Editor’s Note: Check out our Orient Mako II review which features the new F6922 Caliber – plus there’s a video review below of this updated model!
Watching the fresh snow turn to slush as you hike along your own little corner of the northern Cascades can make it difficult to fall into the distractions of a modern, hyper-connected world. We donned our packs, wriggled into our boots, and left at first light in hopes of catching a glimpse of the seemingly endless peaks and frosty trails before the wave of tourists could flood in. It was the perfect escape.
Picturesque as it may sound however, I kept finding myself preoccupied as the watch on my wrist would pull my gaze in and away from the sights again and again. Its sunburst blue dial, chipped crystal, all of it led me to think of where we had been together and how we got here. I never expected to form such an endearing relationship with the Orient Mako but as they say—you never forget your first.
Three years ago I found myself feverishly combing through forums, YouTube videos, and watch blogs as the big day drew near. I needed a wedding watch. Endless threads full of heated commentators boasting and bickering over the Seiko SKX divers and their merits just made the effort even more exhausting. Ironically, at the time I found the designs unremarkable and for no reason I can explain, I blindly pulled the trigger on my first real watch—the Orient Mako 200m diver.
At just under $150 I fell into a panic almost immediately. I knew nothing about mechanical watches, had no clue how to size the damn thing, and didn’t even have an idea of how the Orient Mako would wear or look like on me. After it arrived, it was clear that the watch would be easy to love and the relationship endured.
The Mako was on wrist the night I danced with my wife for the first time, by my side when I lost the picture in radar training, held close on my honeymoon, and even with me the day I met my partner in watch snobbery. Through triumph and failure, from one side of the country to the other, the Orient Mako was there and after three years, I think it’s time to give it a closer look and reflect on what makes this such a special watch.
The Orient Mako comes in a few flavors but the model I chose is the 42mm reference CEM65002D with a sunburst blue dial. Not as bulky as an SKX or flashy as a Sub, the Orient Mako blends into the wrist whether you wear it on the stock bracelet or a NATO. While I can’t remember exactly why or when, I parted with the bracelet and that’s fine with me considering it’s what I found to be the Mako’s weakest point.
These days, it lives on a grey N8O from ToxicNATOs and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I think it’s worth noting that this is also one of the best executions of a 42mm case I’ve seen. The Orient Mako is also 46mm lug-to-lug and only 13.5mm thick. Those are some pretty comfortable dimensions and the fact that the watch is so thin makes it easy to wear even if you decide to swap in a leather strap.
Like a few of its other bottom-timing peers, the Orient Mako is finished with a range of brushed and polished surfaces that transition between the lugs and the case sides. It’s not the most elegant finishing around but I’ll take it, and really, I haven’t paid much attention to it over the past three years.
Moving up past the bezel (we’ll get to that later) you’ll notice a mineral crystal, which is flat but slightly raised. While it gives the Orient Mako a degree of visual depth, this makes it easier to damage and you will damage it. Though mine just has a small chip near the 12 o’clock marker, my guess is that the crystal will keep picking up more nicks and scratches as the years go by.
Looking at the dial side, you really get a sense of where the Orient Mako shines within its price point. Bold applied hour markers surround most of the dial with Arabic numerals mixed in at six, nine, and twelve. The Orient crest is also applied and together with the large luminous sword hands and deep blue sunburst dial, it just creates the effect of a watch that is worth way more than the sum of its parts. I know, we hear that a lot, but this Orient automatic dive watch has to be experienced in person to really understand the degree of value we have here. Other touches include a signed screw-down crown, red spear tip seconds hand, and a day-date display at 3 o’clock.
One of my favorite features of the Orient Mako Diver has to be the quirky crown at 2 o’clock. Its only purpose is for cycling through days and while I’m sure this due in part to some kind of movement limitation, I can’t really understand the need to drill a new crown into the side of a dive watch unless you have to.
Still, I can’t help but smile each time I use it and it’s become one of the more distinctive features of the older Orient Makos. I should also mention that although Orient doesn’t test the watch per ISO 6425 standards, the Mako still provides 200 meters of water resistance and that’s more than enough in my book.
After three years of wear, I also hoped that the unidirectional dive bezel would’ve loosened up a bit—not the case. It’s not really a big issue and I’ve read that bezel action can vary throughout the production process. If I had to pick another aspect of the watch that rubs me the wrong way, it would be the bezel. Though clear and sturdy, it’s just a little too stiff and the edges don’t really offer the best grip in most situations.
Finally, we can’t really dissect the Orient Mako without considering its movement. The 40 year old 46943 is an in-house automatic caliber that operates at 21,600 vph and delivers 40 hours of power reserve. Like the esteemed 7S26 from Seiko, it offers no hand-winding or hacking features but has proven itself to be a reliable, low-maintenance workhorse throughout the years.
Sure, it’s running a little slow. Could this old Orient dive watch use a service? Possibly. Either way, I’ve never had to worry about accuracy or low amplitude maladies with this one and I’m sure it’ll happily serve me well throughout its lifetime.
With so much ubiquity and variety in the world of budget-friendly divers, I can see how it would be easy to gloss over the Orient Mako. The newer models bring sexier features with big visual upgrades and really offer great value any way you look at it. Still, there’s something charming about the older Orient Makos and I find that I enjoy wearing this one even if there are nicer, more expensive watches calling to me from the box.
I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on why and how we form such deep connections with the watches we love and it’s the kind of journey that could only logically start with this Orient. Aside from the Datejusts that towered over me during my childhood, it’s the watch that lit the spark and and I’ve been hooked ever since. It’s my first real watch and one that I’ll be happy to have by my side for many years to come.
Michael Peñate is an American writer, photographer, and podcaster based in Seattle, Washington. His work typically focuses on the passage of time and the tools we use to connect with that very journey. From aviation to music and travel, his interests span a multitude of disciplines that often intersect with the world of watches – and the obsessive culture behind collecting them.