Orient Place

Orient Place

Thursday 25 November 2021

Orient Star Retrograde WZ0041DE Review

Earlier this month I wrote about Orient's retrograde watches. I usually like to follow such stories with some hands-on review of an actual model, and this one is no exception… So, without further ado, I give you the Orient Star reference WZ0041DE!

This watch does not need much time to impress, in fact – it only takes one quick look to start admiring it. Admiration that grows when you begin examining it more closely. We'll dive into the details shortly, but I think the thing about it that drives that immediate appreciation is a very precise, appropriate ratio of metal shininess to subtle dial space.

You can also talk about harmony and balance and proportions. But I guess another, even better way to put it would be: it's a pretty little machine, really.

The markers and other dial elements – most dominant of which is that arc secluding the retrograde weekday display – are beautifully executed, and reflect light in a near-Grand-Seiko-like manner of sparkle.

The hands are relatively simple, but just as well executed. The big hour and minute hands are lumed, as are the small dots next to each hour marker. Other, smaller hands, are not – and thankfully so, leaving the nighttime view uncluttered.

Behind, on the dial surface, Orient has provided plenty of intricate textures to keep matters more interesting. So, on the broad surface of the main dial you get wavy concentric shapes that change into circles around the hour track. The weekdays sub-dial is decorated with a flowerlike relief. The date and power-reserve sub-dials are adorned with simpler geometric shapes.

While looking very cool under the macro lens, these textures also have a positive impact on how the dial appears from a couple feet away. They do not just create a pleasant matte look, but because of the varying textures also produce differences in the shades of white around the dial. It's effects like this that make the Orient Star look more expensive than it is.

On the wrist, the WZ0041DE is very comfortable. It might be thicker than most dress watches at 14.3mm, but talking in absolute terms this is still very acceptable – similar to many dive, sports and chronograph watches.

The other dimensions of the watch are all very restrained, being 39.5 mm wide without the crown, and 46mm lug to lug – perfectly wearable on most wrist sizes. It would look good on smaller wrists, whereas the visual mass of the steel bracelet prevents it from looking lost on bigger arms. That said, it might be a good idea for people of larger wrists to stick with versions such as this reference, which come on a bracelet, and avoid the ones that come on a leather strap.

Speaking of bracelets – this one here doesn't just look good, but is really solid and well made. It definitely adds to the wearing comfort of the watch.

The movement, as mentioned in the previous post, is caliber 40A50. Other than the retrograde complication, it operates very much like other movements in the caliber 40 family, with both automatic and hand winding, and second-hand hacking. The date and day are both adjusted from the crown, in the second position, while time is set in the third (outmost) position.

One important thing to note, in case you buy this watch without its original manual: while most non-retrograde variants of the caliber 40 family allow you to set the date and day after 2am, here (and in other Orient retrograde models) you should not change the date between 10pm and 4am. Indeed the rule of thumb for most mechanical watches is, to set the date after 6am – but do take extra caution with this watch.

The movement offers no particular decoration, making the view from the back fairly unexciting. Don't expect to see any of the perlage and Geneva stripes found on later models.

To sum it all up – the Orient Star ref. WZ0041DE is a great example of the brand's retrograde watches. It looks great, is well made, and its myriad complications and decorations will ensure you won't get bored with it so quickly – or at all.


I would like to thank Orient fan and friend of the blog, Mr. Itzhak G., for allowing me some time to play with, and take photos of, his personal Orient Star Retrograde.


Thursday 18 November 2021

Orient Announces New Multi-Year Calendar Model

The multi-year calendar watch has been one of Orient's most popular, and recognizable, models since its first introduction in 1965. Also known, rather inaccurately, as the "perpetual calendar" (though it is not) the original design has been through numerous iterations over the years, some of which were reviewed here on the blog.

Despite seeing some different designs, the original one always wins – and now, Orient are returning to it with a brand new model. This time, on offer are a larger, contemporary case, a new movement based on the F6 family of calibers, and some functional and visual updates.

Inside, the new model uses caliber F6D22, an automatic movement featuring hand-winding and second hand hacking – two functions missing from the old cal. 46D40 that was driving the last generation of multi-year calendars. The new movement will be identified with "BA" in the reference, whereas the older models had "EU" in the reference.

The new mechanism allows the multi-year wheel to be moved using the crown, eliminating the need for an additional push button. While not mentioned in the press release, this is presumably done with the crown in the second position, when turned opposite the direction used to set the date.

The new case is a larger 43.5mm wide, compared to the 42mm case of the "standard" previous model – as opposed to the "GMT" version with the 24 hour ring, which was in fact more than 44mm in diameter. The new case measures 50.2mm lug to lug, and is 11.5mm thick.

One can see the evolution of the multi-year calendar design below: the leftmost is the first version from 1965, then follows the previous model, and on the right is the newest version.

Today, Orient are presenting six references of the new model:

·         RA-BA0001G with a gold-colored steel case and bracelet, and a gradient "Jaguar Focus" dial (a very 70s combination isn't it!)

·         RA-BA0002E with a steel bracelet, a green dial, and golden markers and hands

·         RA-BA0003L with a steel bracelet and navy blue dial

·         RA-BA0004S with a steel bracelet and white dial

·         RA-BA0005S with a brown leather strap, ivory dial and golden markers and hands

·         RA-BA0006B with a black leather strap and black dial.

This is a nice addition to Orient's line-up, with a long overdue movement update. The new watches should keep fans of the multi-year calendar design happy for some years to come… prices have not been announced yet, but should not differ much from the previous model.

Sunday 7 November 2021

Orient's Retrograde Watches

In watchmaking, "retrograde" refers to a hand that moves along a path (typically, an arc), and after reaching its final position – jumps back to the starting point. This, as opposed to the usual continuous movement of hands around the circle of the dial, or of a sub-dial.

That little jump adds a certain degree of difficulty in the design and construction of the movement. Note that the typical arc movement of a power reserve indicator is not a "retrograde", as the hand moves smoothly in both directions, and does not jump at any point.

Orient has produced one base caliber that features a true retrograde hand – to which two near-identical variants had been added over time. Today we'll focus on Orient watches that use this movement.


Caliber 40A50

The base caliber 40A50 is a unique example in Orient's history where a complication was only ever implemented in a single movement – so far. This movement, introduced back in 2009, is now celebrating its 12th anniversary and shows no signs of retiring anytime soon.

The movement features central hours, minutes, and seconds, a date sub-dial at 9, the famed power-reserve indication at 12, and retrograde days of the week at 6.

The retrograde movement only ever featured in Orient Star and Royal Orient models, never in a regular Orient model. Its Orient Star version was denoted "DE", and offers a standard Orient accuracy of +25/-15 seconds per day, whereas its Royal "JD" equivalent offers +10/-5 seconds accuracy. Other than that – likely more due to careful regulation at the factory than any mechanical differences and some decorations, both calibers appear to be the same.


Orient Star Retrograde

The first models of the OS Retrograde were presented in 2009, and more similar references were added between 2010 and 2015. They differed in colors and straps but shared a common case construction, featuring a 39.5mm wide case that was 14.3mm thick, and 46mm long lug to lug.

In 2016, Orient presented a new OS Retrograde model, featuring what the brand referred to as the "classic" case. The new case was 40.5mm wide, 47.5mm long, and 14.7mm thick. Interestingly, water resistance here was reduced from 10bar in the original mode, to just 5 bar.

The movement in this model was a slightly modified variant, named 40A52 – in which the only differences seem to be a slight re-orientation of some of the sub-dials: the date sub-dial now has "1" at the top, rather than "31", and the week-day retrograde arc has shifted slightly to the left.

In 2019, added a new batch of retrograde watches under its "contemporary" line-up. These actually use a case very similar to original models, and having the same dimensions – and also retaining the 10 bar water-resistance. However, the dial layout is different, as this model also makes use of the updated cal. 40A52.

Note that as both cal. 40A50 and 40A52 are technically identical, models using either movement have "DE" in their reference codes.


Royal Orient And More…

2014 saw the launch of two Royal Orient watches carrying the more finely regulated and decorated version of the retrograde movement: caliber 40B50. Reference WE0011JD featured a black dial and steel bracelet, while ref. WE0021JD had a white dial and leather strap.

These references both used a stainless steel case measuring 39mm across, 47.3mm lug to lug, and 13.2 mm thick, and featuring fine "Zaratsu" polishing. The very fine finishing is evident in every aspect, such as the hands, markers and other dial elements, as well as the exhibition case-back and bracelet.

One other Retrograde model was produced by Orient for DAKS, as part of the cooperation between the brands. Two references were presented – WR0011DE with a white dial, and WR0021DE with a black dial and golden bezel. These were manufactured to Orient Star standards and used the OS movement.


What Next?

The caliber 40 family is aging. Nowadays, One expects new Orient Star models to feature movements from the F6/7/8 family, offering 50 hours of power reserve or more – compared to the current retrograde model's 40 hours.

Is it possible Orient will simply ditch the retrograde, as it did the GMT? Well, it hasn't done this so far – which may be an indication of the popularity of this movement, or at least the importance which Orient sees in having this fairly unique complication in its collection. We're hopeful then that when the time comes to retire cal. 40A50, it will be replaced with a new modern movement – and hopefully, also one that is a little thinner…!