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Orient Star: An Introduction to One of Japan’s Best
While most people attribute the watchmaking industry to Switzerland, another country that is pretty well-known for their mastery in making great timepieces is none other than Japan. The country has been successfully building a horology empire over the past decades. Reliable and quality craftsmanship often come to mind when talking about these manufacturers from the Land of the Rising Sun. Seiko, Citizen, Credor, and Casio are a few Japanese brands that are among the most popular watch manufacturers in the market. However, in this article, we will be talking about a different but equally reliable brand called Orient, specifically their Orient Star line.
Orient Through The Years
Orient first launched the official production of their wristwatches in 1950. However, the company actually dates back to as early as 1901 under the name Yoshida Watch Shop. It was founded by Shogoro Yoshida, who decided to begin a wholesale watch business by selling imported pocket watches in Uena, Tokyo. It became so successful that the company started producing gold wristwatch cases, on top of selling imported pocket watches, in 1912. Yoshida Watch Shop’s great accomplishments in the next years led to the creation of Toyo Tokei Manufacturing, which specialised in making table clocks and gauges.
As the popularity of wristwatches rose around the world, Toyo Tokei Manufacturing also began producing their own in 1934. The next years that followed brought success and fame to the company, however, the glory was short-lived. The devastations brought about by the 2nd World War deeply affected Japan in all aspects. Its economy was one of the many hit by the crisis that occurred in the aftermath, and the struggle eventually led to the closing of Toyo Tokei Manufacturing in 1949.
In 1950, a great rebirth occurred and what was previously known as the Toyo Tokei Manufacturing became the Tama Keiki Company. A year later, they officially changed their name to Orient Watch Company and also launched the first-ever Orient Star. The next four years that followed came with the release of the Orient Star Dynamic (1957) and the Royal Orient (1958) models.
The 1960s: A Busy Decade
Orient managed to overcome the many adversities and challenges that came in the previous years. The 1960s marked the beginning of the company’s consistent progress to becoming the well-established trailblazer that it is at present. A lot of developments occurred for Orient in this decade, from its expansion outside of Japan to the creation of numerous eccentric wristwatch models. In just one year, specifically in 1964, they released their first diver’s watch (Orient Calendar Auto), a timepiece with 100 self-winding jewels (Orient Grand Prix 100), and a watch in which the dial lights up with the press of a button (Orient Flash). In the years that followed, they also released the Orient King Diver (1965), Orient Fineness (1967), Orient World Diver (1969), and the Orient Diver 1000 (1969). Some of these pieces are best known for their impressive specifications, from a movement using Calibre 3900 to having a water-resistance of up to 1000 metres.
Orient in the 2000s
Fast forward to the 2000s, Orient continued to create innovative and contemporary watches, from a triple timezone watch (Orient Mecha Trenics) to a skeleton design piece with diamond cut indexes (Orient Star Skeleton). In truth, there are more iconic models that have not been tackled in this article as there are really too many to mention. However, the important thing is these milestones only show how consistent the brand is when it comes to making timeless yet modern products.
Orient vs Orient Star
People who are not that familiar with the brand might get confused as to what the difference is between Orient and Orient Star, but it’s pretty simple really. Orient focuses on classic, standard pieces that are affordable, while the Orient Star consists of more complex watches at a slightly higher price. In addition, many people say that the Orient Star offers better overall quality as compared to the regular Orient line. Regardless, both lines are from the same brand.
All About The Orient Star Watches
As briefly mentioned, the Orient Star line offers more elaborate features in terms of design and specifications. It is considered higher quality in comparison to the standard Orient line. Although the price range for this is relatively higher, it is still on the affordable end in the watch market.
The first Orient Star timepiece was introduced in the 1950s and its design was based on an image of a star (no surprise there). Since then, the company started releasing more and more models with the Orient Star name and eventually it became a sub-brand of its own. As of today, there are three collections under the Orient Star line: Classic, Contemporary, and Sports.
Orient Star Classic Collection
The Orient Star Classic Collection is centred on the idea of creating watches that are timeless, sophisticated, and elegant. While it may sound quite simple, this collection offers a variety of intricate features that gives essence to its pieces. It is the perfect range to choose from if you prefer more subtle and refined watches that are still crafted with great technique.
Orient Star Contemporary Collection
The Orient Star Contemporary Collection showcases watches that are both enduring and versatile. It revolves around the concept of crafting chic, modern-day, quintessential timepieces — almost like a new and improved take on the classics. In comparison to the Classic collection, this series also features more colours and modern designs overall. Orient’s intent with this series was to introduce an array of watches that chooses no occasion. If you want a watch that could pass for both everyday use and formal settings, this collection holds many candidates that fit that description.
Orient Star Sports Collection
The Orient Star Sports Collection consists of more daring and bold pieces. It is definitely the most distinguishable line among the three, especially with its eye-catching and dauntless designs. Orient Star’s sports collection does not only flaunt a sharp and adventurous look but was also created to handle intense circumstances. This series is perfect for those who like audacious yet stylish pieces without having to compromise exceptional features.
Our Top Picks: Orient Star Edition
Now that we know more about the brand and the different collections under Orient Star, we’ve curated a list of some of their best timepieces available in the market.
1. Orient Star Classic Skeleton (WZ0041DX)
Skeleton watches are quite difficult to perfect, therefore there are mixed opinions on them. Some people find it tacky and impractical, while some are impressed with the exposed workings and how it’s engineered. Regardless, Orient is known to be one of the few brands that have mastered the art of making excellent skeleton pieces. From one of their first skeleton models called the Mon Bijou (1991) to this beautiful watch we’re about to tackle, there is no question as to why many attributes the skeleton design to Orient.
This Orient Star Classic Skeleton watch has a 39mm stainless steel case paired with a crocodile leather strap. The dial, protected by a sapphire crystal glass, showcases an exposed caseback and a two-hand system in a metallic turquoise colour. In addition, it also features two sub-dials (power reserve and seconds) and has a water-resistance of up to 50 metres. Lastly, it runs on a hand winding, mechanical movement. This watch is a mechanical masterpiece and is perfect for those who enjoy vintage-looking accessories.
2. Orient Star Classic (RK-AM0001S)
If you want a more complex-looking piece that is both beautiful and creatively functional, you should definitely consider the Orient Star Classic watch (RK-AM0001S). The dial, covered by a dual-curved sapphire crystal, simultaneously showcases the iconic Orient Star power reserve indicator, a semi-skeleton feature, and a moon-phase component. It also comes in a 41mm stainless steel case and bracelet. In addition, it has an automatic, self-winding, mechanical movement, and a 50m water-resistance. One look at this watch and you’ll be immediately captivated by the brand’s innovative craftsmanship.
3. Orient Star Classic Semi-Skeleton Ladies
This one is for the women out there looking for a sophisticated and elegant timepiece. Orient sees this model as the perfect embodiment of Japanese craftsmanship in terms of ladies’ watches. The balance between beauty and complexity is clearly seen in its design and structure. It features a 30.5mm stainless steel case and bracelet with a boxed crystal glass to protect the dial. The dial shows an open heart display, a two-hand system, and Roman numeral indexes in black. Furthermore, it has an automatic self-winding movement and a water-resistance of up to 50 metres.
4. Orient Star Classic Heritage Gothic
The Orient Star Classic Heritage Gothic is a modern tribute to one of their old pieces from the 1950s. The purpose of this model was to fuse the past and the present, showcasing both its history and how much it has progressed since. Everything about this piece is a better and more refined version of its predecessor, making it a present-day essential for the true watch lovers out there. It comes in a 38.7mm stainless steel case and bracelet with dual sapphire crystal glass. The black dial is features rose gold indexes and hands. Furthermore, there are two sub-dials, featuring a power reserve indicator and a seconds counter, plus a date window at 3 o’clock. Lastly, this piece runs on an automatic, self-winding movement boasting a power reserve of 50 hours and a water-resistance of 50 metres.
5. Orient Star Contemporary (RK-HJ0001S)
Next up is yet another complex masterpiece created by Orient. Everything about this Orient Star Contemporary Semi-Skeleton Watch screams modern and easygoing. The subtlety brought about by the colour combination makes it a great piece for everyday use, but it is also stylish enough for fancy events. It comes in a 41mm stainless steel case and bracelet. The dial showcases a predominantly white background, silver indexes, and blue hand markers. It also features a semi-skeleton design and two sub-dials for the power reserve indicator and seconds. Furthermore, it has an automatic movement, a power reserve of 50 hours, and a water-resistance of up to 50 meters.
6. Orient Star Contemporary Slim Date (RK-HJ0001S)
This Orient Star Contemporary Slim Date Watch is a similar piece to the one above, but it does not feature a semi-skeleton design. It is a great option for those who are not huge fans of the open heart structure. The blue hand markers complement the silver and white colour combination of the whole piece. It is almost like it has a sense of regality to it, making it a great watch for either casual or formal occasions. It comes in a 40mm stainless steel case with a bracelet of the same material. The white dial features silver indexes and blue hand markers. In addition, it displays both a power reserve indicator at 12 o’clock, a seconds component at 6 o’clock, and a date window at 3 o’clock. This slim watch runs on an automatic movement, boasting a power reserve of 50 hours.
7. Orient Star Contemporary Ladies (RE-ND0102R)
As mentioned above, this collection brings more colours to the entire Orient Star line, and this model is a great example of that. It is a dainty and ornate piece that catches people’s attention just because of how elegant it looks. Again, this is a watch that can go with either jeans, a summer dress, or even a long gown due to its delicate and classy look. Moving on, it has a 30mm stainless steel case and bracelet. The dial is in a maroon-ish colour with silver indexes, a two-hand system, and diamonds at 12 and 6 o’clock. It also features an automatic movement and a water-resistance of up to 50 metres.
8. Orient Star Contemporary Asia Limited
The Orient Star Contemporary Asia Limited watch is inspired by the capital of the Land of the Rising Sun, the evening landscape in Tokyo to be more specific. It definitely has a lavish yet wholesome vibe to it, a great option for those who enjoy luxurious-looking products without breaking the bank. It comes in a 42mm stainless steel case with a bracelet of the same material. The dial is in a beautiful blue colour enhanced by the rose gold bezel, hands, indexes, and crown. It also has a power reserve indicator at 12 o’clock. Furthermore, it features an automatic movement, a power reserve of 50 hours, and a water-resistance of 50 metres.
9. Orient Star Sports (RE-AU0301B)
For the Orient Star Sports line, let’s begin with the one that looks most similar to the other collections, the Orient Star Sports (RE-AU0301B) watch. This is a great diving and everyday watch especially considering its classic design. Even though it looks quite simple, rest assured that it was made with the superior craftsmanship Orient is known for. This model comes in a 43.6mm stainless steel case and bracelet. The dial is in black, along with the bezel, with luminous light hands and indexes. The sapphire crystal glass has an anti-reflective coating, which is perfect for extreme circumstances. It also has a power reserve indicator at the top-most part of the dial. Furthermore, it has an automatic movement, a power reserve of 70 hours, and a water-resistance of 200 metres.
10. Orient Star Sports (RE-AV0A03B)
The Orient Star Sports RE-AV0A03B watch offers a very forward-looking design mixed with the classic skeleton structure. This is the perfect option for those who prefer eccentric and innovative dive watches. It comes in a 43.2mm stainless steel case and a black leather strap with hints of red. The dial is predominantly in black as well and features a skeleton design with black and white markers and indexes. Furthermore, it is an automatic watch that has a power reserve of 50 hours and a water-resistance of 100 metres.
11. Orient Star Sports (RE-AU0202N)
The Orient Star Sports (RE-AU0202N) watch is for those who enjoy the aesthetics of typical field watches. It boasts a very rustic and unpretentious look but still with great technical innovations. It comes in a 41mm stainless steel case and brown leather strap. The dial is in grey with cream hand markers and indexes. It also features a power reserve indicator at 12 o’clock and a date window at 3 o’clock. In addition, it runs on an automatic movement with a 50-hour power reserve and a 100m water-resistance.
Orient Star is a great sub-brand that offers a variety of reliable watches, from sophisticated pieces to rustic ones. It has a rich history that still reflects in the models they produce today. It is also a brand that is dedicated to showcasing just how much the Japanese have mastered watchmaking, especially if you think about how all their pieces are exclusively manufactured in Japan.
There is more to Orient Star than just the pieces shown and discussed above. The diversity of the watches they produce and their dedication to incorporating Japanese values into the art of horology are truly admirable. Orient is definitely one of the pioneers in proving that there is more to the watchmaking industry than Swiss watches. If you’re looking for a high-quality piece with great design and functions (plus more affordable prices), Orient Star should definitely be one of the options to consider. Ultimately, you’ll be investing in a versatile piece with a rich heritage and priceless craftsmanship.
If you want to know more about Orient timepieces, check out our review of the Orient Triton watches.