Orient Place

Orient Place

Thursday 21 March 2024

The "Snorkeler" - Orient's Sub

We tend to think of the Mako as the iconic Orient diver. Nowadays, the Mako (and its various variations) is almost synonymous with the brand, with its easily identifiable design. However, it was not long ago that Orient was still producing homage dive watches, and one of these was the model also known as "Snorkeler", the "OriLex", or simply – the Orient Sub.

In fact, the watch was being manufactured around the same time as the first-generation Orient Mako. The model, an obvious homage to the Rolex Submariner, continued production up until Seiko completed the acquisition of Orient in 2009. It is said that after the takeover, Seiko wanted Orient to focus on original designs rather than homages. A very positive direction in my opinion, which compensates for what many see as the more mainstream approach taken by Orient designers since then.

Anyway, Orient's version of the sub was perceived as one of the better homages on the submariner theme in terms of value for money. With a decent movement, nice finishing, and good overall build quality (except for the very basic bracelet), it became quite popular. Nowadays, as mint samples are harder to find, it is even more sought after.

Orient originally released four versions, with black and blue dials, as well as two-tone versions – all in the spirit of Rolex's own models. While the addition of gold looks a bit tacky to me, the basic steel variants are solid-looking and quite nice, as homages go.

The Snorkelers, as some called them (sounds like an Orient USA nickname to me – not an original Orient name), presented a smaller alternative to the 41.5mm Mako, having a 39.5mm wide case, without the large day pusher. Indeed, it only had a 100m water resistance rating and not 200m like the Mako, but to many, this was good enough for practical use. Particularly as the Snorkeler did have a screw-down crown.

Toward the end of production, Orient released a second batch of these watches. This time, they received sapphire crystal, which the basic Mako divers did not have at the time. The updated version received new references, with some alterations in the dial to make telling them apart easier. Luckily Orient did not release updates for the two-tone versions…

Changes in the dial included the sapphire crystal symbol, removing the outdated jewel count in favor of the Orient Logo, and replacing "10 bar" with "100m". Which dial version you'd prefer, most likely depends on how you feel about the Orient logo.

Other than the dial and sapphire, all versions were technically identical, having the same case and caliber 48743 automatic, no-hacking and no hand winding movement. And most importantly, both mineral and sapphire crystals featured the "cyclops" magnifier over the date.

Perhaps not as well known, Orient also released a "lady-sub" model with a 33mm case. Having black, blue and brown dial versions, this model was properly cute and automatic as well, using Orient's smaller caliber 5574D.

Even more curious than the lady-sub model, is this variation – which seems like a legit Orient product, despite some fairly uncharacteristic dial text. The ad described this as a quartz movement, but the text "sunlight" on the dial seems to indicate this is a solar version of the Orient sub-homage design!

I was only able to find this model on Korean websites. If any reader can verify the authenticity of this watch, please let me know in the comments…

As most blog followers can probably tell, I very much prefer original designs to homages, even (or rather, particularly) when "original" in Orient's case can be quite leftfield. However, I do find this Snorkeler kind of cool – maybe because its dive-watch design is so classic, it's almost beyond the ownership of any single brand. In fact, if you took away the "Mercedes" hour hand, it would simply be… a dive watch.

Pictures that appear in this post were taken from old Orient catalogs and sale ads.  

Sunday 10 March 2024

Orient Mako 20th Anniversary Edition Contest + Discount Code

It's been a while since we've arranged a little something for Orient Place blog's followers. So, here is that "little something".

Last week I noticed a nice contest being run by WatchNation, a UK-based authorized retailer of Orient (and numerous other brands), who also ship internationally. WatchNation has apparently been granted exclusivity for selling the new Mako 20th Anniversary Edition in the UK.

Now, they announced the following contest: for every 10 pre-orders received for the Mako Anniversary Edition, they'd be giving away 1 Orient Bambino Watch to a lucky winner, to be selected at random from those 10 pre-orders. 


This seems like a great opportunity to build a two-watch collection inexpensively, with just a bit of luck: Orient's entry-level automatic diver-style watch and dress watch are two fine items. Plus, Easter is coming, so they can also make a pretty cool gift.

I did not get a chance to make a purchase with WatchNation before, but from my brief conversation with them and online reviews, seems like a more than decent retailer, with an online and brick-and-mortar store as well.

What's more, following my conversation, WatchNation also offered an exclusive discount code for Orient Place followers! Use code OP15 at checkout for 15% off the Orient Mako 20th Anniversary.

Note, that the code is only applicable when purchasing the Mako 20th Anniversary, and both code and the contest expire on March 31, 2024. Also note that while WatchNation's exclusivity is in the UK, the competition and discount code apply worldwide.

If you decide to enter the competition, I'd be happy to hear back on your experience, how you feel about the Mako Anniversary Edition (when you receive it), and of course, if you won a Bambino!


Sunday 3 March 2024

The Chronoace and Caliber 42

In 1969 Orient ended the reign of caliber 49 and the "AAA" moniker that was associated with it, and introduced a new family of watches and movements. The "Chronoace" (also sometimes referred to as Chrono Ace) equipped with caliber 42 ushered in an era of upgraded case designs, materials and colors that would become characteristic of the brand in the 1970s.

The Movement

Caliber 42 movements were mostly exclusive to the Chronoace line, although some were used in certain other models. All caliber 42 variants were automatic with hand winding, and operated at 18,000 BPH. They all shared the main architecture and features, including the day and date discs and (with one exception) the date quick-set button at 2 o'clock.

The main members of the family were:

·         Calibers 42940, 42950, 42960, 42970 with 21, 23, 25 and 27 jewels, respectively, were the common variants used in most Chronoace models.

·         A particular variant of 42950 that did not have the quickset button – presumably to improve water resistance – used in the Orient King Diver "Depth Gauge".

·         Caliber 42925 and 42972 with 17 and 27 jewels, respectively – as far as I know, these were variants not used in "Chronoace" watches, instead running models like the early 1970s "Crystal".

·         Caliber 42990 with 33 jewels, which must have been highly exclusive as I've yet to see photos of one!

Caliber 42 continued the evolution in Orient's movement engineering. For instance, the introduction of a "fine movement" speed adjustment device, the shift to a "star wheel" type switching wheel, and the transition to a "two-story third wheel and pinion system" from the traditional "three-needle system" marked a significant step in improving the movement's efficiency and stability.

Orient Chronoace

Early Chronoace models continued in typical 1960s style of late AAA models. Such were the "College" models – so these too would soon be updated and receive smoother cases and more

Over the next few years, the Chronoace range exploded with new versions and designs, some which were already discussed on the blog, under various topics. The 1969 "Special" model, for instance, whose photo appears at the top of this article, still looks like it has taken just a small step beyond the College. Shortly afterwards, new designs appeared.

Chronoace models took on various case shapes – including oval, round, triangular, and all sorts of more complex designs. This was typical of the era, as the 1960s style morphed into the 1970s.

A significant part of that development happened in the materials department. Besides color taking a much more prominent place in dial design (a trend that already began in the late 1960s), Orient began experimenting with various new materials.

Pretty soon, Chronoace models appeared that made use of stone cases, non-scratch steel and other elements. Some Chronoace dials featured Jaguar Focus paint schemes, and later - Mexican Mother-of-Pearl.

Dive watches were an important segment of Orient's product range, and here too – caliber 42 and the Chronoace name were included.

A number of Chronoace King Diver models were presented between 1969 and 1971. Most had been variations on Orient's familiar internal bezel design. The obvious exception was the King Diver Depth Gauge, a unique watch that probably deserves a separate post.

Honestly, much more can be written about the Chronoace lineage; Indeed much has already been told of these watches in this blog, and probably more mentions will be added in the future. This post, however, should serve as a hub page for the Chronoace models.


The picture of the Chronoace Special that appears at the top of this post is copyright of the blog. Other pictures that appear in this post were taken from old Orient catalogs and sale ads.