Orient Place

Orient Place

Sunday 20 March 2022

Three Points About Orient Tri Star

The Orient Tri-Star, or "3 Star" is among the brand's most familiar symbols, an icon of accessible mechanical watchmaking like Seiko's "5" and Citizen's "7". 

Much can be written about the Tri-Star, as it spans so many years and models. There's definitely enough history associated with it to provide content for a dozen articles or more. In this post though, I'll just touch on three (haha) points, possibly less known to new fans of Orient who only recently became acquainted with these watches.


The Three Stars Are Older Than The TriStar

The TriStar line dates to the early 1970s. While there is little information available pointing to the exact birthday of the collection, it was probably around 1971 or a little later, as the early TriStar models used Orient's caliber 469, born in 1971.

Upon its launch, Orient advertised that the three stars stand for three key principles of the collection: representing design, quality, and affordability.

The three-star logo, however, was being used by Orient years beforehand. As early as 1956, in fact, when one of the earliest Jupiter models was adorned with three stars – albeit organized in a triangle rather than lining up.

Later on, three stars in a line could have been observed on other Orients, like the 1967 World Diver. Now, this was far from being the most affordable of the brand's watches, clearly indicating the aforementioned three principles of the TriStar collection were an afterthought.


The TriStar Collection Is Really Diverse

When asked to think of a TriStar, many of us immediately imagine something similar to the sort of design picture below: a fairly small watch with lugs that sit flush on the case, simple dial and markers, and a date-and-day window.

In fact, there are many modern TriStar designs, some of which differ quite significantly from each other. What they do have in common, is that you got quite a lot of watchmaking for your money: a nice design that has its own identity and is decently executed, powered by workhorse movements that should keep ticking for many years.


TriStars Are Missing From Orient's Main Websites

If you were to look for current TriStar models on Orient's global or JDM websites, you would not find a single one.

The only model shown bearing the triple star logo is the "King Master Revival", which is the oldest of the re-issue models presented. Elsewhere, even the World Map Reissue had the original three stars removed.

Of course, TriStar models are still being produced. You can see them on websites such as Orient Watch USA and Orient India, which are run by local distributors, as well as on many retailers' and ecommerce websites.

And, Orient do offer support for TriStar models on their website – you can locate and download instruction manuals for these watches.

Apparently, the reasoning for this goes back to the original concept of offering TriStar models in markets looking for cheaper mechanical watches, and not in the brand's primary markets which, supposedly, are seeking higher-end products.

The fact of the matter is, in every country you will find people who love the simplicity and affordability of these watches, and are looking to buy new, used, and vintage TriStar models.


Pictures of the various watches that appear on this post were taken from Orient Watch USA advertising, Orient catalog and the 1999 Orient Watch Catalog book.

Sunday 6 March 2022

Orient Star Ladies' Classic Semi Skeleton Hands On Review

Yes, that’s right. After almost four years of activity of Orient Place Blog, and having often posted updates of new women's model releases by Orient, we're finally going hands-on with a ladies watch.

The watch at hand is the Orient Star "Classic Semi Skeleton", reference RE-ND0004S (or, RK-ND0004S in Japan). Note there is a new line of Classic Semi Skeletons, that we've mentioned before; the model we're looking at now is the older version – the classic classic semi skeleton, if you will – which of course is still relevant and on sale.

The Classic Semi Skeleton is immediately recognizable as an Orient Star, and not just because of the logo. The case shape, curved silvery dial with roman numerals, and of course that "open heart" aperture, are obvious giveaways. It essentially an Orient design in a smaller package, which makes sense as Orient often likes to have its ladies' models function within his-and-hers watch pairs.

The smaller package, in this case, is 30.5mm wide, and 36.6mm long lug to lug – same as the newer Classic Semi Skeletons. This is indeed a very "classic" size for women's watches, whereas many brands nowadays offer larger diameters, which are considered as more modern or sportier.

While small, the watch retains the familiar Orient Star attention to details. The small crown is signed, as is the folding clasp. The leather strap is supple, and very similar in style to straps provided with the larger watches – though probably a little less padded, to keep in proportion with the 14mm lug width.

Diving into the finer details does not disappoint either. The dial features a well made pearlescent texture and fine black print. The parts of the movement visible through the open heart are nicely polished. Nothing seems too coarse or neglected.

The exhibition case-back reveals the tiny automatic movement, caliber 55C40. The movement itself is not particularly decorated, and I doubt any decoration would be visible to the naked eye anyway – and at this price point, it is absolutely fine. The golden rotor is lovely though, and is probably what makes checking the backside of this watch worthwhile at all.

Speaking of movement, this is where the biggest difference between "his" and "hers" models lies. Orient usually boasts very decent accuracy, with most Orient Star models testing to do around 6-7 seconds per day (and an official +25/-15 range). Caliber 55C settles for a stated +40/-30 seconds per day, and since there's no second hand – its actual accuracy does not matter much.

On one hand, this could make sense considering many women would view their watch as jewelry more than a time-telling device; on the other hand, the same can be said for many male watch-owners. I suppose women who are true watch aficionados will see this as a downside. Of course, this can simply be attributed to constraints resulting from the smaller size of the watch.

Okay then, technically it's all fine, the quality is there. But what do potential buyers think about the watch? I turned to my wife for some answers. It was interesting to learn how different her view of the matter is.

While she appreciated certain design elements, and took my word for the watch being of high quality and very reliable, she takes a more holistic approach. Viewing the watch as a whole, what the missed most was a bracelet; it then occurred to me that of the different watches I got her over the years, as well as ones she got for herself, she only keeps using the ones with a bracelet. Preferably a shiny one.

I wonder now, if women who view the watch more as jewelry, tend to prefer a bracelet over a leather strap; and if those who prefer a leather strap, are more likely to tend to the functional side of the watch, and may care more for the lack of a second hand?

Another point she made was, if she wears a watch she wants to be able to keep it on, everywhere – including the swimming pool, for instance. Clearly a leather strap limits the "go anywhere" option.

This OS Classic Semi Skeleton is officially priced at around $450 USD, and can usually be found at around 350. That is a good price for a well-made automatic watch from a reputable brand.

If you are looking to get yourself a classically styled mechanical watch, then this Orient Star makes a very compelling proposition.

If you are buying this watch for your significant other, you may well be in the right direction, just make sure she will be fine with the strap option, and that she does not mind reading the time to within the nearest minute only. Otherwise, your best option would be the Orient Star "Standard" ladies' watch, a sportier line of models ranging between 33.5-34.5 mm wide cases, all of which equipped with steel bracelets and featuring a date wheel and a second hand.

The blog would like to thank Orient – Epson Europe for providing us this Orient Star Classic Semi-Skeleton watch for review.