As a recent birthday present to myself, I picked up a shiny new watch from Orient Watch's international line: the FFD0F004W, referred to as the Vintage by their main US dealer. I have two other watches, a Seiko SKX173 diver that's a little too casual for my current job, and a dressy Seiko 5 that's appropriate, but not totally in line with my style. I picked up this one because I wanted a watch that was both office-friendly and me-friendly -- and I'm not exactly an office-friendly kind of guy.
There aren't many reviews or photos of this model floating around, which lead me to seriously underestimate how nice it is. The stock image on orientwatchusa.com and elsewhere is, I'm pretty sure, a CAD rendering: watch companies, this is no doubt a lot easier than hiring a photographer, but it makes your products look like cheap plastic. The actual appearance of the watch was a pleasant surprise when I opened the box, but I would have made the decision to buy it a lot faster if I'd realized just how poorly the stock image represented it.
The watch is an automatic, like most Orients, with a clear back that displays the 46N45 movement inside. There's no hand-winding or hacking, but the weighted rotor is mounted on bearings, and winds the watch extremely quickly. I haven't had the watch long enough for the movement to have settled in, but so far it seems to keep time pretty well: on days that I've worn it, it's lost on average 2.5 seconds; on days I haven't, it's lost 5-8. That's accurate enough for me.
The face is described as being a cream or champagne color, and this is where the stock image falls down the hardest. The real thing has a reflective quality that makes the face seem more like a very light gold, with light catching the textures of the dial and hands in different ways at different angles. The hour markers and and power reserve meter are mirror-polished on the sides, and have extremely fine lines across their top surfaces. The hands are an iridescent cobalt blue that appear almost black from straight-on; they're luminescent, but not impressively so. (I may just be spoiled by my SKX173 on that one, though.)
The strap is dark brown leather with a deployment buckle; I'm no real judge of straps and buckles but I have no complaints about it. It has a sapphire crystal and a simple but well-machined case that's pretty close in size to my SKX173, 40mm wide and ~12mm thick. I personally think this is about the right size for a watch. The overall appearance is finely detailed and richly-colored, but without any sense of being a 'look at my watch' watch.
Note the different textures along the center and edge of the dial, and the guilloché pattern of the power reserve subdial. The hour markers and power reserve meter are finely lined as well.
I really have no complaints about the watch. I was really interested in some of Seiko's SARB models at first, but in the end I just couldn't justify spending $500 on a watch; comparing the FFD0F004W to the images I've seen of SARBs and Spirits online, I don't actually think I missed out on anything in terms of build quality or finish. Sure, I traded hacking and hand-winding for a power reserve, but after Orient USA's perpetual 50% off coupons, the FFD0F004W was $300 cheaper.
One thing I don't get about this watch is how Orient places it in their lineup. In Japan, Orient currently has three lines: Orient being entry-level, Orient Star mid-range, and Royal Orient top of the line. Until recently, only Orients were sold internationally, but some of them seemed to be very close cousins of Orient Star models. This watch is officially part of the Orient line, but if you showed me one for the first time and said it's from their mid-level line, my response would be "Obviously". The FFD0F004W is about twice as expensive as most of the other international Orients, and it actually arrived in an Orient Star box. I also find it interesting that several of the differences found in the article linked above -- applied hour markers and textured subdials -- are actually found on this watch. I'd be curious to know whether they'd brand it as an Orient Star if it had come out after they started selling those overseas.
The top of the Orient Star box the FFD0F004W came in.
So in case you can't tell, I'm extremely happy with the watch. I got this one directly from orientwatchusa.com, for $212 shipped using a 50% off coupons; Amazon is also an authorized dealer, and though their prices are closer to the 30% off mark, many of them are eligible for Amazon Prime's 2-day shipping. If this watch had been for sale there, I might would have gone through them -- I don't trust UPS Ground for expensive cross-country purchases, and they did in fact lose this one for a day. If you're closer to California than I am or have more faith in UPS than I do, orientwatchusa.com is definitely cheaper. But if you're on the fence about an Orient, as I was, I would definitely tell you that I have no buyer's remorse here. If anything, I regret not buying it a few weeks earlier -- and I would have, if I'd seen one in person.
Amazon: Orient FFD0F004W; alternately, in black or white