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 Post subject: Significant Japanese: Other than Seiko
PostPosted: Fri Jan 09, 2015 2:00 am 
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I believe I did say in another thread that there were "significant" vintage watches from makers in Japan other than Seiko. So today I'm going to start a thread that talks about some of the post-WWII vintage Japanese watches from Citizen, Orient, and Ricoh/Takano that were higher quality items or otherwise unusual. Don't expect it all at once, I'll be building this up a little at a time.

I'll start with Orient, as it is now affiliated with (owned by) Seiko, but was an independent firm for many years and was #3 in terms of overall market share among the Japanese watch manufacturers. I won't give a History of Orient, that is done in other places. I will just highlight a few of the more interesting & higher-quality items they made, primarily for the Domestic Market (Japan). From a database I created elsewhere, I quote:

Orient was always considered "#3 watchmaker", behind Seiko & Citizen - but did make some relatively high quality items for the domestic [Japan] market like:
a. In 1957 - the 21 jewel Mars (sold for 9,770 yen).
b. In 1958 Royal Orient featuring a thinner case and larger size case diameter than Mars, with "Antishock" 23j movement designed to compete with the Seiko Cronos and equivalent Citizens. Also notable, at least some Royals did have dials with engraved markers similar to some of the higher quality Seikos of that period and into the '60s.
A model with date display was introduced in 1961, Royal Calendar Orient
c. In 1963, release of the Grand Prix Almighty 64 [with 64 jewels] in commemoration of the upcoming 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games. In 1964, release of Grand Prix 100, with 100 jewel [In both cases: mostly non-functional jewels! Many of the jewels are in the rotor and outer edge of the movement, where the intent is to eliminate "rotor scrape" of main movement and winding bridge plates. See the movement photo examples in the Automatic Grand Prix section of this database]
d. In 1967 - Orient Fineness ULTRAMATIC with 35j Cal. 3900/3991 movement, day&date, & was very thin & stylish. Had a 1 piece case opened thru the front.
e. also 1967 - The Orient "10 Beat" with 10 beats per second [36,000bph] is released. It has been said, "This is a very rare model, and is highly collectible."

Orient has been said to be a manufacturer of "contradictions", making:

for export, low-priced mechanicals popular in Russia, South America and Middle East.

for domestic [Japan] market, fine mechanical timepieces which have finely finished automatic and hand-wind movements.


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 Post subject: Orient Royal
PostPosted: Fri Jan 09, 2015 2:17 am 
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Royal models were made in up to 23j variants (non-calendar) and also came in a Calendar (Date-only) model. Sources call Royal the "N type" and it comes in a #12 case (vs. Mars "T type" in a #10 case).

A model with date display was introduced in 1961, Royal Calendar Orient based on the 21j variant of the Royal "N" movement.

Here is a sample of the 23j variant of the movement:
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and a view of the watch itself:
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Royal Calendar:

The addition of a Date window made this new model.

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I was able to acquire a Calendar model for my collection. Here it is:

I really like the design on the case-back
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and the "cyclops window" for the Date
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one more view:
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The 23j variant of Royal was for a while, the highest quality offering from Orient.

Based on the Royal, was the 21j Super Auto Perfect Self-Winding [at least according to Japanese sources I know, this is supposed to be a Royal 21j variant base with an IWC Pellaton-like auto-winding system added on]. The following example is also part of my collection:

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Following are movement shots showing that auto-wind system
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For those familiar with IWC and the Pellaton system, you can see the similarities!!

The Grand Prix (both hand-wind and auto-wind models) followed - and replaced - the Royal and became the "high end" of Orient. I'll talk about them (and show mine) in another installment later.


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 Post subject: Orient Grand Prix - Handwind
PostPosted: Fri Jan 09, 2015 6:29 pm 
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Succeeding the Royal was the Grand Prix. They came in both hand-wind and automatic movements, but I'll just handle the hand-wind in this post .... auto-wind will follow at some point.

Regarding the hand-wind, there are 2 distinct types!! From the movement table itself:

NOTE: The movement table was created by "Sweephand" and is found @ [last time I checked]

http://homepage.ntlworld.com/stephen.netherwood/Vintage%20Orient%20Movement%20Table%20v1.2%20Secure.pdf

In 1961 you will see listings for Grand Prix & Grand Prix Calendar all with the "N" type movement.

Also that year, if you look under "Olympia" you will notice a sub-heading for "Grand Prix" as well! This time though, you will see that the movement is designated as "L" type.

Now, what's up with this???

We have a "Grand Prix" hand-wind model, and that same year we also have one labeled as an "Olympia Orient Grand Prix", with a different movement!!

Let's look closer.

The 1st type Grand-Prix uses the "N" type movement ... what also uses that?? Well, the answer is the "Royal" family of Orients. You've seen a couple that I've gotten & written up here: recently, the Royal Calendar, and the Super Auto "Perfect Self-Winding".

Here is an "N" type hand-wind Grand Prix:
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Now, here's a shot of an "L" type:
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What is visibly different in the pictures is the difference in winding train gears and the configuration of plates & the balance bridge/assembly. Other than that, things look about the same, including the fact that both movements are 25 jewels, adjusted 5 positions, and neither has a fine-adjuster on the balance. In the database is also a 21j Olympia version of Grand Prix (with "L" type movement) ... so as you can see, the "L" type came in more than just the 25j variant.

By the movement table, both are seen to be 18,000bph low-beats.

Not visible in the database pictures, are the differences seen in the movement table:

the "N" types [of both Royal and Grand Prix (non-Olympia) are shown to be 25.50mm in diameter and 4.20mm thick

while the "L" types are shown as 26.10mm in diameter and 3.65mm thick!

This widening & thinning of the movement is just a continuation of a trend by Orient and other Japanese watchmakers over the course of the 1950s and early '60s! Looking back to the Orient movement table, we see the predecessors of the "N" type were smaller in diameter and thicker. For example, the Orient Star Dynamic, and other models using the "T" type movement, are only 23.30mm in diameter and 4.80mm thick [movement dimensions]. If you think of what Seiko was doing in the 1950s, they also went wider & thinner ... in going from the "Super" to the "Marvel" they did the exact same thing!

Likely, the following example shows an "L" type:
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Note it has BOTH the Grand Prix and the Olympia badging.

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Just like with Royal, they came out with a Calendar [Date-only] version:
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I do have a Grand Prix Calendar hand-wind in my collection & here's some shots:

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It is the only one I've seen offered for sale in the Philippines in over 5 years of looking here... that shows you just how few there are in comparison to things like Seiko Crown, Cronos, low-beat Lord Marvel, and low-beat hand-wind King Seiko. I've seen a good number of each of those offered in the same time period here.


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 Post subject: Orient Grand Prix - Automatic Wind
PostPosted: Sat Jan 10, 2015 1:51 pm 
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Now, the auto-wind side of the Grand Prix family!!

These movements came in a wide range of jewel counts. The following is a 30 jewel version:

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"670" marked movement:
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This family also includes "premium" models like:

1. Grand Prix Almighty 64

This was introduced in Spring 1963 in commemoration of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics (hence, the rationale for 64 as a jewel count). This has a calibre 676 whose base caliber is an LC Olympia calendar with 24 jewels (? - maybe the source means 23? See Hand-wind section or Orient Movement Table). At the time of introduction, this movement had the highest jewel count of any Japanese-made movement.

The automatic winding mechanism is said to be a copy of the IWC Pelaton type (not known if there was a formal licensing of the technology from IWC).

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Note that this one DOES have a fine-adjuster on the balance, it is the TRIOSTAT design!!

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This was followed by:
2. Grand Prix 100 [100 jewel count] in June 1964:
It is said that this model is capable of Chronometer grade performance (due to the type of fine-adjuster used). However, I think this appllies to the 64j variant as well...

Some examples:
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And, my personal favorite, because it IS mine!! 8-)

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Why so many jewels & what can they possibly do?
From the movement shots above (and some below of the 100j version) you can surmise that:
1. Both the 64j & 100j versions have jewels in a ring around the movement plates which are intended to prevent "rotor scrape" along the outer edges of those plates (under the outer edge of the rotor).
2. Both versions have jewels embedded @ the rotor hub. I can't see enough detail to determine whether those function within the rotor bearing itself or are there just to "stabilize" the rotor as it turns.
3. The 100j version has additional jewels embedded into the rotor & those appear to be preventing rotor scrape on the winding bridge itself.

According to Orient, the 100j variety has 89 rubies and 11 sapphires [likely all synthetic].

Only 1 other watch model that I know of from that same era came with 100 jewels, and I've never heard of a higher count (unless we talk about exotic complications)...

Waltham came out with a 100 jewel model of it's own, the Centennial Autochron:

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with an auto-wind "Cyclotron" movement:

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 Post subject: RICOH & TAKANO
PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2015 5:46 pm 
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Switching gears a bit.

Ricoh bought Takano to get into the watch business.

Ricoh started on February 6, 1936 as Riken Corporation (or per the Fact Book, "Riken Kankoshi Co., Ltd.") based on the work of Dr. Ookawati Masatoshi [which apparantly deals with photographic paper or "sensitized paper" as the Ricoh Fact Book calls it]. March 1938, the company name was changed to Riken Optical Industry (or per the Fact Book, "Riken Optical Co., Ltd.") and started production of optical devices and equipment.

In 1962, Hamilton entered into a joint venture (60% owned by Hamilton) with the Japanese watchmaking firm Ricoh to produce electric watches meant primarily for the Japanese market. The partnership was dissolved in 1965.

Takano Ad ca. 1959:
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Ricoh Ad ca. 1963:
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Takano was in existence as a watch company (or brand, really) only 4 years and 11 months. It's root, according to the Hokkaido Watch Museum was a "High field metallic goods factory" ["high field" seems to be alternatively translated as "industrial"] established to manufacture metallic clocks such as alarm clocks in a "High field (or "Industrial") clock factory" established for the "multiplication clock manufacturing" [mass production of clocks?] in 1899 (and 1913, but no explanation is given of the 2nd year). They amalgamated in 1921 becoming a "High field (Industrial) clock metallic goods factory". Then, the metal goods section was split off April 23, 1938. The Ricoh Fact Book 2006 says "Apr. 1938 - Founded Takano Seimitsu Kogyo Co.,Ltd."

Takano was also involved in the production of weaponry from 1938 through and after the end of the Korean War (until 1956).

Movements for men's and women's watches are purchased from the "[rako-]" {also written there as "RAKO"} (almost certainly they mean Laco) Co. in West Germany, to make the best use of equipment for producing munitions (after Korean War ends), and production [though maybe they mean, "development" and/or "pre-production"?] of wristwatches begins in February, 1957.

In July, 1957, a technical tie-up was accomplished with Hamilton Clock of the United States .

"The wristwatch No.1" of Takano Co., Ltd. (so-called [rako-] type) and "2000 series" are put on the market on September 10, 1957.

In October, 1959 & afterwards, a thin hand wind watch, thinnest in the world (this is implied in the Hokkaido text), "Chateau", is put on sale. The technology was shown around the world. However, Takano suffered damage of 110 million yen & a one month shutdown of the factory from the Ise bay typhoon in September, 1959. In addition, the achievement [Chateau] suffers due to the immaturity of the sales force. The Chateau used an increased diameter [I interpret the text to mean an increase from 10.5 to 11.5 (lignes) in the Chateau], but thinner, movement from the older models. In a discussion with the Technical Director of Ricoh Watch [see below under Ricoh history section], it is said that the intent of that decision was to improve the "maintenance accuracy" of the movement. Observation of examples of these posted on the net show the dial to be simply labeled as "Chateau" without the "Takano" name (but with an applied logo), but the caseback is labeled as "Takano Precision" which is used as the brand on the dials of other models. Note that the movement inside of the Chateau has a different architecture than the Precision. See links provided below for examples on the net at the time of writing of this article.

Takano faces the threat of bankruptcy around the summer of 1961.

On May 8, 1962, Kiyoshi Ichimura assumes the position of the president of "Reason laboratory optical industry (present Ricoh)", and the president of Takano Co., Ltd. Or, as another translation says, "May 1962, appointed President and CEO of Precision Industrial Co., Takano." He changes the name of the company to "Ricoh Watch Ltd." on July 26 of the same year [or from the Ricoh Fact Book, "Ricoh Tokei Co., Ltd." in August '62]. The brand "Takano" is scheduled to disappear after 11 months & four years. Based on the Sept. 1957 date given as start of public sale of Takanos, this brings us to August of 1962. "Presently" [at least up to the date of posting in the Hokkaido Watch Museum site & the 2006 Ricoh Fact Book], the company is known as Ricoh Elemex Corporation - that name change made in April, 1986.

Some general Takano examples:
1. a "six pack" of NOS Takano
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2. Original Takano box:
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3. Accessories from a Precision Senior model 14033
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4. An example of the Chateau Superior model line & grade:
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=========================================================================
Ricoh Branded watches.

After the takeover and a transition period, Ricoh branded the watches with their own corporate name. One of the 1st significant models from them was the

Ricoh - Dynamic Auto [1962 introduction]

This particular model had as part of it's line-up, what was likely the ONLY "Luxury" model Ricoh produced...

solid gold (18K) 45j version of the Dynamic Auto [Date only] from Bunta site in Japan, Model 57115:
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movement shots:
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The rotor close-up shot (above, from Nakahiro/moji) shows 12 jewels in the rotor bearing!

My personal experience with this movement is that there is NO date quick-set and the movement does NOT Hack.

The solid gold example clearly refutes any claims that Ricoh did not try for "luxury" watch status. Of course, without full detail of the movement specs, it is not clear where this specific model would stand with respect to something like the Grand Seiko, King Seiko, or Citizen Chronometer (or Chronomaster...). However, judging from the photos, it is most likely equivalent to one of the 43j Citizen Crystal 7 models [in fact, they both put a significant number of jewels into the rotor bearing!]

I have the "non-luxury" version in my collection, has the 45j movement, but case is just gold-plated:
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The 1st 2 movement shots are of my own personal example (non-luxury version).

Well, hope that opened some eyes about the roots of Ricoh watches and some of the rather high-quality that they did have, as part of their product line early on!!


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 Post subject: Citizen...
PostPosted: Sat Jan 24, 2015 4:04 pm 
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For now I'll just refer you to the best English language site I know for vintage Citizen:

http://sweep-hand.org/

I also reference it in a post in the "Interesting Links" sub-forum.

With Citizen, you should be on the watch (haha!) for:

- Super Auto Dater or Super Jet AD (top-of-the-line automatic in early->mid '60s with sharks-tooth rotor & up to 39j)

- "Super" designated hand-wind models like Super Ace & Super Deluxe & Super Hi-Line

- Glorious Citizen. The ULTIMATE in quality from them!! A Grand Seiko Special (6155 & 6156 calibres) competitor from Citizen, I would say:
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 Post subject: My Significant Citizens
PostPosted: Sun Feb 01, 2015 5:12 pm 
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Selected examples from my own collection:

1. Hand-wind Super Ace, 23j

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Movement shot SAMPLE (not from mine, but just to show what it it supposed to be):
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NOTE the "Specially Adjusted" attribution and the gold plated movement plates!!

2. Automatic: 39j variant of Super Jet Auto Dater, movement and back shot:
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39 jewels was the highest quality variant of this movement. Again we see the gold plating on the movement. Note that this is the "sharks tooth" rotor type of auto-winder that Citizen produced in the early thru mid/late '60s before switching back to a more traditional rotor design. Problem with the "Jet" automatic was they could not be made thin (as I've heard from experts in Citizen).

Also note the heavy gold filling on these cases, 80Microns for the Super Ace and 100M for the Super Jet!!

I also have a steel cased Super Auto Dater from a later time period, it has the look of a Pilot's watch!! I'll see if I can find the pics on a server and update this post with them (and more of the gold Super Jet)

UPDATE: Here we go, more pics!!

The stainless cased "Super Auto Dater" ... from behind:
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From front:
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and sides showing it's "height":
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It does seem somewhat like a cross between an aviation watch and a diver to me.

Finally, the "face shot" of the gold cased "Super Jet":
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Not perfect, but pretty nice ... I very seldom saw these around for sale. I've not seen one of these Super Auto Dater models for sale here in the Philippines (on the usual sites) for couple years or so!!


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 Post subject: Re: Significant Japanese: Other than Seiko
PostPosted: Sun Feb 01, 2015 5:51 pm 
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Ninja, I see you did a lot of research, it's certainly very scholarly in that regard. But, the one I enjoyed was the Orient Gran Prix calender (date only) model. There's nothing wrong with the way that watch looks, it's very attractive, so Omegaesque! :lol: As a matter of fact, it has the same "beads of rice" bracelet that many seamasters had. I love the look of that bracelet.

Many of the watches here are big and round, of a good size, one wonders why they tended to make them bigger in Japan at that time, or was that merely following a trend started in Europe or the States? As a rule, the Japanese are not ones to have huge wrists to accommodate these models, but, I could be wrong on that, and no disrespect is intended, I don't mean to stereotype.

But, anyway, I noticed no one had commented on your work on these models and, how they developed, and just wanted to tell you that you're doing a good and thorough job on it.

Thanks, Mark

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"You reach the station, the train is gone- it's time to get a Hamilton." From the song HAMILTONIA by Robert Gunder
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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Feb 01, 2015 6:46 pm 
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NWI Mark wrote:
Ninja, ... the one I enjoyed was the Orient Gran Prix calender (date only) model... so Omegaesque! ... has the same "beads of rice" bracelet that many seamasters had.

Many of the watches here are big and round, of a good size, one wonders why they tended to make them bigger in Japan at that time, or was that merely following a trend started in Europe or the States? As a rule, the Japanese are not ones to have huge wrists to accommodate these models, ...

But, anyway, I noticed no one had commented on your work on these models and, how they developed, and just wanted to tell you that you're doing a good and thorough job on it.

Thanks, Mark


Well, thanks for your input!! I do indeed appreciate feedback ... and find it useful (whether positive or negative) & wish more people would be like you and speak up!!

Yeah, those Orient Grand Prix autos are impressive from what I've seen.

It is interesting that a good number of the sports & sport/dress watches from Japan in early/mid '60s are of "good size". And what you say is true, and a "fact" repeated around the watch sites [that Japanese were of smaller build than Westerners & tended to prefer smaller diameter watches]. I do see that being true in days earlier than the '60s, and it likely was true to some extent in the '60s and beyond(?).

However: I did note when I got my Ricoh (the 45j auto) that it did seem to wear quite "big" and was a rather substantial size for an early '60s watch regardless of place of manufacture!! One thing also about the Grand Prix and Royal lines from Orient: based on what I could find, these were intended for the home market, not really for export ... so it is even more of a puzzle that they are of rather impressive size (for those times) and matched typical Swiss product in that respect.

However - if you do read history of Seiko & Orient (for example) in '50s & '60s you will see a trend toward wider diameter (and thinner) movements as time went on. In Seiko, the Marvel replaced the Super in 1956 and it was indeed of larger diameter than the Super (speaking of the movement itself, but that also can translate to case diameter as well). Likely that was a trend in other countries as well in the same timeframe (but I don't have the data on Swiss or American efforts to confirm that speculation). I do have a (likely mid to late '50s) Orient hand-wind and it is indeed smaller diameter than the '60s dress models I have from them.

I have an early Grand Seiko [GS] hand-wind (2nd generation of movement, the cal. 430) and a 1st Gen Auto GS [calibre 6246]... both seem quite good size on the wrist as well... though I am of a rather small size if compared to a typical Westerner. GS buyers were considered to be rather conservative, and that's why (supposedly) it took quite a while for Seiko to come out with an auto-wind version of Grand Seiko... it was felt that the "serious watch buyer" in Japan would not accept an automatic for such an important dress piece on the wrist ... it had to be classic hand-wind!! ;)

Well, don't have any better insight into your observation than that I'm afraid...


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 Post subject: Re: Significant Japanese: Other than Seiko
PostPosted: Tue May 03, 2016 4:36 am 
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Hi Ninja et al,
I've taken great interest and appreciation to the historical information you have shared about the Orient brand.
Recently, I have been very interested in the King Diver and was able to acquire a "second generation" AAA Weekly Orient King Diver from an auction site in Japan. Based on some outline lineage information I stumbled into in another forum, what I have with me is something that may have been produced between 1965-1968. I may have been lucky enough to have found an NOS or perhaps one that has been nicely restored. All the parts, as far as I know and can tell, seem to belong to its proper era. Of course, I'm here looking for more information about this particular watch and I would love to know from others who also have taken interest with vintage Orient watches (I'm also a Seiko chronograph collector/enthusiast). Thanks!


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