Orient Star Retro-Future Bicycle Watch

Orient Star Avant-Garde Skeleton Watch Hands-On Review

more than three decades, Orient has been experimenting with different
skeletonized and semi-skeletonized designs, making skeleton
one of the hallmarks of the brand. One of Orient's newest skeleton
models recently arrived at the blog's desk for review – it's the Orient
Star Avant-Garde

we are looking at the blackened reference RE-AV0A03B (RK-AV0A03B in Japan).

It Looks

Avantgarde skeleton makes an immediate impact when you lay your eyes on it.
It's the sort of design that looks very intriguing in pictures, but makes you
wonder how it would work in real life. Will it be confusingly overloaded with
details? Can so many visual elements live together in harmony? Well, thankfully,
the easy answer is: this thing looks good!

just "looking good", a number of more specific words come to mind
when looking at this watch: sporty (well, it is part of Orient's sporty
line-up); elaborate; industrial. Its esthetics don't seem to stem from any particular
Orient model.

similarities can be drawn between the avant-garde and Orient's Retro-Future
watches. Still, there's also something very Jean-Claude Biver about this
skeleton, a little Hublot, a little (or much) Tag-Heuer Carrera Calibre
Heuer 01.

design of the Avant-Garde Skeleton is supposed to be inspired by automotive
parts, but I find this to be a fairly abstract influence. However, the overall
"mechanical" look of the watch works well as a skeleton, and the
outer shell of the watch connects very naturally with its inner workings.

dial (or what's left ot it) is nicely laid out, with small seconds at 6 and the
familiar power-reserve indicator at 12. At 9 is what would be the open-heart
cutout if this was a "semi-skeleton". The circles that mark these
three elements make up the top layer of the display, along with the big, bold
hour markers.

this layer run the minute track and the logo plate, and underneath these two
blackened layers is a dark-red/brown plate. Beyond this tier, you can see the
actual movement. Note that you don't actually see much of the mechanism, and
you cannot see the back of the watch through it; in this sense, it's not really
the movement that is skeletonized – it's the dial.

multi-layered construction successfully creates a sense of depth, and results
in a watch that's very interesting and fun to look at. The metallic components
of the movement shine from beneath, contrasting against the darker elements above
it. This color scheme just works.

the dial under the magnifying glass does not lessen the impression, as almost
everywhere you look there would be layers and angles. The level of execution is
very good, and while perhaps not threatening any high-end Swiss watchmaker, it
definitely lives up to Orient Star's reputation and standards.

to the intricate dial, the case is fairly simple but is well made. The black IP
coating somewhat blurs the finishing, but when observed closely, its quality
can be seen – as well as the subtle differences between the matte and polished

bezel, though, is far from plain, with its grooves and notches. Sitting atop a
red aluminum ring, it matches the dial perfectly.

It Wears

Orient Star Avantgarde isn't a small watch, and does not wear as such. It is 43.2mm
wide, 49.2mm lug to lug, and 13.7mm thick, and weighs 109g on the leather

these dimensions it feels quite comfortable on the wrist. This owes to the classic
case design with its flat back and arching (and not too long) lugs, and is aided
by the leather strap.

strap is good quality calf leather, and properly padded. As with most padded
straps it is initially tough, but should soften after a short period of use. The
upper layer is perforated and painted black, while the bottom is red and
smooth. So it doesn't just feel good, it looks very sporty as well.

thing worth noting is the rather unusual length of the strap, as the two pieces
are 60mm and 140mm. Normally you'd find strap lengths to be something like
80/120 on average. As the short band is shorter than usual here and the long is
longer, it means you'll see more of the strap's end hanging outside the loop,
and the thinner your wrist (even at a normal 6.5" – 7" circumference)
the longer the overhang.

to the strap is Orient's standard folding clasp. It is easy to operate, and
locks confidently. Its underside is smooth and slim enough so as not to create
any discomfort on the wrist.

that the lug width on this watch is 21mm. I wouldn't call this
"non-standard", but admittedly many stores might not hold 21mm straps
in stock. There are plenty of compatible straps available online, though, and
to be honest, that's where I'd look for replacement bands anyway – the range of
options is just so huge, why limit yourself to what you'd find in one shop?

the wearing experience with the Avantgarde Skeleton is comfortable, at least if
your arms aren't too skinny. As is often the case with models referred to by Orient
as sporty, this watch may look a bit too much on wrists under 6.5". So
while kids might be fond of its playful looks, this is a watch for grown-ups.

It Functions

we're getting to the business end of things. How does this watch perform its
job? Most importantly, is it as illegible as too many skeleton watches, or
could one actually look at it and tell the time?

here is the good news: yes, you can tell the time on the Avantgarde Skeleton!
Partly because it's not a see-through skeleton, and partly because of the
cleverly made hands and markers, legibility is pretty good. For a skeleton,
that is...

the hands and the jagged surfaces of the markers are shaped to reflect light
coming from different directions, making them stand out against the mostly dark
background. The result is a watch-face that makes time-telling really easy,
despite the holes in the dial.

second hand is a little harder to spot, but as it similarly reflects the light
in both directions it does not get completely lost. All this however becomes
irrelevant in a dark environment, as there's no lume in this version (some
other references of the Avantgarde Skeleton do have lumed hands).

lies behind the dial is Orient's in-house caliber F6F44, featuring 50 hours of
power reserve and an official accuracy of +25/-15 seconds per day. The review
unit tested to run just 11 seconds fast per day.

crown feels firm. It's a little heavy to unscrew and turn, but appears to be
well engineered, and slides onto its threads with precision.

watch is water-resistant to 100m, making it perfectly capable of withstanding
the occasional splash of water. That said, if one intends to take it for a
swim, an aftermarket rubber band would be recommended (or just choosing one of the
other Avant-Garde versions that are fitted with a steel bracelet).

front crystal is sapphire, so overall durability should be fine. Plus, the sort
of rugged design featured here can take a few scratches without losing its
charm. It's a watch that does not need to be treated too gently and should be
perfectly fine serving as a beater.


Bottom Line

Orient Star Avant-Garde Skeleton is a cool timepiece and very easy to like if
you're into sporty, rugged-looking watches. While one can think of some other
watches it resembles, it still looks fresh enough. Combined with the excellent
quality of materials and finishing, this provides a great wearing experience.

downsides noted are the rather non-standard strap length and nonexistent lume.
Both of these shortcomings can be resolved if you opt, for instance, for
reference RK/RE-AV0A01B, which features lumed hands and markers, and comes on a
bracelet. But then again, the stealthy dark looks of the RK/RE-AV0A03B have a
charm that's hard to deny!

official price for the Avant-Garde Skeleton is around USD 900, but it can be
found online for around 750-800 (and yes, I know you can also find it for much
higher on some websites…).

more expensive than other relatively elaborate Orient Star models like the Layered
or the Semi Skeleton Diver, but I feel the complexity of the
design and construction of this model justifies the added cost. It's also more
expensive than the somewhat similar aforementioned Retro-Future
– but you are getting higher specs and more intricate construction
in this Orient Star.


blog would like to thank Orient – Epson Europe for providing us with this
Orient Star Avant-Garde Skeleton watch for review