Orient Star WZ0031DD Subaru 360 55th Anniversary - Collecting Watches
The Subaru 360 is a little 360cc car, which has been very popular in Japan since 1958 and it represents what the Fiat 600 has been for Italy, a piece of our history that we need to protect and safeguard. Japanese people are very proud of their history and products and especially of their cars and watches.
Today, Orient Watch Company and Subaru are partners and they are among those companies that best embody the Japanese culture. Orient Watch Company is the biggest Japanese manufacturer of mechanical watches (the company is quite unknown in Europe and virtually non present in Italy), while Subaru is the biggest maker of 4WD cars in the world and the only maker (Porsche excluded) to still manufacture vehicles with boxer engines. The partnership between these two companies has given birth to a collection of sports timepieces dedicated to the STI range of performance cars (STI stands for Subaru Technical International) and, in 2013, also to the creation of a watch that marked the 55th anniversary of the little Subaru 360 car.
The Orient Star WZ0031DD Subaru 360 55th Anniversary is the quintessential Japanese mechanical watch, while the Orient Star collection represents a very important chapter in the history of mechanical watchmaking in the Land of the Rising Sun. Back in the days, when Italian grandfathers were wearing a three hands Zenith watch, their Japanese counterparts would wear Orient Star timepieces: the classic three hands (four in this case) with a domed glass crystal. Soon after discovering the Orient ISO certified watches like the Pro Saturation Diver (please see here for the full article and Orient Watch USA please advise me if this timepiece is one day equipped with a blue dial and the STI logo...), my next step has been looking for a classic and easy-to-wear-watch. I was looking for something of a reasonable size, considering the fact that my current collection only consists of watches, whose case is at least 42mm wide (and don't even get me started on the thickness.)
What pushed me to buy this particular watch in the plethora of existing mechanical timepieces is the fact that Orient, in comparison to the classic Orient Star, strongly customized its Orient Star WZ0031DD Subaru 360 55th Anniversary: its dial features the exact same colour as the original Subaru 360 and it also sports the historical Subaru logo (and the Orient Star one) with the writing “Subaru 360” that used to be applied to the little car too. The same logo is depicted on the crown as well.
The case back is decorated with the car's silhouette, its name and the serial number of this limited edition collection (in my particular case the watch is the 19th one produced out of a series of 250 waches, the serial number is quite low and it makes it quite a valuable timepiece, also because the production has been really limited and these timepieces are now quite hard to find.) I bought mine from a Japanese retailer on Ebay and I was lucky enough to buy the last one he had left in his virtual store. The case is 37,5mm wide and only 11,2mm thick, it is fully and perfectly polished, the dial features applied indexes and, in a small counter, there's the Power Reserve indicator at 12 hours, a very useful feature since it boasts the 48C40 manual-wind-caliber with more than 40 hours of Power reserve and a nice-to-use-crown.
I paid this item around €800 and I consider it to be one the best purchases that I have ever made. Do you want to know why? It's not only a matter of price and quality but I was moved to buy it because of its vintage appearance and its general appeal. At quite a reasonable price I was able to buy quite a unique watch that looks as if it was produced in the 60s and featuring a 100%-in-house-made-manual-wind-caliber. On top of everything, of all the co-branding projects that I have seen so far, I can definitely say that the Orient Star WZ0031DD Subaru 360 55th Anniversary is by far the most authentic and sober one as well as the most interesting. From a cultural point of view this timepiece elegantly blends together the longstanding tradition of two completely different and yet very important companies, which are part of the the industrial history of Japan.
(Photo credit: Horbiter's proprietary photo-shooting)
Gaetano C. @Horbiter