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  • ORIENT STAR “CLASSIC” Vintage Series WZ0011DG

    The Japanese watch industry of the early-1950s was dominated by Seiko, who in the late-1940s, introduced Japan’s first watch with a sweep second hand, the Seiko Super. By the mid-1950s, Seiko was able to design and produce its own caliber that equipped its first fully in-house watch, the Seiko Marvel. At the time, Orient Watch Co. efforts were concentrated in the value spectrum of the market, as well as export market outside of Japan, for which Orient was among the first of the Japanese. It is my view that Seiko’s debut of the Marvel may have pushed Orient to develop a product to compete with the best from Seiko.

    In 1956, Orient turned their efforts to manufacture what was to become their high-grade range. The new course Orient charted paved the way for the birth of modern Orient mid-range and upper-range sub-brands, the Orient Star and Royal Orient. These higher-grade Orient models are marked by their delicate and simple aesthetics executed in soothing colour tones. Polished case finish, domed dial with bar indices, Dauphine hands, and domed acrylic crystal combine to achieve a tasteful composition that we often see in a timepiece from the late-1950s.

    Mars Orient 21 Jewels (1957) belonging to one of our senior members

    Any mention watch design of the late-1950s cannot possibly omit one of the most influential, and to the eyes of nearly every beholder, one of the most beautiful of the period. That honour belongs to the Omega “Constellation Chronometer” DeLuxe Pie Pan, and in particular, Ref. 2852 introduced in 1957 and equipped with the no-Date Calibres 501 and 505. This Pie Pan dial’s exquisiteness lies in the contrast between the polished indices and the inner minute sector dial, coupled with those very distinctive “dog-leg” lugs.

    When these watches left the store 60+ years ago, they would have been more than up to the job of being a daily wear for their owners. Unfortunately, as historically relevant and beautiful as they are, we watch enthusiasts consign ourselves the facts that these gems are neither fit for wearing everyday, nor robust enough to resist the elements. They are best admired and enjoyed with extreme care. Many of us also find their 33-35 mm size—very much standard Gents in the 50s—a little too small for our liking.

    ORIENT STAR, today the mid-range Japanese Domestic Market sub-brand of Orient Watch Co., must have thought the same thing. In mid-2009, the Japanese Manufacture produced the ORIENT STAR Classic “Vintage Series” to be a classic quality gents watch that brings 1950s vintage-watch appeal in a contemporary style. The glossy curve of the OS Vintage Series is achieved through the incorporation of vintage elements of that bygone era, but in a modern 38 mm case—the perfect size for the modern dress watch while still retaining those classic proportions of the 50s. Powering the Classic Vintage Series is the in-house ORIENT STAR Cal 40550, which features auxiliary manual-winding, hacking, and in the same grade as the Seiko Cal 6R15 found in JDM Seiko.

    It is not all conservatively plain, however, thanks to the unique madman-style bracelet of the ORIENT STAR “CLASSIC” Vintage Series WZ0011DG on offer today. This solid-link bracelet lends to the entire piece a feeling of radical conservatism with a dash of fearless defiance—a certain feeling of anti-establishment rebellion. It gives the whole an edge that is somehow unsettling, but at the same time, very attractive. Of course, each to their own, and some owners prefer to swap the bracelet out for their choice of leather straps, to which 20mm offers an enormous choice.

    The ORIENT STAR Vintage Series WZ0011DG was in production for only one year, 2009, when it retailed for 52,500 Yen (~NZ$756), making it more expensive then the Seiko 6R15 Alpinist SARB017 (50,000 Yen) of that same year. This Vintage Series WZ0011DG is very rare to find in today’s global market, and a specimen with full-size bracelet like the one being presented rarely ever turns up. This is because nearly all units produced would have originally been sold in Japan, where the bracelet normally ends up being resized to very small. You will unlikely ever come across another in such mint condition in New Zealand, or anywhere else for that matter.


    MOVEMENT: ORIENT STAR Automatic Cal 40550, 22 Jewels, 21’600 A/h, Auxiliary hand-winding, Hacking, Power reserve of 40 hours, Accuracy range: -15/+25 sec/day
    CASE: Stainless steel (diameter: 38 mm excl. crown, thickness: 13 mm, lug-width: 20 mm), Screw-in exhibition case back
    DIAL: Black, Applied Indices
    CRYSTAL:Mineral, Box-form (edge domed profile)
    BRACELET: Stainless steel, solid links, with fold-over push-button clasp
    MADE IN JAPAN, 2009

    This timepiece was purchased as New Old Stock (NOS) in late-2017 from an Orient Authorized Dealer by an acquaintance of mine who is a watch enthusiast and also an employee of that Orient AD. He intended to collect the piece as NOS and unused, but later sold the watch to me late last year in like-new condition, bracelet links all intact. During my ownership, the OS makes it out of the box only one day a month on average, so is TKNZ “MINT” (98%), with no discernible sign of wear to the naked eyes. The accompanying photos form a part of my description, so please study them well.

    The case has never been opened, but I have conducted a preliminary timing test last week. The Cal 40550 is running strong, near-chronometer accurate to within 6 sec/day, and power reserve on full wind is 45 hours, exceeding specs. The Vintage Series comes with its ORIENT STAR box, Orient Certificate of Guarantee (AD-stamped and dated), and all bracelet links removed are included.

    Thank you for looking.
    Last edited by Don; 08-07-19, 14:44.
    On the instruments we entrust to pace our lives, to bear witness to our days, and to be the keepers of the most precious thing we have... time.