Orient Place

Orient Place

Sunday 30 April 2023

The Orient Star Dynamic and the T-Type Movement

A couple of months ago I wrote about the birth of Orient's T-S Type movement, and the "Hinomatic" watch built on it. Not long had passed since the 1955 launch of the Hinomatic, and in 1956 Orient introduced a new caliber, the T-Type, which would soon replace the T-S.

The T-Type, too, did not last a long time in production before it was replaced by the N-Type movement, in 1958. However, during its short life it provided the basis for numerous important models and new designs, some of which were later revisited in watches using newer calibers.

The first and most notable – and popular – model was the Orient Star Dynamic. The Dynamic started life as a fairly standard-looking watch, not much different in appearance from the Hinomatic it replaced.

Having similar looks and a movement that was, in essence, very similar to the T-S, one could be fooled into thinking this was little more than a minor update to the running production line.

However, between 1957 and 1958, at which time the Dynamic line concluded, plenty of fresh and innovative designs emerged.

At first, Orient were to play with some fancier dial designs. These also presented a more modern dress-watch style, suitable to the end of the 1950s – as opposed to the Hinomatic's very "early 50s" looks. Differences may appear subtle to us now, but at the time they were probably appreciated for consumers looking for a more current design.

Then Orient produced some more daring creations that went beyond just dial and markers. One example is the "mysterious" watch, where the second hand was replaced with a rotating disc that hid the hour and minute hands, and created a special radiating effect. This design was later reproduced as a Royal Orient.

Another example is the "case within case" design, seen below on the right. This style too was very unique to Orient, and was reused by the brand for its Olympia Swimmer models in the 1960s.

If that wasn't enough, Orient then went on and put the T-Type inside a triangular case, to make its homage to the Hamilton Ventura. This was sold as both a wristwatch and a pocket watch version, as you can see here.

The case-in-case design also received its pocket-watch, or pendant version as you can see below; and an even more unusual product was this table-clock Dynamic, which resembles a lamp.

While the Orient Star Dynamic was the main product line at the time, Orient manufactured more models using the T-Type caliber.

The Jupiter model was presented in 1956, shortly after the Dynamic. It was initially intended as a more basic watch: using versions of the movement having as little as 9 jewels, while Dynamic models usually made use of the 17-jewel version. Later, however, things got a little mixed up with 11 jewel versions appearing in both the Jupiter and Dynamic lines.

In 1957 the Mars Orient was introduced, as a higher end model, with finer regulation and improved shock resistance. These watches used 19 and 21 jewel versions of the T-Type, and the 21-jewel model also featured a higher level of finishing throughout.

Another watch worth mentioning that made use of the T-Type movement was the 1958 "Luminous" with its battery and miniature light bulb, and the antimagnetic Para Aimant. Despite being introduced along with the start of the production of the newer N-Type caliber, these models took advantage of the smaller dimensions of the older movement to pack more "technology" into their cases.

Note, however, that most of the earlier models mentioned – the Dynamic, Mars and Jupiter – had fairly small cases, ranging between 32-34mm. Take this into consideration when looking to buy one of those.


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

Sunday 16 April 2023

Orient Place Blog's 5th Anniversary

Happy birthday to me! It's the blog's 5th anniversary. Yes, five years have passed since the first post on the blog. And, 12 months since the last anniversary post…

Over the last year, the blog continued to grow in popularity, with some 141,000 new views – more than 15% increase over the previous year – and 179 new followers on Facebook, now totaling 839. So once again – a big thank you to all readers, followers, likers, sharers, and commenters!

To celebrate the event, I ran a quick survey through Instagram story polls to see how blog followers would respond to a few questions I thought would be interesting – to me, and possibly even to Orient itself.

First question I asked was to find out what modern Orient that has been discontinued would fans of the brand like to see reborn with a current movement? I listed three models that did not have F6 movement – the caliber 46K40-driven GMT model; the famed Saturation Diver, which used cal. 46/40; and the cal. 40A50 Retrograde watch.

As you can see below, the Orient Saturation Diver won by overwhelming majority of 53% – and it's not surprising! I keep seeing posts on forums and social media by Orient fans yearning for a new OSD…

Another question I asked was about the use of Seiko movements to add new complications or capabilities to the Orient range – we've had a few such examples in the past, most recently (but still a long time ago) with the brand's mechanical chronographs.

So, between the three options I gave, 46% wanted to see Seiko's hi-beat movement revive the Royal Orient moniker; 29% hoped to see a new Orient chronograph using Seiko's current automatic movement; and 25% preferred to see a true (traveler) GMT watch by Orient.

Finally, I asked about the fan's choice of a vintage Orient that should be re-issued next, following the very successful line of recent reissues. There are many options, I chose three and could also have picked three others, there are still plenty of old classics that Orient can turn to…

The winner by small margin, at 39% was the 1962 Olympia Calendar Swimmer, characterized by the "case-in-case" shape. 35% loved to see a remake of Orient's first watch from 1950; and 26% voted for the 1970 Chronoace King Diver, which is quite distinct from other vintage dive models previously reissued by Orient.

On a personal level, I've added four Orients to my collection since the last anniversary. Each one, I think, pretty unique: the mighty M-Force "Delta"; the lovely Olympia Calendar Speed Data; and the utterly exotic and rare "Polka Dots" Royal Orient. Oh yes, there's also that cool "Bicycle" Retro-Future, that story should be posted here next month.

These purchases, besides making me very happy and presenting the uniqueness of both Orient's sportier and dressier styles, and in both vintage and modern models, are also indicative of how accessible such a collection is. Yes, some of these models are very hard to find, and can take a long while to acquire a rare piece in good condition; but the prices are still super affordable, as these four pieces cost me between 200 – 400 USD each.

To wrap up this festive post, I thought it would be interesting to engage the hottest tech in town: Chat GPT.

The recent announcement of a new Orient Star Avant-Garde Skeleton and movement caused quite a stir on social media, so I provided GPT with brief info about the new release, and copied onto it every comment I found from the various groups and forums where I posted the announcement. GPT replied with the following insights:

"Thank you for providing the comments on the new Orient skeleton watch. It seems that there are diverse opinions about the new model, with some users praising its design, upgraded movement, and slightly smaller dimensions. On the other hand, some are concerned about the legibility of the watch due to the camouflage of the hour and minute hands, and some believe the price is too expensive. Here's a summary of the key points from the comments:

1.       The new movement with a 60-hour power reserve is seen as an attractive feature.

2.       Some users appreciate the slightly smaller dimensions compared to the previous model.

3.       Legibility is a concern, as the hour and minute hands tend to camouflage with the watch face.

4.       The price is perceived as expensive by some users, while others find it reasonable considering the upgrades.

5.       There are comparisons to previous models, with some users hoping that the older models won't be discontinued.

Overall, the reception of the new model is mixed, with some users excited about the upgrades and willing to purchase it, while others have reservations about the price or design aspects."

GPT further provided some recommendations to Orient, including these –

"Improve legibility: To address concerns about the legibility of the hour and minute hands, Orient could consider adding more contrast or color to the hands. For instance, they could use blue hands, as suggested by one commenter, or any other contrasting color that enhances visibility without compromising the design;

Maintain availability of previous models: Some users expressed interest in the older models, so Orient should ensure they remain available, at least for a certain period, to cater to those customers who prefer the previous designs or lower price points.

Encourage user reviews and testimonials: By showcasing real-life experiences of users who appreciate the watch's design, performance, and upgrades, Orient can foster trust and generate interest in potential customers."

Well, I thought that was interesting. Oh, and the picture of the robot above was also done by Open AI Dall-e, in response to "a friendly robot checking the time on his wristwatch"...

That's it for now. Thank you all for following the blog, and keep sending in questions and providing feedback!


Wednesday 12 April 2023

New Orient Star Avant-Garde Skeleton With 60 Hour Movement

An unexpected announcement from Orient today, as the brand reveals a new Avant-Garde Skeleton model that features neither their familiar F6 fifty-hour movement nor their modern seventy hour F8, seen on their flagship skeleton – instead, having a new 60-hour F8 caliber.

The new model comes in two versions – one in raw stainless steel that emphasizes its sharp, industrial styling, and the other with a somewhat sportier black IP plating.

The black model, reference RE-BZ002B (RK-BZ002B in Japan) comes on a rather fancy Cordura nylon strap with leather lining, and a matching black plated deployant buckle. The stainless steel model ref. RE-BZ001S (RK-BZ001S) is attached to a steel bracelet.

A third reference which will only be sold in Orient’s Prestige Shops in Japan is RK-BZ003S, and it is in fact the same stainless steel watch, sold with both the steel bracelet and the cordura strap.

The case of the new Avant-Garde Skeleton is slightly smaller than the previous Avant-Garde model – width is 42.3mm instead of 43.2, and thickness is 12.4mm instead of 13.7. It is longer though, at 50mm lug to lug, instead of 49.2.

The crystal is sapphire front and back, with the front having Orient’s SAR coating. You get lumed hands and markers, and a 100m water resistance. Lug width is 21mm.

The watch seems to boast pretty elaborate finishing – case polishing (“Zaratsu” as Orient like to point out) features alternate brushing and mirror polishing, and the skeletonized, layered dial likewise mixes matte and glossy metal surfaces. The bracelet looks well made too, and even the movement finishing, seen through the case-back, is quite nice.

Perhaps the most interesting part here is the movement. The new caliber F8F64 is clearly a close relative of the 70-hour F8B6X. It features the same blue silicon escapement wheel, and the same +15/-5 seconds per day maximum difference, and a similar layout with small seconds at six o’clock and the power reserve indication at twelve.

There are two big differences though, as the new movement offers 60 hours of power reserve – ten fewer than the first F8 movement – and, it is an automatic, whereas the previous one was hand-winding only.

In terms of pricing, the new model sits right between the older Avant-Garde (which while actually not so old, seems to be discontinued now) and the top of the line skeleton: while the old 50 hour model was in the 1,000 USD range, and the 70 hour skeleton is around 3,000 USD, the new watch is currently around 1,600 USD.

Prices are crawling up, then, along with the technological progress. Whether finishing is better than the outgoing model or not, remains to be seen in person.