Orient WV0071SE NEO70s Radio Controlled Review

By: Kaz Mirza

The Orient NEO70s product line is honestly an untapped jewel within the affordable watch market. But a lack of online exposure, poor outreach from Orient Watches, and non-JDM distribution mean that many people will never actually discover how much fun these watches are. I’ve already reviewed the WV0051TX (aka the Orient Christmas Chrono) and I’m now proud to be doing a review of another Orient NEO70s piece, the WV0071SE Radio Controlled Watch.

For those who don’t know, the Orient NEO70s product line is primarily a JDM collection of affordable timepieces that pay tribute to certain design features of the past. Models generally re-imagine and reuse one or two vintage tropes to create a modern watch. The effect is that of a unique, vintage inspired watch that doesn’t feel like a heavy-handed “vintage homage.” The more popular pieces within the NEO70s series are solar quartz chronographs. But this Orient WV0071SE is unique in that it’s one of the lines’ few solar powered radio controlled movements. But how does it stack up for the price? Let’s find out.

The Case

The Orient NEO70s WV0071SE case is deceptively simple and looks straight-forward enough. But a closer looks reveals some wildly wonderful detailing for the price. The case dimensions come in at approximately 39mm in diameter, 46mm lug to lug, and 10.6mm thick. In a world where most watches hover around the 41/42 mark (and some ever larger than that!) the WV0071SE’s relatively small sized is very welcome.

The lugs are made up of a series of somewhat blocky hard angles. The only gradual slopes that exists on the watch are on the sides of the watch. These gradual slopes connect the North and South sides of the watch and bring a smart contrast to the more “structured,” hard-angled lugs. These hard angles feature a synchronized pattern of polished and brushed surfaces where the bottom of the lug is smooth polished, which leads to the matte brushed side of the main lug, which then continues to a smooth polished bevel, which then in turn resolves to a brushed lug top (polished, brushed, polished, brushed).

But for me the lugs aren’t the star. The WV0071SE hides it’s most incredible case feature right before your eyes: a smooth polished slightly sunken bezel. The sides of the Orient’s case hug around the bezel as opposed to the bezel simply resting on top of the case. The complete look is one of sleekness and visually pleasing attention to detail. This sunken bezel also creates an interesting circular effect around the watch that serves to help ground the design, making it feel as one cohesive unit. The bezel and the brushed/polished surfaces of the case really catch and roll light. This, as we’ll see, will be a reoccurring theme with the Orient NEO70s WV0071SE. Whether or not this is a good or bad thing remains to be seen.

From the side we can see that the lugs have a slight downwards slope. Traditionally this is meant to help watches with a larger lug-to-lug presence be more comfortable on the wrist. However, their inclusion here may (really, only may) serve to render a slightly awkward wearing experience for those with a larger wrist. The lugs slope beyond the threshold of the case back, which means if someone has a larger wrist, the lugs could slightly dig into the wearer’s skin, as opposed to extending beyond and hugging the perimeter of the wrist.

However for my wrist size of 6.75 inches the case size is perfect and the lugs slope down at just the right angle. Oh, and the watch is rated for 100 meters of water resistance. Interestingly, the crown does screw down (which I think is technically more for the function of the radio controlled movement).

The Dial and Crystal

This is where the Orient NEO70s WV0071SE goes into overdrive. I’ve included both the dial and the crystal in the title of this section because unlike many other watches, these two elements work in tandem to offer a combined aesthetic experience where the crystal serves much more than just a functional purpose.

The WV0071SE features a faceted crystal, which is to say that the surfaces of the crystal have been cut (or faceted) to almost reflect the ethos of a gemstone. The impact is that the watch is perceived as something quite precious. The facets themselves are composed of three flat surfaces that echo a similar progression as the flat surfaces of the lugs. The effect is really quite eye-catching. As light rolls off the crystal some elements of the dial are obscured while some are easily visible.

The sides of the crystal feature an interesting upward slope type of effect, which helps the crystal not feel like just three flat surfaces placed adjacent to each other. The curvature of the crystal’s sides offer an organic presence to contrast the systematic flat surfaces of the crystal’s front. I often find myself just running my fingers over the multiple surfaces of the crystal. It’s an odd experience because generally the crystal is meant purely for function. But in this case it’s probably one of the more defining visual features.

The dial of the Orient NEO70s WV0071SE is honestly a bit of an enigma and it’s left me scratching my head for a while. It features a radial sunburst effect that’s very subtle and the color is somewhere between blue and smokey-grey in person (it can also look almost purple). On the outside perimeter of the dial are the very unique applied markers. The markers are composed of a blocky, high polish “U”-shape snug up against black plastic material protruding from the chapter ring.


 
 


The chapter ring features ticks to track the movement of the second hand. But if you look closely you can see letters at 2, 4, 8, and 10. These elements are designed to help you understand how well (or not well) the WV0071SE is receiving a radio frequency. I’ll explain more below, but basically you press the receiver button at 2 o’clock and the second hand indicates whether or not reception with the frequency was successful: “Y” for yes – “N” for no. If the watch is receiving a signal, the second hand will evaluate the signal and then show whether or not the reception is low “L” or high “H” – pretty straightforward.

The watch has a bit of lume. There are small lume dots at below the markers and the hands have some as well. Speaking of hands, they are high polished and appear to be a riff on dauphine hands. However all the pointy parts of the traditional hands have been blunted. For me this offers a more blocky type of presentation, which is inline with the rest of the watch’s design.

Obviously the dial is gorgeous. However, when I take all the elements of the WV0071SE in, the effect is that it can sometimes feel like too much. With the faceted crystal, radial sunburst diver, chunky markers, high polished case surfaces – everything feels like it’s fighting for your attention. It’s a matter of having so many forward facing, loud elements. It can impact where your eye is supposed to go as well as legibility. However I should note that this effect only occurs with me when I first check the time on the watch after not looking at it for a while. Say, I’m just getting out of my car and I look at my wrist to see how late I am for a meeting – for a moment the watch is temporarily illegible. But once I get my bearings I can tell the time past the aesthetic elements.

The Bracelet

Interestingly, this bracelet on the NEO70s WV0071SE is of better quality than the other NEO70s I have in the collection. The style is the same, however the quality of the metal and the fit and finish on the clasp is better than the Christmas Chrono (also, that is to say, it’s certainly of good quality for a non-diver Orient in this price range).

At the lugs the bracelet is 20mm and it tapers down to about 18mm at the clasp. The clasp itself is a simple folding style push pin clasp with the release buttons on the side. The folding part of the clasp is stamped out and polished, which is to be expected in an Orient within this price range. So I’m happy with it. The entire bracelet is also polished on every surface, which is honestly quite welcome since there are already so many (almost too many) reflective surfaces on the watch.

The Movement

So much like the other NEO70s piece I’ve reviewed, the movement in this NEO70s WV0071SE presents a few questions. If you’re at all familiar with traditional Orient movement calibers, you’ll know that the brand is actually pretty well known for creating their own in-house mechanical movements, which they tend to iterate and improve on as time progresses. However, to my knowledge they don’t produce/create their own quartz calibers.

Yet this Orient WV0071SE is listed as having the Orient RR700 Solar Quartz caliber. What I suspect is that this WV0071SE (much like the Orient Christmas Chrono) is using an Orient-branded version of a normal production Seiko movement. Specifically, I believe the Orient RR700 is essentially the same movement as the Seiko 7B24. Both movements are roughly the same size and feature essentially the same functions. So basically, for those who’re unfamiliar, a radio controlled watch features a movement that receives signals from a station transmitting a frequency that the watch movement can align to in order to be synced with atomic time. It has the capability of being super accurate as long as it’s within reception range of a transmitting station (which are all over the world).

However, after doing some digging Orient states that the RR700 caliber will only receive a radio frequency from within Japan. While the Seiko 7B24 is able to receive frequencies from Japan, China, and USA. It’s possible that the movement can be modified accordingly. So since the Orient NEO70s is primarily a JDM product line, it stands to reason that the brand would want the watch to really only be fully functional in Japan. However outside the 2 Japanese transmitting frequencies (one in Mount Otakadoya and one in Mount Hagane), the watch still functions at -15/+15 Seconds a month. The movement can also last about 6 months on a solar charge.

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The movement will also allow you to set the time manually while also being able to assign one of 25 programmed time zones. The time zones are accurate in relation to the last time the watch synced with a transmitting frequency.

Final Thoughts

The big issue with the Orient NEO70s WV0071SE is legibility. The irony isn’t lost on me that a watch with a super accurate radio controlled movement has legibility issues. But for me I don’t really care that the issue is there and I don’t think Orient cares either. The sense I get from the WV0071SE is that this watch was designed for aesthetics and to really be a visually bold piece in a relatively small package.

Here’s the thing, if you see the WV0071SE online and you immediately fall in love with it’s bold look but aren’t sure about the practicalities of the watch, bear in mind this watch is a looker and a looker at best. If you’re interested in a watch that offers the best of a radio controlled movement, then this watch isn’t for you. However if you’re looking for something tastefully sized and designed in a really unique way, then I encourage you to pursue the watch.

The caveat is that this isn’t the type of watch you see and then have to think about whether you like it or not. You’ll know if you love the look the second you see it. If you see the watch and think it looks cool but aren’t sure if you want to actually wear it on your wrist, then it wasn’t meant to be. For me, I love this Orient NEO70s WV0071SE and it will have a cherished and welcome place in my collection forever. If you have any questions or comments about the watch please respond in the comments below!

Even though this timepiece is JDM only, it can still be purchased brand new through eBay from Japanese sellers. * (give or take $25 USD for seasonality and shipping).

NOTE: A huge shoutout to TBWS Podcast Listener @polorutz for supporting the show and making this specific review happen. Thank you, man!


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