When it comes to Japanese watches, there are the Big Four: Seiko, Casio, Citizen, and Orient. But here’s the question – is Orient a good watch brand as said by many out there?
In this article, let’s see if Orient watches genuinely belong to the Big Four.
On top of that, let us also see if Orient watches are worth the hype and cult following that it currently has.
Is Orient a good watch brand? Orient is a unique, underrated watchmaker, popular with enthusiasts and collectors.
Orient does not try to produce many ‘me-too’ watches to ‘have a presence’ in all watch genres. Instead, they try to ‘re-imagine’ watches.
Their approach is to make the best of the past and combine it with modern design sensibilities.
As a result, Orient’s mechanical and automatic watches are popular and affordable.
For example, the Bambino or Mako are available in the $100-$500 price range.
As of 2021, Orient is part of the Seiko group, with other famous companies such as Epson, Wako, and Seiko.
History Of Orient
Early Days & Expansion
1901 is when Orient started. That year, Shogoro Yoshida opened a “Yoshida Watch Shop” in Ueno, Tokyo. The store sells imported pocket watches and did very well.
Yoshida later expanded his business and began manufacturing gold wristwatch cases in 1912. Toyo Tokei Manufacturing was set up to support further expansion in 1920.
After years of manufacturing table clocks and gauges, the company started producing wristwatches in 1934. The company built a larger factory in Hino, Tokyo, to support the expansion.
World War 2, however, devastated the company. With their factory destroyed, and no one able to purchase their watches, Toyo Tokei shut down in 1949.
Yoshida restarted the watchmaking business soon, setting up Tama Keiki Company in 1950. It took over, used the Hino factory, and attempted to rebuild the business.
In 1951, Tama Keiki renamed itself to Orient Watch Company, and in the same year released their first Orient Star watch. It made people take notice of them.
Orient started selling their watches overseas in 1955, at China.
On the product side, Orient released its first Royal Orient in 1960.
The 50s and 60s are Orient’s golden period. They released many iconic watches.
These include the Orient Dynamic (1956), the Grand Prix 100 (1964), and the Tenbeat (1970)
In 1967, Orient introduced the Fineness – the world’s thinnest automatic watch, with day and date function at the time.
During the Quartz Crisis in the 70s and 80s, Orient decided not to partake in the quartz race and focused on automatic watches instead.
This resulted in slower growth than companies such as Seiko or Citizen. Still, it resulted in Orient producing some of the best automatic watches at affordable prices.
The reputation remains with Orient to this day.
Does Seiko Own Orient Watches?
In 2001, Seiko Epson became the majority shareholder of the company.
You might see the name Seiko here, but Seiko does not own Orient.
This is because of the company structure.
The Seiko Group owns three holding companies – Seiko Holding Corporation, Seiko Instruments, and Seiko Epson.
Seiko Holding Corporation is the parent of Seiko Watch Company, while Seiko Epson is the parent of Orient Watch Company.
This means they belong to the same umbrella group (Seiko Group) but operate independently.
Where are Orient Watches Made?
Orient follows the path of the Big Four when it comes to the production of their watches.
Like Seiko, Citizen of Casio, Orient manufactures their watches entirely in-house.
Orient does not outsource production to outside companies. It manufactures and assembles its watches by itself.
Very few companies in the world could do this, not even some luxury Swiss watches.
This has resulted in full-quality control and cost savings, resulting in Orient producing great watches at lower prices.
Orient’s Japanese plants focus on higher-end models, such as the Orient Star. The ‘mother’ factory for Orient is at Yuzawa, Japan.
Small subsidiary factories also focus on producing parts such as movements, watch cases, bracelets, or crystals.
Orient does have factories overseas, in countries such as Brazil and China.
Is Orient Made In China?
Some people try to answer the question of is Orient a good watch brand by looking at where it is made.
Orient currently designs and manufactures all their watch parts in Japan, with foreign factories responsible for only assembly.
This means Orient’s movement, crystal, and parts are produced in Japan.
Therefore, there is probably no such thing as an Orient that is ‘Made in China.’
Perhaps the best term to describe this is to use the sentence ‘Assembled in China.’
Something along with the like of what you see in Apple’s devices – “Designed in California, Assembled in China.”
Regardless of the origins of the production of the watches, do remember that they all subscribe to Orient’s strict quality standards and are protected by Orient’s warranty.
That means you can own your Orient watch with peace of mind.
What Movements Does Orient Watches Use?
Orient watches usually come in two types of movements, automatic and Quartz.
Orient produces in-house movements that are robust, reliable and accurate.
One such movement is the F6922. F6922 is a self-winding movement with 22 jewels.
Many major Orient models such as the Mako, Ray uses this movement.
Orient’s quartz movements are available, for example, the 9MJ. But Orient is much more well known for its mechanical movements.
Orient Watches Reputation
Orient has a strong reputation.
They might lack the range and offerings from their Japanese rivals, such as Seiko or Citizen. Still, they made it up with exquisite timepieces at affordable pricing.
Watches such as the Bambino or Mako are very well made and are available in the $100-$500 price range.
More premium lines of Orient, such as Orient Star in general, start from $300 and do not go over $3,000.
Their watches are made from durable and anti-corrosive stainless steel, with multiple watch bands options such as metal, leather, or rubber.
Orient’s affordable watches are usually given mineral crystals, which means they might have scratch issues. Better ones will come with sapphire crystal.
Orient line of dress watches, as well as divers, are very well-loved by its’ enthusiasts. Their vintage watches are also reputable and well sought after in the collectors market.
Orient also offers sophisticated designs such as the famous Sun and Moon and Open Heart collections.
These watches come with skeletonization and unique materials for the dial at a very competitive price.
So when it comes to the question of is Orient a good watch brand, it is because it has good reputation.
Is Orient A High-End Watch?
In general, Orient is not to be considered as a high-end watch. Orient is a producer of quality watches at an affordable price.
They achieved this by moving production in-house and not spending too much on marketing or sponsorships.
You probably have never seen Orient watches ads on sporting events or TV Ads.
This caused Orient watches to be less known and, in some ways, helped it become an enthusiast’s watch.
People who are serious about watches would know about Orient.
Those who do not know much could probably throw names such as Seiko, Casio, Rolex, or Omega, but they might not name Orient.
This means if you own an Orient, you are more likely to be recognized as a watch enthusiast that ‘knows his stuff.’
From there, you might earn a degree of respect from another watch enthusiast.
What Are Orient Watches’ Collections?
Orient watch collections could be divided into:
- Orient Star
This collection features watches with classic and timeless designs.
The watches are sleek, premium, and professional for work, casual, and formal events.
Some of the most impressive watches in this line are the Sun and Moon models. The dress watches have intricate designs, with complications such as showing the moon phase.
There is also the Sun and Moon Petite – for those with smaller wrists (or ladies).
Bambino refers to a series of affordable and straightforward dress watches with classic, timeless designs. Orient is probably most known for this line of watches.
Many people got introduces them to the world of Orient watches through a Bambino
The Bambino has been undergoing updates and design changes over the years. They are now at version 5 (at the time of writing).
It is a 40.5mm stainless steel watch with domed crystal and automatic movement. The hands, dial markers, and color combinations made the watch feel a lot more expensive than it actually is.
Bambino comes in many variations. Therefore, it may pay to shop around to find the variations you love.
This collection represents Orient’s lines of dive and sports watches.
Models such as the Mako, Ray, Kamasu, Triton, and Defender are fine examples within this category.
The Mako II USA is one of the most exciting watches in this line.
Orient basically asked a group of watch enthusiasts in Reddit what are they looking for. Taking their suggestions, Orient created the Mako II.
It features stainless steel bracelet, solid end links, sapphire crystal, and Orient’s legendary F6922 automatic movement.
Many watch enthusiasts also place Orient Mako as the direct competitor to the Seiko SKX’s line of dive watches.
This collection represents Orient’s most premium timepieces.
They didn’t hold back on this collection. They added many complications and also upgraded the materials used.
In this collection, you can start seeing things like GMT, power reserve indicators, skeletons, and more refined design added in.
One great example is the RE-AY0005A. It features automatic movement with moon phase, open heart, and power reserve indicator.
Orient Watches: Pros & Cons
Is Orient a good watch brand, without flaws?
Of course not. No matter how great a watch company is, they still have issues.
Let’s check out and pros and cons of Orient.
Orient Watch Pro: Excellent Pricing, Good Quality
Orient’s watches such as the Bambino generally do not cost more than $300.
But do not be surprised if people would guess they are worth thousands.
Such is the value you get from Orient watches.
On top of that, Orient watches are robust, reliable, and do not require too much maintenance.
An occasional visit to the watchmaker should be fine to keep it running well.
Orient Watch Pro: They Listen
It is not too common to hear companies asking their customer what they want these days.
Orient did that. In fact, they did it in the most informal way possible by asking watch enthusiasts on Reddit.
That effort resulted in the Orient Mako II USA.
This shows that Orient is a company that listens and tries to give the best value to their customers.
Orient Watch Pro: A Great Start
It is often said that for many people, their love of watches started when they purchased a cheap automatic watch.
For some (including yours truly), it was a Seiko 5. For many others, they started with the Bambino.
This brings the point – if you intend to get someone started with watch appreciation or collecting, give them a Bambino. It’s cheap, beautiful, reliable, and looks exquisite.
They would be captivated by its craftsmanship and details and the ticking sounds it makes.
You can also always suggest someone new in watches to purchase a Bambino.
Orient Watch Cons: Crystals
Cheaper Orient watches, at times, can skimp on crystals. Using mineral crystals instead of sapphire.
This contrasts with Seiko, who uses their proprietary Hardlex crystals for lower-end models.
Mineral crystals do not stand up to scratches well, which means you need to be more careful when wearing your Orient.
However, you can always replace the crystal with a good sapphire crystal by visiting a watchmaker.
Do Orient Watches Appreciate In Value?
Some models of Orient watches are worth collecting, although in general, they do not appreciate as rapidly as Swiss models.
Specific models such as the Orient Kamasu, Mako, or Triton could be collected as collectors are well sought after.
Orient Star watches could also appreciate in the future.
Dive watch collectors often hunt for the variations of Seiko dive watches but would take notice of Orient’s Divers.
If you are a vintage watch hunter yourself, vintage Orient Worldtimer would be a great place to start.
It fetches high prices in the market and, according to a vintage watchmaker, is made well on the inside.
Do Orient Watches Last?
With minimal servicing, Orient watches can last a long time.
If you service it after a few years, you can stretch the watch’s lifetime much longer.
The issue, however, is the price of servicing the watch.
Servicing a watch is not an easy thing to do. A watchmaker has to strip the watch, inspect, and clean the individual parts.
Then the watchmaker will reassemble it, replacing worn parts if needed.
Which means the cost could be high.
When you look into Orient watches, they are not too expensive.
That means instead of paying $200 for servicing, you could instead go buy a new Orient instead.
So many actually arrive at the same conclusion and use the watch until it breaks without servicing it.
This is something you need to think about after a few years of owning your Orient.
How Long Is Orient Warranty?
Orient offers a one-year warranty on their watches (automatic and Quartz).
The warranty covers repairs and possible replacement of the watch if the defect results from the manufacturing and production process.
If the defect is caused by your usage, it is not covered.
Where To Buy Orient Watches?
At their online store, you can view the complete collection by category and be assured of the genuineness of the watches you purchase.
You can also view and check their arrivals so much faster and stay up to date with their offerings.
If you purchase directly from Orient’s boutique, you get to see the watch in real and try it on.
However, the boutique might not have the exact watch model you are looking for, so it might help to call in and check first before visiting.
Another location to consider is Amazon.
The best thing about shopping for Orient watches on Amazon is knowing it is genuine. Amazon has strict policies on fakes, so you will be protected.
Aside from that, you also get to read user reviews.
We recommend shopping for Orient watches with at least 4 out of 5 stars for your peace of mind.
How To Spot A Fake Orient Watch
Spotting a fake Orient is similar to spotting most other fake watches:
- If buying from a used market, ask to see the warranty card, box, and accessories. A responsible seller should always have them.
- Always match the serial number of the manual and warranty cards with the watch. They should match. If no, ask the seller why.
- If you can hold the watch in hand, give the watch a thorough visual inspection. Are there any flaws or defects that might not fit Orient’s manufacturing standards?
- Check on the spellings, letterings, and logo used on the watch face, case back, and buckles. Misspellings or wrong logo could mean fakes.
- Check the watch’s serial number with Orient. You can also take the watch directly to an Orient boutique and ask them to help check the serial number.
- Always take the watch to a watchmaker to verify authenticity when in doubt. Open up the watch and inspect the movement to confirm it is from Orient.
The key is to trust but always verify.
Orient’s stellar reputation has resulted in imitation and fake watches carrying their name.
Therefore, it pays to be careful when shopping for Orient watches.
There are many watches worth recommending from Orient, but here are five to get you started:
Here we have a bona fide classic, the best dress watch for starters. Features hand-winding and hackable automatic movement. 40+ hours power reserve. Domed mineral crystal with genuine leather strap, with pin and buckle clasp.
41mm diameter watch in a stainless steel case. Features an F6922 Orient automatic movement, with hand winding and hacking. Watch holds 40+ hours of power reserve and is water-resistant up to 200m (660ft). Also features a 120-click unidirectional bezel.
A fun watch, with changing colors on the hour hand and marks. 41mm stainless steel with Ion plating coating, with mineral crystal for protection. Water-resistant up to 50M (165ft), with a date window at the 3 o’clock position.
38mm stainless steel case and bracelet. Runs on F6N43 automatic movement with hand winding and hacking and power reserve indicator. Features a date window at the 3 o’clock position. 100M (330 ft) water-resistant.
Often said to be the best homage of the Rolex Daytona ‘Paul Newman’. It features a 42mm diameter case in stainless steel. The watch operates on an Orient’s Solar power movement. Also, the watch comes with a stainless steel bracelet with 10 Bar water resistance.
So, Is Orient A Good Watch Brand?
After all the talk, let’s come back to the question: is Orient a good watch brand?
The answer is a solid YES.
Orient is very well known to be makers of some of the best-value mechanical and automatic watches.