I'm new here, but I just wanted to share my thoughts on my most recent addition to my very small collection: the Orient Flash. The watch is a reissue from the "Fukkoku" series, and is exclusively sold in Japan, but I managed to snag it via Rakuten. I've seen very little on Watchuseek regarding this watch, and while I am no expert, I would like to give you guys a general impression of the timepiece.
According to the included paperwork (all in Japanese), the watch was originally released in 1964. The watch was designed for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, and is rumored to be the first to include a battery-operated illumination mechanism. I can only assume that the re-release is a limited edition piece, but unfortunately, as I cannot read Japanese, I have no idea how many have been reproduced. If you know anything more about the history or specifics of this watch, be sure to inform me in the comments!
Anyhow, after a week or so of convincing myself I could afford the thing, I pulled the trigger. My service through Rakuten was amazing, and the package shipped and arrived here in the U.S. within a week of purchase for a reasonable shipping price. One small qualm I have with the watch is that the warranty is only honored in Japan, but given my previous experience with Orients, I am not worried.
The watch arrived in a pretty standard red box, labeled "Orient High Quality." What immediately struck me about the watch was how elegant it appeared in person. Online it appeared very interesting, but I would not call it elegant. In person, however, I had to take a second look to confirm that this was indeed the watch I had ordered. The appearance is indeed very retro, but not to the extent of seeming dated. The case sizing is 41.5mm, but the piece appears slightly smaller due to the large shoulders on the watch. Upon first placing the watch upon my wrist, I was a little alarmed. This watch is thick! My daily wearer has been an Orient Esteem, and this wore SIGNIFIGANTLY higher upon my wist.
These dimensions are true to the original, and in an era of smaller watches, I can only attribute them to the necessity of incorporating both a mechanical movement and a battery into the case. In the time that I've owned the watch (about a month and a half now), this has ceased to bother me, and I have learned to embrace the presence added by the larger case dimensions.
The finish of the watch is a very glossy polish to the stainless steel, and while it is gorgeous, if worn day to day I'm sure it would acquire scratches and imperfections. Right now as a college student, I wear this watch somewhat casually, and it works surprisingly alright. The other day I wore it to an interview, and it also wears incredibly well with formal wear. The all around quality and attention to detail around the watch is unbelievable, and I am inclined to believe it would be more comparable to an Orient Star than a standard Orient. The caseback is nothing special, and already has a few scratches, but it does confirm that the watch is in fact made in Japan. In a perfect world, I would have like to see an edition number or something a little more here, but it seems as though Orient was more focused on remaining true to the original.
The dial is by far my favorite aspect of the watch, and really what drew me to the watch in the first place. Everyone who is familiar with this watch characterizes it for its peculiar light-up feature, but in doing so, IMHO, neglects the unique aesthetics of the piece. The crystalline "reflection ring" was one of the things I was concerned about prior to seeing the watch in person. I had been concerned that it would appear "plastickey" and not unlike those red reflectors you put at the end of your driveway. I was extremely pleased to see the ring was much more beautiful than that. I really can only compare it to fine glassware, and although it is layered beneath the main crystal, it really dominates the face of the watch. The indices are also gorgeous; the have that old fashioned beveled texture that almost seems art deco.
The hands are also unique, in that they are quite broad and dipped in a rather powerful lume. They are not as easy to read as some, but that doesn't bother me a bit. Here is the watch in semi-darkness after resting in ordinary indoor light:
The watch is my first hacking handwind movement, and naturally, i think it is fantastic. It can go a good two days without a wind-up, but at twenty turns a day it keeps superb time. The watch cannot be overwound, and the large signed crown facilitates easy winding. I don't know of many other Orients that are solely handwound, and I think it adds something special to the piece. The second hand is smooth, and the watch is remarkably quiet. In comparison to my Esteem, the all around silence of the thing is unreal.
The band is excellent quality, and while still alligator embossed calfskin, it blows the strap on the Esteem out of the water. It is padded and superbly comfortable, and with a retro buckle like this, what's not to like?
Really my only gripe with the watch is the lack of AR coating, but this is very minor. On a sunny day, the watch can be blinding, but in all honesty I kind of like it. This watch is by nature a little show-offy, so I can't complain.
Finally, I'm sure you would like to see the feature for which the Flash got its name. I've saved this for the end because I believe that the watch catches a lot of flak for being "gimmicky." To me the battery powered illumination is cool, but ultimately a small feature in the larger package of the watch. I rarely use this feature, partially because the lume does such a good job, and partially because I'd like to preserve the battery within as long as possible. Anyways, here it is!
Anyways, I appreciate you taking the time to read my review! In summary, the watch is beautiful and as always, pictures can't do it justice. If you are in the market for a unique watch and you are a huge fan of Orients like myself, I'd urge you to take the plunge!