Orient Star Retro-Future Bicycle Watch

Orient Olympia Calendar Speed Data

Last year, I posted a review of my good old Orient
Olympia Calendar Swimmer
. Today we're looking at another model from
the Olympia family – the Olympia Calendar Speed Data. A watch that provides you
Data at Full Speed.

Or is it…? Some transcriptions of the Japanese name (that does not show
on the watch itself) call this the Speed Dater – which sort of makes
sense. So which is it?

First, let's look at the watch itself. This is a wonderful specimen from
the mid-1960s, practically a new old stock (or near NOS). It arrived with an
original leather strap and buckle, which I have removed and kept safe as soon
as I finished taking photos.

Mechanically, it runs on a base L-type movement that is typical to
Olympia models, specifically the LC caliber. The LC here is the same 19 jewel
variant as on my Calendar Swimmer, featuring a date wheel, sweet hand-winding
action, and excellent long-term reliability.

What makes this model unique and gives it its name (whatever that name
may be) is the rotating bezel. Here you have the dates printed on the bezel,
and using the crown at 2 the wearer may align the dates against the day of the
week. Do it once at the beginning of the month, and then for the remainder of
the month you can quickly check what day every date is.

It was this cool concept that soon after gave birth to the even more
sophisticated configuration of the Multi-Year

With this functionality in mind, it is hard to tell whether the original
name was Speed Data or Speed Dater. While the latter makes more sense, it shows
up in fewer sources. So we'll just stick with the more common name.

By the way, the modern term "speed dating" for a quick
matchmaking process was only coined in the 1990s, so it would not be on the
mind of anyone naming watches thirty years earlier.

Two versions of the Olympia Speed Data were produced – a stainless steel
version with a black dial, and a gold-filled model like the one at hand, with a
silver dial.

Note that the black dial version has the weekdays on the rotating bezel,
and the dates printed on the dial. Don't ask me why… The operation and
usability is exactly the same either way.

Functionality aside, wearing a watch like this, that's hardly been
touched since its production, is a joy. Gold-filled watches age much better
than gold-plated ones, as the coating is much thicker, and so the un-polished
case and lugs here are bright, sharp and sparkly. The glitter is further
enhanced by the shiny golden markers and hands.

The case is 37mm wide without the crown, and 45mm long lug to lug. It is
larger than the Olympia Swimmer then, but looks smaller; It was the
case-within-case construction that probably made the Swimmer seem bigger.

Small or big, the Speed Data looks very elegant and dressy. It is quite
thin, around 9.5mm, despite the box crystal that adds around 2mm to its height.

So there you have it, another fine example of Orient watchmaking history that wears
and runs like new almost 60 years after it left the factory.

Asking prices for rare Orients are hard to establish and have a very
high variance. And this model is quite rare. I've seen some Speed Data listed
at over 1,000 USD; however, I was able to buy this one, being in as good a
condition as you're ever likely to find, for less than 500. Good deals are out
there, and you just need to keep an eye out.