Orient Star Retro-Future Bicycle Watch

Orient Star Semi Skeleton Limited Edition Review

A couple of weeks ago the blog featured a brief retrospective look at Orient's
semi-skeleton watches
. Today we are going to take a deeper look at one
specific model, the beautiful Orient Star ref. WZ0241DA – a limited
"Prestige Shop" edition
of the open heart design, characterized
by its deep red dial.

The watch has a classically sized steel case that's 39mm wide (excluding
the crown) and 46mm lug to lug. Lug width is a standard 20mm, and not any odd number
– which surely makes many readers happy. Inside is caliber 40R54 – not the
latest generation F6 movement – presenting the time with central seconds and a power-reserve
display. No date wheel here.

It's worth noting that this is one of the older models still featured on
Orient's current line up, and Orient have it positioned in their
"classic" segment. Currently you can also find F6-driven
Semi-Skeletons Orient Stars, positioned in the brand's "contemporary"
segment. The main visual difference would be in the shape of the case: the
classic case has lugs that stick out, while in the contemporary design the lugs
flow more organically from the case sides.

How It Looks

Well, just look at the photos! This is one seriously gorgeous watch,
primarily thanks to its dial. We already know Orient makes some fine red
dials, and this is no exception. The color is the deep burgundy of a full-bodied
wine, with a sunburst effect that lets brighter shades of red shine when light
rests on the watch at the right angle.

The applied markers – a mix of roman numerals and sticks - are also well
made, and appear crisp from afar as well as upon closer inspection.

The case is brushed on the sides and polished on top. The lugs have a
unique shape, typical of many of Orient's "classic" models. I have
noticed, on this as well as some of the other models having this design, that
these lugs seem a bit off on official photos; in real life however, they look good,
and the mix of polished and light brushing they feature has a nice effect.

The other highly noticeable element of this watch is, as its name
implies, the semi-skeletonized section of the movement with the balance wheel
visible through the aperture in the dial. While not always the most welcome
feature in watches that boast such a nice dial as this, it actually works: the
shiny metal parts therein match the markers and case, the round frame of the
aperture mirrors the bezel, and the red synthetic ruby at its center (one of 22
stones in this movement) just goes so well with the dial.

How It Wears

The size of its watch makes it high versatile, and it should match most
wrist sizes. While not particularly slim at 12mm, it comes off as fairly
low-profile on the wrist, and definitely works as a dress watch. At the same
time, the red dial and open heart add a bit of sporty nature to the watch, and
it would work just as well with a jeans and T-shirt.

The black strap that comes with this watch is one of the "stiff now,
softer later" breed. As such, it is not brilliant – but okay. I don't
think it's better than straps that I've seen on recent Bambinos that I have
reviewed (and those are considerably cheaper watches).

Note that some members of the family (references WZ0xxxDA) do come with
a steel bracelet. Orient Star bracelets are generally of very good quality, so
if you come across one of those models – it should make for a very attractive
offering! That said, I think a black strap does match this dial better.

How It Functions

The movement inside, as mentioned, belongs to an older generation than Orient's
current F6 family of calibers. The upside it that its long-term reliability is
well proven; the downside, is 40 hours of power reserve, compared with 50 hours
generally provided by F6. Also, the F6 semi-skeleton movement (F6R42 is the
equivalent of the 40R54) is further skeletonized compared to its older
counterpart, with certain supporting elements removed from the top bridge
holding the balance wheel, so the view of the movement beneath is clearer.

In itself, it's a very good movement. It hacks and hand-winds; and while
specs are officially +25 / -15 seconds a day,  the watch reviewed does minus 4 seconds a
day, which is within specs. That said, if this watch was intended for regular daily wear, it'd be better off regulated to speed up slightly.

One thing noticeable about this movement (and we've encountered this on
other pieces that use this or a similar movement) is a certain roughness while
winding it, as if there is a little too much friction. This is normal, but
takes some getting used to.

Legibility on the watch is excellent – the hands and markers contrast
well against the darker dial. And while the lume is not abundant at dive-watch
levels, it is quite sufficient for a dress watch, with lume dots at each hour
as well as on the hands. The greenish hue of its luminescence does however
clash with the red dial, so in conditions where it's dark enough for the lume
to become visible but the redness of the background still shows, the result is a
little strange.

Front crystal is sapphire, and the watch is rated to a very practical 100
meters. The exhibition case back is covered with mineral glass – which is a
sensible choice.

The Bottom Line

This is a proper Orient Star, as we have come to expect: a beautiful
watch that does not look like anything other than an Orient, very well
finished, comfortable to wear, fairly versatile, and with only a few small

Price for the WZ0241DA, like its non-limited siblings, is 700 JPY –
currently around 650 USD. While officially only available to buy at Orient's
Prestige Shops in Japan, it can occasionally be found online. Note that due to
its rarity, you are not likely to find it at better prices – in fact, online
sellers sometime ask a higher price for this watch – new in the box, of course.

If you are in the market for an open-heart watch – or in fact, any kind
of sporty-dressy watch – at this price level, and looking for something more
interesting than the standard black/white/silver color schemes – this Orient
Star is an option that you should definitely consider – and if you cannot get
hold of this limited edition, perhaps another member of the family might suit you, such as the blue dial WZ0231DA, or the newer, teal dial RK-AT0003E.