- ASSHAT & Master of Time
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- Joined: July 13th 2010, 10:00pm
Can it get worse than this? Not for the Japanese!
And now, in this, the fifth segment based on my search for a decent automatic watch with a street price of around a hundred bucks, Orient steps up to the plate and knocks it out of the park:
With this one, model number ER1X003B (OUSA's number; international model numbers tend to vary) aka the Chicane. I didn't know what a chicane was, but when I googled it I discovered it was a term for a traffic revision to slow Red-Bull-infused teenagers down, generally called a "roundabout" here in the States. It's also great for killing speeding drunk drivers. Why Orient USA, which is somewhat renowned for coming up with stupid or inappropriate names for their watches (read: Bambino) decided to carry on with this practice I can't say, but if you're looking for a watch that may well turn a crazy-ass bath-salt-crazed teen into applesauce, this is the watch for you.
The Chicane is a dress-sports watch that retails with an MSRP of around $190 US; street price seems to be anywhere from $89-$130, with the higher price being OUSA--perhaps they have to use the extra profit margin to pay the guys who come up with the watch names--so the Chicane fits nicely into what I'm looking for. It measures 38.5mm across, 42mm with crown, and is a rather surprisingly thick 11.8mm. The lug width is right around 20mm, so it'll accept a million different straps. Inside is the 48743 Orient manufacture 21 jewel movement.
At first sight, the dial and case look a bit like the older Rollie Explorer:
The dial is jet-black, with applied indices and nice finishing; the traditional Orient "cigarette" logo is particularly good looking:
You can see the seconds hand reflecting in the 11 o'clock index; the silkscreening on the dial is also well done. It's a handsome, simple looking dial. The case is also well finished, with areas of high-polish and brushing. In this pic, you might note the fairly sharp lines between these areas, as well and the bezel polishing that reflects back my digital camera without a lot of circus-funhouse distortion:
The crown is unsigned, but well polished too:
The crystal is mineral, which is not surprising at this humble price range, and the watch also has the exhibition back, showing off the undecorated movement:
The back window seems to be slightly tinted; personally I'd have preferred a solid caseback, as this movement is nothing much to look at, but I suppose the younger people, especially those doing bath salts, might appreciate it.
One thing I like to see is that the movement doesn't have the very poor, comic-book version of decoration that so many of the mushroom Chinese-based brands seem to favor, like Sthurling and Stauer, for instance. It looks like, well, a workmanlike automatic watch movement, not one tarted up to look like a multi-thousand-dollar Swiss version.
Another thing I like about this movement is that it runs about +7 seconds a day. It's 6 beats per second, which is the same for pretty much every other Orient on the planet. It neither hacks nor handwinds, but starts up with a shake and keeps running well throughout the day. Like many Orients I've owned, there seems to be a lot more variation when the movement isn't fully wound, but if, for instance, you put it on in the morning (normal activity should get the movement fully wound in a couple of hours) and take it off at night for eight hours, you should get pretty decent timekeeping.
There's come lume, but it doesn't last long, and it doesn't pass the Conjurer-quick-glance-in-a-dark-car test.
On the wrist, the Chicane wears nicely:
And this is partly due to the fact that the watch isn't too big (to me, a dress-sports watch should be sized between 38-42mm) but more importantly due to the relatively high quality oiled leather strap, which needed almost no break-in. It even comes with a signed buckle:
What are my beefs? Well, I have a few: I'd have preferred the case to be a little slimmer, maybe around 10mm, which would have made the size a bit more visually pleasing. Hacking and handwinding would be nice as well, as I don't care to wind my watches by shaking them like--well, like a bath-salt-addict abusing his kid. The numeric font on the dial could be a little smaller. I would have liked a signed crown. I would have liked these and maybe some more, but I'd rather have an $89 watch that does the job well, and that's what this Orient does.
So, why did Orient succeed here while Sthurling and Stauer got deep-sixed, like the Russian Navy? Well, Orient didn't do anything far wrong with this one, while the other two companies tried to get clever and pretty and try to make their watches look good on TV or gracing the back covers of in-flight magazines. Orient didn't try to slap on a fake moonphase or skeletonize the movement or use stupid lug designs or skimp on the goddamn strap. Granted, the Chicane ain't the height of Japanese horology, and certainly not as good as a decent Swiss three-hander, but at least it kind of stands up to comparison, while Stauer and Sthurlings are, well, bad watch jokes.
Who would wear the Chicane? I suppose it might be a little too pedestrian for most WIS's, but for a gift for guys who aren't watch-nuts, which is 99.9% of the planet, it would be fine. Indeed, with the bullet-proof inhouse movements that Orient makes, this could be a watch that could be worn, with no service and probably no issues, for ten or twenty years, or maybe even longer. God knows I'm no Greenie, but five or ten fewer watch batteries going into the landfill must be a good thing. I wore the Chicane for three or four days while collecting data for this review, and it didn't bother me a bit.
So, do we have a winner? Yup. The Orient Chicane is a great $100 automatic. They're out there, guys. They're just not found on TV or in in-flight magazines.