other than being subjected to one’s personal taste and preferences, certain watches are not meant to be limited by gender. I think this ESAC of mine is one such watch.

It might have been (in the past tense. It’s long since discontinued) advertised as men’s or women’s watch, or as unisex, depending on which seller ad you’re seeing. In terms of size, it’s perfectly large enough for my 7.25” wrists, at 40mm wide, 43mm long, and 13mm thick (curved crystal included). And that big fat polished steel barrel of a case makes it look even bigger.

And – if we go back to Franck Muller’s watches mentioned earlier – well, they too feature very similar designs, which other than size do not differ much between their female and male versions.

Anyway, let’s forget about definitions and comparisons and judge this watch by its own merits. I think it simply looks fantastic. There’s a white-dial version of this model that at least in photos seems less convincing; but this version in contrasting silver and black – both on the dial and in the case-and-strap match – works well.

Legibility is limited because of the small hour and minute hands, the overlapping time and day sub-dials, and the lack of any lume. Still, the high contrast helps to tell the time when lighting conditions are decent. And in any case, male or female, this is more jewelry than time-telling equipment. You’ll get better options, including many Orients, if clear legibility is your thing.

The movement here is automatic caliber 46C. This caliber offers 40+ hours of power reserve, and a standard accuracy of +25/-15 seconds per day. Mine does about -3 seconds a day, which is pretty good. People usually prefer their watch to run fast rather than slow, but given this isn’t daily wear it does not truly matter if it’s slow or fast as long as absolute accuracy is decent.

The mechanism is fairly simple. You get no hand-winding or second-hand hacking. Also there’s no quickset for the weekday, you need to set by moving the time forward past midnight, till you are in the correct day. You do get quickset for the date though, using the crown in the second position. Time is set with the crown in the 3rd position.

To be honest, given the limited legibility there wouldn’t be much need for hacking; or that given no-hacking, there’s no need for clearer legibility…

To sum it all up, this is a really fine example of inexpensive yet stylish watchmaking. The design is unassuming, despite reminding a knowledgeable enthusiast of certain more luxurious brands. The execution, as usual with Orient, is really good. No Orient-Star-level of finishing, but more than adequate.

I got this model on eBay for around 160 USD, which represents superb value even for a pre-owned watch. I would consider it very good value even if it was 250 USD, simply for its unique looks (assuming you like them), quality, and fine automatic movement.


Sunday 19 September 2021

New Limited Edition Orient Star Watches Inspired by… The Stars

The year is still 2021, Orient Star is still celebrating its 70th anniversary, and more limited-edition watches are being launched. We are concluding the batch of new model releases that began last week with one more announcement that actually presents four different models – all are mechanically familiar, but with new dials – that are, honestly, quite attractive and unusual.


Mechanical Moon Phase

Orient's familiar semi-skeleton moon phase, in its "Classic Collection" form, is being presented now with a unique gradient green-blue colored MOP dial, somewhat similar to the recent limited edition of the Contemporary Moonphase.

The new look sure is eye-catching, some might call it too flashy, but it's definitely a design that cannot be ignored. Orient says it is inspired by nebulae. We are not going to argue over this.

Technically you get all the current features and dimensions of the other Classic Moonphase models: the movement is cal. F7M62, offering 50 hours of power reserve and +15/-5 seconds per day accuracy, housed in a 41mm wide case, and lug width is 20mm.

Front and back crystals are sapphire, with the front getting Orient's Super-Anti-Reflective (SAR) treatment, which is very effective. The case-back is also numbered, as the different references are limited:

·         Intenational reference RE-AY0111A, with a black cordovan leather strap, is limited to 100 units.

·         JDM ref. RK-AY0109A is limited to 200 units – and comes with a different crocodile leather strap.

·         Prestige Shop model RE-AY0101A is also limited to 200 units, and comes with both steel bracelet and leather strap.

The price is around $2,000 USD, with a small premium on the Prestige Shop model.


Modern Skeleton

The Modern Skeleton is another design that is immediately identifiable with Orient Star. With this 70th anniversary release it gets the glittering dial that we've recently seen on some other Orient watches, such as the Layered Skeleton limited reference RK-AV0B05E.

Specs are standard Modern Skeleton: the movement is automatic, hand-winding and hacking cal. F6F44 with 50 hours of power reserve, case width is 41mm, lug-to-lug length is 49mm, thickness is 12mm, and the lug width is 21mm. The front crystal is sapphire, while the case-back uses organic glass.

Here too, the different references are limited:

·         Reference RE-AV0118L is attached to a blue calf-leather strap, and limited to 900 pieces.

·         JDM Ref. RK-AV0118L is identical to the global version, and limited to 300 units.

·         Prestige Shop ref. RK-AV0119L is limited to 250 units, and offers both steel bracelet and leathe strap.

Prices are around 850 USD, again with the Prestige Shop model being slightly higher.


Classic Semi Skeleton

The new version of the Orient Star Classic Semi-Skeleton was announced less than a couple of weeks ago, and already it receives a limited, 70th-anniversary edition – for both the men's and ladies models.

The treatment here is somewhat subtler than the aforementioned Moonphase and Modern Skeleton editions, as is appropriate for the new understated style of the watch. The men's version gets a blue dial with sparkling "stars", and the women's model get a similar dial – plus golden bezel and crown.

The men's model is priced close to 600 USD, and includes:

·         JDM Reference RK-AT0205L with a blue leather strap, limited to 400 units.

·         Similar ref. RE-AT0205L is limited to 450 units worldwide.

·         Prestige Shop ref. RK-AT0206L is limited to 200 units, and includes two leather straps, blue and brown.

The ladies model is priced around 500 USD, and includes:

·         JDM Reference RK- ND0014L with a blue leather strap, limited to 300 units.

·         Similar ref. RE- ND0014L is limited to 150 units worldwide.

·         Prestige Shop ref. RK- ND0015L is limited to 200 units, and includes two leather straps, blue and brown.

Interestingly, while the men's model is produced in larger numbers for global distribution, the ladies' model will be available in larger numbers in Japan. Possibly an indication of the different watches' popularity in and outside Japan?


Friday 17 September 2021

Orient Presents New Top Of The Line Skeleton Watch

As if the new line of Orient Star Skeleton models, with their F8 movement boasting 70 hours of power reserve, wasn’t enough – Orient have just presented a new flagship model to head this collection. At least for a short while – until the limited production run finishes shipping out the 200 numbered pieces.

The technical specifications of the new reference RK-AZ0003L are the same as the rest of the collection: the 38.8mm wide, 46mm long, stainless steel case houses the latest caliber F8B63 with its blue silicon escape wheel, and +15/-5 seconds per day accuracy.

The new dial appears to be even more finely finished than the original models (which weren’t half bad too). The minute track and sub-dials get black accents that contrast nicely with the silver tones of the other dial elements. And – whether you like it or not – the 12 o’clock marker is adorned with two diamonds.

Everything else is pretty much the same, such as the crocodile leather strap with its three-fold buckle, the front and back sapphire crystals, and no doubt – a high level of finishing all round.

For some added interest, Orient named this model “C / 2021 A1”, after a newly discovered comet by the same name, which is said to come close enough to Earth to be visible in the naked eye, sometime in December this year. This watch, however, is expected to be available sooner, in mid October.

The whole thing is now priced around 10% higher than the other references in the skeleton collection, MSRP placing it way above 3000 USD – among the most expensive Orients ever. Will it hold its price? How quickly would Orient be able to dish out those 200 units? Time will tell.

Thursday 16 September 2021

New Orient “Diver Design” Sports Watches With Gradient Dials

This style of watches, which Orient takes great care to emphasize aren’t truly ISO-compliant dive watches, are among the brand’s most popular models. Following the success of the likes of Mako, Ray, and recently the Kamasu, Orient announce some new models that emphasize the dial color.

Indeed, people do tend to love the colorful dials produced by Orient, which seem to fit these fun, inexpensive watches. Red, green and blue are always in high demand. With the new models, Orient hopes to deliver what its customers want – with a little extra in the form of gradient color.

The new watches are technically identical to the Kamasu – same movement, dimensions, and overall build – but will probably not be referred to as Kamasu due to the different markers, which in this version replace the rectangular markers with round ones (except in 3,6, and 9) and replace the triangle at 12 with a trapezoid.

So, you get the same case measuring 41.8mm across, 46.8mm lug to lug, and 12.8 thick, with a lug width of 22mm and identical looking bezel and bracelet. And the familiar caliber F6922 inside. Even the case back features the same engraved dolphins as the Kamasu – while the front crystal is sapphire.

Four versions of the new model are being introduced:

·         RN-AA0810N (RA-AA0810N outside Japan) with a gradient grey dial, and steel bracelet.

·         RN-AA0811E (RA-AA0811E) with a gradient teal dial, and steel bracelet.

·         RN-AA0812L (RA-AA0812L) with a gradient blue dial, and steel bracelet.

·         RN-AA0813R (RA-AA0813R) with a bronze-plated case and bezel, gradient red dial, and brown leather strap. This model is limited to 2,000 units worldwide, and only 100 in Japan.

The new models are priced at around 400 USD (with the limited editing slightly more expensive than the rest) – making them about 10% higher than the “regular” Kamasu.

Two Classic Orients Getting Fresh Reissues

Orient today released a very festive batch of announcements. We’ll focus first on a couple of announcements concerning the release of some very cool models – one from the distant past, one more recent. Let’s start with the more historic one…

The Diver 1964

“Diver 1964” (reference RK-AU0501B) is a rather faithful rendition of the 1964 Olympia Calendar Diver, Orient’s first official dive watch. The new model is an ISO-compliant, 200m dive watch, built to Orient Star’s exacting standards, and (unfortunately) limited to just 500 units.

The dimensions of the stainless-steel case are a very modest 40.2mm width (similar to the original!), 49.6mm lug to lug, and 14.5mm thick. The steel bracelet connects to the case with 20mm wide solid end links, double-locks with a tri-fold buckle, and can be adjusted on the wrist using a divers extension.

Front crystal is sapphire, and the case-back is solid, engraved, and numbered. The crown is screw-down, of course, and markers and hands are lumed, as expected from what is designed to be a professional divers’ watch.

Inside the “Diver 1964” is Orient’s familiar caliber F6N47 – with automatic and hand-winding, hacking, a power reserve of 50 hours (including a PR indicator), and stated accuracy of +25 / -15 seconds per day.

Price for this model is around $1,200 USD – not cheap, but it may well be justified considering the limited production and expected high quality. The watch has some very nice, solid esthetics and vintage vibe going for it – so chances are it will sell out quickly.


The Retro-Future Guitar

Whereas the Diver 1964 is an Orient Star reissue of a non-Star model, the new Guitar watch is exactly the opposite… a non-Star reissue of an OS watch. The original Guitar Watch was released in 2013 as part of the Orient Star “Retro-Future” series (which also included the recently revived Camera Watch). It remains a very original and unique design to this day, so a new model is definitely well deserved.

Two versions are being introduced, though both in limited numbers and one – to be sold only as a JDM model. So you get reference RN-AR0302R with the red dial, limited to 300 units in Japan – and gradient-brown reference RN-AR0301G as limited Japanese model (300 units) or RA-AR0303G as an international model limited to 400 units.

Unlike some of Orient’s other recent reissues, this time it appears the brand focused more on the concept, rather than the specific design elements, of the original. The overall vibe of the Guitar watch was retained, however key differences can be noticed – in the small-seconds sub dial, different hands, and the guitar image itself.

Some cool new features are the “strings” drawn in the international model where before a stylized Orient Star logo stood (in the JDM references this is replaced by the logo of Dyna, a Japanese guitar makers that cooperated in the design of this model); and the 12 o’clock marker, now made of Mother-of-Pearl and designed to resemble a guitar pick. As in the original, the crown at 4 turn the inner bezel, which is printed with names of famous rock festivals instead of the traditional capital cities or airport names.

Case dimensions are 42.3mm wide, 48.4mm long, and 12.4mm thick – larger than the Camera watch. Front and (the tiny) back crystals are mineral. Lug width is 20mm, and while this is not detailed in the press release we can assume it’s similar to the Camera watch bracelet – i.e. simpler than Orient Star bracelets and having folded end-links, but hefty and well-made nonetheless.

The movement here is F6S22, featuring 40 hours of power reserve and Orient’s standard +25/-15 seconds per day accuracy. Small glimpses of the movement can be taken through the small aperture at the back of the watch, and the open-heart dial in front.

Either reference is set to cost around $500 USD, which seems sensible – again, given the expected quality and unique design. Another model I hope to see in person soon!

Thursday 9 September 2021

New Orient Star Semi-Skeleton His-N'-Hers Models

Orient just introduced a couple of new OS Classic Semi-Skeleton models, for men and women. These (particularly the men's) are quite differently styled than previous Classic Semi-Skeleton models.

A quote from the press release actually seems to convey the spirit of these watches well: "The concept for the new model designs is 'gentle sunlight', and the dial colors are inspired by the gentle light of the sun shining upon water, plants, and forests. Beautiful shades of champagne gold, forest green, pale aqua, and pearl grey reflect feelings of gentleness and happiness found in everyday life and natural scenery."

A relaxed design for edgy times then… forget the pandemic and the climate, for just one moment, just stare at a watch that makes you calm down while thinking about lush woods. Cynicism aside, I am all for it. So let's take a closer look!


The Men's Model

The men's version features a sensibly sized 40.4mm wide, 46.6mm long, and 12.8mm thick case. Lug width is a fairly standard 20mm. What is not standard on an Orient Star, is that both front and back crystals are mineral – not sapphire. Intended perhaps to add some soft warmth to the new design, I'm sure many potential buyers might see this as a downside.

Perhaps as compensation, Orient added a new feature here – a cabochon set in the crown. A somewhat feminine design choice, but nonetheless legitimate (as Cartier have often demonstrated) it does appear to complement the watch. Or – to make it a proper choice for ladies who prefer a larger model? No answer is wrong here, it's all down to personal taste.

Four references are offered:

·         RK-AT0201G features a gold plated bezel and matching champagne dial

·         RK-AT0202E features a dark green dial

·         RK-AT0203L features a light blue dial

·         RK-AT0204L is a JDM, Prestige Shop version of the RK-AT0203, which comes with an extra strap.

Note the first three, non-JDM models are also available worldwide as RE-AT0201G, RE-AT0202E, and RE-AT0203L. Also note that strangely, the Prestige Shop model comes with two brown straps; personally, I would think that one brown and one blue would make a better offering in this case.

The movement is caliber F6R42, offering 50 hours of power reserve (with a PR indicator), and stated accuracy of +25/-15 seconds per day. Water resistance is 5 bar (50m). 

Prices for the new Orient Star Classic Semi-Skelton men's models are around 550 USD.

The Women's Model

The women's model of the Classic Semi-Skeleton is remarkably (or perhaps – expectedly…) similar to the men's in styling, despite being smaller and somewhat skimpier on features.

The case is 30.5mm wide and only 11mm thick, and lug width is 14mm. Like its bigger brother, it comes with mineral glass front and back. Also like its male sibling, it features a cabochon set in the crown.

Four references are being introduced, which more or less match the men's references – making some obvious "his and hers" gift options.

·         RK-ND0010G features a gold plated bezel and matching champagne dial

·         RK-ND0011N features a gold plated bezel and pearl-grey dial

·         RK-ND0012L features a light blue dial

·         RK-ND0013L is a Prestige Shop version of the RK-ND0012L, which comes with an extra strap.

Again all references except the prestige-shop model are available worldwide as RE-ND0010G, RE-ND0011N, and RE-ND0012L.

The movement is caliber 55C22, offering 40 hours of power reserve and stated accuracy of +40/-30 seconds per day. Water resistance is 5 bar (50m). No second hand here, so no second-hand hacking.

Prices for the women's models are around 500 USD.

Sunday 5 September 2021

Tonneau-Cased Orient Watches

 The tonneau (French for "barrel") is a classic shape of watch cases, often favored by high-end watch makers like Cartier, Richard Mille, Franck Muller to name but a few. While not the most common among Orient watches, the Japanese brand did occasionally produce tonneau-cased watches, including some that really feature stand-out design.

Note that while the barrel case may be seen as a close relative of the cushion-case, they are quite distinct in their overall shape and particularly, how they sit on the wrist. And for Orient, while the brand usually preferred to keep their cushion-cased models elegant and restrained, their Tonneau watches were often quite funky – and here are some nice examples…


The EZAD Family

A good example of some really cool design can be seen in the EZAD family of Orients. These were fairly large, as barrel cases go, at 42mm wide, providing serious wrist presence.

As with all "EZ" Orients, the movement here is caliber 46J, featuring a power reserve and sub-dials for the date and small seconds. It's a good set of indicators (or "complications", if you will) which Orient took advantage of in producing a fairly elaborate dial-design with plenty of depth.

The EVAA Family

A much more subtle implementation of the tonneau case exists in the EVAA family. These are dressier models measuring no more than 32mm in width (which is about the same as a 35-36mm round case, in terms of metal-on-wrist).

The "EV" here is an indication of caliber 46E, whose main feature is that fancy full-text day wheel. Yes the same movement that also stars in Orient's much sought-after "Day-Date" Rolex Lookalikes.

The FAAA Family

Another fine example of Orient's use of tonneau cases is this small family of "FAAA" models. The movement here is caliber 46K – the same that drives the WZ0091FA world timer reviewed on the blog in the past. Except that here it is mounted top-down… hence the crown at 9, and the power reserve at 6.

The size of these is a reasonable 39mm wide. The design, again, gives special care to each and every dial element, producing depth (particularly the black and white version) and, no doubt, some seriously pretty watches (I'd say, mainly that blue variant).

Orient Star EJ Family

One last example for today, would be the "EJ" line of Orient Stars, which included a few really nice barrel-cased references.

These featured well-polished 38mm wide cases, and the push-button at 2, a familiar sign of the "EJ" line (that used the older caliber 40G) used to set the date. No funky sub-dials here, but just very elegant sun-burst dials.

So… a cool bunch of barrels there, isn't? These are of course only a small selection of models from Orient's vast range of tonneau-cased watches. And on our next blog post, we'll review one other specimen, from my personal collection.

Model group photos in this post were taken from various Orient catalogs and ads. The top photo is copyright of the blog.