June 5, 2020
by Ariel Adams
Japan’s Orient Watch is technically owned by the Seiko group, but it’s not run by the same people who run Seiko watches. Orient has, for a long time, been popular with collectors new to timepieces or those seeking some of the absolutely best values in mechanical watches. Orient, like Seiko, has a higher-end version of its standard watches call “Orient Star.” Today on aBlogtoWatch, we review the Orient Star Classic Mechanical “Heritage Gothic” reference RE-AW0006S.
Orient watches have movements that are produced in-house and continue to represent one of the best values (cost-to-quality ratio) for in-house-made mechanical watches around today. For a number of years, that meant Orient customers needed to accept some drawbacks (for example many Orient movements could only wind automatically), but many of those issues are no longer relevant with the timepieces Orient produces. Over the last few years, Orient has upgraded the movements in many of its products, as well as streamlined the Orient timepiece collection. Orient is also undergoing a complex overhaul of its global marketing and distribution, so interesting things are afoot from the historic Japanese watch company.
If you recall, I said that Orient is owned by the larger Seiko conglomerate but not run by Seiko. If you look at the rear of the Orient Star Classic Mechanical, you’ll see the “Epson” logo printed on it. Epson is primarily a technology company but is part of the Seiko family, and it is Epson, not Seiko, that controls Orient. I’m not actually sure why that is, but it does help differentiate Orient watches and prevent consumers from falsely believing they use the same parts as Seiko.
The Orient Star Heritage Gothic reference RE-AW0006S is one of a few versions of the Orient Star Classic Mechanical with this case, dial, and movement. The other versions have different dial/case colors, and I believe the RE-AW0006S is among only a few versions that come on a matching steel bracelet. Watch aficionados will immediately see parallels between this dial design and that of the famed IWC Portuguese. Orient isn’t producing a 1:1 copy, by any means, but it is riding the attractive timelessness of IWC’s popular deck-style marine-themed watch. Orient also points out that the Heritage Gothic is inspired by watches it produced about 65 years ago, making these semi-retro-revival products.
The watch dial is really attractive, as it uses blue-coated (not flame blued, unfortunately) Arabic numeral hour markers and matching leaf-style hands. These elements effortlessly contrast with the silver-toned dial making for an exceptionally legible dress-style watch. The dial also includes a window for the date, as well as a subsidiary seconds dial and a handy power-reserve indicator.
On the wrist, the Orient Star Classic Mechanical is a sensible 38.7mm-wide in all polished steel, and 12.4mm-thick (with a mere 46mm lug-to-lug distance). That makes the size a bit on the petite side but very comfortable as a dress watch or with sleeves for most wrists. The case is also water-resistant to 50 meters. Over the dial is a slightly domed and AR-coated sapphire crystal.
The rear of the watch case has a window to the in-house “Made in Japan” caliber F6G42 automatic mechanical movement. It looks quite decent for this entry-level price and operates at 3Hz with about two days of power reserve. Notable to mention (given older Orient movements) is that the F6G42 is both hacking and hand-winding (in addition to automatic winding).
Attached to the steel case is a pretty decent (for the price) steel bracelet that mixes brushed links with some polished inner links. I call this bracelet “TAG Heuer” style as it is similar to a bracelet style TAG Heuer has used on a number of recent Carrera models. That said, this bracelet style is semi-generic, at this point. It is nice, but it doesn’t really add any distinction to the Orient Star Heritage Gothic’s personality.
As is the promise with most Japanese watches, the Orient Star Heritage Gothic offers a surprisingly sound wearing and performance experience for the price. The design is very universal and can make for a daily wear or an all-purpose dress or business watch. Watch lovers starting out or on a budget have always relied on Orient for great stuff, and nothing seems to have changed as the brand moves forward. Orient Star products will always have a bit more quality (and subsequently price) as compared to standard Orient timepieces, but even they are competitively attractive offerings when compared to what else is out on the market. Price for the Orient Star Heritage Gothic reference RE-AW0006S is $800 USD. Learn more at the Orient website here.
>Model: Orient Star Heritage Gothic (reference RE-AW0006S as tested)
>Price: $800 USD
>Size: 38.7mm-wide, 12.4mm-thick, and 46mm lug-to-lug distance.
>When reviewer would personally wear it: As a business watch when wearing sleeves and not wanting to stand out too much.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Watch lovers on a budget with smaller wrists who wants a good all-purpose dress watch on a bracelet.
>Best characteristic of watch: Excellent mixture of value and quality for the money. Design is very legible and elegant. Nice assortment of complications from the movement.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Design does not immediately suggest Orient product — but it isn’t going for that, per se. Orient might do well with a larger 41-42mm-wide version of these watches if they wanted to add another flavor.