Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Review of Orient Star GMT DJ00001B Star Seeker

The focus for this review is the GMT DJ00001B nicknamed Star Seeker by Orient USA. This model is positioned as the flagship model for Orient Star with a build and MSRP to match.

Orient Star is positioned as Orient’s mid-tier line. Although higher priced than the more affordable standard Orients, you can expect much better build quality, construction and materials. There was a time when Orient Star was exclusive to JDM models, even to the point with the 300M Saturation Diver, Orient manufactured two different dials so that the Orient Star dial would remain in Japan while the standard Orient dial was sold in rest of world. For the most part, those days are past us with many, but not all Orient Star models available in the US market.

Key features of this model include the independent GMT complication, power reserve indicator, and stunning case and dial construction.

The dial is a glossy, jet black with a very subtle sunburst effect. The text printing is very clean and crisp. There are multiple layers to the dial with the triangular field of the power reserve indicator being the deepest section of the dial. This same field also has a radial pattern similar to a vinyl record which I have seen used on many other Orient Star dials to help differentiate this area from the rest of the dial. The power reserve indicator field is separated from the rest of the dial by what looks to be a gigantic radial wall of chrome which has the upper surface matte finished with the index for the hours of remaining power. This gage is so large it could be considered comical, but I have to say that it somehow works with the overall aesthetic of the dial.

The hour index markers are applied on another layer of the dial above that of the main dial field. The index markers are the standard baton type common with many Japanese watches. The top of each marker is very finely finished with machined lines similar to that seen with the Seiko SARB021, but much the lines are much finer. So fine that they are difficult to see with the naked eye. The effect of this is show the reflective edges of each marker, while the upper surface is not reflective but also delivers a subtle prismatic effect to the light. Very cool. The hands are standard Orient hands. I've seen them used before on many other models. They work well here as well. The GMT hand is a bold red, but is also skinny. Easy to find when you need it and not obstructive at other times.

There is a 24 hour scale on the main field of the dial. I don’t find that very useful as the numbers are small and obscured by everything else on the dial. Fortunately Orient included another 24 hour scale on the interior bezel. This bezel is also adjustable in both directions by the 4 oclock crown which enables the tracking of a third time zone. This adjustable 24 hour scale on mine could use some work as the printed hours do not line up perfectly for some reason. Its not a serious issue, but for something with this price tag I would expect it to be cosmetically perfect.

The crystal is an anti-reflective coated sapphire. Very nice and helps showcase the wonderful dial with minimal glare.

The case on this model is one of my favorites. Orient really pulled out the stops with this one. Not only is there the mix of brushed and polished finishes which seems to be more and more common these days, the polished area is also milled to be concave to the rest of the case. It looks very nice and helps differentiate this model from many others. Aside from that the finish on the case is fairly stoic. To my surprise though it is fairly thick and chunky which is probably accentuated somewhat by the heavier lugs. The bezel is a simply polish. The two crowns have a nicely milled texture and are separated by something resembling a crown guard. This does not seem to serve any purpose. I’m not sure why the designers felt to add this bit. Perhaps it was to help people from thinking this is a chronograph. In case you are wondering, the 2 oclock crown controls winding, GMT, main time and GMT time setting while the 4 oclock crown is used for the adjustable 24 hour index. Oddly the 2 oclock crown does not screw down while the 4 oclock crown does. The caseback is an exhibition showcasing the moderately finished movement.

The bracelet is a true 5 link oyster. There’s something I like about true separate mulit link bracelets. There is some lateral flex to the bracelet which I would expect to be a little tighter, but its ok for now. End links are solid and the clasp is nicely forged with 3 micro adjustment holes.

The movement is Orient’s in house 40P50 caliber with the typical 6 beats per second. I received mine second hand and the initial time keeping was not very good exceeding 30 seconds per day deviation. I decided to regulate this one and I am quite proud of myself getting the accuracy to within a few seconds per day and with the natural changes in deviation I can keep it within a few seconds of a quartz watch for a couple of weeks. The handwinding is a nice feature, especially with a non-screwdown crown because it is easy to give the watch a daily wind and its really cool to see the power indicator hand slowly move to the 40.

I don’t normally make a point of discussing the presentation because Japan doesn’t seem to spend much interest in boxes, but the presentation of this Orient Star was a nice surprise. Leatherette, pillow and nested leatherette boxes look very nice, especially for that first reveal. Now of course it is in the closet shelf with all the other boxes, but it was nice at the time.

The MSRP for this model is currently $1,100 US. At the typical 30% discount, I’d say its worth it. The model has a lot going for it where I feel comfortable with that price although taking the plunge sight unseen is not for the timid. What I do recommend is picking one of these up second hand. I don’t normally buy second hand, but at the time I decided to get one new, I happened to stumble on one on the forums used at such an incredible price it was worth the risk. I’m almost embarrassed what I paid for an example of a hardly, if ever worn model. I’ve since seen several others list for about the same price so that seems to be the going rate. Orients typically don’t hold their value well, but jeeze I feel bad for the guy who takes that much of a hit on a flip.

Crystal diameter -- 35mm
Bezel diameter -- 40mm
Case diameter -- 41mm
Diameter with crown -- 44mm
Lug width -- 21mm
Lug to lug -- 49mm
Thickness -- 14mm
Weight 160g


Gorga Naibaho said...

Nice review! This is one of the OS models that I like very much, although I probably won't be able to get one in the very near future. Will bookmark this article for future reference. Yeah it's sad to know that Orients don't hold their value well, but from what I have seen with the 4 Orient watches I got so far, they're all keepers anyway.

ptolemy said...

The dual and bazeless design reminds me of alpinist. :)