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ORIENT Flagship Model from 1957 - “MARS ORIENT 21 Jewels”

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  • ORIENT Flagship Model from 1957 - “MARS ORIENT 21 Jewels”

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    A month ago, a friend of mine on the forum sent up a couple of vintage watches to be overhauled and rejuvenated (in a watch sense). The work is now completed, and I’d like to share with you some photos before sending this gem back to its owner. Before looking at the timepiece, let us revisit the story of Orient Watch Co.

    As many here know, the story of Orient began in 1901, in Ueno, Tokyo, with Shogoro Yoshida, the founder of Toyo Tokei Sei Saku Sho (“Toyo” = Orient, in Japanese), opening Yoshida Watch Store to sell and repair imported watches. The Toyo Watch Company started manufacturing watches in 1934 using mostly imported parts, and many of these watches filled the orders of the Japanese Imperial Army. During the WWII, the Toyo factory changed its name to Toyo Weapon Industries and began making bomb detonators and cannons, then coming back to its old name and watch production after the war. From 1951 to present, the Japanese watch company is known by its current name, Orient Watch Company.

    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. Perhaps it was debut of the Marvel that pushed Orient to develop a product to compete with the best from Seiko, but for whatever reason, 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 Japanese domestic market Orient mid-range and upper-range sub-brands, the Orient Star and Royal Orient. First came, in 1957, the Mars Orient 19 Jewels, then the flagship Mars Orient 21 Jewels shown today. The latter was one of most expensive watches under the Orient name at the time, retailing at 9,770 Yen, while the Seiko Marvel was selling at 6,200 Yen. One of Seiko's most expensive watch at the time was a Lord Marvel at 9,800 Yen.















    The movement inside the Mars Orient 21 Jewels was also in-house and not a Seiko technology. However, they did share similarities in design. An interesting thing that you may have already picked up is the "Nivaflex Antishock" designation on the dial. Nivaflex, of course, being a component that Orient imported from Switzerland at the time.



    Image from Hinomachi’s Blog


    Before the Seiko Marvel in 1956, Seiko also imported components to make its watches, so the inclusion of Nivaflex was not out of the norm. The Mars Orient 21 Jewels was manufactured for less than one year, a period between 1957 to 1958, and thus is very rare, even in Japan. Even harder to find is this particular 14K gold-filled cased fancy textured dial in the style of high-grade Japanese watches of its era.













    The reference N14057, I believe, uses the same referencing system as Seiko did up to the mid-1960s, i.e. multiples of 2.256 mm. The “14” therefore denotes a case back diameter of 30.8 mm, which seems to be the case here. Without doubt, it is very fortunate that this specimen has somehow turned up in New Zealand, and considering that this is a non-water resistant dress watch, in such well-preserved condition.
    A watch journey that also serves the betterment of others is one worth taking.

  • #2
    Beautiful watch, Don.. Orient vintage are well worth looking for when you find one like that one..

    Reminds me of my Royal Calendar Orient..

    Sent from my Lenovo YT3-X90F using Tapatalk


    Tony Lewis
    New Zealand

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    • #3
      Thanks for the review Don. Beautiful watch and Orient IMO continue to be exceptional quality for their price.
      'Beauty is in the eye of the beholder' - but lets face it some people have better eyesight than others!

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      • #4
        Thank you, Tony / Bryn.




        ...
        Reminds me of my Royal Calendar Orient..


        That's one fine watch! :thumbup: ...and really show how adapt Orient became with producing higher end timepiece within the space of a few years--your Royal Calendar is from 1961, if I'm not wrong. It was the first Orient with Date, which was still a groundbreaking feature among mainstream watches of the early-60s, or certainly a big deal enough for "calendar" to be used in the model name.
        A watch journey that also serves the betterment of others is one worth taking.

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        • #5
          Hi Don, I think 1961 is spot on..
          Tony Lewis
          New Zealand

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          • #6
            What a To die for dial, just so attractive and easy to read. Thank you for shareing.

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            • #7
              Very interesting write up on Orient. Thanks Don
              Time keeps on slippin\', slippin\', slippin\' Into the future (Steve Miller Band)

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