Orient Star Retro-Future Bicycle Watch

The (Rather Chubby) Case of The Orient ESAC-Q0

Earlier this month, I posted here
about Orient’s use of “tonneau” (which means “barrel” in French but certainly
sounds better) shaped cases, and gave some examples. Today I’ll focus on my
very own chubby barrel, Orient reference ESAC-Q0.

no denying what first association comes to mind when seeing this model: it is
indeed very, very Franck Muller-ish. The artistic-looking numerals spread
around the dial, the case shape of course, and much of the overall esthetics of
the watch is undoubtedly reminiscent of the famed Swiss brand’s designs.

fact, one might be excused for thinking that Orient has set aside its own
design DNA in the styling of this piece, if it wasn’t for the fact that
actually, many of these design elements, such as the extra-small hands and extra-large
numerals, are quite common in Orient’s women’s models.

is it in fact a feminine design? Perhaps this is just a women’s watch? Does it
even matter?

a few days ago I shared here on the blog the announcement of the new Orient
Star Classic Semi-Skeletons
– bearing a design so gentle and soft that it
completely lacked any “masculine” elements one would (stereo-)typically associate
with man’s watches.

some designs are just Unisex. Other than being subjected to one’s personal
taste and preferences, certain watches are not meant to be limited by gender. I
think this ESAC of mine is one such watch.

might have been (in the past tense. It’s long since discontinued) advertised as
men’s or women’s watch, or as unisex, depending on which seller ad you’re
seeing. In terms of size, it’s perfectly large enough for my 7.25” wrists, at
40mm wide, 43mm long, and 13mm thick (curved crystal included). And that big
fat polished steel barrel of a case makes it look even bigger.

– if we go back to Franck Muller’s watches mentioned earlier – well, they too
feature very similar designs, which other than size do not differ much between
their female and male versions.

let’s forget about definitions and comparisons and judge this watch by its own
merits. I think it simply looks fantastic. There’s a white-dial version of this
model that at least in photos seems less convincing; but this version in
contrasting silver and black – both on the dial and in the case-and-strap match
– works well.

is limited because of the small hour and minute hands, the overlapping time and
day sub-dials, and the lack of any lume. Still, the high contrast helps to tell
the time when lighting conditions are decent. And in any case, male or female,
this is more jewelry than time-telling equipment. You’ll get better options, including
many Orients, if clear legibility is your thing.

movement here is automatic caliber 46C. This caliber offers 40+ hours of power
reserve, and a standard accuracy of +25/-15 seconds per day. Mine does about -3
seconds a day, which is pretty good. People usually prefer their watch to run
fast rather than slow, but given this isn’t daily wear it does not truly matter
if it’s slow or fast as long as absolute accuracy is decent.

mechanism is fairly simple. You get no hand-winding or second-hand hacking.
Also there’s no quickset for the weekday, you need to set by moving the time
forward past midnight, till you are in the correct day. You do get quickset for
the date though, using the crown in the second position. Time is set with the
crown in the 3rd position.

be honest, given the limited legibility there wouldn’t be much need for hacking;
or that given no-hacking, there’s no need for clearer legibility…

sum it all up, this is a really fine example of inexpensive yet stylish
watchmaking. The design is unassuming, despite reminding a knowledgeable enthusiast
of certain more luxurious brands. The execution, as usual with Orient, is
really good. No Orient-Star-level of finishing, but more than adequate.

got this model on eBay for around 160 USD, which represents superb value even
for a pre-owned watch. I would consider it very good value even if it was 250
USD, simply for its unique looks (assuming you like them), quality, and fine
automatic movement.