Orient – mechanical magnitude
Here is a watchmaking quiz for you - which company has produced more than 80 million mechanical watches in-house since the 1950s? Give up? The Orient Watch Company from Japan.
February 18, 2008
By Sophie Furley
The origin of Orient dates back to 1901 when Shogoro Yoshida opened a wholesale shop of watches in Ueno, one of the commercial districts in downtown Tokyo. The wristwatch manufacturing company was founded later, in the 1950s, and has been producing watches non-stop ever since. The Orient name may not be as well known as some of the other Japanese watch giants, but with some dramatic new models, the stability of over half a century of history and a reputation for offering excellent value for money, the company has everything to make itself heard in the international brand arena.
Orient manufactures and distributes more than two million watches a year, over one million of which are mechanical watches with in-house movements. The latest figures from the brand show that 55 percent of its overseas exports and 63 percent of its Japanese sales are mechanical watches. Add together all the mechanical watches that Orient has ever produced and you get the astronomical number of 80 million. So how does the company do it?
The movements are manufactured in Orient’s Technical Centre and it is thanks to the brand’s 50-year experience in micro-precision technology that the centre is able to produce such large quantities of quality mechanical movements. This technology started with the brand’s watch manufacturing business, but has also enabled Orient to expand the scope of its activities to other industry segments such as IT-related products including printer components, quartz oscillators, silicon wafers and other electronic devices.
The ROYAL Orient Collection
Mechanical watches have been gaining in popularity the world over, so it is no surprise that Orient has been steering the brand image towards the mechanical watch. Mr. Jiro Miyagawa, General Manager of Orient’s Overseas Sales Department explains, “We have been emphasizing our mechanical collection as the character of the brand. We regard mechanical watches as our core products and intend to promote them by drawing our customers’ attention to the craftsmanship and high quality of our timepieces.”
The company has three brand collections: Orient, Orient Star and Royal Orient, the latter of which is exclusive to the Japanese market. One of the latest additions to Orient’s overseas mechanical collections is the Orient Star Retro Future Collection. Orient chose its 46S50 automatic movement with small second hand and power reserve indication for this collection. The choice of the automatic movement made perfect sense as, like the brand, the automatic movement not only has a long history, but it is in constant evolution. The Retro Future collection is inspired by the futuristic, industrial designs of the 1950s and in particular the designs of cars, motorcycles, aeroplanes and even cameras.
The ORIENT STAR RETRO FUTURE Collection
There is a uniform feel about the Orient Star Retro Future Collection, even if the watches are very different from each other. This is achieved by subtle design details. The dial of the motor-cycle model, for example, takes its cues from the gas tanks of Italian motorcycles; the balance wheel of the car model is designed like a steering wheel; the camera model has a bezel in the form of a camera lens and the airplane model includes intricate details such as lugs in the form of tail fins and a bracelet with wing flap design. Everything is coherent and cleverly executed.
The other collections that accompany Orient’s mechanical offer are the Sporty Automatic, the Classic Automatic, the Fashionable Automatic, dedicated to women who appreciate the beauty of a mechanical timepiece and the Professional Diver watch with a water-resist-ance of 300 metres. In the quartz department, the environmentally friendly Light Powered 4000 series is also of particular interest as it works with battery power charged from various sources of light.
The Professional Diver
Orient’s longstanding history has enabled it to establish a strong distribution network with points of sale in over 70 countries worldwide. The strongest markets are Latin America and Central & Eastern Europe. Orient looks after its longstanding customers as well as its new customers with a network of service centres in the countries where Orient watches are available, such as the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Africa.
The brand now aims to continue its emphasis on the mechanical watch and to increase global brand recognition, “With the image improvement of the collection focused on the mechanical watch, we aim to establish our position in the market as a well-known international brand,” states Miyagawa. In addition to this, the company hopes to increase profits by further developing its precision technology and improving its cost competitiveness - three challenges that look in easy reach for Orient in the not too distant future.
Source: Europa Star December-Januar 2008 Magazine Issue