Since the advent of the wristwatch industry, certain watches have transcended the aesthetic sensibilities of their time, having been envisioned to be worn for decades all the way back from the drawing board. The Rolex Datejust, and later the Rolex Day Date, are clear examples of this, and have spawned a plethora of both ill-fated replicas and respectful homages. The Orient 2EV03000BY “Day Date” is, in my opinion, one of the most tasteful homages out there. Today we have the pleasure of taking a closer look at this rare piece, but first, let’s get the basic specifications out of the way:
- Full reference number: 2EV03000BY
- Case material: Stainless Steel
- Case diameter: 36 mm
- Lug width: 20 mm
- Lug-to-lug length: 44 mm
- Thickness: 11 mm
- Movement: Orient 46E
- Frequency: 21,600 bph
- Power reserve: 40 h
Very scarce information about Orient is available online. More commonly known as an independent, small successful brand in emerging markets, nowadays Orient is owned by Seiko Epson, and has recently launched pieces such as the Mako and the Ray to great acclaim due to their astounding value. However, just like Seiko, Orient has experimented with different styles throughout the years. The Orient Day Date is one of such experiments, and brings a great level of affordability to one of the great horology icons of the 20th century.
A striking sunburst pattern graces the dial of the Orient Day Date, which is more of a pleasant charcoal shade than true black when viewed on direct sunlight. The baton-shaped hour markers draw attention towards the edge of the dial, which features a railroad track minute scale with small Roman numerals. It should be noted that the much more common 2nd generation model of the Orient Day Date is adorned with a diamond at every hour marker, which in my opinion detracts from the understated elegance of the original Rolex Day Date. This rare example of a 1st generation Orient Day Date is much more balanced, and keeps the famed subtlety of its source of inspiration. The baton-style hands further emphasize the design language of this piece: straight, sober, and refined. At 6 o’clock, the text “21 jewels – Water Resist” tells us a little about the technical aspects of the watch, while the Orient logo at 12 o’clock confidently completes the picture.
Of course, what are we really interested on is the “Day Date” aspect of the watch. At 3 o’clock, the usual date window peers through the charcoal dial, but a much more exciting window is positioned above the Orient logo, proudly displaying the day of the week like a marquee at a movie theater. The star of the show, I often catch myself admiring this mesmerizing, curved window, sometimes without really paying attention to the information it is displaying. Truth be told, it almost pains me to go back to any other watch that features a date complication only.
The case is made of stainless steel, and it’s almost the exact dimensions of the legendary Oyster case. Slim and well-proportioned, it hugs the wrist of the wearer with a distinct sense of aplomb, like it was made to be worn, not just revered in pictures. The fluted bezel provides a sparkling dynamism to the case, achieving an interesting contrast without being unnecessarily loud. The caseback does not show the fluted pattern of the Rolex Datejust, merely displaying the brand logo and some technical information about the movement. The crown is a little uninspired, and could definitely use some branding magic to liven up.
In keeping with the aesthetic of the watch, the bracelet is a perfect mix of form and function. Comfortable, light, and supple, its three-piece link construction looks like a million dollars, though of course it isn’t as heavy as the original President bracelet. The clasp is a simple hollow steel piece emblazoned with the Orient logo, but features no less than seven micro-adjustment holes which pretty much guarantee a perfect fit, something that much more expensive brands inexplicably forget to deliver.
Nothing to see here. Also, the aforementioned “Water Resist” text on the dial suggests the watch is good for 3 atm, at most. Better not take it to the pool.
The mineral crystal in the Orient Day Date is a good compromise between the acrylic of true vintage pieces and the sapphire of more recent watches. It is not completely scratch-resistant, though. This particular piece has been scratched before, and Polywatch isn’t known to work well on mineral crystals, so I guess I’ll have to source a new crystal later. The cyclops at 3 o’clock is a nice touch, and allows the wearer to easily check the date at a quick glance.
We finally arrive at the only truly disappointing part of the watch. To be fair, there’s nothing blatantly wrong with the accuracy of this particular piece, and Orient should be absolutely commended for manufacturing their movements in-house. However, the 46E caliber cannot be hacked or hand wound, which is a big letdown. Furthermore, the most useful complication of the watch cannot be easily operated. Pulling the crown out from its resting position to the first step allows to quickly change the date but not the day. The fastest way to set the day is to pull out the crown to the second step, then bring the hour hand to the midnight position, which moves the date forward. Next, the crown must be turned clockwise until the day window displays half of the next day. At this point, one must turn the crown counterclockwise all the way back to 11:30 PM (the day window won’t change position), and then move the crown forward again. The process must be repeated until the wearer arrives at the desired day of the week. Needless to say, this whole procedure is cumbersome at best and makes the wearer think twice before letting the watch exhaust its power reserve. It would be fantastic to be able to quickly change the day and the date using the same mechanism, but alas, something’s gotta give, especially at this price range.
In delivering this homage, I think Orient managed to pay a sincere compliment to one of the most well-designed watches of the 20th century, while bringing it down to an affordable level for the masses. Nevertheless, the price of this watch in the used market has been consistently creeping up due to its rarity and superb attention to detail. If you are interested in this piece, search wide and be prepared to act fast in case you manage to find a coveted NOS model. Good luck!