Orient Place

Orient Place

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!