Orient, despite being a brand that really only sold to the Japanese Domestic Market back in the 1980s, certainly turned out some well-made and innovative watches.
Like this one — the 751103-41 Comment Alarm watch which featured a dot-matrix display, one of the earliest digital watches to do so.
It had many of the common features of the time — 12/24 clock, chronograph, hourly time signal, light, day/date and an alarm, but the alarm was a bit special.
While Orient made some watches with musical/melody alarms, this wasn’t one of them. Instead it had three user-programmable alpha-numeric messages that could be inputted, and selected to display when the alarm went off. It was limited to four characters (unlike Seiko’s similar D409 memo alarm watch) so you could only put words like Home, Work, Meet (or much ruder four-letter words, presumably)…
The alarm could be set for individual days of the week, rather than it being a daily alarm which was also a nice touch.
Like most (all?) Orient watches of the period, this has a solid stainless steel case and bracelet. Condition when I received it was immaculate cosmetically — but the insides were a mess.
The circuitboard is a flexible substrate which doesn’t hold up as well as a solid pcb so battery leakage had done its damage over a number of years. Fortunately I found another with a dinged-up case, missing bracelet and scratched crystal but was at least mostly running so was able to make one good watch from the two.
Interestingly vintage Orient watches can often be found in excellent cosmetic condition but non-running, due to the combination of oxidised traces and battery damage. While it is a sub-brand of Seiko today, Orient was very much their own company in the 1980s and perhaps didn’t have the same quality standards of their internal components as some of the other manufacturers. Sadly, new-old stock parts are rarely, if ever, seen for Orient watches.
It’s a shame, too, as their watches are very striking and look stunning, particularly when coupled with the features they have (dot matrix, analog LCD etc). If you find a working Orient watch, and like the look of it, buy it without delay – you won’t regret it!