If you have not ever heard of Orient watches, you are likely not alone. The company is an old one, and has been making watches in Japan since 1950, although the company’s roots to back to 1901. The company did business under several different names, and then became defunct shortly after World War II, when economic conditions in Japan became difficult.
The company resumed operations in 1950 as the Tama Keiki Co., Ltd. and changed their name to Orient Watch Company Ltd. the following year. The company has produced some interesting and well-respected watches over the years, including the “Grand Prix 100,” the “Royal Orient,” and the “Fineness,” which was, in the mid-1960s, the world’s thinnest watch to include a day and date calendar complication.
Today, Orient watches is still in business, though they have largely been overshadowed by the larger manufacturers in Japan – Citizen, Seiko and Casio.
A few years ago, Orient watches was acquired by Seiko and now operates as part of that company. Their watches are different from Seiko’s, however, both in style and in movements. Most of the company’s watches today are mechanical, though they do make a few with quartz movements.
Many of the Orient mechanical watches offer both date complications and power reserve indicators, as well as a see through case back, which allows you to see the movement.
The company’s watches are rich in features but modest in price. That means that you will see stainless steel cases, rather than the gold you might get from some high-priced Swiss companies. On the other hand, the company’s watches are made with their own movements, which are designed in-house.
Something else that is unusual about Orient watches is that the watches themselves are made in Japan. That might seem obvious, but many “Japanese” watches are actually made elsewhere in Asia, using Japanese-sourced parts. This is done as a money saving move, as it is less expensive to make watches in China or Malaysia than it is to make them in Japan, where the cost of doing business is much higher.
Despite the fact that Orient watches sell for modest prices in the hundreds of dollars, rather than in the thousands, they offer good water resistance. Many models have screw-down crowns and sapphire crystal.
The company has two Websites – one for Japan only, and one for the rest of the world. There are two product lines that are offered by the company that are exclusive to Japan – the Orient Star and the Orient Star Royal.
While those watches are officially only available for the Japanese market, they are available online from sellers such as eBay.
Seiko does not seem to do much to promote the Orient brand, and as such, they tend to have a rather low and quiet profile. The watches do have their fans, however, and Orient watches offer a good selection of styling and features at a very favorable price.
If you would like to own a Japanese watch but you either want to save money or you want to have something interesting that is not a common watch, Orient watches would be a good choice for you.