Orient Place

Orient Place

Sunday 23 July 2023

More Unusual Royal Orients!

Exactly one year ago, I dedicated a blog post to some unusual Royal Orients from the 1950s, in praise of their distinct (and sometimes truly outlandish) designs. Since then, I came across more special Royal Orients of the same era that appear worthy of posting here – all of which are from recent sale ads! Let's take a look…

This model should be familiar to those of you who watched closely the photo at the top of last year's blog post. It is similar in concept to my polka-dot Royal Orient, having that uniquely textured dial – and here, attached to the original matching leather strap. I find this combination absolutely wonderful.

What is even more amazing, is this – a third design from the same family of dial and strap combinations that did not appear in the Orient Catalog Book!

Again, it features the unusually organic dial texture. What is more surprising, I actually found two samples of this design – and as you can see in the comparison below, the patterns are not identical! No two watches are the same, adding to the rarity and prestige of this piece.

A little more conservative in their use of materials, but certainly quite uncommon in their dial design, are these two versions. Definitely not intended for people who like a clean dial… still, quite nice aren't they.

If you're looking for something cleaner, here are two nice examples. The top one is gold-filled, like most Royal Orient at the time. I like the way the gold markers and outer ring complement each other – the whole thing really looks like proper jewelry.

The watch below is similarly clean but in steel (or perhaps silver, by the looks of it). The concept is the same, the dial even more simple at first sight, but again it's that textured outer ring that makes the thing look special, and far from plain.

Looking for a Royal Orient that's clean but still, quite different from the rest of the crop? Well, look no further than this beauty!

I actually found two variants of this lugless design, one having the usual stick markers, but the one I liked most has these lovely Arabic number fonts (that remind me in particular of the Glashütte Sixties watches). Note that this is a slightly smaller watch, measuring 34mm in diameter, compared to 35mm of most other Royal Orients featured here.

I'll wrap up this lot of Royals with the nice little couple below… a rare bunch having a numeral at 12 instead of the stick markers. However, note that one has the Arabic number while the other has the Roman XII.


Pictures that appear on this post were taken from Yokohama's "Fire Kids" online shop, and various other sale ads.


Thursday 6 July 2023

Orient's Caliber 46

Orient's 46 family of automatic movements is perhaps the best-documented piece of this brand's history. This probably owes to both the importance of the 46, and to its extremely long life spanning all the way from 1971 until… well, pretty much today, actually!

So while there's not a lot I can write about factually that hasn't already been written and posted before by watch historians, this blog cannot be complete without offering the story of cal. 46, with some added personal perspective.


Throughout the first two decades of its existence, Orient used numerous mechanical movements. We've covered some of those on the blog, like the T-Type, N-Type, and L-Type. At some point, management must have realized that adopting one architecture and sticking with it, would be more profitable and allow them longer-term planning.

So, Orient turned to the Seiko, their older, bigger neighboring watchmaker, to source some know-how and designs. It has been said that Seiko at the time believed their future lies in the newly introduced quartz movement, and so they figured making a little extra money off of an aging technology made sense.

Orient happily licensed Seiko's latest movement, caliber 7006 (Seiko mechanical movement engineers apparently kept working arduously despite any mocking grins from fellow quartz people!). They added Seiko's old and proven Magic Level winding system and, hey presto, caliber 46 was born.



During its five decades of production, the movement went through numerous updates, and spawned many variations. These variations offered different dial layouts, additional "complications", and occasional changes to the main plate and bridges, required to accommodate the various new parts.

Some of the functions presented with cal. 46 versions included Power Reserve indicators, World Time indication, 24-hour hands and AM/PM indicators, and more. Some versions included the day, the date, both – or none.

The top-level versions, used in Orient Star Royal and Royal Orient, such as the 46L, 46M, and 46T, were equipped with hand-winding and second-hand hacking. These were also regulated to a higher accuracy of +10/-5 seconds per day, compared to the usual +25/-15 of the regular caliber 46.

The following table contains the different versions of caliber 46.


Key Models

It's impossible to list all the significant watches released by Orient with caliber 46 inside. But here are a few highlights…

Orient HiAce, or HA, was one of earliest product lines using caliber 46 (as well as the similar spec cal. 48). Many versions of Orient HA were produced between the early to mid-1970s, offering a great variety of designs.

Another line of watches that's been around since the early 1970s is the SK (Sea King or Super King, depends on who you ask). This was the 46-based heir to Orient's earlier divers (World Diver and King Diver).

The ever so popular Orient "President" or "Day Date" Rolex homage was also a member of the family – specifically the 46E variant, with its full-weekday display.

In 2004 Orient launched its highly successful line of divers, with the release of the Mako and Ray. Both used caliber 46943.

In 2011, Orient paid tribute to its historic movement with the release of the 469 40th anniversary model. Two references were produced in limited numbers – one in stainless steel, and the other black coated.

And there were, of course many other significant releases. Like the EW00 series running Orient's first Power Reserve movement, cal. 46F; the first generation M-Force with its cal. 46G (and then, later generation); and so on, and so forth. Countless variations, in a line running more than forty years, an ongoing ode to a movement that might not have had the glory of Japan's foremost watches like Grand Seiko or Citizen Leopard, but made the Orient brand a staple of robust reliability.


Modern Reincarnations

Like all good things, the 46 lineage too had to come to an end. Perhaps, as no more letters were left in the alphabet (though they only reached the letter "Y" – there was no 46Z)… but more seriously, it was a case of an aging architecture that led to inefficient manufacturing.

In 2012, Orient began work on a new generation of movements, the 46-F6 (or "F6" for short). As the name hints, there was and still is much of the 46 heritage in the new movement. The F6, finally put to production in 2014, utilized the same barrel, third wheel, escape wheel, pallet fork, and balance wheel as the 46. However, Orient engineers produced a new modular "envelope" of plates and bridges that were designed to accommodate the different requirements of various complications without changes, resulting in more economical manufacturing.

Further updates to the movement led to the introduction of the 46-F7 in 2017 (with improved accuracy and power reserve, and even sharper decoration techniques), and the 46-F8 which finally saw the replacement of the aging cal. 46 steel balance wheel with silicon.


The top photo and table are copyright of the blog. The table includes info from of WatchManDan's list of Modern Orient Movements. Other photos in this post were taken from various sale ads.