Orient Star Retro-Future Bicycle Watch

The Polka-Dot Royal Orient

A few
months ago I posted a story about unusual
Royal Orient designs
. Among the models featured you may have noticed one
particular watch, with a dial that was rather lavishly adorned with dots. That
"polka-dot" piece is really rare, but I was lucky enough to get my
hands on one – in pretty good shape too.

watch was made in 1959. Like all Royal Orients of the 1950s, it made use of the
time-only version of the N-Type
. This particular model is equipped with the 19-jewel variant of
this movement.

movement here certainly seems to live up to its good reputation. Winding the
watch feels very robust and sets the Royal Orient ticking away happily. All in
all, using it is a very positive and vital experience, not just considering old age. It feels like a very dependable mechanism.

a dress watch, this timepiece works as you'd expect – back "in the old
days" they weren't fooling around. At 36mm wide (excluding the crown) and
about 11mm thick, with long lugs and a thin bezel, it is classically proportioned and wears very well. It would be perfect for slim-to-average wrists, but the
design keeps it appropriate as formal wear on larger wrists too, as long as one
keeps their "sport mode" turned off.

this isn't any regular vintage dress watch. The dial is the attention grabber
here. So let's pay some attention to it.

first glance, you notice the peculiar design. The white dots are spread almost
randomly against the darker background. In theory, this should produce a
confusing appearance and lead to reduced legibility; but in reality, somehow
this works. The gold hands remain clearly visible, and the overall appearance
is special, in a good way.

closer look, the unique texture of the dial is revealed. It doesn't really look
like any watch dial I've seen before: the surface seems like it has been
imprinted by some kind of fabric. In the macro shots it even appears like brush
strokes, but it is somewhat misleading, as in reality that would have to be a
very tiny brush indeed – keep in mind each white dot is about one millimeter in

dial does however succeed in making the "Royal Orient" moniker
disappear almost entirely. It takes some very sharp eyes (or some keen photo
enhancement…) to identify any of the dial text.

sum it all up – this "polka dot" Royal Orient is one seriously cool
vintage piece. It was certainly built to high standards, which is evident in
how well this specimen has survived its 64 years in service.

abuse can leave any old watch, no matter how well made, in bad condition – and when
buying a vintage watch you need to verify its condition prior to making the
purchase. But there are enough vintage Royal Orients that look pretty good out
there to testify to the longevity of the movement, design and execution. If
you buy from Japanese sellers, for example, you are likely to find fine samples at really low prices –
certainly when compared to high-end Seikos of the same era.