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.