Unraveling the Diver 1964 2nd Edition, a Timepiece Integrating Advanced Modern Performance and the Essence of the 1960s When Everyday was New
October 2, 2023
Following the immediate sellout of the Diver 1964 1st Edition which was released in 2021 to celebrate the Orient Star brand’s 70th anniversary, the Diver 1964 2nd Edition was launched in the summer of 2022, reproducing the original design of the 1964 Calendar Auto Orient with upgraded specifications. What are the features of this second edition, and what type of divers’ watches fit into today’s lifestyles? Daisuke Tanabe, in charge of product planning, and Katsunori Kume, in charge of design, talk in depth on this topic.
Text: with ORIENT STAR editorial team
1964 marked the start of Orient's diver design
―― The Diver 1964 2nd Edition is the second model that will be released fairly soon after its predecessor Diver 1964 model. What is the original model on which this is based?
Daisuke Tanabe (hereinafter “Tanabe”): This second model is a modern version of the Calendar Auto Orient, also launched in 1964. The 1960s was a time of rapid economic growth for Japan when the entire country was full of vibrancy, and lifestyles and values were becoming increasingly diverse. The Calendar Auto Orient was born in such an era, and its use of luminescent dot indices and hands, as well as a rotating bezel, reveal how it marked the start of the modern diver design. We focused on bringing back these features to the modern days.
―― As you did with the 1st edition, you developed the new model by studying past materials and actual samples of the original timepiece. What aspects did you make use of or improve upon in the modernization process?
Tanabe: When I saw the original model released in 1964, not only did it feel nostalgic, but it also made me want to wear it now. The model is also a diver timepiece that matches very well with the more diversified times of today, or rather, like a partner you can wear for both work and off-work. Unlike the massive and robust divers’ watches you find today, the original model has no crown guard on the case and has more of a simple look. It gave me the impression that it was a diver’s watch that is somewhat plain and suited for daily use. Thinking that this aspect was what made it appear modern, I was determined to adhere to this design.
―― At first glance, the mirror black finish on the dial stands out.
Tanabe: In the 1960s, cars, for example, and many other products were designed with mirror finish. In fact, the original model also incorporated a very glossy dial. The new model also follows this with a mirrored black dial. The rotating bezel display plate is also mirror-finished to match this. I feel this makes it appear more luxurious with a refreshing look than a matte finish.
―― What methods are used for the finishing process?
Tanabe: A clear coating that is slightly thicker than usual is applied to give it a more transparent feel, or should I say, fresh black appearance. Overlayed Luminous Light was also added to the indices to make the divers' dial appear more contoured, which otherwise tends to be flat.
―― The 41.0-mm case is also a good size for everyday use.
Katsunori Kume (hereinafter “Kume”): I think that the key to keeping in trend and meeting the specifications of today’s authentic divers’ watches while inheriting the good elements of the original model comes down to the size. Given that the specifications for an authentic divers' model would require a certain size to match the functionality, the most difficult part of the development process was deciding how to balance this functionality with its size. Everyone in the development team put a lot of effort into the size.
―― Were multiple prototypes created during the development process before making the final decision?
Kume: Some wanted a complete revival of the original model, while others wanted to reproduce the original as a modern product that met the specifications of divers' watches. After creating prototypes of various sizes and much discussion, we finally settled on this size and air diver’s 200m (diver).
Tanabe: We had discussions, but we felt that complying with the ISO standard was a must because we wanted to deliver a divers' watch that was both authentic and aligned with the modern times and filtered through the Orient Star brand. Having this as the base idea, we focused on how we can add on the attractive features of the original Calendar Auto Orient, such as the compact case size.
―― So even though the appearance looks like a revival, the model is a divers' watch with air diver’s 200m in accordance with ISO6425, the international standard for divers’ watches.
Tanabe: At a quick glance, I would imagine that many people will think that this ISO standard divers' model is a “water-resistant watch.” It is in fact a water-resistant watch, but to become an authentic divers' model, it must meet various requirements in addition to water resistance, such as shock resistance. As was the case with the 1st edition released last year, divers' models require quite elaborate improvements, including exclusive movement designed to withstand shocks. Meanwhile, we also have to work on a completely opposite task, which is to make the size compact. There are many restrictions that apply to divers' models, and the challenge is to find the right balance to overcome these restrictions by adding or subtracting design elements.
Kume: Actually, drop tests are conducted for divers’ watches to assess shock resistance. Take the shape of the hands in this model, for example. Even if we wanted to make the tip thicker, the force would be applied to the thinner part at the base, potentially causing it to break easily. Like this, we continued the challenge to create the most desired shape and form, while meeting the diver’s watch standard. With strict requirements that differ from other watches, it was always about finding the right balance between mechanical design and aesthetics close to the original as possible.
―― It is also unique in that it is an authentic divers' watch in terms of performance, but also equipped with a power indicator.
Kume: Indeed, you rarely see diver models with power reserves. This is a distinctive feature of Orient Star.
Tanabe: The power indicator at 12 o’clock position is an Orient Star standard and icon. Although we would like to continue embracing this, it stirred debate. From a design standpoint, the inclusion of a power reserve indicator would drastically change the look of the historical divers' model to a modern appearance and alter its expression as well. I think Kume also thought through on how to balance these elements.
Kume: I did struggle a bit with balancing between fulfilling the functions of the power reserve indicator and not making it stand out as much as possible. Conventionally, we bring forth this fan shape as an icon for other Orient Star models, but for this, we changed our approach and intentionally did the exact opposite.
―― In addition to the metal bracelet, this model also features a characteristic exchangeable silicon strap.
Tanabe: The 1960s was also characterised by very aggressive metal bracelet designs. The one on the 1964 Calendar Auto Orient was also in a unique design with a series of pyramid-shaped protrusions on the centre row of the metal bracelet. We also wanted to retain that iconic design somewhere. However, we concluded that it would be impractical to use a metal bracelet with such design when diving. Thus, we kept the original design on the silicon strap.
Kume: I think there's an image of divers' watch straps having a wavy shape, but it came to be in such design because urethane does not have much elasticity and the shape made it easier to put on. Today, the quality of silicon has improved considerably in both elasticity and durability, making it possible to apply new designs and not just wave shapes. We thought that a silicon strap would be best to make use of the pyramid-shaped design that was on the past model’s metal bracelet and designed it with a bit of playfulness. The back side is also designed with water drainage in mind while also including the Orient Star logo.
―― So, how do you want this new divers' model to be worn and enjoyed?
Tanabe: As work styles became more diverse in the pandemic with people working from home or from anywhere, business attire also changed. In an age when there is no need to wear a suit as long as you are dressed slightly neatly, I feel that the way watches are selected has changed a bit. Before, watches were a necessity, but only for work. However, watches that can also be worn casually are now being preferred. For this model, we thought about what kind of watch would be versatile for any occasion, or wouldn’t get in the way, and become a constant companion. One that would be a solid, water-resistant watch, compact in size, that looks both dressy and casual. Therefore, we envisioned a divers' watch that can be worn and enjoyed on a daily basis effortlessly and casually, rather than one worn for strenuous outdoor occasions.
―― Speaking of sporty and dressy divers' models that fit today’s lifestyles, there is another model with a beautiful coloured dial that is synonymous with Orient Star.
Kume: While the black reproduces the beauty of the original model’s mirror finish, this model is intentionally designed with a half-matte finish so that the mystic green of the Ryusendo Cave is accentuated. We had a clear motif planned to express the unique green of this Ryusendo Cave and its captivating gradation for this model, so we really struggled to express this. Looking at the finished timepiece, I feel that we created a model that represents the beauty of the Ryusendo Cave as well as an easy-to-wear model despite being an authentic diver.
Tanabe: Being an authentic diver but easy-to-wear may be comparable to SUVs. The same trend can be seen in the design and colouring of SUVs made to look good when cruising in town despite being an SUV. You now see image cuts of cars cruising in the city more often.
Kume: You can think of it as an authentic cross-country ladder-frame four-wheel drive, but intertwined with the coolness of a modern SUV.
Tanabe: Designs have changed considerably over the years even for simple three-hand models and chronographs, but the divers' models are probably the only ones in which their basic designs have remained unchanged to this extent. And the roots of divers' models are also important, as many people are very fond of the stories pertaining to the development of the original model and trivia around it. We hope that such enthusiasts will learn more about Orient Star diver models. I would be delighted if the Diver 1964 2nd Edition, inspired by the historical model that marked the start of our modern diver design, will provide such an opportunity.
|Daisuke Tanabe: Currently in the WP Strategic Planning Department, he joined Orient Watch in 2004. After working in operations including sales, he was transferred to the product planning department in 2011. Since then, he has mainly been in charge of product planning for Orient Star models.
|Katsunori Kume: Currently in the WP Design Department, he joined Seiko Epson in 2001. He has been involved in the design of some Orient models since 2012, and has been a key designer of the Orient brand since 2014.
Left: RE-AU0601B Right: RE-AU0602E Common specifications: Case and bracelet in stainless steel. Case diameter 41.0 mm. In-house caliber F6N47 automatic (with hand winding), air diver’s 200m (according to ISO 6425 standard). 50-hour power reserve. With exchangeable silicon strap.