History of Orient – An Independent Subsidiary of Seiko

orient Japanese watchmaker

Orient is one of the big 4 in the timepiece industry in Japan. They mainly focus on producing mechanical wristwatches. With milestone models such as Grand Prix 100 (1964), Fineness (1967), Power Reserve (1996), Orient has proved their accuracy and reinforced the reputation as the best brand for affordable mechanical watches with in-house movements.

Orient watch was founded in Hino, Tokyo, Japan. (July 13th 1950). It has been a subsidiary of Seiko since 2001 but its wristwatches are designed and manufactured separately from Seiko (For more info about Seiko’s history and their admirable craftsmanship, check out this article: Best Seiko Dive Watches by Robert Donat)

The history of Orient started since 1901 when Shogoro Yoshida opened a watch shop in Ueno Tokyo. At first, he just imported pocketwatches. In 1912, he expanded his business by making wristwatch cases. In 1920, he started Tokyo Tokei Manufacturing which originally produced clocks. In 1934, the company began manufacturing wristwatches.  It had achieved high growth until the eruption of the World War II. Due to the crisis after the war, the factory had to close in 1949. But just one year later Tokyo Tokei Manufacturing was reborn as Tama Keiki Co. Ltd in Hino.

History

Orient differentiate themselves from other timepiece makers in Japan by producing all their movements and most components of the watch in-house. Here are some important milestones in their history:

In 1951, the managements decided to change Tama Keiki Co. Ltd into Orient Watch Co., Ltd. They produced their first wristwatch, the Orient Star. The name reflects their desire to create a watch which shines like a star not only in term of design but components and quality. Orient’s later classic model like Jupiter and Dynamic was inspired by this model. It has two hands and a subdial to indicate second.

In 1956, Orient released its first timepiece with three hands united in a center pivot. The modern dial was said to have been made by a craftman who craved Arabic numbers on a piece of soap with a razor until the designers satisfied.

In 1960, Orient premier brand, Orient Royal was launched. It was simple but intricate and elegant, which is still a standard of classic and elegant design.

In 1965, Grand Prix 100, the domestic wristwatch with most jewels at that time. The movement had 89 rubies and 11 sapphires.

1967: In the 1960s, timepiece makers were in a race trying to create a thinner wristwatch. Orient succeeded in making the world’s thinnest watch for its time, with proper day and date calendar functions. Fineness model had a 3.9mm movement.

1976, Orient released its first LED watch, the Touchtron.

1979: A new step in manufacturing watches with ultimate accuracy. Orientron Just had an internal IC which memorized the time spent to adjust the watch. It turned the second hand to the correct position when the wearer finished adjusting.

In 2003, the Orient Technical Center (OTC) was established and began assembling luxury wristwatches.

In 2005, Orient launched their first professional dive watches which can satisfy the most demanding diving requirements. This model can work well under 300meter deep. They consisted of  highly shock resistant movements and corrosion resistant dials.

Product lines

Having a narrow range of products line is not a disadvantage for Orient. Their classic and basic mechanical watches are considered a bargain.

Some well-known Orient product lines:

  • Orient Bambino (ER):  Classic and simple

orient bambino

  • Orient Mako and Ray (CEM):  affordable dive watches

orient mako and ray

  • Orient Pro Saturation Diver : Watches for pro divers.

orient saturation pro diver

  • Orient Star : High-class dress watches

orient star

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