Orient Star Retro-Future Bicycle Watch

The Orient Grand Prix

The Grand Prix was one of Orient's first attempts at producing a truly
high-end watch. In the early 1960s, Grand Prix models incorporated the best mechanical
ingredients available to the Japanese watchmaker at the time, and were priced

Between 1961-1963 Orient released a few models named Grand Prix that
made use of movements commonly utilized by the brand, albeit in a higher
quality grade than elsewhere. Later in 1963-1964, flagship Grand Prix models
received dedicated movements.

First up was the "Grand Prix Special" with its classic,
time-only dress watch design. Inside was Orient's N-Type caliber, also used in Jupiter
and Royal
models since the late 50s. However, the Grand Prix version had 25
jewels – more than even the top Royal models featured – and was significantly
more pricey than the Royal.

Other early models, also carrying various versions of the 25 jewel Cal.
N, included the Grand Prix Calendar and the Shower/Water-Proof.

Soon after came the next generation of Grand Prix watches, now based on
the new L-Type caliber. This more modern architecture was the start of Orient's
longest lineage of in-house movements, extending as far as the 46 and the
current F6 caliber families.

The first L-Type based Grand Prix added the respectable "Olympia"
moniker to its name. The Grand Prix Olympia used a hand-winding movement, with
versions having between 25 – 30 jewels. And yes, jewel count is a big thing in
this story, more than in most of my blog posts, for a reason… just wait a few
more paragraphs.

In 1962 Orient presented its automatic caliber LCW, based on the L-Type
design but with one highly significant addition: a Pellaton-type
winding system. This mechanism provided greater efficiency, and better
isolation of the gear train against shocks, compared to other automatic winding
systems back then.

The new movement was fairly large (30.3mm), whereas most other Orient
movements measured between 26-27mm. This resulted in some relatively large timepieces,
making modern-day collectors happy with their utterly wearable, contemporary

The first Grand Prix to put the LCW movement to use was the
"Calendar Auto", soon followed by the Grand Prix Swimmer and the
mighty (though not just yet "Almighty") 64-jewel Grand Prix Olympia
Auto. Indeed, this was the time when the battle of "who has the most
jewels" reached the shores of Japan.

In 1963 things got epic, as Orient announced the new "676"
version of the LCW, developed exclusively for the Grand Prix line, with incabloc
shock protection and Triostat fine regulation, so called for enabling the
adjustment of three parameters affecting accuracy.

This, combined with the Pellaton winding and reduced rotor friction
thanks to two dozen jewels along the perimeter of the movement, resulted in a
watch that was both very efficient and highly accurate – within Chronometer
standards. It was indeed worthy of the name "Grand Prix Almighty 64".

Then, in 1964, someone over in Orient's product design team must have
realized there's still some room left for more rubies. The new caliber LCYW
emerged, this time with the addition of a week-day wheel and 36 more jewels (which,
I suppose, the buyer received in a separate bag, as images of the movement
definitely do not reveal their whereabouts).

All this magic was put into the final edition of the Grand Prix, simply
named Grand Prix 100. It was the world's most bejeweled watch, and the brand's
most expensive model (it took five years for any other Orient to come close, in
terms of price).

It's worth noting that some Grand Prix models also had gold-filled
versions, which typically are more valuable and less common than gold-plated
watches. This even included a white-gold filled watch that used silver as its
base plate – a rare and rather luxurious combination, which I believe was not available
in any other Orient ever made (and you're welcome to correct me if I'm wrong!)

So – this is the story of Orient's Grand Prix watches. Later this month,
I will follow up with a closer look at one particular Grand Prix from my


Pictures of the various watches that appear on this post were taken
from old sale ads.