OREX - Made in Romania | short history
Starting with 1978 and until late ’90s (approx. 1998-2000) MECANICA FINA Bucharest was the only Romanian wristwatches manufacturer.
The commercial names under which these watches were presented on the market were: OPTIMEF, CROMEF and OREX.
The name OPTIMEF represented the collaboration between Intreprinderea Optica Romana (IOR) | OPTI and Mecanica Fina Bucuresti | - MEF. Under this name were produced exclusively quartz watches with digital display.
Interesting information about the beginning of watches manufacturing at Mecanica Fina – Bucharest one can find in the presentation - OPTIMEF | ceas quartz digital romanesc =>
CROMEF, a quartz watch with analog display and “step by step” motor represented an intermediary stage during 1985. Details here =>
OREX derived from a “marketing concept” that came from “ORa EXacta" (Engl. "exact hour"), producing mechanic watches and quartz watches with analog display (step by step motor).
The starting point of military watches production at Mecanica Fina Bucuresti was represented by the visit of Nicolae Ceausescu from 26.December.1978, when the beginning of this activity was decided.
The first 50.000 OREX watches were delivered in December.1985 (see article in "Flacara" magazine| Cici Iordache-Adam | 1985, attached). It was intended that in 1986 the market should “receive” 200.000 pieces and starting with 1990 to be produced 1.000.000 watches yearly!
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"...The year 1985 is the birth day of the mechanic watch and with Romanian analog quartz.[...] OREX Brand. [...]. The turning point is represented by the work visit of the party general secretary in the factory in the 1st of November 1984, when based on indications from previous visits and having the first steps done, the necessary investments were given and the bases were founded for manufacturing mechanic watches and analog with quartz [...]."
The team of conception and execution from that period included:
“... engineer Stefan Blaier, the head of the new section, a jeweler in industrial horology [...]. The history of the Romanian watch passes then through the Workshop no.5, for technologies design... The head of the workshop, engineer Radu Nedelcu...the designer Mitu Draganescu, graduate of the specialty section from the Plastic Arts Institute...”.
[extracts from: "Orex" article| "Flacara" magazine, an XXXV, nr. 11 (1604) din 14 March 1986]
The initial discussions within Mecanica Fina “Central” (the organizational structure of that “epoch”) had in mind the launching of production within the VICTORIA Arad factory. The gain was on the Bucharest manufacturer side and among the first movement suppliers initial taken into consideration were: Sandoz, Lanco and Ruhla. Still, the choice was - SEA GULL (China)!
Regarding the other components – case, dial, hand indicators and crown, one can suppose that they were conceived and ulterior launched into current production by the specialists from Mecanica Fina - Bucuresti.
During the early period, SEA GULL - "19 zuan" (rubies/jewels | RO: "rubine") movement components were used that were assembled in Romania. For the movements with 17 rubies/jewels the supplier was Shanghai Zuanshi (Diamond) Watch Factory for both of the variants of movements supplied: SB-1 and SZ-1 ("A. Chunlei/Shanghai high-grade Standard movement") the second being the 17 rubies/jewels variant that was standardized in several factories from China – details here.
For the quartz series the collaboration was conducted with manufacturers from URSS (Slava).
During 1990-1996, once with the dramatic sales decrease, the resuscitation of the company was attempted by manufacturing a model with 21 jewels (probably only for the external market) and of a model with 26 jewels. The movement supplier was Second Moscow Watch Factory (SLAVA) - URSS.
Also for the quartz versions was launched a series with Miyota-Citizen movements.
Company’s press releases specify the watches production stopping around the year 2000. A variant of packaging for the quartz models with Miyota movement specifies the existence of a "contract 96/1998" that confirms the OREX watches production in the range of that year.
Documents were not found but there exist stories telling that for a certain period OREX watches were endowing the Romanian board guard troops. A picture of a watch back cover marked “Border guard” is attached to the present material.
In the year 2000, MECANICA FINA SA Bucuresti became private owned, the main shareholder being the Italian citizen - Segio MOLLO. During 2004 information existed regarding a possible intention of re-starting the watch manufacturing, information didn’t confirm. Information about the current activity of MECANICA FINA can be obtained at www.mecanicafina.ro ! Unfortunately in the „company history” doesn’t appear any reference to the period in which it manufactured wristwatches.
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[approx. years 1985-1995]
OREX / for men, mechanic, (with/without date) - 19 rubies/jewels (movement: ST-5 / Sea Gull - China)
OREX / for women, mechanic - 19 rubies/jewels (movement: ST-6 / Sea Gull - China)
OREX / for men, mechanic, (with/without date) - 17 rubies/jewels (movements: SB-1 and SZ-1 / Shanghai Zuanshi - China)
OREX / for women, mechanic - 17 rubies/jewels (movement: SB5Z / Shanghai Zuanshi - China)
OREX / for men - quartz (movement: 2356 | Slava - URSS/Russia)
OREX / for women - quartz (movement: Kal/K 13 | Ruhla - DDR, DST-5 | China, 2356 | Slava - URSS/Russia)
[approx. years 1995-2000]
OREX / for men, mechanic, date - 21 jewels (movement 2414 / SLAVA - Russia)
OREX / for men, mechanic, day/date - 26 jewels (movement 2428 / SLAVA - Russia)
OREX / for men – quartz (movement MIYOTA-Citizen / Japonia)
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MECANICA FINA did not published the list with the movements series on years and also did not offered details about OREX watches!
A collection of different Orex photos you can find - here!
IMPORTANT: with thanks for the pictures of OPTIMEF and “Border Guard” back cover to may colleagues at ceasornicar.ro - stefand600 si roviane but also to Ovidiu Tibichi for the sent details about the movements.
Special thanks to Mr. Aurel Vaisler for the copy of the article from the Flacara magazine.
BRASOV, October 2008