Review of Orient Star ‘Somes’ Automatic

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At a Glance:
Model # WZ0041FR
Brand/Model:  Orient Star ‘Somes’ (Japan-only model)
Movement:  Japanese automatic
Material:  stainless steel case, leather strap
Complications:  power reserve indicator to 40 hours
Price:  MSRP around $550 USD

Plenty of photos follow the review!  Click on the pictures to enlarge.

Ever since Orient introduced this watch model several years ago, I was intrigued.  Now that I have finally acquired one, I am referring to it as a ‘grail’ purchase.  Orient Star is Orient’s mid-tier brand, ahead of just Orient, but behind Orient Star Royal.  All three lines exhibit Orient quality, but with different degrees of finishing, movement upgrades and case materials.
This Orient Star is model #WZ0041FR and is a Japan-only model.  In addition to the black dial I have, it comes in green, brown and silver dials as well.  I purchased this watch second-hand, in excellent condition.
The case is all stainless steel and is beautifully finished.  Somewhat of a classic ‘cushion’ style in shape, the sides are high polished and the top is brushed.  The bezel ring is polished.  The case measures about 43mm without the crown, 45.3mm with the crown, but be advised, it does not wear big!  Lug width is 21mm, case thickness is 13.8mm.
The screw down case back is a display type revealing the in-house ‘FR’ caliber Orient movement with 23 jewels and a decent level of finishing, including a signed rotor.  The movement does not manual wind or hack (demerits from me on these points) but keeps excellent time and with a full 40+ hour power reserve as indicated by the power reserve meter.  The meter is quite accurate as well!
The dial is a wonderful black with many subtle details, such as the way the power reserve and seconds subdials are gently inlaid and feature circular patterning.  The markers are applied and have a beautiful machined look to them, as if they are carved out of a solid chunk of metal.  The applied Orient Star logo is also a classy touch.  The hands are silver and again, have a cut, expensive look to them.  The hour and minute hands, power reserve indicator and outer edges of the markers are luminous.  Nice lume and evenly applied.  Under examination with an 8X loupe, no defects or imperfections were noted.
Judging from pictures of this watch, one thing that initially turned me off was the look of the seconds subdial.  I always thought it looked cheap, but in person, it does not.  This watch looks so much better in the flesh than in pictures.  The fit and finish does the Orient Star label proud.  It’s one of those pieces that you can truly derive joy from just by looking at it and studying it.
The crystal is domed sapphire, while the crown is a standard polished affair and does not screw down.  I do wish the crown was signed.  Water resistance is factory rated at 10 bar.
One feature that truly makes this watch unique is the strap.  Orient partnered with Japanese saddle and horse harness maker Somes (Somes Saddle Company) to make the strap for this watch.  Somes makes some very nice leather goods like wallets, key chains, handbags and attaches in addition to the horse tack, and their skill is evident here.  While the strap still exhibits a somewhat ‘rustic’ appearance, the quality of the leather and the skilled craftsmanship is plain to see. 
The strap measures 21mm at the lugs and tapers to 20mm at the simple silver buckle.  A single fixed keeper is installed near the buckle.  The color is best described as honey or warm tan, with darker brown stitching.  Luckily, it fits my thin wrist well and looks great.
Overall, this Orient Star ‘Somes’ as I refer to it is an impressively finished and unique watch that has tons of class but easily plays the dual role of sporting enthusiast and boardroom vice president.
Prices range all over the map, ‘Buy It Nows’ on you know where are in the upper $500 range, while clean used examples go from $250 to $300, depending on color.
Pros:  great looks, unique strap, power reserve meter utility, details abound, Japan-only exclusivity
Cons:  no manual winding or hacking, no date display (could bother some), Japan-only pricing
Verdict:  a superb effort from Orient, with a watch that exudes quality, confidence and style; you won’t see this one coming down the street everyday
Thanks for reading and enjoy the pics!
Excelsior,
-Marc
UPDATE!
Going on the nine month mark for my ownership of this Orient Somes automatic.  The lack of a second strap keeper is really the only thing that bothers me, otherwise, this watch has been keeping superb time and has a great look. 
-MCV, 4-11-11

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