Friday, May 29, 2009

Orient - Not widely known.

This is a brand-name that you will not find in many (if any) "watch shops" in Australia.
In amongst the vast numbers of Seiko, Citizen and Casio watches from Japan you will be hard-pressed to detect an Orient.
Yet the brand is as old as (if not older than) Seiko and although Seiko now own Orient the watches continue to be produced independently, with Orient making their own movements - and they have a high reputation for the excellence of their automatic mechanisms.

My father owned an Orient back in the late 1950's - I can still see the distinctive logo, with the two lions holding the shield with the 'O' in the centre - to my eyes a very "British" logo and not at all oriental.

It was only recently, and quite by chance, that I discovered that these watches still existed and after spending some time deliberating I finally decided on the model shown here - a satin-black (ion plated, or "IP") stainless-steel Orient Star with the distinctive power-meter on the dial at one o'clock and the display of the date at nine o'clock. The crown is at four o'clock.

This is an impressive piece of time-keeping equipment; whilst not as large as the current crop of "diver" models out there (the diameter of the crystal is approx. 33mm) it is a solid and "chunky" unit and, with the black finish, looks bigger than it really is. It is also reasonably heavy, as the stainless-steel bracelet is comprised of solid links.

I'm in two minds about the usefulness of power meters on automatic watches, seeing no real advantage in having any indication of the time remaining before the watch needs to be shaken again.
After all, those who wear one watch - and that would be the vast majority - only take it off at night and as a modern automatic movement can run for more than 30 hours before needing another shake, the owner isn't likely to need an indication of what power remains.
Even 1950's-vintage manual-wound watches are capable of running for 30 hours between wind-ups, so what's the point?
On this style of watch-face the power indication doesn't clutter the dial but on a chronograph with multiple complications, the dial can look a bit overcrowded.

I like this watch and I particularly like the black IP finish. It has a definite presence but in an understated, almost stealthy, manner. Certainly the opposite to Seiko's Advans, Vanacs and their cousins from the 1970's!

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