Virtually all watch collectors have come across a daily-beater piece in their lives. For some this has become their entry point to a whole world of horological marvels. For others, the concept of wearing a ‘beater’ piece is a mandatory aspect of enjoying their collection. Amidst all those column-wheel chronographs, perpetual calendars and GMTs, a beater lies in that watch box ticking away like the little movement that could. And we wouldn’t be surprised if that beater in question is an Orient Mako.
Much like the cult status of the Seiko SKX divers, the Orient Mako has become a staple among watch nerds around the world. Since its introduction in 2004, the Mako has been, from a value standpoint, one of the best automatic timepieces ever developed. It’s dive-ready, robust and built like a tank that can last decades. Over the last 10 years, the Mako has become an entry piece for people who grew up in the quartz era, but have decided to give mechanical watches a try. As such, Orient USA celebrates the 10-year anniversary of the Mako diver with a re-release of its yellow-dial edition.
Although we, at Monochrome, pride ourselves in delivering the industry’s best high-end pieces that hit the market, we nevertheless, from time to time, appreciate the value proposition that more the industry provides us, such as those Seiko 5 series. It has long been known by watch aficionados that a true high-end piece doesn’t have to be necessarily overly expensive, and Japanese watchmakers are regarded as kings in the manufacture of such models. Much like the revered divers from Seiko, Orient prides itself in producing everything in-house. It has also claimed to be the world’s largest producer of mechanical watches. And since they are a wholly owned subsidiary of Seiko Epson, that claim seems truly credible.
Brief History of Orient Watch Company
While the Orient Watch company may perhaps trace its roots back as early as 1901, it was only in 1950 that the company managed to pick-up form and establish itself as a true manufacturer. Tama Keiki Co. Ltd. was the name of the company back then; it was later on changed to Orient Watch Co. Ltd. in 1951, the same year the company’s mid-end brand the ‘Orient Star’ went on sale. By the late 1950s, which are heralded to have been the start of the golden age of watchmaking, the factory was able to release their cornerstone product, the Royal Orient line. Similar to the Grand Seiko, the Royal Orient was supposedly the very best the company could at that time develop in pursuit of watchmaking excellence.
This was of course followed up by constant research and development that resulted in the company’s answer to the Seikosha’s Hi-beat series in the 70s – the Orient TenBeat went head-to-head with the other hi-beat model in the domestic market. It was generally assumed that the hi-beat series represented the pinnacle of watchmaking prowess, the development of which ceased when the world shifted to quartz technology in the 80s. It was only in the early 21st century that mechanical watches had made a comeback, and by 2001, the Orient Watch became a subsidiary of watchmaking giant Seiko Epson Corporation.
With such a rich heritage, the Orient Watch brand is without question a company which is very serious about upholding their reputation for watchmaking prowess. The Orient brand carries a multitude of watches ranging from pedestrian $250 mechanical watches to multi-thousand-dollar examples from its M-force and Royal Orient line. But even with such a broad range of products, one of their very best comes from the lower end of this spectrum. It is claimed to be the company’s best-selling watch of all time. The watch in question is… the Orient Mako.
Much like other Japanese diver pieces, the Mako namesake is not the watch’s official name. It was identified with a long alphanumeric label, and was described in their catalog as just an Orient Diver with a forgettable reference number. But due to its immense popularity, the generic divers began receiving nicknames or aliases that the public felt better represented each model. A lot of these namesakes were derived from majestic sea creatures like the Mako shark. We have to admit that the Mako has a very nice ring to it, and being the reliable and robust piece that it is, the Mako name suits the piece just right.
Orient Calibre 469
For 10 years, the Mako has been a staple in every watch collection, with multitudes of dial colors that can suit every man’s taste. Its minimalistic dive watch design and a functional day and date window made it very utilitarian. But in the end, it wasn’t exactly the design or the functions that truly nailed down its must-have reputation. It was more its reliable caliber, the Orient 469 series, that truly set the standard for mass-produced inexpensive watches. The 469 calibre dates back as early as the 70s, and was initially a movement owned by the Seiko manufacture, known as the Seiko 7005. Orient later on modified that movement to be used with their collection and made the calibre their own. For more than 40 years, this movement has been powering timepieces across the world, and with more than 100 million produced, it deserves to be respected as a cult classic at least.
Some Movement highlights
- 21 Jewels
- 21,600 vibrations per hour
- 40 hour power reserve
- Shock-proof bearings to protect the balance wheel
- Day and date indicators
The Orient Mako, as mentioned earlier, comes in a wide array of different dial colors; the yellow-dial version apparently is sought after by collectors not only because of its limited nature, but also because the bright yellow design allows easier reading underwater due to its contrast against the markers and its heightened light reflectivity. It was released back in 2009 in the US market and has gained a significant following of people who first own another Mako, but then get a hankering for a yellow dial one. As such, Orient USA will be re-releasing its yellow-dial limited edition to commemorate the Mako’s 10th anniversary. Unfortunately, the yellow-dial will again be a model marketed domestically within the US only, but I believe this won’t stop the collector in you from obtaining one. The Yellow Mako is now available and Orient USA will be giving out discounts until the end of the month. The MSRP for the Yellow Mako is $285.
It goes without saying that the Mako is a very good utilitarian piece; in fact, it’s practically one of the best pieces to recommend to someone who’s just starting to gain an appreciation for mechanical watches. Even with a pedestrian price compared to other watches, the Mako offers one of the best ‘value-for-money’ ratios. The Mako does advertise itself to be a dive ready piece, however it is not entirely recommended to go deep sea diving with the piece. The Orient M-force diver is a better fit for that type of environment. But in the end, the Mako is a treat to own, whether you’re buying your first mechanical piece, or you’re pairing it with one of your high-end favorites to complement your daily routine. The Mako can hold its own against the giants of the market, and in terms of value proposition, it will be hard to get anything better than this.
- Case diameter: 41.5mm without crown
- Case Thickness: 13mm
- Bezel function: Unidirectional
- Stainless steel case with screw-down crown
- Fold-over and double push button clasp
For more information about Orient Watches, head on over to the Orient USA Website.