January 22, 2022
by Ariel Adams
I’ve been reviewing Orient watches for nearly 15 years now, and this reference RE-AY0107N is among the fanciest models I have seen from the Japanese brand. The back of the watch says “Epson” on it, which is the same parent entity that owns Seiko watches. It is not correct to say Orient is a sub-brand of Seiko, but rather both brands are part of the same group, Orient being acquired by them a few years ago. Orient is another traditional Japanese watchmaker that produces in-house components such as movements.
Orient Star represents the brand’s higher-end watches next to the more mainstream Orient-labeled models. Orient watches are typically a few hundred dollars in price and Orient Star seems to be in the just over $1,000 segment, for the most part. The last Orient Star watch I reviewed was about a year ago and represented a totally different model with the Orient Star Diver’s 200m watch. Today I look at the dressier and more visually playful Orient Star reference RE-AY0107N, which has the unassuming generic name of “Mechanical Classic Watch.” Unlike the Seiko community, it doesn’t appear that too many timepiece fans have given Orient models nicknames that help lend these nice watches a bit more personality. I invite you to do so.
The RE-AY0107N is part of the Orient Star “Classic” collection and was recently debuted as a high-end model to help celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Japanese brand. It contains the in-house-made “flagship” movement that is the caliber F7M62 automatic, which Orient fans will be keen to appreciate. The movement is both visually attractive and offers functionality that people have been wanting from Orient for a while. The automatic movement operates at 3Hz, offering 50 hours of power reserve. The movement features an “open heart” view of the regulation system along with what is probably the nicest decoration I’ve personally seen in an Orient movement — accordingly, the presentation is rather good. That said, there are some minor refinement issues such as some inconsistencies with the perlage polishing and some small points of glue on the automatic rotor where the decorated plate is attached to the under-rotor segment. In all, these are relatively minor issues and nothing to really worry about at this price point.
Functionally, the F7M62 movement does a lot. It begins with a three-central-hand display for the hours, minutes, and seconds. I really like the classic style of the hour and minute hands, which is both visually appealing and really nicely polished. Under 12 o’clock on the dial is a power reserve indicator. Above 6 o’clock on the face is a combination dial that points to the date and also — for perhaps the first time — a real moon phase indicator.
I mention this last point because, in the past, movements like this from Orient didn’t have moon phase indicators but rather simpler day/night indicators that had a disc that spun fully each 24 hours and functioned as an AM/PM indicator. Moon phase indication systems are a bit more complicated (though it’s really just a matter of gearing), and it is nice to see Orient finally engineer its movements with this popular enthusiast complication. The moon phase is adjusted using an inset pusher on the side of the case. The overall presentation of the movement and its features is impressive for Orient, and I think people accustomed to similar presentations in Swiss watches costing a bit more will be happy with what Orient has been able to accomplish here.
The textured black dial has applied Roman numeral hour markers that, with the hands, provide excellent contrast for dial legibility. Orient offers the same “Classic” watch collection with both a white-colored dial (with different-shaped blued hands, as well as a blue mother-of-pearl dial that is probably rather nice. The polished steel case is 41mm-wide and about 14mm-thick with a 49mm lug-to-lug distance. The case is water-resistant to 50 meters and uses a nicely AR-coated sapphire crystal over the dial. Another sapphire crystal is placed on the rear of the case with a view to the automatic movement.
I like how the Orient Star Classic watch wears, although I do find it to be a bit on the thicker side if your objective is to wear it with a suit under sleeves. Nevertheless, the watch delivers on its promise to offer an elegant “classic” wristwatch-wearing experience. As is often the case, the strap paired with this Orient watch is not going to suit all wearing scenarios. The included 20mm-wide strap is shiny patent leather on an actually decent polished steel fold-over deployant clasp. While I suppose it is nice to have a glossy black leather strap for particular formal purposes (to match polished black leather shoes, for instance), I believe that a lot of wearers are going to want to replace the stock strap with something a bit more suitable to daily, non-formal wearing scenarios.
Similar to other Orient Star watches, distribution for these products is still quite limited, and getting them can be an adventure. You can get pretty much any Orient or Orient Star watch online from somewhere, but distribution is still a bit fragmented, and these watches are not widely available to everyone. That just makes them feel more interesting and a bit exclusive, which I think is a fine thing given that the Orient Star watches are still very much budget-priced.
Watch lovers on a budget or those who particularly admire Japanese wristwatch design and craft should take a long, hard look at Orient Star watches. The “Mechanical Classic” reference RE-AY0107N is a great option and shows where Orient’s finest fare is going. It includes one of its most impressive movements to date and represents an excellent value alternative to products from both other Japanese watch brands and competitors from Europe. Price for the Orient Star Mechanical Classic reference RE-AY0107N watch is $1,800 USD. Learn more at the Orient Watches website here.