Orient Place

Orient Place

Sunday 18 June 2023

Orient Fineness, Hands-On

I've discussed the history of Orient's "Fineness" watches before. As is often the case, getting my hands on a decent sample of this model was just a matter of time. Well, here it is!

The watch at hand is of the second iteration of the Fineness – that is, the 1968 version featuring the rounded case and a cyclops over the day and date.

The case is entirely polished, and as this particular sample is in a very fine condition, the sharpness and glitter of the stainless steel has been well preserved. It has a properly elegant look that goes well with the thinness of the case, and I think works better as a dress watch than the first iteration with its elaborately decorated cushion case.

The lugs are very short and do not extend beyond the edge of the case, so essentially it is 36 by 36 mm, without the crown. The watch is 8.5mm thick from case back to the top of the crystal, not counting the cyclops. It is probably the thinnest watch in my collection, Orients and all.

On the wrist this translates, not surprisingly, to a very comfortable wearing experience. It's summertime now, so it's the lightness of the Fineness that is immediately appreciated. Was it winter, I'd probably be talking about how easy it is to fit under cuffs.

The dial layout here is simple, yet it holds certain unique elements that add character to the Fineness.

The combined day-date display is an uncommon sight. The date and (Kanji) day of the week are nicely enlarged by the effective cyclops. I feel the cyclops also slightly softens the date, which is the darkest element on the dial, helping it match the overall silvery appearance of the watch face better.

The hour and minute hands are quite uniquely shaped on this version of Fineness. Possibly, Orient wanted to make up for the simpler case, compared to the earlier and later versions. Both hands get narrower just before their pointed ends, then go wider again. It's a very elegant design that also helps express the slimness of the watch.

Another singular element here is the stamped "F" logo. While it clearly represents Fineness, it does not appear on any of the other versions of the watch. Note how the stem (to use a typographic term) of the letter F matches the profile of the hour and minute hands.

Presumably this is, again, a way of adding flavor to the simple round case. And it works – the logo combines with the cursive writing of "Orient Fineness" to add a subtle touch of luxury.

One annoyance here is the crown. Setting the time is fairly slow – it's not one of those mechanical movements where a minor turn of the crown moves the hour quickly – and the small crown means more effort is needed to turn it. The caliber 3900 lets you change the day by moving back and forth across midnight, but changing the date requires moving the full 24 hours forward, a rather tedious affair.

Adding the quickset button on the caliber 3991 of the last version must have been of great relief to owners… I'd have loved to have it here! But that final iteration of Fineness is quite impossible to find.

Anyway, I'm quite happy with the watch I got! It's elegant, comfortable, and very special. This version of Fineness is not too difficult to find online, and prices are more than reasonable, generally going at around 300 USD. A worthy vintage dress piece by all means.

Wednesday 14 June 2023

Orient's June Releases: New Bambino V4 and Divers

Orient is presenting a bunch of new watches today – a new "diver design" model, and some new color options for the trusty old Bambino V4, which is the 42mm model. In other words – a smaller diver, and a bigger (compared to recent Bambino releases) dress watch. Orient is covering all bases.

New Diver Design

The big news is the small diver. While modern Orient dive watches were 42mm (Mako / Kamasu) or larger (Kanno) this one is a 40mm case – 39.9 if you insist. With this, Orient are adjusting to the changing market trends, as more consumers are now looking for smaller watches.

The new model ditches the day-date display of its predecessors in favor of a date-only window. This is obviously a design choice derived from the smaller diameter, but it also makes the dial cleaner, and presumably many owners will be happy with this choice.

Another differentiator here is the raw steel bezel – no colored inserts here. This brings the watch closer in appearance to the Orient Star 1964 divers, offering a look that both resembles vintage divers, and seems more tool-watch-like. That's two things we (and presumably, many buyers) like.

The hands are unlike recent Mako/Kamasu versions, perhaps also trying to look a bit more like the Orient Star Diver, or the M-Force. A bit less stylish than previous diver-design Orients, but cleaner and probably more legible. In fact the entire dial seems to be geared toward legibility and clarity.

Orient offers five references that should satisfy most buyers, having both classic (or "serious") and trendy colored dials:

·         RA-AC0Q01B – black dial and steel bracelet.

·         RA-AC0Q02L – navy blue dial and steel bracelet.

·         RA-AC0Q03S – white dial and steel bracelet.

·         RA-AC0Q05P – salmon dial and brown leather strap. Yes Orient call this color "apricot" but come on, we all know what the market wants!

·         RA-AC0Q07V – Lilac (you can just call it purple, it's the trendiest color of 2023) dial and grey leather strap.

The new watch makes use of the familiar caliber F6722, with 40 hours of power reserve. Lug to lug length is 46.5mm, thickness is 12.8mm, and lug width is 20mm. The front crystal is sapphire, the crown is screw-down, and water resistance is 20 bar (200m).

Bottom line – a good looking watch that hits all the current nails on their heads. No prices announced yet, but assuming Orient's usual decent pricing strategy these should be the brand's next big hit.

New Bambino V4

The smaller news are the bigger watch, which is the Bambino V4. This version was reviewed on the blog before, and while we generally accept the notion that this watch works best in smaller diameters, 42mm is still a viable option favored by people of larger wrists, and retains most of the technical advantages and visual attraction of the Bambino.

Four new references are presented by Orient:

·         RA-AC0P01E – light green dial (looks like olive in photos) and synthetic leather strap.

·         RA-AC0P02L – navy blue dial, and grey leather strap.

·         RA-AC0P03L – "sky blue" dial and grey leather strap.

·         RA-AC0P04Y – rose gold color plated case, with bronze color dial and synthetic leather strap.

All the new references look handsome, the straps that accompany them seem to made with plenty of attention to details, so this announcement – while not being very dramatic – is definitely positive.