Orient Place

Orient Place

Sunday, 2 October 2022

How Do You Collect?

Are you a collector? Are you a hoarder? Technically if you have more than a couple of watches, you collect – as all those articles discussing "the perfect three-watch collection" provide evidence to.

Orient is definitely a brand that lends itself to collectors; the great variety of models, and the generally affordable range of prices, mean that the typical watch enthusiast does not need to hold back on adding another item to his watch box now and then. And that box doesn't have to be particularly fancy, we're not looking at a high-end watch winder and safe set here! We're keeping it modest.

So, how do you collect?

Some follow a theme. I know this guy who has every Seiko diver since 62MAS. From each family of divers he has one per year. 1965, 1966, 1967… Some of them really look the same to me, but I appreciate the tenacity. Personally, I could not spend so much time (and money) on sourcing so many watches that are so similar. I think there are so many designs, colors, styles, and materials out there… I need the variety.

Some tick boxes. They know they need a diver, a dress watch, a beater or tool watch, perhaps a chronograph or a GMT… they make sure they have one (or more) of each type. I actually dig this, though it could make one a bit preoccupied with checking a box, while missing out on other nice watches that could actually fit their lifestyle better.

Many methods of collecting then… For me, I have one main rule, which is to diversify as much as possible. I don't focus on one particular style, colorway, era, size, and so on. I don't really even focus on the brand; I keep returning to Orient as I feel I know the brand and its history well, and I prefer to make knowledgeable purchases. But I do have plenty of watches from other makers, Japanese, Swiss, and other countries.

Out of the diversity emerges the versatility of the collection. Even when limiting myself to just the Orients I have, I can find a match for every occasion. And every color.

Another rule I follow, is that watches are meant to be worn. I do not buy safe queens, and I do not buy a watch if its mechanical or cosmetic condition means I am unlikely to wear it. This also means I do sometime have to regrettably pass on interesting opportunity to get vintage models that might be cool, but are simply too small!

Yes, some of the items in my collection are gentler than others. Some I'll only put on indoors, working in the office, and not on a day out. Some I'd be more careful with near water. But they all get wrist time.

What about you? How do you collect? You're welcome to comment, here, or on the Facebook/IG post that brought you here J


Sunday, 18 September 2022

Orient Olympia Calendar Speed Data

Last year, I posted a review of my good old Orient Olympia Calendar Swimmer. Today we're looking at another model from the Olympia family – the Olympia Calendar Speed Data. A watch that provides you Data at Full Speed.

Or is it…? Some transcriptions of the Japanese name (that does not show on the watch itself) call this the Speed Dater – which sort of makes sense. So which is it?

First, let's look at the watch itself. This is a wonderful specimen from the mid-1960s, practically a new old stock (or near NOS). It arrived with an original leather strap and buckle, which I have removed and kept safe as soon as I finished taking photos.

Mechanically, it runs on a base L-type movement that is typical to Olympia models, specifically the LC caliber. The LC here is the same 19 jewel variant as on my Calendar Swimmer, featuring a date wheel, sweet hand-winding action, and excellent long-term reliability.

What makes this model unique and gives it its name (whatever that name may be) is the rotating bezel. Here you have the dates printed on the bezel, and using the crown at 2 the wearer may align the dates against the day of the week. Do it once at the beginning of the month, and then for the remainder of the month you can quickly check what day every date is.

It was this cool concept that soon after gave birth to the even more sophisticated configuration of the Multi-Year Calendar.

With this functionality in mind, it is hard to tell whether the original name was Speed Data or Speed Dater. While the latter makes more sense, it shows up in fewer sources. So we'll just stick with the more common name.

By the way, the modern term "speed dating" for a quick matchmaking process was only coined in the 1990s, so it would not be on the mind of anyone naming watches thirty years earlier.

Two versions of the Olympia Speed Data were produced – a stainless steel version with a black dial, and a gold-filled model like the one at hand, with a silver dial.

Note that the black dial version has the weekdays on the rotating bezel, and the dates printed on the dial. Don't ask me why… The operation and usability is exactly the same either way.

Functionality aside, wearing a watch like this, that's hardly been touched since its production, is a joy. Gold-filled watches age much better than gold-plated ones, as the coating is much thicker, and so the un-polished case and lugs here are bright, sharp and sparkly. The glitter is further enhanced by the shiny golden markers and hands.

The case is 37mm wide without the crown, and 45mm long lug to lug. It is larger than the Olympia Swimmer then, but looks smaller; It was the case-within-case construction that probably made the Swimmer seem bigger.

Small or big, the Speed Data looks very elegant and dressy. It is quite thin, around 9.5mm, despite the box crystal that adds around 2mm to its height.

So there you have it, another fine example of Orient watchmaking history that wears and runs like new almost 60 years after it left the factory.

Asking prices for rare Orients are hard to establish and have a very high variance. And this model is quite rare. I've seen some Speed Data listed at over 1,000 USD; however, I was able to buy this one, being in as good a condition as you're ever likely to find, for less than 500. Good deals are out there, and you just need to keep an eye out.


Thursday, 8 September 2022

Orient Presenting a Trio of Models Inspired by The Sea and Sky

In recent years Orient has adopted the habit of releasing a bunch of limited edition Orient Star models under the motto of "Emotional Colors", inspired by blue shades of the sea and sky. They did it around this time of year in 2019, in 2020, and in 2021. And now autumn is back and so is the seasonal blossom of blue(ish) watches.

This time round, three models are presented: Modern Skeleton and Semi Skeleton from the Contemporary Collection, and Semi Skeleton for her from the Classic Collection. This year, Orient chose a color scheme closer to teal, in fact featuring gradient colored dials with an emerald green center and navy blue outer edge. Rose gold colored bezels complement the dials nicely.

The pictures below, of previous years' equivalent releases, show how the tone of blue is different every year.

Interestingly, just like in other announcements of recent days, Orient offers a different packaging for some of its JDM releases: Having both a leather strap and steel bracelet, while the global market gets either one or the other.

The references included in the new release are:

·         RK-AV0120L: Modern skeleton, with a steel bracelet, limited to 300 numbered units for the Japanese market.

·         RE-AV0120L: Modern skeleton, with a steel bracelet, limited to 600 numbered units for global distribution.

·         RK-AV0121L: Modern skeleton, with a steel bracelet and leather strap, limited to 250 units exclusively on the brand's Prestige Shops.

·         RK-AT0015L: Semi skeleton, with a leather band, limited to 250 numbered units for the Japanese market.

·         RE-AT0015L: Semi skeleton, with a leather band, limited to 350 numbered units for global distribution.

·         RK-AT0016L: Semi skeleton, with both steel bracelet and leather strap, limited to 200 units exclusively on Prestige Shops.

·         RK-ND0017L: Ladies' Semi Skeleton, with a steel bracelet, limited to 150 units for the Japanese market.

·         RE-ND0017L: Ladies' Semi Skeleton, with a steel bracelet, limited to 150 units for the global market.

·         RK-ND0018L: Ladies' Semi Skeleton, with a steel bracelet and leather strap, limited to 100 units and exclusive to Prestige Shops.

Many options then, but they all boil down to three basic designs.

The technical specs of each release is essentially the same as their base models. Prices, at the current rate of the Japanese Yen, are roughly 700 USD for the Modern Skeleton, 550 USD for the Semi Skeleton, and 450 USD for the ladies model. The Prestige Shop versions would sell at only slightly higher prices.


Wednesday, 7 September 2022

New Orient Star Contemporary Skeleton

Last year, Orient kicked off the 70th anniversary celebrations of the Orient Star brand with a new 70-hour skeleton movement, encased as the Classic Skeleton. Now, Orient presents a new skeleton watch in its Contemporary collection, featuring the collection's sharper, more sporty design.

The new model has a slightly larger case than its classic predecessor: width is 39mm (vs. 38.8 in the classic), lug to lug it's 46.5mm long (instead of 46), and thickness is 10.8 (vs. 10.6). Lug width is the same 20mm.

The case and bracelet appear to be of very high quality. Orient is mentioning Zaratsu polishing, and the pictures reveal an elaborate mix of finishes and details of the steel surfaces. Front and back crystals are sapphire, as expected, with the front featuring an anti-reflective coating.

The movement is Orient's in-house caliber F8B61, which presumably is nearly identical to the F8B62/63 utilized in the two references of the classic skeleton. The differences are likely to be purely decorative; since in a skeleton watch much of the design elements are integral to the movement, it makes sense that things like different colors or styles of polishing would entail a new caliber. In this new model, the movement indeed features grey plating on some of its bridges.

The technical specs however remain: it is a hand-wound movement, featuring the brand's familiar blue silicon escape wheel, and offering 70 hours of power reserve and a daily accuracy of +15/-5 seconds.

The JDM version of the watch (ref. RK-AZ0102N) is bundled with a leather strap, in addition to the steel bracelet. The global market version, ref. RE-AZ0101N, does not include the strap.

The Orient Star Contemporary Skeleton is around 2,300 USD at the current rate of the Japanese Yen, making it the most expensive model on the brand's current range. It seems fairly steep in comparison to most Orients; but judged based on its (claimed, till we get to see it…) quality of execution, it makes sense.


New Moonphase Watches from Orient

 In early 2021 Orient introduced the first non-skeletonized, full-dial version of the brand's mechanical Moonphase watch. Now, Orient presents additional references in this series, similar in their overall mechanics and construction but with stunning new mother-of-pearl dials.

The non-skeletonized Orient Star moon phase models operate using the brand's in-house automatic caliber F7M65, featuring a 50 hour power reserve and accurate to within +15/-5 seconds per day.

Like the previous model, the case is 41mm wide, 49mm long, and 13.8mm thick, the crystal is sapphire front and back and coated with Orient's SAR ("super-anti-reflective"), and water resistance is 5 atm.

Three references will be on offer (availability starting late October):

·         Japanese ref. RK-AY0113A features a grey dial (with purple-blue tones), and comes with both a steel bracelet and dark grey leather strap. It will be limited to 350 units.

·         Japanese ref. RK-AY0114A features a green-teal dial (MOP colors are always hard to define…) and comes with both a steel bracelet and black leather strap. This reference is non-limited.

·         Global ref. RE-AY0116A features that grey-blue-purple dial, and is sold with just the steel bracelet. This reference is limited to 200 units.

The new moon phase watches are around 1400 USD at the current Japanese Yen rate, making them real good value for anyone looking for a quality mechanical Moonphase watch – assuming you like the style, of course.

Sunday, 4 September 2022

Strapcode's Super-J Steel Band for Orient Kamasu

The blog's review of the Kamasu is our most read review ever, and remains among our top five most popular posts of all time. This goes to show how much interest Orient's humble diver-style watch continues to draw, just like its predecessors (Ray/Mako) did.

In light of its popularity it only made sense that Strapcode, a well-regarded source of aftermarket watch bands, would offer a steel bracelet compatible with the Kamasu; and, it also made sense to post our impressions of this bracelet on the blog.

Now, it's not that the Kamasu's original bracelet is particularly bad – it isn't. For the price, it is a decent product that does its job well. However, the Kamasu is generally seen as a watch that goes beyond mere decent (for its price that is) and so many owners rightfully feel they can make this sapphire-equipped, good looking diver even more perfect if only they upgraded the bracelet.

This is where Strapcode steps in, offering a range of aftermarket bands in different styles. These claim to deliver some technical advantages over the stock product, with a generally finer level of finishing, and addressing two specific downsides of the original: the hollow end-links, and the pressed clasp.

Question is, how do these specs feel in person, and does the Strapcode bracelet live up to the expectations? To answer these questions I've examined one particular sample – The Strapcode Jubilee-style bracelet, "22mm Super-J Louis JUB Watch Band compatible with Orient Kamasu, 316L Stainless Steel Brushed V-Clasp".

The sample bracelet came attached to a lovely red-dial Kamasu, courtesy of Mr. Eitan R., who offered some wrist time with his watch (and which luckily also fit my wrist perfectly, no adjustments needed).

Before anything else I should say the choice of jubilee makes perfect sense. Strapcode's oyster-style bands would at least from afar look too similar to the stock bracelet design, and I think the jubilee does stand out as the most versatile among the other options. But of course, this is down to personal taste.

Holding the Super-J bracelet in your hand, it takes a few moments to appreciate. The initial impression is "okay, it's a Kamasu on a bracelet". Let this sink in for a moment, and you understand that's good thing: you don't notice it's an aftermarket product. The end-link fits the case perfectly, and the metal surfaces match the case as well.

The parts where an upgrade is expected, are indeed as promised. The milled clasp feels good; I have to admit that at the Kamasu's price point, its pressed clasp never really bothered me, but for those who care about this the Strapcode certainly offers an improvement. Unfortunately this clasp does not include a divers' extension – you can get that from Strapcode for an additional 63 USD, which is not far from the price of the bracelet itself.

The solid end-links make for a more substantial upgrade in my opinion, as hollow ones always seem a bit of a weak link when you connect a steel case to a steel bracelet. And it seems that not just the end-links but also the entire bracelet is very solid, with the half-rounded jubilee pieces just slightly thicker than the Kamasu's original oyster links.

On the wrist, the Strapcode Super-J feels comfortable, and well balanced. Its 83g weight is just right for the watch. There is just the right amount of flexibility while retaining its shape, and certainly no hair-pulling.

The owner of the watch, who wears the bracelet tighter (on his larger wrist than mine) did mention the clasp would sometime dig more sharply into his skin, but I would imagine that is what you get when you wear steel that tightly! I did not feel any such sharpness.

To sum up, the Strapcode steel band does indeed provide an upgraded wearing experience. The jubilee styling works great with the Kamasu, and seems just a tad more luxurious, and the added solidity and good finishing complement the style very well.

Costing 87 USD, the Super-J is close to a third of the price of the watch itself. However if you look at the absolute numbers, what you get for less than $400 is a good looking, mechanically reliable, robust watch with a bracelet to match. Seems like a good deal to me!


Thursday, 18 August 2022

Orient Kanno Review

The Orient Kanno was launched in 2018. Originally spelled "Kano" the company quickly switched to the newer spelling to make sure it was not pronounced "Kay-No" by mistake. Not that it matters much, as official Orient catalogs do not really mention this name anyway, rather referring to the model as one of its "Diver-Style Sport Watches".

Anyway, almost four years down the road, and having reviewed most of Orient's other recent dive (or diver style) watches, it was about time the blog posted a review of the Kanno as well. Luckily we came across Mr. Shahar H., who generously allowed us some time with his Kanno reference RA-AA0915R.

Some technical details to start with: the Kanno is 43.6mm wide without the crown, and 50mm lug to lug – considerably larger than the Kamasu, for example, with its 41.8mm width and 46.8 length. Thickness is similar though at 12.9mm, and lug width is the same 22mm.

The movement inside is Orient's common F6922 automatic, equipped with day and date discs, and providing 40 hours of power reserve and +25/-15 seconds per day accuracy.

The specific watch I got to review has a lovely red sunburst dial; indeed, you can't go wrong with a red sunburst dial! It's a beautiful color that suits a sporty watch like this well.

On the wrist, the watch feels comfortable, not too large, and certainly not too heavy. I wore the Kanno while it was attached to a Barton canvas strap, not the original bracelet. However, the bracelet is relatively light – some would argue it lacks heft – and despite the significant difference in dimensions, the Kanno is only 5g heavier than the Kamasu.

The Kanno owes much of its wearability to the sloping lugs, which lower ends is almost on the same surface as the flat bottom of the case.

I was particularly curious to see how this model compares to the Kamasu (and other inexpensive Orients). The Kanno officially costs about 30 USD less than Kamasu, a difference which would presumably be attributed to having mineral glass as crystal, instead of the little brother's sapphire.

Honestly though, I have to say I also noticed a lower level of finishing of the Kanno's bezel. Its design is simpler than the Kamasu's, having a very squarely shaped profile and plain round insert. Even the font of the printed numerals here seems less elegant, being thicker and taller. Bezel action seemed less refined than in the Kamasu, with more resistance to movement in the right direction – yet, having more backplay.

Also less impressive was the day-date aperture. The dial cut-out on the Kamasu is sharp and nicely framed, while the Kanno's cut-out seems more rough and only has a couple of lines painted above and below it, instead of a proper frame. Likewise, the hour markers on the Kanno are all simple rectangles; the Kamasu marker set consists of rectangles, trapezoids, and a triangle.

The case construction seems to be very similar in shape, finishing and quality to the Kamasu and other Orients at this price bracket. While having a somewhat duller appearance, the crown actually felt better than the Kamasu's, with no apparent wobble and smooth winding action.

All things considered, the Kanno is a decent offering, but in my opinion lacks the extra flair that makes the Kamasu such an exceptional value for money. While some of the differences in quality could be attributed to random fluctuations within a loose manufacturing tolerance, some are obviously intentional.

I should point out that the owner of the watch said he liked it a lot, and also found it to be very accurate. An owner's opinion is definitely important! To me, it just seems Orient can do better even at this low price point – I know they can.


Thursday, 4 August 2022

New Orient Releases, European/Global Versions

Earlier we presented the new releases launched by Orient Japan – the vintage-inspired Neo Classic Sport, and a red hot magma-inspired M-Force.

We're following up now with Orient Europe's announcement of the global-distribution versions of these models – and these include not just new reference numbers of the same versions, but new versions as well (differing in styling, technically identical).

For the Neo Classic Sport, we now have the following references:

·         RA-AA0E07B, similar to the Japanese reference presented earlier, featuring black plated steel case, with rainbow-colored markers and a leather strap, limited to 2,000 units.

·         RA-AA0E06B also similar to the Japanese reference presented, features bronze-color plated case, with orange / golden markers, and a leather strap.

·         RA-AA0E05B features a raw stainless steel case, with white and orange markers, and a steel bracelet.


For the M-Force, we now have the following references, each intended to represent some element of the Earth:

·         RA-AC0L07L featuring a deep blue dial (representing the ocean) and a steel bracelet;

·         RA-AC0L08Y featuring an orange dial (representing lava) and a steel bracelet;

·         RA-AC0L09R – similar to the Japanese reference presented earlier, with a red gradient dial and rubber band, limited to 2,000 pieces.


New Orient Model: "Neo Classic Sport"

Orient has just announced a new model that's about to join its sports collection later this month: the "Neo-Classic Sport". The model clearly takes inspiration from numerous vintage Orient divers of the 1960s and 70s, with a case resembling the old (and identical to the re-issue of) World Diver, and a lively dial combining elements of various King Diver variations.

The new Neo Classic is technically very similar to the World Map model. It features the same large, pebble-like, lugless case, measuring 43.5mm in width and 46mm in length, and 13.9mm thick. Inside is Orient's automatic caliber F6922 with 40 hours of power reserve. The crystal is mineral glass, and the watch is rated to 20 bar (200 meters).

As with the World Map, it's a dual crown design: the crown at three is for winding, setting the time, and adjusting the day and date, while the one at four turns the internal bezel. Unlike the World Map, the Neo Classic is bundled with a 20mm leather strap, rather than steel.

Of course, the highlight of the model, and what differentiates it from the World Map, is the dial design. The dial is dominated by markers. Big bold 1960s style fixed hour markers, are surrounded by very prominent minutes markers on the rotating bezel, and further accompanied by lume dots.

The result is a very unique look, which one may love or hate – but if you do like it, then honestly no other brand pulls it off better than Orient. Two references are currently being presented, each with a different style:

Ref. RN-AA0E07B is a limited edition of 150 pieces in Japan, featuring a stealthy black-plated case, black dial and strap – emphasizing the rainbow array of multi-colored hour markers.

Ref. RN-AA0E06B is non-limited, and features a bronze-colored case and brown strap. Here the black dial is mostly dominated by orange and gold hues of the different markers.

Both models are priced at around 350 USD, which seems fair enough – and judging by similar recent releases from Orient, we expect these to be good quality products and great value for money.

New Limited Edition M-Force Inspired By Magma

The current generation of M-Force watches is already familiarized itself well with Orient fans. This model was launched two years ago and reviewed here on the blog in early 2021, and has since proven itself worthy of the M-Force name.

Now, remember that the "M" in this watch's name historically stands for "Mechanical, Massive, and Maverick"…? Well, with its latest iteration Orient claim to add "Magnificent" as well! Yes that's largely marketing fluff, but looking at the new reference RN-AC0L09R I tend to agree.

The star of the show is the dial – and while the few images released aren't awfully detailed, they reveal a striking display of deep dark gradient red, combined with a kind of Grand Seiko-esque swirling texture. According to Orient, it is inspired by red hot magma.

Other than the dial, the watch generally carries the same features, movement and dimensions as sibling M-Forces: case width is 47.3mm including the crown guard construction, length is 52mm lug-to-lug, and thickness is 13.2mm. In this reference you get a black plated bezel and rubber band.

Inside is Orient's automatic caliber F6727 with 40 hours of power reserve, and the usual +25/-15 seconds per day stated accuracy – which in most cases turns out to be much better in reality.

The "Magma" M-Force is limited to 2,000 units, is priced the same as other M-Force versions, and should be available to purchase in September 2022.

Sunday, 24 July 2022

Some Unusual Royal Orients

Modern Royal Orients managed to gain, throughout their unfortunately short production period, a reputation for high quality and fine finishing. Looking at vintage Royal Orients, their distinctiveness is sometimes not as clear. So this blog post is dedicated to some very unique Royal models of old (Late 1950s, to be precise) – ones whose special flair cannot be denied. 

Take these two innocent-looking pieces, in the picture above. Not so innocent when looked at more closely – the one on the left has some pretty intricate circular texture on the lighter part of its dial. The one on the right is encircled with a "wrinkled" textured gold leaf, providing a suitably fancy background for the hour markers. 

Orient did not invent these design elements. Take, for example, two contemporary high-end models from competing Japanese brands: The Citizen Deluxe boasts a two-tone, "tuxedo" dial, while the Seiko Cronos features some delicate patterns on the inner dial as well as the hour track.

Orient did, however, go to lengths to deliver some unique twists on these common themes. Here are two very rare designs, offering unusual dial designs.

Or, if tuxedo dials are your thing, here are two variations on this concept. The one on the left is presented with the then-common proportions, having a thinner outer white section, making the dial look bigger. The model on the right – the "Royal Orient Highlight" – dares to be different by giving the white a little more space. This actually makes for a very eye-catching appearance, and is the inspiration for the modern reissue fondly known as the Oreo.

Looking for yet bolder stuff? Then how about these two crazy watches. Complete with standout dials and matching straps, they take the concept of Royal Orient to extravagant extremes.

Not so bold, but very elaborate, are these astrologically themed models featuring the twelve signs of the zodiac on the circumference of the dial. Keep in mind these watches were around 35mm in diameter, so these illustrations are tiny! They do add a lot of character and interest to the dial, though.

Last but not least, and one of my favorite Royal Orient designs, is this "mystery dial" model. Here, a black disc with diagonal cuts covers the middle of the dial. Instead of a second hand, you have a rotating plate with oppositely running diagonal lines. When the watch is running, the diagonals combine to create a unique radiating effect. You can watch a video of this effect, here!


Pictures that appear on this post were taken from various sale ads and the 1999 Orient Watch Catalog book.