I would be lying if I didn’t admit to being a big fan of Japanese craftsmanship, especially the emphasis on artfully inspired dials. Orient Star is the top-tier division of big-box brand Orient, a well-known entity if you’re already into watches. The biggest draw is that Japanese brands have a particular design mindset and quality ethos, as we can see with the new Orient Star M34 F8 Date.

Orient Star is making a comeback, and it shows. We’ve already looked closely at the celestial inspiration behind the new M Collections, and these two new M34 F8 references are very significant. In our watch rabbit hole, we all know about the big value of Mako divers and the evergreen Bambino. But this time, we are closer to a certain Grand brand in spirit. However, like all Orient Star creations, these watches display a distinct personality and everyday elegance.

Introducing the Orient Star M34 F8 Date

Two takes on everyday Japanese elegance with a celestial twist

With a history dating back to 1951, the position of Orient Star is strong in many parts of the world. And we’re happy to see a big European reboot of our ever-shortening attention spans through the M34 series. These two F8 Date models are part of a range inspired by the skies and the Messier catalog of astronomical objects. Size-wise, we see a strong sign that Orient Star is aware of the on-trend diameter reduction. And just as we applauded the new 38mm Bambino, it makes the F8 big on wearability while understatedly elegant.

Introducing the Orient Star M34 F8 Date

The F8 boasts a sleek 40mm design and comfortable 47.3mm lug-to-lug length, while a 12.9mm thickness, 10-bar water resistance rating, and AR-coated sapphire crystal make it tough enough for everyday wear. Through the other sapphire crystal on the back, you’ll see the nicely finished and fully in-house F8N64 movement. It boasts 60 hours of power reserve and an accuracy of +15/-5 seconds daily. And given the brand’s reputation for long-term reliability and its watches usually being regulated better than the stated range, there’s nothing to complain about.

A white limited edition with a rich dial texture

We have seen variants of textured silver-white dials before. But getting the tone right while enhancing the vibe with a rich texture is difficult. In certain lights, the M34 F8 Date RE-BX0002S has a hint of champagne warmth, while the blued seconds hand offers timeless contrast. The brushed and polished steel case perfectly frames the modern dial with a warmer-than-pure-white tone. That also underlines one of the best sides of the F8 — its modernity. It’s a classless watch yet classy in a Rolex OP way, just like the modern Omega Aqua Terra with clear-cut details. With its textured dial, there’s no hiding that the M34 F8 Date is an astute alternative to a Grand Seiko at a better entry price.

Introducing the Orient Star M34 F8 Date

Deep blues with a sartorial touch

The RE-BX0004L reference has a deep indigo vibe that brings to mind a nighttime sky. This captivating color is achieved using Epson’s optical multilayer technology, which creates a color tone effect on a metal plate. The optical multilayer film controls light reflectance and transmittance through multiple layers of nano-thin transparent film to produce an effect that would not be possible with normal paintwork. The balanced case design is a great one-for-all piece, especially if your dress sense leans more on the formal side of casual. That said, the deep blue is great with some selvedge jeans and a T-shirt. And just like on the limited version, the applied details are budget-bustingly intricate.

Introducing the Orient Star M34 F8 Date

I won’t stray too far into fashion territory here, but I also have some nice blue bracelets that would match up nicely (sorry). But all in all, Orient Star has chosen the two colors wisely. They make the most of the hand-engraved pattern on the mold used to stamp these dials, and they stand out, even when faced with some nice Japanese alternatives.

In-house with a strong identity

Inspired by celestial objects and the intriguing Messier catalog, the M34 F8 Date collection is a strong card for Orient Star in today’s select marketplace. While I can see recognizable clues of timeless Swiss elegance and upper-echelon Japanese Grand Seiko, these two are delightfully recognizable as Orient Star watches. Keeping a visual identity without homage and leaning on its in-house strengths bode well for the brand. And in today’s packed watch scene, offering an elegant sports watch on a bracelet is challenging.

Introducing the Orient Star M34 F8 Date

But by keeping the M Collection clues and a recognizable identity that is not Swiss, the battle is half-won already. And it’s a battle of hearts, with a modern design and no retro feel. Not everyone loves a cheeky “XII” applied at 12 o’clock or the useful power reserve indicator under it. I do, and I love the textured dials, especially the lustrous silver-white one. With a solid steel bracelet that punches a few leagues over its price tag, it’s simply a winning combination. The Orient Star M34 F8 Date is available from selected dealers for around €2,672 (US$2,900).

How do you feel about Orient Star’s reinvigorated portfolio? The M34 F8 Date might even have given you a quirky OP alternative. So look closely and let me know your thoughts in the comments. And for more info on the brand, visit the Orient Star website.

Watch specifications

M34 F8 Date
RE-BX0002S (silver-white) / RE-BX0004L (blue)
Silver-white or blue with meteor-shower-inspired texture, applied indices, date window, and a recessed power reserve indicator
Case Material
316L stainless steel with brushed and polished finishes
Case Dimensions
40mm (diameter) × 47.3mm (lug-to-lug) × 12.9mm (thickness)
Double-domed sapphire with antireflective coating on both sides
Case Back
Stainless steel with sapphire crystal, screw-in
Orient F8N64: in-house caliber, automatic with manual winding, 21,600vph frequency, 60-hour power reserve, hacking seconds, rated accurate to +15/-5 seconds per day
Water Resistance
10 bar (100 meters)
Stainless steel multi-row bracelet with brushed and polished finishes and push-button deployant clasp
Time (hours, minutes, seconds), date, power reserve indicator
US$2,900 (~€2,672)