Orient Mako Review

I think I am in trouble, I am beginning to really like Orient watches. 

If you read my post on the Orient Bambino a few days ago, I mentioned that my buddy Alex who is visiting from Oz, called me and said he wanted to go and buy a watch for his daughter. That operation was a success. He called me again on Thursday and said his other daughter, Ava now wants a watch as well. As you can see from the picture, it was another successful operation.

AvaThis time we chose Prestige Time in Bras Basah Complex. They are an interesting shop as they carry a wide range of brands and are always willing to negotiate a reasonable deal. They of course had a section on Orient watches and we found ourselves gravitating towards it.

Picked up an Orient Mako and ended up buying it for Stephen as a replacement for the ridiculous Swiss Hanowa Military I gave him as a present a year or so ago.

Orient is Japan’s largest producer of mechanical watches and designs and produces their movements in-house.  This movement design and production style is truly rare in the watch industry and sets Orient apart from a vast number of watch companies.  Orient was recently acquired by Seiko, but runs as an independent subsidiary however having such a ‘parent’ can only be a good thing.

Case and Crystal

Orient MakoAt approximately 41 mm without and 45 mm with the crown, the Orient Mako is the “standard size” for newer sports watches. It will fit almost any size wrist comfortably without being too small or big.  Similar to the Bambino the case has brushed uppers with polished sides, crown, and pusher and is made of stainless steel .

The crown is at the traditional 3 o’clock position and is protected by the case ala Rolex Submariners.  The crown adjusts the time and date, but there is a separate pusher that controls the day complication. When I first set eyes on the Mako, I thought this pusher was a helium escape valve such as those found on Omegas and the like.  Both the crown and the pusher for the day setting screw down, making this watch ready for diving.  The crown and pusher screw down very smartly and give you a solid feel with smooth threads and is just one of the features that belie the $125 price tag. It is 200m water resist so is considered a dive watch but unless you are a commercial diver or some other professional that makes his or her living in the water, I would not advocate using any watch for swimming or diving.

As a dive watch it comes with a 60-click uni-directional bezel. Many reviews I have seen say that the bezel arrives rather stiff and that this is an issue. If like me, you seldom have a need to use the bezel on your dive watch, this is not an issue at all. There are also ways to adjust this so it rotates more easily.  There are minute markers on the bezel from “0″ to “10”, again similar to that of a Submariner albeit in smaller font. The bezel’s edge is of the coin edge variety with slightly bigger indentions every 10 minutes on the 5′s. This design should make the bezel easy to grip in any condition however like I have said earlier, I seldom use a watch in water so cannot attest to this.  The lugs measure about 47 mm and curve downward to hug the wrist, doing a good  job in keeping the watch centered on the wrist.  The lugs do not extend far from the case.  Orient has somehow managed to make to make the case look smaller than it actually is and it also has the right thickness at about 13 mm. The lug-to-lug measurement is 47 mm, which is a great size for smaller wrists but not too small for larger wrists.

The crystal is a flat mineral crystal that sticks up above the bezel slightly. My Rolex GMT is designed the same way and I have seen watches with ding’s on the edge of their crystals because of this. It does not have a date magnifier but most would be able to read the day and date clearly enough.

Dials, markers and hands

The dial on the watch I bought is black but it also comes in blue with a matching bezel and some other colours. The dial has cutouts for day and date at 3 o’clock and applied numerals at “12″ “6″ and “9.”  Other markers are applied stick markers that come to a point at the end.  All the numerals and markers are filled with luminous material that do a decent job keeping bright throughout the night and should maintain their ability for a number of years.

The hour and minute hands are sword style with luminous material.  The seconds hand has a red tip, pointer style (which is a touch that I quite like) but no luminous material.  The chapter ring is the same colour as the dial with a dash for every minute and is a good touch as it makes the dial look larger and gives it perspective.

Orient’s logo, name, and “Automatic” are top center with “Water Resist” and “200m” at center bottom.  For me, this is the right amount of text on a dial, not too much, but still gives all the important details.  Overall I can’t fault the dial – although I would have substituted the words “Water Resist” with maybe information on the number of jewels or removed those words completely.

Movement

According to the Orient website, the Mako is powered by the in house Caliber 46943 that beats at 21,600 bph with a 40 hour power reserve. If it is anything like the other Orient watches I have owned in the past, this should be a fairly robust and reliable movement.

The unique thing about the Mako movement is that it has a quarter-section rotor that winds the automatic movement and it would be a nice touch if they came with see though backs. Like bumper watches, the quarter section rotor is not very common in mechanical watches as most watches come with a half-section rotor

According to all the reviews I have read, these watches have fairly good accuracy, so much so that there are within COSC specifications – although the Mako is not COSC certified.

Like most Orient’s the Mako movement does not hack which means that those of you that like to set their watches to the second to atomic clock time would be annoyed with the lack of hacking. Since I lam late most of the time, this is not really an issue for me :). We do at the same time need to remember how much this watch costs. This is therefore a small “flaw” – if it can even be considered that. 

Straps and Wearability

The Orient Mako comes with either a stainless steel bracelet or rubber dive strap and they sell for about the same price. I always recommend going with the stainless steel bracelet option when buying a watch, as dive straps or leather straps can be had at a fraction of the price.  The bracelet is an Oyster style bracelet with hollow end links and a push-button release like an Omega Speedmaster or more recent moonwatch. It does not have a diver’s extension and the links are solid stainless steel with pin style and not screw connectors. They work well enough and I do not see any issues with this.

The bracelet is brushed stainless steel on the top and bottom, but has polished sides.  The polished sides match the polished sides of the case itself and goes very well with one another but repeated desk diving will show up after some time.

The continuation of the brushed top and polish side gives the Mako a more refined dive look.  The clasp is stamped with Orient’s name and Logo and has 3 micro-adjust holes.  When opened to slip on your wrist, the sections do look a little flimsy but then again, all this section is meant to do is hold the bracelet ends together as you put the watch on. The micro-adjust total adjustment is shorter than 1 link, so there could be a sizing issue with finding the exact size for your wrist.

Overall the bracelet is a solid performer, feels thick and solid and gives the total watch a good weight and is very comfortable in daily wear.

Conclusion

Spot the Difference
Spot the Difference

The Mako is a solid watch that exudes quality from the moment you pick it up.  It does not feel like a cheap watch and even in this picture when placed beside my GMT, Submariner and Speedmaster, it does not look out of place. If I did not already have more than 30 ‘daily wear’ watches, this would certainly be an addition to my collection.

Some shortcomings (as people would call it) are the hard to turn bezel and that the bracelet lacks the proper amount of microadjust.  The latter is a problem I have even with my Omega Speedmaster.

The lack of hacking and hand-winding are the other two ‘flaws’ if you wanted to nitpick. Again I do not see this as a problem. These are movement design choices made by Orient and most Seiko’s are designed the same way as well.

Lastly, a sapphire crystal would be nice but this would simply increase the watch price.

At the end of the day, you would be very hard pressed to find a better 200m rated dive watch that compares to the quality of the Orient Mako.

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