History Of Orient
Posted 07 January 2009 - 08:22 PM
Posted 08 January 2009 - 12:48 AM
"Ryan" over at SCWF had a comprehensive history of Orient presented in in two (maybe three) parts back in 2001. Trying to access them now results in an internal server error.
Here's the google search to find them.. http://www.google.co... ... Part ryan
A Japanese collector (firstname.lastname@example.org) has some really nice photographs of some important Orients. Here are the (Google Translated) links
http://126.96.36.199... ... b-orus2n7g
http://188.8.131.52... ... t26ZXc7xdw
http://184.108.40.206... ... 3TEIJUu5NA
I have a little bit of information gathered from here and there about Orient which may be of assistance which I emailed to you.
Also, Orient Watch in Japan recently produced a domestic catalogue with a short history of their watches. It's downloadable on their site but I can't seem to locate it at the moment
Anyone is welcome to use my photos but please put them in your own (Photobucket) account. Please do not link to my Photobucket Account.
Posted 08 January 2009 - 12:55 AM
Anyone is welcome to use my photos but please put them in your own (Photobucket) account. Please do not link to my Photobucket Account.
Posted 08 January 2009 - 09:19 AM
I have saved the text when it was still available (no photos were there anymore at that time), so here it is:
FIRST AND LAST
First and last, it is important to realize that the watches Orient sells domestically in Japan are much different from the ones they sell abroad. Orient is a manufacturer with two faces, but a commitment to quality mechanical watches at reasonable prices is the heart of the company.
Looking at the domestic side, Orient produces fine mechanical timepieces which have finely finished automatic and handwinding movements.
On the export side, Orient sells low-priced mechanicals which are appreciated by people in places like Russia, South America and the Middle East.
Contrast this with the other two big Japanese watch making companies, Seiko and Citizen.
Seiko stopped selling mechanical watches in their domestic Japanese market for less than about $1,000 in the late 1990's. If you want to buy a new Seiko mechanical in Japan, you'll have to pay as much OR MORe than you would for a Zenith.
Regarding Citizen, well, ... I don't believe Citizen makes ANY mechanical watches for sale in Japan.
THE ORIENT WATCH COMPANY'S GOLDEN YEARS
It's difficult to recognize our "golden years" while were living them. Usually, it's only in hind sight that we realize a special period in our lives.
I have a feeling that 2001 was a special year in the history of Orient Watch Company.
2001 Orient Royal handwinding Model WZ0021EG. Note the "power reserve indicator."
On the one hand, the current line-up of Orient's domestic watches is the finest ever. On the other, the company struggles with high corporate debt, falling sales and the possibility of being taken over by Seiko Corporation.
This quality of "contradiction," of a dual nature, has been a primary feature of Japan's "number three watch maker" since its emergence into the modern era in the 1950's. It is one of the things which endears it to fans of the company and their watches.
Orient's latest domestic catalog lists 15 different models, with a total of 35 variations of those models (different case & dial colors). Of those 15 models, a total of 12 feature automatic movements, with three different models of handwinding watches.
ALL are mechanical watches. Prices begin at about $225 and up to $1,250. Most are priced somewhere in the middle.
Six of the models feature a movement which has a "power reserve indicator" at the 12 o'clock position.
Recently, when working on a translation of the development in 1997 by Seiko of the 6S caliber Credor movements, I was surprised to learn that the power reserve indicator feature is actually a very complicated mechanism.
That is because although all the parts within a mechanical watch movement are moving in a clockwise motion, the power reserve indicator must move in both a clockwise and counter clockwise direction.
Orient has made the power reserve indicator a standard feature on many of it's mechanical watches. This is actually quite impressive considering their reasonable prices.
Back of 2001 Orient handwinding. Note detailed finishing.
1901 -- Mr. Shogoro Yoshida opened Yoshida Watch Store in Ueno, Tokyo. At this time in Japan, a watch store imported watches from abroad, sold them, and also repaired them. Many of the repair parts had to be hand made, so people who worked in watch stores gained valuable skills in how watches were made.
1920 -- Yoshida founded the Toyo Tokei Sei Saku Sho factory. ("Toyo" means " Orient " in the Japanese language.) It was a small factory which made clocks and other mechanical instruments.
1934 -- Toyo's new Kamio factory in Saitma Prefecture began producing watches. These watches were made with many imported parts. The Japanese Imperial Army ordered many of these watches.
1936 -- Toyo's Hino factory in Tokyo opens and begins producing watches.
During World War II -- Toyo Watch Company changed it's name to Toyo Weapon Industries and began making bomb detonators and cannons.
1940 photo of Toyo factory in Tokyo
POST WORLD WAR II
After the war the Toyo Watch Company was re-established, but the post-war economic depression in Japan and the general confusion which prevailed in the country left the company without clear direction.
1950 -- Calling themselves Tama Instruments Corporation, began making watches in the Hino factory. Production only at about 1,500 units per month. Primarily produced watches with minute and hour hand only, though some featured a small second hand sub-dial at the 6 o'clock position.
1951 -- Changed name to Orient Watch Company.
FOUR INFLUENTIAL WATCHES RELEASED IN THE MID-50'S
In 1955, the Orient Hinomatic with three hands at center was released. In November of that year, a newspaper featured the watch in an article which caused a lot of interest.
1955 Orient Hinomatic Sports
Seiko released it's first watch with three hands at the center position, the Seiko Super, in 1948. But the Seiko Super had a very small movement (30mm case-style), and there were problems with it's accuracy. In 1950, Seiko released a 33mm Super which set a new standard.
Orient "caught up" to Seiko in 1955. Another noteworthy thing about the Orient Hinomatic Sports was its a hacking feature.
The following year, Orient released the Jupiter. This watch had a very nice design and a reliable movement, but was very moderately priced.
Orient's domination of the "low price range" began with the release of this watch. This is one "face" Orient shows to this day. New Orient watches in this tradition are seen daily on eBay selling for around $50.
1956 Orient Jupiter
Orient Jupiter's handwinding movement
The year previous to this watch's release, Orient had signed a contract with China to export watches like these to Japan's large neighbor.
In 1958, Orient also signed contracts to export watches to Iran and Canada, and set up an office New York City. Though Orient was usually at least one or two years behind Seiko and Citizen in other respects, it pioneered exporting Japanese watches to foreign counries.
Even in the West at this time, Orient watches were known as rarely having problems or needing repairs while being much cheaper than Swiss and American brands.
In 1957 and 1958, Orient turned its other "face" towards its domestic market and created two watches designed to compete with Seiko and Citizen's best.
These were the Orient Mars, and the Orient Royal.
The Mars had beautifully stylized dials in several variations, and came in gold and stainless steel versions. Whereas the Jupiter retailed for as little as 3,000 yen, the 21 jewel Mars sold for 9,770 yen.
1957 Orient Mars
The year after the release of the Mars, the Royal Orient appeared.
The Royal featured a thinner case and larger size case diameter. Whereas the Mars was a "T type" #10 case, the Royal was a "N type" #12. It was designed to compete with the Seiko Chronos and the Citizen "S" for the hearts of the Japanese watch-buying public.
The Royal Orient also had an "Antishock" movement.
1958 Orient Royal
Part II, to follow soon, will focus on Orient in the 1960's, briefly touch on the 1970's, and speculate about the company's current status and future.
Sources of information and scans will be included at the end of Part II.
WHEN YOU'RE NO. 3 YOU TRY HARDER
All of the watches in the current Orient Star domestic catalog are mechanical. Most models come in three dial color variations (for example your choice of a black dial version, white, or blue). Most feature either "power reserve indicator" or see-thru caseback with a finely decorated movement. Many come in a solid wood box.
Orient has always been Japan's No. 3 watch maker, behind Seiko and Citizen, and I would argue that they have always tried harder to win customers as well.
Power reserve indicator
Some of these efforts have been focused on providing "extras," for no extra charge, as listed above.
Other efforts, though, have been concentrated on producing unique (or perhaps "quirky" is a better word) designs which many would consider in bad taste.
THE COMPANY GROWS UP
Orientmade a natural progression as a watch maker following the 1955 release of the Hinomatic with three hands at the center.
1961 -- First Orient automatic movement watch is released. The "Super Auto," which was described as being "perfect self winding."
1961 -- First Orient with a date widow at 3 o'clock was released, the "Royal Calendar Orient."
1962 -- The Orient "Swimmer" was released, designed to be "perfect water proof."
1963 -- The Orient "Olympic Weekly" released. It has a day feature, as well as date.
1967 -- The Orient "10 Beat" with 10 beats per second is released. This is a very rare model, and is highly collectible.
1974 -- Working with Sharp Company, Orient released an LCD Quartz digital watch.
1985 -- Began working with Seiko/Epson to make printers.
An example of the trend of making world-class watches for their domestic market is the 1967 Orient Fineness. This watch was very thin & stylish.
Orient Fineness. Note the unique day/date feature.
It featured a 35 jewel movement (OrientCal. 3900/3991), and a one-piece case design (you had to open the watch thru the crystal to get to the movement).
Orient Fineness side view
Orient produced many watches such as the Fineness during the 1960's. Watches which were stylish & classically designed.
On the other hand, Orient also produced many eccentric designs as well.
A good example of the trend, which also contiues to this day, of making some watches which many consider gaudy is the Orient "Flash."
The watch, released in 1958, had a battery inside, as well as a handwinding mechanical movement. The battery activated a night light so the time could be read in the dark. Of the big three Japanese watch companies, only Orient made a watcxh like this.
Orient Flash. Note the "diamond cut case & reflecting ring."
The watch which was considered the "ultimate strange watch" by magazines which reviewed it at the time of its 1964 released was the "Grand Prix 100."
Orient Grand Prix 100 dial
Although the dial looks conservative, the movement had 100 jewels! Many of the jewels, were ... um, ... perhaps unnecessary?
Orient Grand Prix 100 movement
Finally, there is the Orient "King Diver 1000m" to consider. When released in 1969, a watch which was safe for use at this depth was almost unheard of. It was unique.
Orient King Diver 1000m
Unfortunately, the crown construction was not all it should have been for a watch used at this depth. One writer noted it's better to consider it "strongly waterproof" than safe for use under 100 meters.
ORIENT IN THE 1970'S
Perhaps not surprisingly, there isn't a lot of information about Orient in the '70's.
Needless to say, Orient faced the same problems as every other watch making company from Japan to Switzerland: "how to respond to Seiko Quartz"?
1970 Orient factory
As noted above, since Orient didn't have it's own quartz or liquid crystal display technology, it partnered with Sharp (the Japanese maker of electronics) to produce digital quartz watches.
Orient LCD watch
Orient's niche was making watches which also had a game function, such as the soccer game digital watch shown above.
1978 Orient factory
ORIENT IN THE NEW MILLENNIUM
Orient's sales of watches dropped 31.5% in the period from April 1 to Sept. 30, 2001. This figure compares sales with the same period in the year 2000.
"Kaisha Shikiho" Jan. 16, 2002 Orient stock report
The only bright spot was in Russia and the Middle East, where sales improved 9.2%
Orient is involved in three different areas, watches, jewelry, and IC.
In 2001, jewelry sales were down 68.9%, although this is a very small part of Orient's business. The printer business was off 2.2%. Another bright spot, however, was production of celluar phone parts, with sales up 6.1%.
New Orient calendar watch. Export model.
As for the next calendar year (2002), "Kaisha Shikiho" forecasts a 0% profit projection.
This is bad news for Orient, since if things don't turn around soon they will be forced off Japan's second largest stock market, the "Tokyo Nibu," which includes 573 companies. Without more support from Seiko/Espon, this may very well happen. Orient stock has been traded on this market for a long time.
Detailing of Orient Star Royal crown & dial
In 2001, Seiko/Espon went from 31% ownership of Orient stock in March to 52%. However, Seiko itself is in a serious position right now. Shareholders in the company received no dividend checks again this year (myself included, I own Orient stock too because I believe in the products they make in Japan).
In a recent issue of a Japanese finacial magazine which listed the Top 100 Japanese firms with high debt, Seiko was listed as number 93. That's a distiction few would want. "Kaisha Shiho" speculates there is a chance of Seiko going bankrupt if sales don't increase, or if another company doesn't infuse capital into the company.
FUTURE OF ORIENT
The future of Orient (and Seiko as well) is really up in the air. Things don't look good, however. This is particularly ironic, since Orient has a history of making fine watches and continues to do so to this day.
Posted 09 January 2009 - 01:58 AM
Posted 22 July 2010 - 07:11 PM
Although forgotten by most, and rarely mentioned (except in hushed tones), in the late 1980's and 1990's ....
Orient also produced some rather nice quartz chronographs - in collaberation with Seiko / Epsom.
I first encountered one of the Orient '7A38's (they refer to them as J39's) early in 2010.
I'd seen a couple of mentions made of it on the old Seiko and Citizen Watch forum (SCWF).
Once I'd been fortunate enough to prize it from the then current owner, I emailed Orient ....
asking what they could tell me about it (but not mentioning Seiko, at all).
This is the typically polite reply which I subsequently received:
We received your e-mail dated 15th Feb., 2010, thank you very much.
With reference to the model J39601, please find following.
This model J39601 seems to be produced on around 1987-1988, at our Hino factory, Japan.
Its movement is J3920, please find attached PDF.
Case & bracelet material : Stainless Steel
Water resistant to 100m
We had several type of J39 chronograph models until 1990 year, but it is regret to say that we do not have such records in hand now.
Please feel free to contact us if you have any other questions.
Thanks and best regards.
Orient Watch Co., Ltd.
I went on to discover other Orient / Seiko quartz chrono collaberations using Seiko's 7T32 and 7T62 calibers.
You'll find some mention of the latter, at least, on WatchUSeek (amongst other places - including this forum).
Some watches simply aren't made to last.
Seiko watches are designed to withstand the ravages of both time and fashion.
Some day, perhaps, all watches will be made this way.
Posted 21 January 2012 - 06:40 PM
What is the meaning of the Orient`s logo ?
Posted 22 March 2012 - 11:40 AM
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