Orient Place

Orient Place

Sunday 19 November 2023

Orients With Yellow Dials

A watch with a yellow dial. How does that make you feel? Clearly, not a color for every occasion – and not one for every watch. Which is why yellow is far from being the most popular or trendy shade of dials. But, put it on a sports watch and suddenly it fits.

Yellow is bright. It has to be; there is no dark yellow, really. Yellow conveys a sense of energy, zest, and liveliness. It reminds us of the warmth of the Sun. It makes us think of bananas, that provide us vitamins and minerals.

Orient was never shy of dishing out yellow versions of its watches, particularly divers – but not just. Today, however, you can browse the brand's entire range of models currently in production, and you won't find a single yellow piece.

I'm not talking about muted yellow dials that are really crème or beige. Yes, you have some watches with a little splash of yellow here and there, but I'm not talking about any of those either. I'm talking about a properly bright, unashamedly yellow dial.

Let's take a look at some past yellow models from the brand.

Perhaps the most celebrated yellow watch from Orient was the 300m Saturation Diver, shown here in Orient Star guise alongside its little brother, the 200m Air Diver, aka "Revolver".

Orient released the yellow Orient Star Saturation Diver in both the 1st and 2nd generation of the watch, as references WZ0271FD and WZ0191EL. It also released the yellow Revolver with both a steel bracelet and a rubber band, as references WZ0391FD and WZ0371FD, respectively.

Another famed lineage of sports watches from Orient was (and still is) the M-Force. Many past generations bearing this name had proper yellow dial versions. Such as the EX04 shown above – or the two versions seen below, belonging to the EX07 family (on the left) and the EL family (on the right, very similar to the Revolver).

Yellow also popped up on various other product lines from time to time. Below you can see some random examples of that: a yellow semi-skeleton model; a Racer; and one of the early divers preceding the Mako.

By the way, you might be wondering why that Racer looks so similar to the EX01 M-Force, and you would be absolutely right – it is in fact a re-branded M-Force! Why and how this happened is the topic for another story…

Orient also applied yellow to its uniquely sporty yet elegant Somes series, in the form of reference WZ0051FR, seen above. You can check out my old review of the black-dial variant of this watch to see what a huge difference this color makes.

Last but not least is the yellow Mako below. Orient released this baby in 2014, to mark the 10th anniversary of the popular diver.

This makes one think… 2024 is coming up and it will soon be the Mako's 20th anniversary. I wonder if we are going to see a new yellow Mako next year, either the 42mm or the newer 40mm version…?

What other current production model would you like to see Orient fire up with yellow? 

Pictures that appear in this post were taken from old Orient catalogs and sale ads. Pictures of the 10th anniversary Mako are from Monochrome Watches. The Yellow Mako 40 is, of course, a mock-up prepared by the blog.

Thursday 2 November 2023

The Weekly Auto Orient AAA

This will not be the first "AAA" covered on the blog. I've already posted a story about the Orient AAA Deluxe a while back. This time though, I felt like going for something more classic-looking, and whereas that DXO was quite distinctively Japanese, the model I'm looking at now is clearly influenced by Swiss designs.

More specifically – the influence of the Rolex Day-Date. That iconic watch – the first to display the full day of the week along with the date – was introduced in 1956, and by the mid-1960s when this AAA was produced, its design had already become an object of admiration and source of inspiration for watch designers worldwide.

This AAA, while clearly not a "replica" and having a fairly distinct and more simple-looking dial, displays such clear day-date elements, like the fluted bezel, cyclops, and of course – the combined day and date display.

At the time Orient released numerous versions of the Weekly Auto, differing in jewel count (generally ranging between 19-25, with some rare models going as high as 30) and in their dial layout – with a few featuring the arched day window (like the Rolex) while others having a rectangular window.

This particular piece I'm holding is the 21 jewel, rectangular day type. I do like that it's quite different from my other Weekly Auto (which is the King Diver with the arched window) and as mentioned, also different from my other AAA.

The hands on this watch seem a bit short, as both minute and second hands do not reach the hours markers. I was wondering if the hands were possibly replaced at some point; however, I did see numerous photos of weekly auto's with a similar set of hands (as well as variants with longer hands). So possibly this is original. 

Also, while lumed hands often got replaced when the paint degraded, these watches generally had simple metal hands with no paint, so hands rarely needed a change. And this watch is generally in excellent condition – the case is nicely kept, the dial is clean and the crystal and cyclops without any visible scratches – so the hands should not have been damaged.

Indeed upon close inspection one can appreciate the nicely brushed dial, well-polished markers and aperture frames. While lacking the more intricate design elements of the Deluxe (like more elaborate marker design and matching hands), it's still a handsome watch.

The fluted bezel was first used by Rolex on their cushion-case Oyster in 1926, but it received its familiar iconic shape when it got attached to the round case of the Datejust in 1945. It adds sparkle and elegance to the watch, even if it is not made of gold…  

The cyclops too was a Rolex novelty, just another one of their numerous inventions in the prolific 1950s. What is it about this little extra piece of crystal that goes so well with fluted bezels, I don't know. Perhaps we just got used to this combination so much. Anyway it's a nice addition. It's hard to estimate its magnification here, but it helps to read the date. As for the weekday, you'll have to wear your glasses.

Then there's the beads of rice bracelet, another key component of this model's style, though not actually a day-date thing; while Rolex did use some BoR bracelets in the 1940s, it later adopted its self-designed Jubilee bracelet instead. BoR did remain a favorite of other top-tier brands looking for an elegant alternative to Milanese bracelets.

The BoR bracelet here (Orient's original) is of the quite common 7-link type, with the broad outer links. It is a very comfortable bracelet, and visually makes a perfect match for the bezel. Quality is more than adequate and it does not pull any hair.

Let's look at dimensions. The case width is 38mm without the crown, and lug to lug it is 45mm. That's a perfect size of a dress watch even by today's standards. It's also larger than older Weekly Auto AAAs that had a 37mm wide, 43mm long case. And maybe that even holds an explanation to the short hands.

All in all, a very nice watch. In typical Orient manner (and indeed like other Japanese brands), the brand paid homage to a design that became popular in Europe a few years earlier, but while doing so it added some of its own distinctive styling. Despite all Rolex elements, the dial is still very "Orient" with the logo, AAA and tristar symbol, and of course – the push-button for changing the date.

Prices for Weekly Auto AAAs today generally go between 200 to 400 USD, depending on condition. A watch in good condition, with clean dial, original crystal with cyclops, and original bracelet, would probably go for closer to the upper end of the range.