Orient Place

Orient Place

Thursday 30 March 2023

The Hinomatic and the T-S Type Movement

We're now going back in time to the earliest documented history of Orient. We know some facts about its incorporation – how it launched as Tama Keiki Co. in 1950, and was renamed Orient a year later and launched its first "Orient Star" model – But there's very little record of the factory's watchmaking activity between then and 1955.

Then, in 1955, Orient launched its first documented in-house designed movement, the "T-S Type": a hand-winding, central seconds, 18,000 BPH caliber.

We do know it was not 100% made in-house, as some of the parts could not be manufactured by Orient at that time – it took two more years for Orient to accomplish the finishing of some of the finer parts of the mechanism. And obviously the design borrowed from an existing movement (I believe one by Citizen).

One of the interesting features of the "T-S" type was its hacking mechanism. This was not a very common feature at the time, and it seems its implementation by Orient had not been perfect.

Generally, when the second-hacking mechanism is engaged, it puts a sudden stop to the movement of the second hand, which can cause the balance wheel to stop abruptly as well. This sudden stop can cause additional wear and tear on the watch movement, especially if it's done repeatedly or incorrectly. Possibly, the "T-S" was not properly designed to withstand the additional stress caused by the second-hacking mechanism. Ultimately, many watchmakers removed the hacking mechanism when the "T-S" was brought in for repair.

Anyway, the movement was good enough to form the basis for the brand's new watch, the "Orient Star Hinomatic". It was not, of course, automatic – all Orients at the time were purely hand-winding machines – but it was manufactured at the brand's Hino factory in Japan. And it also became the brand's first export, as Hinomatics began selling in China.

Note that while some sources mentioned the Hinomatic as the first central-second Orient, it was in fact preceded by the Orient Star Center-Second (that used a non-Orient movement).

The Hinomatic Sports was produced in a number of versions until 1957, when the T-S type was replaced by the improved T type movement that spawned an abundance of new models. But – that would be the topic of a new post…


Pictures that appear in this post were taken from the 1999 Orient Watch Catalog book, and old Orient sale ads.


Sunday 12 March 2023

The Orient M-Force "Beast 2 / Delta"

M-Force. Beast. Delta. The words alone make you think of a mighty dive watch. Now think 49mm diameter. In your imagination, this already takes shape of something worn by a Viking, or by Arnold Schwarzenegger. Well… you're not far from the truth.

We've covered the M-Force lineage here on the blog before. M-Force watches, first introduced in 1997, were named after three "M" words – Mechanical force; Maverick design; and, Massive. Since their re-introduction in 2011 they were also built to meet three important standards in watchmaking: ISO 6425 for diving, ISO 764 for anti-magnetic watches, and ISO 1413 for shock resistance.

The model we're looking at today is the 2014 model also known as the Delta version, or the Beast II (Beast "I" being the left-hand crown M-Force released in 2012). Specifically, the red dial model reference EL07002H, or JDM reference WV0161EL.

The Delta was, and to this date is, the biggest of all M-Force watches. Measuring 49.1mm across and 54.1mm long, it leaves behind models like the first Beast and the current M-Force, measuring 47mm.

The numbers could be a bit misleading though. Like many M-Force models, this watch has a somewhat irregular design. The crown guard is mirrored by a similar shape on the left side of the watch case, adding to the width; and it does not really have lugs, instead having an integrated bracelet dipping from the edge of the case, making it a lot more wearable than what 54mm might have you think.

Still, it's big.

Big, and tough. Taking photos of this piece with a toolbox wasn't so much a stylistic decision as much as being mandated by the watch (I swear, it demanded to be photographed this way!)

But, okay, enough with dimensions already. What else does this watch have to offer?

The first thing you'll note is the gorgeous deep red dial, shining below the sapphire crystal. Look at it closely, and you'll appreciate the intricate paint job. It has a non-industrial feel, which even reminds me of some "Urushi" lacquer-painted dials I have seen. That, along with the grooves and other marks and textures, makes the dial stand out – particularly, but not just, under direct sunlight.

It's not just the color, but the dial really works well. The applied markers are big and bold, and align perfectly with the minute track. The power reserve indicator is nicely designed, clear but not too intrusive, as is the date window. Other markings include the Orient and M-Force logos, "automatic" and "200m".

Legibility is aided by generous lume (as one would expect from a proper dive watch). Here, Orient even went the extra mile and added lume to the power-reserve needle.

The case is quite thoughtfully designed. As mentioned, its symmetry, other than mirroring the crown guard, adds character, and makes room for Orient to play with different finishing styles. So, while the top of the case, as well as the crown-guard surface and its left-side sibling are lightly brushed, the diagonal sides of the case are polished. This combination leaves the impression of quality and attention to detail.

The crown too is really nicely designed. It's big and super grippy, and fairly easy to screw and unscrew. The red ring is both aesthetically pleasing, and serves as a reminder for the wearer to keep the crown locked in. Note the slight wobble of the crown: it's not freely moving as in cheaper dive watches, instead requiring some minimal force to push around, but it's definitely noticeable. This feature is intended to prevent a knock on the crown from damaging the stem. Some people find this an unwanted behavior. Personally, I don't mind the wobble, and it has no effect while the crown is locked.

The black IP bezel is also worth mentioning, as it's among the better I've encountered – certainly at this price range – as good as Orient's legendary Saturation Diver. It provides a good grip and requires just the right amount of force to turn. It clicks into position securely, and stays there with practically zero back play.

The bracelet is solid, comfortable and well made. The clasp allows for micro-adjustment but does not include a diver's extension; and it is stamped, rather than milled, thereby becoming the only part of the watch which appears to have been compromised to meet a budget, with most other parts really punching way above its price point.

Overall, the Delta on its bracelet provides a well-balanced wearing experience, if you can pull it off. I'm not sure of its weight – clearly well over 200g – so other than size, this watch is intended for those who appreciate heft in a sports watch. But on my 7.25" wrist it felt good, the 14.6mm thickness is noticeable but proportional, and the case shape helps it sit nicely on the wrist. You never forget the watch is there – but you don't mind it either. In fact, you should very well like it!

The M-Force Delta is powered by Orient's automatic caliber 40N5A. It provides automatic winding and second-hand hacking, and well deserves to be called "workhorse movement". Its specs state +25/-15 seconds per day accuracy – mine does about +6 seconds.

The case-back, in case you're wondering, is solid and does not offer any view of the movement, nor does it offer any decoration. It simply bears the Orient and M-Force logos, and the usual technical info.

The M-Force Delta has been discontinued since 2016. You can find pre-owned ones, either with the red dial or other variants (black and blue) at around 450-600 USD, and once in a while a NOS/NIB one might pop up as well (not necessarily at a higher price). The rarer "Subaru STI" limited edition of the Delta is hard to find and likely to cost much more.

If you do buy a pre-owned watch, make sure you get enough bracelet links to match your wrist, as the integrated bracelet cannot be replaced with after-market substitutes.

If you like your watches big and tough, and got a wrist to match, you would very likely love this version of the M-Force. The combination of good looks, high quality, and durability, are hard to beat. And even if you do beat it, the M-Force can take the punch, easily.