If you’re already into watches, Japanese brands have a different design mindset and offer big value. Orient Star is a brand you’ll think of if you’re a seasoned watch geek like me, especially if you actually remember watch forums (ask your dad or an uncle). Most brands have a lot to offer, but with microbrands on the rise and prices rising, it’s a different market.

Orient has maintained a great entry point with its fan-favorite Mako and Bambino. However, like Toyota, it has a Lexus-level brand — Orient Star. These top-notch offerings have a distinctive design language and a Japanese take on premium with signature details. And the new Orient Star M Collections might just have what it takes to shake up the European watch scene.

M Collections


The Orient Star M Collections

Orient Star is a brand with a history dating back to 1951. In the East, it has always been Orient’s big rival to premium mid-range offerings from Seiko and Citizen. A merger in 2017 with the Seiko Epson Corporation also strengthened the future growth of Orient and Orient Star, laying the foundation for continued European success.

From a storied diver to skeletonized chic, the M Collections take inspiration from the stars and the astronomical Messier catalog, which includes a diverse range of astronomical objects, such as star clusters, nebulae, and galaxies. This is all set within new case and bracelet designs that I saw in London last December and found rather impressive. Let’s look at three of the most important references showing the scope of the new range.

M Collections

The M34 F7 Semi-skeleton RE-BY0004A

Craftsmanship should always be front and center to captivate a much-needed new demographic of watch buyers, even future collectors. And for me, the new M34 F7 Semi-Skeleton ticks all the right boxes with aplomb. The M34 F7 range has a brushed steel case with a mid-sized 40mm diameter and sharp, polished bevels on the sides, accentuating the soft sweep of the lugs. Well matched with a brushed and polished steel bracelet, the details have a distinct Japanese lean and, to my joy, verge on the obsessive.

I have been hands-on with this M34 in London, and the well-shaped 40mm case sits sleekly on the wrist. Plus, if faced with a Presage or Prospex contender, the bracelet could easily win by knockout. Its design is a well-judged blend of acute polished mid-links and impressive multi-part H-links that lend a unique identity, beating a few big Swiss brands in execution.

M Collections

The show’s star is the dégradé blue mother-of-pearl dial with its asymmetric design. It remains balanced by the Orient Star logo at 3 o’clock, while the figure-eight vibe of the power reserve indicator and small seconds straddles glamour and functionality. The intricate dial belies a 100m depth rating that makes for everyday wearability in addition to a 40 × 47.3 × 13mm case. Powered by the in-house F7F44 caliber with a 50-hour power reserve, the watch offers a view of the oscillating balance at 9 o’clock, while vertical striping and perlage adorn the rear view. To me, this M34 F7 RE-BY0004A comes across as a versatile sports watch with the feeling of Northern Lights blues. Inspired by the Perseus star cluster, it will surely brighten many dull days. Meanwhile, the in-house movement provides an accuracy of +15/-5 seconds per day. This curated choice has a price of €1,226.

The M42 Diver 1964 2nd Edition F6 Date 200m RE-AU0602E

A retro-tinged dive watch is paramount to 2024 success, and the M42 Diver 1964 2nd Edition is perhaps just the ticket. I had the pleasure of reviewing the black-lacquer-dial version last year. With mostly polished case details and an aluminum bezel insert, it has a strong presence with a perfect 41mm size. If you’re used to the pure tool vibe of brushed steel, the Diver 1964 has a more refined look, but is it too dressy? Look back at some of the first dive watches, including the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms, and polished cases were the name of the game. Size-wise, the M42 feels right on the wrist, with angled lugs emphasizing the ergonomics. Choice bevel details mark it as a cut above your average daily-wear tool watch, including the trademark faceted lugs.

M Collections

This diver is fairly true to its original inspiration from 1964, which you can see here. With this edition, the elegant tone is only underlined by a matte sea-green dial. This offers an elegant background to the thickly lumed indices and Orient Star’s trademark power reserve crescent at 12. I would love to see angular applied indices, but this is about purity of line and a deep respect for the brand’s first dive watch.

I enjoy the crisp monochrome vibe and clean detail focus of the black-dial version (ref. RE-AU601B), but the deep green fumé of the RE-AU0602E brings a new dimension within the ocean-depth-like dial. Its 41mm diameter (40.2 sans bezel) and even the 14.5mm thickness feel compact, while the 49.6mm length makes for comfort thanks to the lug design with the nice detail of a dramatic facet. This M42 Diver has a price of €1,475.

M Collections

The M45 F7 Mechanical Moon Phase RE-AY0121A

The M45 F7, with its mechanical moonphase complication, is the dressiest of this trio. It is suffused with the warm tones of autumn and choice black details. The inspiration comes from the Pleiades star cluster, known as Subaru (昴) in Japan. It carries on the mother-of-pearl theme from the M34 with a gradient brown-toned split-level dial with a deep coffee tint. The vibe is vintage, almost tropical in hue.

A black calendar ring intersects the hour scale and inner dial at 6 o’clock. Within its confines is a luscious mocha brown and a dark blue disc portraying the starry sky and moon. While it’s busy, the 41 × 49 × 13.8mm case makes the most of the intricate scene. I’d call it legible with a touch of mid-century glamour.

A fluted black ring frames the inner dial, while big silver Roman numerals match the polished and brushed feuille handset. The whole scene brings to mind a private club with antique leather armchairs, perhaps enlivened by the pleasure of a golden-colored cocktail. With its soft Horween Cordovan leather strap and bronze-colored bezel, the M45 F7 is not for lovers of monochrome tools. And that’s a compliment. If you get enamored by Orient Star’s power reserve indicator at 12, this might be the perfect dressy accomplice to the vintage-vibing M42 Diver. Evocative yet not vintage per se, the RE-AY0121A easily crosses the line between complex modernity and mid-century style. It is available in a 180-piece limited series for €2,000.

So, dear Fratelli, how do you feel about the return of Orient Star? Now that I’m past 40, I remember the Orient crest in the shop window displays of my childhood, and I think it’s about time. Let me know your thoughts about the Orient Star M Collections in the comments.