Honestly, I thought I was finished with mechanical watches. Between my disappointing experience with the Seiko 5 Series and the crazy price of higher-end automatics, my appetite had shifted entirely toward quartz. But then, like a shark scenting its prey, I caught a whiff of the Orient Mako 2. I circled it for months before finally taking a bite. And let me tell you – It tastes really, really good.
That’s a metaphor, guys. Don’t actually bite your watches. Anyway, it’s worth noting that this is the second Mako model to come from Orient. The old one is still available, if you like helium-escape valves but hate movements that hand-wind and hack. For me, this is like Bride of Frankenstein and Godfather Two – That rare and wonderful case of the sequel outclassing the original.
From an aesthetic standpoint, this is my favorite watch in the collection. Its marine blue dial and red-tipped second hand complement each other perfectly as it sweeps over the applied indices. The Orient crest is tastefully placed, with attractive cursive script at 12 and 6. This is also where we find the Mako 2’s “200m” water resistance rating, proudly stamped in block numerals. The nearby day/date window is nicely framed, and the sword-style hands are well finished.
The dial is covered by a flat mineral crystal. This sits nearly flush with the surrounding bezel and its 120-click stainless steel mechanism. Rugged metal jimping forms a ring around the bezel, providing a nice transition between its dial-matching blue and the brushed steel of the 13mm-thick case.
As you’d expect with a 200 meter-rated diver, the Mako 2 features a screw-down crown. It’s even signed with Orient’s lion logo. Crown aside, the whole watch measures 41.5mm across. That’s fairly small for a modern diver, and perfectly sized for my wrist.
Speaking of my wrist, the watch stays there courtesy of its excellent stainless steel bracelet. It’s a bit wide at 22mm, but it’s also incredibly comfortable. Its fold-over clasp is positioned above another bit of Orient branding, with a double push-button safety on either side. I’m a little disappointed in the hollow end links but, at this price, it’s not much of a concern.
The Mako 2 also works well with a NATO strap. Pictured here is a blue model from Cincy Strap Works that usually accompanies me on weekends. I like to trim the keepers, but it looks good either way.
So, why no perfect score? Take a look at the picture above. See that scratch near the minute hand? I have no idea how it got there. At some point during its first week on my wrist, the Mako smacked up against something a little tougher than itself. “But, hey,” you might say, “That’s your fault, you klutz.” True, but here’s the thing – I don’t remember what it was. And you can be sure that I was paying very close attention to the watch during its initial stay. So whatever it was, the collision wasn’t severe enough for me to notice. This calls into question the long term durability of Orient’s mineral crystal. I haven’t seen any further scuffing, but it’s something to keep in mind.
If there’s one more nitpick here, it’s the width of the spring bars. Compared with those on the Casio Duro and Orient ProMaster, the Mako’s pins are somewhat thin. Not so much as to draw concern, mind you, but enough to make me appreciate the overbuilt nature of my other divers.
Both of these quibbles paint the Mako into a medium-duty role. While it’s tough enough to swim in the deep end, you’ll want to avoid the rocks and snags on the way down.
4.5 stars out of 5
Now that we’ve covered the Mako’s exterior, let’s take a look at the internals. This particular “Heart of Shark-ness” is Orient’s Caliber F6922 Automatic movement. Wait! Come back! No more puns. I promise, I’m finished.
Anyway, this movement features a power reserve of approximately 40 hours, with the option to hand wind it on days where it sits in your drawer. But best of all is its ability to hack. For the uninitiated, this means that (unlike my Seiko SNK809) the Mako’s second hand will stop when you pull out the crown. This allows for greater ease and accuracy when it comes time to sync with a proper clock.
Speaking of setting, you will need to do it somewhat often. While the Orient is nowhere near as inaccurate as my Seiko, it does gain approximately seven seconds per day. The hacking movement makes this easy to correct, however. Just pull out the crown, count to seven, pop it back, and you’re good to go. This is far easier than dealing with a watch that runs slow.
I don’t really have much to say about the day-date function. It’s great to have, and it runs trouble-free. Changeover takes place late in the evening, long after I’ve gone to bed. The lume is likewise trusty. It sucks up the sunlight quickly, emitting a visible glow all through the night. The thin nature of the indices may not be as visible as the larger blobs found on the Ray 2, but that’s a stylistic choice rather than a failing in the compound.
Lastly, a word on the bezel. “Love” – that’s it. I really enjoy cycling through its 120-stop orbit. The hand feel and audible clicks lend a genuine mechanical pleasure to the experience. I’ve found myself timing all sorts of silly things, just for an excuse to use it.
4.5 stars out of 5
Treated well, this is a watch that could last a lifetime. But since Orient isn’t willing to follow me around for the rest of my days, they offer a “1 Year Orient Watch USA Warranty.” The details of this are somewhat elusive, generally referring you to the company’s Contact page. Long story short, I wouldn’t count on too much help from the manufacturer.
While the backing may not inspire confidence, the watch itself certainly does. Its stainless steel construction feels solid, and the hand-winding action is sound. Sure, I’m a little concerned with the scratch resistance of the mineral crystal, but we’re not paying sapphire money here. The spring bars could also be thicker, sure, but the bracelet itself is quite nice.
Let’s talk limitations. While I haven’t babied this watch, I’m always conscious of where I’m taking it. Yes, it’s been out on construction sites. Frequently, in fact. But if I know I’m going to be knocking around in extremely dirty or confined spaces, I won’t strap on the Orient. Could it handle it? Yeah, probably. But I prefer to wear it on days where I’ll be in the office, on a plane, or at the pool. It’s a nice looking watch, and I want to keep it that way for as long as possible.
3.75 stars out of 5
The price of the Mako 2 generally fluctuates between $175 and $150 on Amazon. That’s just a bit cheaper than the price at a reputable dealer like Long Island Watches, and far, far less expensive than the $300-something Orient charges on their official website. I got mine from Amazon, but I’d generally refer people to the folks at Long Island.
Let’s examine the Orient’s price against that of its main competitor, the Seiko SKX. This venerable cousin of the Mako 2 holds an almost sacred status among watch aficionados. It’s appeared in wars, films, TV shows, and on the wrists of collectors across the globe. Its reputation for ruggedness and durability is legendary. All of this prestige can be yours, for a price between $175 and $200, depending on how Jeff Bezos is feeling that day. Sounds cool, right? Sure, until you realize that it houses a non-hacking movement without the option for manual winding. It also comes on a plain, plastic band.
To review – For $20 less, the Mako 2 takes its hacking, hand-winding movement and straps on a steel bracelet. Other than Seiko’s brand prestige, why exactly am I paying more for a 1970’s design? Purists can shout as much as they want but, for my money, the Mako is the better deal.
5 stars out of 5
So, if I could have just one watch for the rest of my life, would it be the Mako 2? Nope. But if I could have two, it’d be half of the equation. This is a really excellent watch, and I’m so glad it’s in my collection. Its sharp looks, acceptable accuracy, and solid construction made it a perfect reentry point into the world of Automatics.
So, if you’re looking for a great mechanical timepiece in the sub-$200 range, I’d wholeheartedly recommend the Orient. Skip the hype of Seiko’s SKX and SNK809. They’re fine for what they are, but not for what they cost. The Mako, meanwhile, is swimming with some much bigger fish.
Where to Buy
Amazon (Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars over 61 customer reviews as of 10/31/17)