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And I'm no exception, although I'm certainly not one of the Best People. I'd been looking for a watch that looks somewhat like the fabled Rollie Explorer, and have come up with some duds, including one named for a mountain, but I'll let that one go and move ahead with my life. However, I'm a big Orient fan, and found an Orient Star that kinda looks enough like an Explorer for me:
Called the WZ0011EJ, or the OS Classic, it's a bit older model that came out back in 2006 or so, and supposedly the first OS to use the 40G50 22 jewel Orient movement, the first with hand-wind and hackable seconds. It's still in the Orient Star catalogue, but I'm not too sure if it's still in production (some of the Japanese websites still offer it for sale.) I got it used from another collector. The Orient website lists it at around $660 US, at today's exchange rates.
Classic it's called, and Classic it is. Unlike so many dress/sport watches one finds today, it measures a small 39mm, 42mm with the crown. It sits a little higher on the wrist than most Swiss dress watches of this size, at about 13.5mm. The bracelet measures 19.5mm at the lugs, tapering slightly to 18mm at the clasp. The entire watch is made of stainless steel. It's rated at 100M water resistant, but it doesn't have a screw-down crown, so it's more dress than sporty. It's also classic in appearance. The crystal (I think it's mineral; most of the newer OS's use only sapphire, but this isn't mentioned in the Orient catalogue) is highly domed, just like in the olden days. The dial is pie-pan, the hands are needle-shaped, and the crown is small. The dial is also an uber-kool linen color. The entire package screams Mad Men 1960's.
The movement inside is an inhouse Orient caliber. It's visible through the display back, with some modest decoration:
It's got the standard Orient power reserve indicator at the 12 o'clock position. Interestingly, unlike the newer OS movements, this one has a quick-set date that's changed manually with a pusher at the two o'clock position:
A nice design feature with this pusher is that it can't be accidently reset with a finger-press--important to all of us that like to fidget with our watches. You have to use a pen tip or a paper-clip or something to push the button in far enough to actuate the date change. As you can see from the above pic, the crown is also signed for the OS line.
The movement ticks along at the leisurely 6 beats per second, like almost all Japanese automatics. But it's accurate--I've been measuring the Classic at around +6 seconds a day--not COSC, but good enough for most of us.
The bracelet is, for a Japanese production, excellent:
The links are 3mm thick, which is thick enough, dagnabit. The links appear to be three-piece, but are welded together to make a single row. The sizing is done with Orient Star's stupid pin-and-spring system, which is a PITA to size but in the end works out OK. The clasp is machined and solid:
It wears great:
Mostly due to the size, but also, I suspect, because it's a well made, well-designed watch. Indeed, I've worn this a lot over the month I've had it, and it's never felt anything other than perfect.
The big story here, however, is the dial. Like I said before, the linen color of it is a distinct throwback. However, looking closer one sees some really superb detailing:
The texturing on the dial is, no doubt, machine-pressed (you're not gonna get hand-tooling at this price) but, unlike so many lower-priced watches, the pressing doesn't scream look at me! I'm a pressed dial! I drive a BMW! No, it kinda whisper to you, like Old Money. The detailing on the hour markers and the numbers is also very subtle, and only really visible with a loupe. I'm sure, however, the machining on the markers changes the way they catch the light. Again, it's all in the details. The hands and some of the hour markers are lumed, but it's not very strong, and quickly fades, and miserably fails the Conjurer-quick-glance-inside-a-dark-car test.
So, to sum up, is the OS Classic worth the money? Is it better than a standard Orient? One word: Yup. The fit and finish of the watch is superb, the bracelet is good, the endlinks are solid. If this was a Swiss brand, with an in-house manufacture movement, I'd guess that this watch would sell for, easily, $1500 or even more.
There are a few things I don't like about the Classic--the date window is a little too small, and the date wheel is recessed a little too much underneath it. I don't like packaging, either--Orient's making a world class watch here, give us a decent box to put it in, for gosh sakes. The movement feels a little tight, too--winding it, especially with the small crown, can feel like a chore. And I'd have preferred a recessed pusher at the two instead of the little button that sticks out.
Apart from these nits, I really, really like this watch. It's far more classy than I am--admittedly a low benchmark--and whispers good taste and refinement. I've seen these at some of the Japanese websites going for a street price of around $450-500; some people think this too much to pay for a Japanese watch. I don't. I think this one's a screaming--err, whispering bargain.