For nearly fifteen years, I've been examining Orient timepieces, and the RE-AY0107N is one of the most opulent I've seen from the Japanese manufacturer. The watch is marked "Epson" on the back; Epson is the parent company of Seiko. Although the two brands may seem unrelated at first glance, Orient was acquired by the same company a few years ago, making Seiko a subsidiary of the parent company. Another classic Japanese watchmaker that manufactures parts like movements in-house is Orient.
In addition to the more affordable Orient models, the brand also produces those with the Orient Star badge that are considered to be the brand's luxury timepieces. Most Orient watches can be found for under a thousand dollars, but the Orient Star seems to hover around the $1,000 mark. About a year ago, I tested the Orient Star Diver's 200m watch, which was a completely different model than the one I just reviewed. Today I'll be reviewing the plainly named "Mechanical Classic Watch" by Orient Star (reference RE-AY0107N), a dressier and more aesthetically playful timepiece. Not as many watch enthusiasts appear to have given Orient models nicknames as the Seiko community has, which would give these fine timepieces a bit more character. This is something you are very much encouraged to do.
The RE-AY0107N is a premium model introduced for Orient Star's 70th anniversary; it is part of the "Classic" range. In it, you'll find the calibre F7M62 automatic, Orient's "flagship" movement, which lovers of the brand are sure to like. The new trend not only looks great, but also provides useful features that customers have been asking for from Orient. The automated movement has a 3Hz frequency and a power reserve of 50 hours. Because to the "open heart" design of the regulation system and the nicest adornment I've seen on an Orient movement, the presentation of the mechanism is rather good. However, there are a few spots of glue on the automated rotor where the decorative plate meets the under-rotor segment, and the perlage polishing isn't perfectly consistent. There is no cause for alarm at this pricing given the mild nature of these problems.
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The F7M62 movement has many purposes. First, there are three centre hands that indicate the hours, minutes, and seconds. The polished traditional design of the hour and minute hands is a particular favourite of mine. Power reserve is displayed under 12 o'clock. The moon phase is displayed on a separate dial located above 6 o'clock on the face, making this the first time such a feature has been implemented on a wristwatch.
In the past, Orient motions like this one lacked moon phase indicators, opting instead for simpler day/night signs with a disc that rotated entirely once per 24 hours to indicate the time of day. It's great to see Orient designing its movements with this popular enthusiast complication, which is a bit more involved than a simple date display (though it's really just a matter of gearing). A moon phase pusher is hidden within the case's side. People used to seeing similar presentations in Swiss watches costing a bit more will be pleased with what Orient has been able to accomplish here; the entire presentation of the movement and its functions is outstanding for Orient.
The hands and Roman numeral hour markers on the textured black dial offer great contrast against the background, making the time easy to read. The same "Classic" collection of watches is available from Orient with either a white face (with a variety of blued hand shapes) or a blue mother-of-pearl dial, both of which are likely attractive options. The lug-to-lug measurement of this polished steel case is 49mm, and its width is 41mm. The dial is protected by a sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating and the casing is water-resistant to 50 metres. In order to see the automatic movement, a second sapphire crystal has been installed on the back of the case.
While the Orient Star Classic watch is comfortable on the wrist, I think it's a little bulky to be worn under a suit's sleeves. Nonetheless, it is true to its word that this watch provides a sophisticated take on the "traditional" timepiece. The included strap for this Orient watch is not ideal for every occasion. The provided strap is 20 millimetres wide and made of patent leather with a good polished steel fold-over deployant clasp. A glossy black leather strap might be good for some formal occasions (to match polished black leather shoes, for example), but I think most people will want to swap out the default band for one that is more comfortable or better suited to casual or business attire.
It's still an adventure to track down one of these watches, as is the case with other Orient Star timepieces. Any Orient or Orient Star watch is available online from some retailer, although distribution is still patchy, so not everyone can afford one. Given that the Orient Star watches are still rather reasonably priced, I think this only serves to make them more fascinating and a little bit special.
Orient Star watches are worth a close look for anyone interested in watches who is on a tighter budget or who has a deep appreciation for Japanese wristwatch design and craftsmanship. One excellent choice that foreshadows the future of Orient's top-tier offerings is the "Mechanical Classic" model RE-AY0107N. It has one of their most amazing movements and is a great value compared to similar items from European and Japanese watchmakers. You may get an Orient Star Mechanical Classic timepiece with the reference number RE-AY0107N for $1,800 USD.
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