Orient Star Retro-Future Bicycle Watch

Orient Star Basic Date Hands-On Review

If there's one thing Orient doesn't really seem to excel at, it is naming
their models. The brand's history is full of quirky creations like "Para
Aimant" (arbitrarily going French with just one model) and "Super
Auto Perfect Self-Winding" (is this a name or the technical specification
provided to the designers?). I'm looking at you, the unbefittingly,
underwhelmingly named "Basic

Because, even before diving deeper into the details of this Orient Star,
it is clear that it is far from basic. And while common reasoning might have
you thinking that as "basic" it is positioned below the Orient Star
"Standard", the fact of the matter is that it's not – it's bigger and
more expensive!

But, enough complaining about names. Let's talk watchmaking. Let's talk
about the Orient Star reference RE-AU0404N.

 How It Looks

The second you lay your eyes on this watch, you understand this isn't
your standard Orient – not even by Orient Star standards. Having perhaps the
most mundane design of the brand's current line-up, which results in very unexciting
catalog pictures, Orient has clearly put all of the Basic Date's eggs in one
basket: quality.

And indeed, this watch very confidently presents the high level of
execution that Orient is capable of. The term "poor man's Grand
Seiko" is often used in conjunction with some Orient Stars, and here it
seems more accurate than ever. At a fraction of the cost of entry-level Grand
Seiko automatic models, you're getting finishing and details that might not be
quite up there with the famed Zaratsu-polished masterpieces, but are certainly
more than mere "adequate".

The Basic Date family contains a number of versions with different
combinations of dial and bezel colors, and even one two-tone reference; from
photos, there appears to be a different vibe to each of these variations, so in
this review, I can only comment on the one piece I have in my hands. I do have a
feeling though, that if I was presented with all versions in person I'd still
go for the all-metallic one I now hold.

The sunburst grey-silver dial combines superbly with the case and
bracelet to create a visual presence that's confident, tough, and yet very
elegant. I cannot help but be reminded of (forgive me watch fam!) a Rolex Oysterdate,
despite some obvious differences in the design. Yes, it's also very much an
"adults" Orient, the sort of watch that wouldn't be out of place on
the wrist of your uncle from Florida when he goes golfing.

Taking a closer look at this Orient Star, it's easy to see where the
perceived quality is coming from. The case and bracelet are all finished in
very subtle, uniform brushing, with just the bezel and chamfers polished
brightly. The dial is sunburst, with the power-reserve section just very
slightly differentiated in finishing to create a playful, yet restrained

The hour and minute hands too are very well executed. Multi-faceted,
mostly polished but brushed toward the pointy end, these are definitely not an
entry-level set of hands. And the markers they're pointing at are also
multi-faceted and well made, with polished bevels that reflect light
brilliantly and grooved top surfaces providing a more muted reflection granting
the dial a sophisticated, understated look.

All these elements are laid out very pleasantly. The dial has more than
enough breadth to contain the power-reserve indicator, date window, the logo, and a little bit of subtly-printed text, while maintaining a spacious
appearance. Sticking with a strictly monochrome scheme, the dial is kept in
perfect balance – albeit possibly a little too somber for anyone looking for
that famed Orient quirkiness.

Other elements of the Basic Date – such as the clasp or the parts of
the movement visible through the case-back – are clearly more functional than
particularly decorative, but they too are adequately finished and do not detract
from the excellent overall impression.

 How It Wears

The Basic Date packs heft which, unsurprisingly, is in line with its stout
appearance. It is indeed a solidly built piece of steel, and while no official
weight figures were released, I can estimate something around 180g on the full

That said, this heft is balanced properly around the wrist. The bracelet
is thick enough to provide a proper counterweight to the case. The lugs curve down
nicely and the whole thing just wears well. Naturally, fans of smaller, lighter
watches may object, but then this watch does not replace other, dressier and
slimmer options from the Orient Star range. It adds a new option that is sportier
and more pronounced, and that usually entails a certain minimum size.

The Basic Date case is 42mm wide without the crown, 50.8mm in length
from lug to lug, and 11.5mm thick. These are reasonable dimensions for this
sort of watch. Again, it does not replace the smaller Orient Star
"Standard", which is 38.5mm across, and despite certain differences,
the two can be seen as Midsize and Large versions of the same concept.

Anyway, on the wrist, this watch really wears comfortably. The bracelet
is really good: it feels very solid and secure. Thanks to the balanced weight
distribution you don't have to wear it too tightly, and even with a decent
amount of breathing space the case will not dangle about and would stay pleasantly
centered on the wrist. This is a sign of smart watchmaking that considers wearability,
and not just visibility and mechanics.

Would this watch work on a leather strap? While in theory it could, I
wouldn't recommend it. The bracelet works so well, it's clear that this model
just wasn't designed for any other type of strap. And it's not just because of
the odd 21mm lug width…

 How It Functions

The movement inside the Basic Date is Orient's in-house caliber F6N43.
This movement features automatic and hand-winding, second-hand hacking, and a
50-hour power reserve. Like most Orient Stars it declares a +25/-15 seconds per
day accuracy: the unit tested yielded +12 seconds per day.

The crown here is of the non-screw-down type, which is easy to operate
but limits water resistance. The Basic Date has a 5 bar (50m) water resistance.
The crown is decently sized, not too big or too small, and quite comfortable to
handle; however, winding does feel a bit harsh. I would love to have softer,
smoother winding in a watch like this, as it would definitely create a more luxurious
feel. The rotor itself is generally quiet, and you wouldn't hear it unless the
watch is given an intentional shake.

Legibility is generally very good here, especially considering that in
this version of the Basic Date there is lower contrast between the hands and
dial, compared to other references. The markers really stand out thanks to their
highly reflective finishing. The hands too are easy to spot, and have a bit of
lume painted onto them.

Now, one might wonder about the practicality of lumed hands when the
hour markers are not. Lume dots at each hour would not have compromised the
consistency of the design too much (though they would, just a little). It's not
completely useless though, as with some orientation you can usually tell the time by looking at the hands, even without markers. Generally speaking then,
this isn't the level of legibility you'd find in divers or professional sports
watches, but more a halfway between sports and dress watches.

Other than the water resistance, which is just okay, the Basic Date
offers decent practicality and durability, with sapphire crystal at the front,
and overall construction that feels sturdy. Not a watch you'd take
rock-climbing, probably, but certainly good enough for most of your daily

The Bottom Line

Honestly, it's hard to find serious faults with the Basic Date's design
and execution. It is a very mature creation, and a fine piece of watchmaking.
At an MSRP of around 700 USD and an average "street" (well, online)
price closer to 500 USD, this Orient Star makes a very compelling proposal.

This watch would make anyone looking for a hefty, solidly built automatic
watch, very happy. Naturally it won't be ideal for somebody with slim wrists,
or one looking for a classic dress watch. And it's absolutely okay if you're
the sort of person who says 100m or more of water resistance and good night-time
visibility are critical. Otherwise though, this is yet another great release
from Orient.


The blog would like to thank Orient – Epson Europe for providing us
with this Orient Star Basic Date watch for review