Face-1In a first for Watch Report, today’s review is of the Orient CDD00001W0 pocket watch. As in the kind that you wear in your pocket, and have to wind every day. Updated with modern materials and movement, this is a new take on an old standard. Let’s see how they did. First, the specifications:

  • In-house mechanical movement, Orient 48C40, made in Japan, 21 jewels, 21,600 vph.
  • Hacking center seconds (very unusual in a pocket watch).
  • 40-hour power reserve with power reserve complication at 9 o’clock.
  • Stainless steel case and sapphire crystals, front and rear.
  • Shock-protected movement. (Balance staff and other key jewels have springs on them, unlike vintage movements.)
  • 40mm by 11.5mm case, waterproof to 30m (100ft).
  • Stainless steel chain with belt clip included.

Please read on for more.

Movement-1 This watch really surprised a lot of people when it appeared, myself included. Orient does very few pocket watches, and has never shipped a handwind-only movement before (given that a pocket watch is determinedly retro, an automatic seems less appropriate). From the looks of the perlage-decorated movement, Orient took one of their better automatics and removed the rotor, reversers, and winding bridge, simplifying a bit to produce the 3/4 plate design seen here. It’s a nice looking movement.

Super-closeup When you first open the presentation case, a “wow” may well be the first reaction. The face is simply stunning. Orient, often quite good at well-balanced and classical designs, has outdone themselves this time. Blued Breguet hands, guilloche dial, applied hour markers, blue minute markers, upright Arabic numerals in a retro font, and the unobtrusive yet very useful power reserve subdial. Look at the hour markers in the close-up: they’re pointed cones, and the minute marks are blue. Lovely!

Back-1 Orient has done some upgrades to the classic design that enormously help its practicality. First off, the case is stainless steel: quite durable, and actually water resistant to 30m. It’s not going to go swimming (which would be odd for a pocket watch), but if you get rained on, it’ll survive. Secondly, the crystal is sapphire, which means it will be unscathed if it ends up in the same pocket as your keys or cell phone. This one is a key innovation, and simply wasn’t possible until recently. Thirdly, the jewels are shock protected by Parashock, making for a vastly more durable watch in daily use. Vintage pocketwatches often have broken balance staffs from jarring or drops, and just aren’t as durable as you might expect. If you add all of these up, I’d expect that with maintenance every 5-10 years, this is a watch you could pass on in fine condition to your grandchildren.

Gs-comparo In actual use, there are two more tangible improvements that increase its usefulness: the power reserve meter is a very useful reminder of when to wind, critical for those of us unused to hand-winding movements. The hacking seconds are also very nice for setting the correct time – just because its a pocket watch doesn’t mean its inaccurate!

So what’s it like to actually wear a pocket watch in 2009? Without exaggeration, I can say that it changes your perception of time when you have to pull your watch out of your pocket to check it. I noticed how often I glance at a wristwatch because of how simple the process is comparatively. It’s a more relaxed and formal feel at the same time. Between the chain and the steps required to view it, it’s a fairly public statement of style; expect to get comments and start conversations. I found that the smooth pebble-like shape to fit perfectly in the coin pocket of my jeans, which also goes quite well with the steel chain.

Hand Interestingly, the Orient is a bit smaller than vintage watches at 40mm. Most older ones are in the 50mm range. I have unusually large hands, so it sometimes feels a bit smaller than I expect, kind of the reverse of the big-watch trend of the past few years. Makes it fit better in coin pockets, though, so it’s more practical in this size.

Overall, I’d say that this is a very well done update of a classic design with modern materials. It’s an unimpeachably classic dial paired with a more durable case, crystal, and movement, yielding a retro-futuristic beauty that should last for generations. Style-wise, it’s a lot of fun to wear and definitely makes a ‘retro but practical’ statement to discuss with anyone who sees it.

List price on the CDD00001W0 is $390, which I consider to be a good value given the quality of materials, movement, and construction. Our thanks to Orient USA for the review unit.

By Paul Hubbard

1 Comment

  1. This is a great looking watch. I’ve always wanted a pocket watch but didn’t want an old vintage as they are not practical for everyday use. However, I’d love to know a bit more about the “Royal Orient” edition of the similar pocket watch that’s supposedly only available in the Japanese market. Could you possible tell us about the differences besides the price? I know this watch uses 48C40 movement while Royal Orient version uses 48A40 movement. Is one really better than the other? What other differences are there? Thanks.

    Reply

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