About Orient Star – Reach for the Stars

Tags: About the brand | Orient | Orient Star | Classic

23.9.2022 | 6 MIN | 2x comment

One glance at Orient Star watches, and you simply know it is an honest work. But what are the Stars of Orient? And how do they fit into the concept? It's time to take a telescope and look at it in detail.

Until recently, I gave little attention to Orient Star as a brand on the periphery of the watchmaking world. You know about them, you like them, but if you don't see them in person, it is just another brand whose watches look good in pictures.

A part of watches, especially the mechanical ones, is their owner and their bond. When you put the watch on, you can feel them come alive on your wrist. When you wear them, you basically keep them ticking. This bond is a part of their charm.

Orient Classic Version 6 Review – Long-lasting, Elegant, Automatic
18.1.2022
Orient Classic Version 6 Review – Long-lasting, Elegant, Automatic

That is also the idea of the Orient brand, which, under Orient Star, focuses solely on mechanical watches (hand-wound and automatic). And somewhat recently, this has taken on a new direction, which is very interesting, to say at least. Let's talk about that.

How the first Star come out and why did it almost fade out for good

The story of Orient (Star) began in 1950 by establishing the Tama Keiki Co., Ltd., which one year later became the Orient Watch Co., Ltd. If we wanted to really dive in deep, we would stumble upon its first sparks in 1901. We've already written about the history of Orient:

And it was in the year 1951, when the company became Orient, that the first Orient Star was introduced, the top line of Orient watches. The name was supposed to reflect the efforts to outshine every other mechanical watch in the whole galaxy.

Továrna Orientu v roce 1951.

Orient manufacture in 1951.

The design, classic, elegant, timeless, with asymmetrical second hand, blue hands and the logo of Orient Star, hasn't changed and is still the same today. Another model, the Orient Star Dynamic with central hand and Nivaflex spring, a material resistible against tearing, was released in 1957.

První Orient Star (1951) a Orient Star Dynamic (1957).

The first Orient Star (1951), and the Orient Star Dynamic (1957).

The next milestone was the year 1971, when the calibre 46 was introduced. It is still used today, although with many adjustments. Many other interesting models are woven into the history of Orient and Orient Star. Orient is one of the first Japanese brands to expand to foreign countries, and it was known as the manufacturer of the reliable Made in Japan watches.

Kalibr 46 z roku 1971, který se v modernizované podobě používá dodnes.

The calibre 46 from 1971, which is used even today, only modernised.

From the '90s, Orient wasn't successful much, and didn't even know what to do next and what to focus on. This crisis peaked in 2003, when it was thought Orient would close the business. It was then that Seiko Epson gave a helping hand to Orient, and in 2009, Orient became its subsidiary. The final stage of this union was in 2017, when Orient merged with Epson.

However, Orient still has its own in-house movements. Simply said, the parts are made in Epson, but the movements in Orient Stars are based on original Orient calibres and are put together by hand by watchmakers working for Orient.

Thanks to this symbiosis, Orient Star is now able to offer competitive, high-end, amazingly accurate mechanical watches with precisely made components. And you can really feel that from the watches.

For this new millennium, Orient (Star) set one goal: while Orient will focus on reviving historic models, Orient Star will show the future of mechanical watches.

Orient "World Map Revival" RA-AA0E03L19B Review – Living Legacy of Orient
1.4.2022
Orient "World Map Revival" RA-AA0E03L19B Review – Living Legacy of Orient

Orient Star divided its watches into 3 lines. The Orient Star Sport of, not surprisingly, purely sporty models. The most unique of these is the Orient Star Sports Diver 1964 2nd Edition, which shows the remaining power reserve, and, if you get your hands on the turquoise one, the colour of the dial only enhances its charm.

Then we have the Orient Star Classic, with the purpose to create timeless models. Just like the first Orient Star watch. Design-wise classic, elegant, formal. And Orient is good at that, these are very tasteful and worked-though models. From the minimalistic to the skeleton watches.

The Orient Star Contemporary is a very unique line. You might mix up some of the models with those of the Classic line, but these watches are more modern, contemporary, with bold designs and colours, often also luminescent.

But all the models have one thing in common. Premium materials and workmanship. Cases are made of 316L steel, bracelets too, straps are made of quality leather with a folding buckle, which is more gentle for the strap. For example, the Orient Star Classic Moonphase model using shell cordovan, which is also known as the "King of Leather" or "Leather Diamond" for its specific structure and smoothness.

The glasses are most often sapphire, which is used for its high resistance against scratches. There is also the anti-reflective coating, the more high-end watches have the so-called "Super Anti-Reflective Glass Coating" – double sided anti-reflective coating that is able to absorb all reflections so well you don't even know you have a glass in your watch.

Last but not least – Sallaz polishing, done by hand to make the metal shine like the stars. We can see this technique used on watches of other brands as well (Casio, Citizen, and Seiko use the similar Zaratsu polishing), and the result is highly impressive. It is also called "black polishing" because the polished surfaces look black from certain angles as it is so smooth and shiny.

What movements are in Orient Star watches?

The cooperation with Epson is visible in many factors, but the most probably in mechanical movements. That's because Epson combined modern technology with much stricter standards for its movements.

As I already mentioned, the majority of movements are based on the earlier calibre 46, which Orient Star introduced at the beginning of the '70s. But much has changed since then.

Among the changes is not only the design, but also the whole process of the making. The movement is now thinner, much more accurate thanks to the precisely made components, and later on other complications were added. It was already in 2014 to 2017 that the new semi skeletons, skeletons, and models with moon phase indicators were introduced.

Today, there are mainly these 3 types ticking inside your watch: F6, F7, and F8.

The automatic F6 movements, with the accuracy of +25~-15 seconds per day, mostly 22 or 24 jewels, offer over 50 hours of power reserve. It appears with the indicator of power reserve and open heart complications.

Beautiful of such movements in the Sport line is the new dive watch Orient Star Sports Diver 1964 2nd Edition, or the three-handed models of the Classic line which are a tribute to the first Orient Star. What will catch your attention, not only because of the design, is the Orient Star Layered Skeleton of the Contemporary line.

Strojek třídy F6 u Orient Star Laryered Skeleton.

An F6 movement inside the Orient Star Laryered Skeleton.

The F7 movements have a power reserve of 50 hours as well, but they are usually more decorated and accurate (+15~-5 seconds per day).

Probably the most distinctive of models with this movement is the Orient Star Classic Moonphase and the equally well-built Orient Star Contemporary Moonphase. Both have the moon phase indicator, power reserve, and the open heart showing you the oscillating balance wheel.

Strojek třídy F7 u Orient Star Contemprorary Moonphase.

An F7 movement of the Orient Star Contemporary Moonphase.

However, the peak masterpiece of these is without a single doubt the mechanical F8 movement with the power reserve of 70 hours and blue silicon escape wheel. By using the MEMS system (micro-electromechanical system) by Epson, the movement is very accurate (+15~-5 seconds per day) while maintaining its beauty.

Silicon escape wheel has antimagnetic properties, is resistant against corrosion, wear-and-tear, meaning it doesn't need oiling too often. It is also naturally lighter and firmer than steel. Its smooth surface minimises deviation caused by friction, allowing the movement to be more accurate. The striking blue colour is the result of application of oxide and polysilicon film.

It is one of the reasons why Orient Star put it in its Skeleton, which was introduced as a celebration of the 70th anniversary of Orient Star.

Every single one of these is put together by hand in the Japanese Akita Prefecture, and one thing they have in common is the magical ticking of their mechanical hearts, which is irresistible to any watch lover. I myself fell head over heels with them and had to buy one for my collection (once again thank you, boss :)).

In articles about Orient, we often sadly complain that it is an overlooked brand, which deserved much more attention. However, I have to admit that I was overlooking it as well which is simply unfair.

Hopefully, we will redeem ourselves in the future and will explore these mechanical stars in much more detail.

You might also be interested in:

Orient Sun and Moon Automatic RA-AS00 Review – Wear its Heart on your Wrist
21.3.2022
Orient Sun and Moon Automatic RA-AS00 Review – Wear its Heart on your Wrist

Comments

Pierre Gagneago 129 days, respond
Your opinion please. Automatic, stainless steel, open heart/ heart beat 40mm christal dial with high jewel count. Orient F8 vs Seiko presage vs Frederique Constant
Šimon Šestákago 129 days
Hello Pierre, that really depends on the specific models you are considering. If, for example FC with their manufacture caliber is in your selection, I´d gravitate towards that. Not so much if you chose model with movement based on SW200. When talking about Seiko Presage I assume we are talking about the Sharp Edged collection - as much as I love them I think you´ll get more "bang for your buck" with OS or FC. The biggest advantage of the Seiko is the beautiful dial tho. With Orient Star you are getting the power reserve indicator as well as the silicon escape wheel and the 60 or 70 hours of power reserve plus a top-notch AR coating on the crystal. Nonetheless, any of the options will be a good one ;) Šimon