Orient 3 Star (Tristar), the most economical Japanese automatic watch

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The Orient 3 Star, also known as the Orient Tristar and Orient Three Star, is arguably the most affordable automatic Japanese watch available.

As many may already know, the Orient brand belongs to the Seiko business conglomerate, which is a good sign in terms of quality.

Therefore, despite being very basic mechanical watches, the Orient 3 Star is made with good materials, keeps time well, and has an acceptable power reserve.

They also have a certain retro charm and dial colors that are not seen in other brands, making them suitable for combining and dressing up.

In this article, we will uncover each of its features, taking into account its operation and the different models currently available.

Orient 3 Star RA-AB0019L19B

MovementJapanese Automatic
CaliberOrient F4902
Case Diameter39 mm
Case Thickness11 mm
MaterialsStainless Steel
Water Resistance3 ATM

ÔťÜ Orient 3 Star – Specifications

Glass TypeMineral
Materials316L Stainless Steel
Diameter37 mm
Thickness11 mm
Strap Width19 mm
Lug-to-Lug Length42 mm
MovementJapanese Automatic
CaliberOrient F4902
Power Reserve~ 40 hours
Precision+25 / -15 seconds per day
Water Resistance3 ATM (30 meters)
ComplicationsDate and Day of the week with quick adjustment

ÔťÜ A bit of history

The Orient 3 Star collection began production in the 1970s, although the brand had already been using the three-star logo on other watches since the 1950s.

However, the Orient Tristar collection as such, with all its various models, would not reach the market until two decades later.

Orient 3 Star

Each of the stars represents a quality of the Orient 3 Star: the first is for design, the second represents quality, and the third represents affordability.

The 1970s were very challenging years for the watch industry as quartz technology gained ground, and many companies had to close as they became non-competitive.

The choice for surviving watchmakers was to abandon mechanical watches and switch to quartz watches, which were more precise and cheaper.

However, Orient, which already manufactured its own movements at that time, pursued a different strategy to face the crisis and chose to produce more affordable mechanical watches.

The brand’s approach was that there was still a significant demand for mechanical watches in less developed countries, where it was more difficult and costly to obtain replacement batteries.

Their new watches would be as affordable as the new quartz watches that were conquering the market and would not have the additional cost of having to change the battery periodically.

Basically, this is the spirit of the Orient 3 Star collection, simple yet well-designed watches that can fulfill their function for a long time without the need for maintenance.

ÔťÜ Design and features

The Orient 3 Star watches are old-school Japanese watches, with a classic design that stands out for its simplicity, while being elegant and functional.

These are daily wear watches, with components that, although economical, have been selected to withstand many hours of use. Let’s examine them in parts.

Ôץ Case and Crown

The case of the Orient Tristar is made of stainless steel and has quite compact dimensions, measuring only 37 mm in diameter in most models, although there are also 40mm and even 43mm options.

It is also quite slim for a mechanical watch, with a thickness of only 11 mm, allowing it to comfortably slide under a shirt cuff.

Even as the most economical option from Orient, the steel is adorned with a pleasant combination of polished and brushed surfaces, giving the watch a certain personality.

They could have chosen to make it entirely polished or entirely brushed to save time and money, but they opted to add some design elements, which is appreciated.

The case back is solid and engraved with the classic brand logo. It is also screw-down, making it more water-resistant.

It’s a pity that the crown is not also screw-down, a detail that reduces the watch’s water resistance. However, considering its price, one cannot expect much more.

Orient 3 Star SAB0B

MovementJapanese Automatic
CaliberOrient F4902
Case Diameter43 mm
Case Thickness11 mm
MaterialsStainless Steel
Water Resistance5 ATM

Ôץ Dial and Crystal

Each model of the Orient 3 Star has a different dial design, and some dials are truly eye-catching with shiny finishes and vibrant colors.

The markers are usually applied to enhance visibility, although there are also designs with large printed numbers.

Orient Tristar

The hands are pencil-shaped and also faceted. They also have a slight line of fluorescent lume to be visible in the dark.

The window displaying the date and day of the week at three o’clock is particularly noteworthy.

In general, all the designs offer good contrast, although some dials are easier to read than others depending on the color combination.

Of course, all models feature the three golden stars that identify the collection, as well as the logo with the characteristic Orient lions, which are clearly visible.

The crystal is mineral and slightly protrudes from the small polished steel bezel. It’s not the best crystal, but it performs its function well.

The brand could have easily included a cheaper acrylic crystal to save costs, but they have opted for a mineral crystal, which is also appreciated.

Ôץ Bracelet

The bracelet is perhaps the weak point of the Orient Tristar, as despite being made of stainless steel, it is not of the best quality.

It features an oyster-style design with folded links, which makes adjustment quite difficult and gives it a cheap feel compared to other stainless steel bracelets.

It is also quite noisy, and the clasp does not offer much security. However, it does have multiple micro-adjustment holes for a better fit.

Here, the price of these watches is noticeable, but fortunately, this is a component that can be easily replaced, for example, with a more comfortable and affordable NATO fabric strap.

Ôץ The Movement

As for the movement that powers the watch, we have the Orient F4902, a variation of the in-house automatic caliber 469.

Again, this is a 21-jewel, 21,600 vibrations per hour automatic movement, with date and day of the week complications.

Orient 3 Star

Like other economical calibers, the F4902 does not include manual winding and hacking seconds functions. The same is true for Seiko’s 7S26, possibly to reduce costs.

Many may not miss these functions, especially manual winding, as being an automatic watch, it is self-winding and does not require manual winding.

However, for those of us who collect watches and enjoy keeping them running and accurate on the table, these are details to consider.

The hacking seconds function is used to stop the seconds hand while adjusting the time, allowing for more precise time setting, which can be more useful, although not essential.

In terms of precision, the F4902 operates within the range of +25 / -15 sec per day according to the manufacturer, although in practice, Orient movements tend to be more accurate.

The ranges established by the brands should be understood more as a classification, indicating the maximum acceptable deviation for each mechanism.

In fact, most users of this watch report deviations of around 12 seconds per day or even lower.

ÔťÜ Orient 3 Star Models

Since the 1970s, the brand has continued to produce Orient Tristar watches, and this is evident in the number of models currently available.

Today, it is still possible to find the classic 37mm design in a wide variety of colors, but there are also new models with dials up to 43mm and many other designs.

While all of them still maintain the hallmark of the three stars and their qualities of design, quality, and affordability. Here are some of them:

ÔťÜ Price and Reviews

With the three-star collection, Orient has once again demonstrated that reliable and affordable automatic watches can be made simultaneously.

It is true that these watches have certain shortcomings, such as a cheap bracelet or a basic movement, but this does not affect the reliable performance that the Japanese have accustomed us to.

They may be inexpensive watches, but they are made with good components and undergo strict Japanese quality control to ensure they can function for many years without issues.

In conclusion, if you are looking for a watch for daily use that performs its function well and has an interesting retro design, one of these Orient watches is likely to be a great choice.

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Last update of links and images on 2024-03-04.

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