Monday, November 28, 2016

Orient Star Open Heart Tonneau DAAA004W or WZ0121DA (other options DAAA002T/WZ0131DA, DAAA003B/WZ0151DA & DAAA001W/WZ0141DA) – A Suave Timepiece, A Review (plus Video)

This is my first tonneau shaped wristwatch. The Orient Star Open Heart Tonneau with reference number DAAA004W (or WZ0121DA in Japan) has a vertical cross-section barrel shaped casing seldom used by watch manufacturers due to a number of reasons. It has the classical aura of a formal timepiece which I find very appealing. This particular model was released back in April 2014.

Age must be getting to me. During the start of my watch collection hobby I was keened on dive or sports watches. Formal or dress wristwatches were seldom in my radar. However, in recent times, my interest in dress watches started to grow and I have been shifting my focus towards that genre ever since.

The Orient Star Open Heart Tonneau is a stainless steel construction with polished and brushed surfaces. It has mirror finished top surface and a matte finished side. It has a curved sapphire crystal glass with anti-reflection coating protecting the dial and a flat crystal glass as a display case-back. The case-back panel is attached to the watch casing via four screws. The signed push-in crown is located at 3 o’clock and the watch comes with a power reserve complication. It is powered by an automatic engine that can be manually wound. The wristwatch is paired with a black matte calf leather strap with crocodile embossing and signed buckle.

The dimensions of the watch are rather on the higher side relative to other formal timepieces. It is 47.00 mm long and 37.00 mm wide. It has a varying thickness from just 9.75 mm at the edge up to 13.00 mm at the center of the watch. This is caused by the curved sapphire crystal glass. As such, the length coupled with the height makes it sit high on the wrist. Those with smaller wrist may find wearing this watch rather awkward. Meanwhile, the lug size is a rather unique 23.00 mm wide. Nevertheless, a 22 mm after-market strap fits in nicely. Overall, the watch weighs in at 82 grams.

The dial is all white. It has an area bordered by the hour markers with embossed vertical stripes. The markers at the 12 o’clock and the 6 o’clock are substituted with Roman numerals. There is no marker for the 9 o’clock position. Instead, a circular aperture traced with polished stainless steel which allows one to view the escapement mechanism on the movement is positioned there. This is the open-heart designed incorporated into this particular model.

Just below the 12 o’clock is the power reserve indicator. The scale is in hours from 0 to a maximum of 40 hours in 10 hour increments. The hand for the power reserve indicator is not painted with luminous paint.

The watch comes with the standard 3 hands. Both the hour and minute hands have sections painted with luminous paint. At the end of each marker, closer to the edge of the dial, a dot with luminous paint was also added for ease of referencing in the dark.

On the dial there are only two rows of text plus a logo. All of these are located on the bottom half of the dial. The Orient Star logo as well as in name are made out of polished stainless steel. The second row of text is the words “JAPAN” as well as some production codes in very small font size. In recent times, watch makers are more often than not put a lot of information on the dial. For a dress watch, this is not the direction that manufacturers should follow. Instead, a minimal amount of text on the dial is preferable.

The signed crown has the Orient Star logo stamped on its top. It has a nice polished surface and gear tooth sides to facilitate grip. Meanwhile, the lugs have pass-through pinholes. The traditional way of trying to maneuver the strap changing tool could cause it to accidentally scratched the surface of the watch. By having the pass-through pinholes, it helps facilitates an easy strap changing experience with small likelihood of ‘accidents’. I definitely endorse this style of lug design.

The back of the watch is where you can see the magic happening. The display case-back with a circular crystal glass window is fixed in place with four screws. Around the viewing port, some basic information about the watch is printed on. Note the water rating of 5 ATM or 50 meters for this model.

Through the display case-back you can see the Orient Caliber 40R54 at work. This made in Japan movement is totally designed as built in-house by Orient. It is an automatic movement with hand winding capabilities. It has a built-in clutch to engage a halt mechanism for the second hand when adjusting the time. This clutch is engaged when the crown is pulled out of its rest position. The watch can be manually wound when in the rest position.

The Caliber 40R54 has 22 jewels and operates at the 21,600 VPH or 3 Hertz range. It has a reported daily accuracy of between +25 to -15 seconds per day. The main spring is capable of retaining more than 40 hours of power which is recorded on the power reserve scale. From the photo above, the movement is decorated.

For this particular model, the standard strap provided is adequate. It is able to support wrists with circumference of between 140 mm to 190 mm. The signed buckle is unique and gives that added sophistication and exclusiveness. Nevertheless, I would like to recommend to Orient to upgrade the simple buckle system to either a deployant clasp or a butterfly clasp instead. Due to the weight of the watch, there is a possibility that the watch could slip from the grasp of the wearer at the point of putting it on or taking it off. A deployant clasp or a butterfly clasp reduces this likelihood considerably as it acts like a metal bracelet, keeping both strap ends attached even when putting it on or taking it off the wrist.

The Wearing Experience

The calf leather is soft with a little hint of stiffness straight from the box. After less than a day of wearing, the leather strap has become supple and comfortable on the wrist.

As highlighted earlier, the watch is rather long. If you do have small wrists, you may find the lug ends to be hanging over your wrist. Even with my 7.25 inch circumference wrist, the watch just barely rest completely on the skin. The curved sapphire crystal creates an illusion that the watch is also ‘curved’. In reality, it wears like a round watch with a diameter of 47 mm!

Visually, an open heart aperture is only an attraction to be if it is located in the correct position. To me, form is everything and without the correct symmetry, it has limited value. In this particular example, the location of the aperture does not provide the symmetry that is desirable. A better location would be at the 6 o’clock position to balance the power reserve indicator at 12 o’clock. Some internal restructuring of the movement would have to be made to enable the new location to display the escapement mechanism. As it stands, I am fine if there is no aperture at all. A clean white dial with just the power reserve indicator is just nice for a dress watch.

Below is a short video of the watch on my wrist.

Options in This Series

There are there other models that make up this series. Below is a snapshot of the options plus the reference numbers.


The Purchasing Experience

I got this watch from Solar Time in Mid Valley Megamall. The MSRP on this watch was RM2,438 (inclusive of the 6% GST). The purchase price was RM1,760. With this purchase I was also given a nice folding pouch bag by Orient as a free gift.

Photo Gallery

Orient Star Open Heart Tonneau

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