Most folks may not be familiar with the Orient Neo70s line. Basically, the Neo70s line is designed to evoke (not necessarily replicate) notable watch characteristics from the 70s. So, in a sense, you could call them “retro.” But that’s not entirely accurate in my opinion.
These retro-thinking designs feature a single aesthetic, eye-catching feature to them, which brings an unexpected (but totally welcomed), refreshing “wobble” to the design. Case in point, the Orient WV0051TX Neo70s Solar Chronograph, a limited edition JDM (Japanese Domestic Market) piece offered specifically during Christmas 2016; this is why you may sometimes hear me call it the “Christmas Chronograph” on the show and IG feed.
I actually spent a lot of time contemplating the watch before I even attempted this review. I was stuck in a rut. I didn’t feel comfortable articulating my opinions on the Orient WV0051TX simply because I couldn’t articulate what “retro” meant. Sure, I can say something like “inspired by the chronograph designs from the 70s” – but that’s not capturing the conundrum of modern-retro design and its ethos.
It only felt right for me to proceed with the review by explaining (in my opinion, I suppose) just what quantifiable, notable characteristics make something “retro.” The best I could come up with is that a piece is retro when certain characteristics of its visual design feature an honest, authentic, and non-derogatory lack of refinement. And that’s what the Orient WV0051TX captures beautifully; but alongside this retro ethos you’re going to find modern flair that’s congruent with other Neo70s pieces.
Coming in at an extremely tasteful 42mm case diameter, the Orient WV0051TX is comfortable. Plus with an approximate 48mm lug to lug measurement, the piece has a great wrist presence without being overbearing. The curvature of the lugs helps keep the case snug against your wrist.
Speaking of the lugs, you’ll see that the curve of the lug starts all the way at the edge-circumference of the case diameter. So what’s really cool is that from this point the angle towards the lugs starts wide and then gradually slops down and inwards towards the lug tips. Visually it’s a very fun curvature and it helps give the watch some serious “forward-facing” momentum. The tops of the lugs are brushed and the tips are reminiscent of what you may see on some early 70s LeJour and Yema Chronographs. The case sides however feature a very high modern polish, adding a pleasing contrast to the vintage-inspired brushed lugs.
The pushers are what you would expect from a quartz chronograph. The chronograph engagement button at 2 o’clock has very little resistance and the same can be said for the reset at 4 o’ clock (although on my piece the reset had a slightly stronger “click” to it). The bezel features a modern polish like the case sides and it’s profile is quite interesting, As opposed to being flush against the case, the bezel has a slight lip that bevels down and inwards at the outer perimeter of its diameter. This adds a bit more visial “heft” to the case, which I have no complaints about.
I’m not going to beat around the bush here – the dial is the best part the Orient WV0051TX. This is that eye-catching feature/”wobble” I mentioned earlier. The first feature that pops out is the color. It’s a deep turquoise/teal hue with the edges towards the 3 and 9 markers featuring a gradient transition to black. Also noteworthy is the pin stripe texture on the dial. It may be hard to spot but the stripes aren’t completely straight through their whole length. Take a close look and you’ll see they actually stagger. This creates a pretty fun effect because if the stripes were totally straight it may make the piece feel a bit too “buttoned-up.” By staggering the pin stripes it creates a visually pleasing off-kilter vibe.
Three subdials compliment the piece’s color and dial facade; a 24-hour subdial, a 60-minute chronograph subdial, and a continuous seconds subdial. It’s also my understanding that these are where the sunlight in absorbed to power the movement. If you look close you can make out the panels. The subdials are also hugged by a thin strip of polished material that really helps them stand out. Plus the bar indices that circle the dial also feature this same polished material. The seconds ticks are displayed on a beveled outer chapter ring.
I mean, alright – the bracelet’s bad. Like, really bad. As soon as Orient WV0051TX arrives on your door step just take the bracelet off and chuck it somewhere (facetiously hyperbolic).
There are actually two good things I can say about the bracelet. (1) It was keeping the springbars warm for me before I could get my ToxicNATOs ToxicShiznit on there (photo below). And (2) the bracelet actually does photograph pretty well. Aesthetically it looks great, but the feel of it will be lacking. The endlinks are hollow and the three-fold clasp is stamped and very flimsy. The H-Link style links feature a lot of gaping and the overall feel isn’t very tight.
However, this is something you see with non-diver pieces from Orient. Personally, I don’t mind it – it’s a cost-cutting measure to keep the watch reasonably priced, and I would personally have this watch for it’s current price and use my own NATO rather than paying possible $200 more for a good quality bracelet.
The movement is a bit of a mystery here. It’s labeled as the Orient KBS00, which is strange because it’s pretty well known that Orient doesn’t make Solar Quartz Movements. Plus, Orient has a long-standing and proud tradition of utilizing all in house components and pieces (especially movements!). So after some sleuthing (rolling 20s on my Google-Fu) I’ve come to the reasonable assumption that the KSB00 is most likely the Seiko Solar V175, a pretty ubiquitous Solar Chronograph movement used in such favorites as the Seiko SSC017 and SSC031. I’ve come to the conclusion based off the fact that both movements have the same specs:
- 6 Months worth of solar charge
- +/- 15 seconds a month
- Date window between 4 and 5 o’clock
It seems like the KBS00 is only associated with a few pieces in the NEO70s line. In terms of function the movement is honestly great. When activated the chronograph hand sweeps quite smoothly for a quartz piece like this and it resets just fine. I’m just interested in researching solar movements in these Orient pieces more in the future. So if anyone has any insight on that please reach out to me.
Honestly this review is representative of both the Orient WV0051TX and the Orient NEO 70s line as a whole. My Christmas Chrono is limited to 1000 pieces and there are still some pieces available online through eBay for around the $300. But there are also other Orient NEO70s Quartz Solar Chrono pieces available for around $175-$200 (like the WV0021TY and WV0031TX). The general approach and noteworthy features across the product offering are very similar. So if the Orient WV0051TX is intriguing to you but you don’t want to spend the $300 (or if the teal/turqiose dial isn’t your style) there are other offerings available.
As a whole I’m extremely happy with this Orient Solar Quartz Chrono. For me it feels like a lot of watch for the price and it hits a few key criteria for me that are important. Striking but subtle aesthetics? Check. Reliable movement? Check. Great price? Check. A seldom seen piece? Double check. But most important of all the watch is just fun to wear. The weight is perfect and I can even dress it up or dress it down depending on the occasion. As far as I’m concerned the Orient WV0051TX is a winner and a welcomed permanent addition to my collection.
Totally share your thoughts and questions about the review in the comments below. Love it or hate it we’d love to hear from you!
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Kaz has been collecting watches since 2015, but he’s been fascinated by product design, the Collector’s psychology, and brand marketing his whole life. While sharing the same strong fondness for all things horologically-affordable as Mike (his TBWS partner in crime), Kaz’s collection niche is also focused on vintage Soviet watches as well as watches that feature a unique, but well-designed quirk or visual hook.