When it comes to affordable automatic replica watches, few brands offer the same bang-for-your-buck value as Orient. Like Seiko’s more affordable automatics, Orient replica watches are often touted by the collecting community as a great way to get your feet wet with automatics before spending a larger chunk of change on pricier mechanical timepieces. That said, Orient replica watches are great in their own right, and their MSRP (or rather, their street price) often belies the true value of these great timekeepers. Having owned a few myself when I first began collecting replica watches, I can attest to their quality (In fact, I still regret flipping the 60th anniversary hand-cranker Orient released a few years back).
The Mako has been Orient’s flagship dive replica watch for a long time now, and it’s often a replica watch recommended alongside the iconic Seiko SKX007 diver. The replica watch’s popularity is undeniable, and in the eleven years since it was first introduced Orient has released numerous color ways and even created two spinoff models, the Ray and the Mako XL. The Mako USA is the next iteration of that theme, and it’s unique in that the model was largely designed with input from the online replica watch community. The design is new but familiar, and the build quality is a step up from previous models with the inclusion of a sapphire crystal, solid end links, and drilled lugs. It’s certainly a higher-end addition to the brand’s entry-level catalogue, but is it worth your hard-earned cash? Let’s take a closer look.
The Mako USA shares a case with the classic Mako, which comes in at 41.5mm wide and 13mm thick, and with a lug-to-lug height of nearly 47mm. It features a brushed top surface and polished sides as well as a polished crown and pusher. The signed screw-down crown at 3 o’clock is flanked by a set of crown guards. The crown adjusts the time (position 3) and date (position 2), but the secondary pusher at 2 o’clock–also screw-down to maintain the 200m-depth rating–configures the day. Overall, it is a well-executed case with the right proportions for a modern diver that should look at home on a number of different wrists.
Now on to some of the differences. The Mako USA is upgraded with a 120-click unidirectional bezel and a new insert. The bezel is by far the biggest improvement on the new model, with the older version (60-click and unidirectional) being notoriously stiff and difficult to operate. The new bezel is much easier to use and has absolutely no back play. The bezel alone makes the Mako USA feel like a much more expensive replica watch. The insert itself is also a significant improvement on the original, which felt a bit bland with its diminutive markers. Here we have a much bolder and aggressive font that gives the replica watch a decidedly sportier feel.
Sitting atop of the case is a flat sapphire crystal. Unfortunately, there is no AR on the glass, which means that the crystal is a bit of a reflection magnet. This poses less of a problem on lighter-dialed variants, but on the black-dialed model it can be quite annoying. The crystal also does not sit flush with the bezel, leaving a noticeable gap between the two parts. It’s not aesthetically disruptive, but it’s one of those small details that nags at you once you notice it. That said, it is more scratch resistant thanks to the sapphire’s hardness.
And then there are the drilled lugs. This is a detail I often welcome with open arms, but I was disappointed with the execution here for the simple fact that the gauge of the holes appears to be too small to accommodate most spring bar tools, including our very own worn&wound tool. In fact, of the four different tools I had at my disposal, only one was small enough to be effective. Again, this isn’t really a issue in the scheme of the overall replica watch, but it is the first time that I’ve encountered such a problem with drilled lugs.
Dial and Hands
This is where we find the most obvious differences from the classic MAKO series. The Mako USA dial borrows elements from a number of other Orient divers, among them the Ray and the Mako XL. Gone are the Arabic numerals of the original, replaced entirely by large indices similar to those on the Mako XL. This gives the dial a much bolder and more streamlined look with greater legibility. There is also a new handset, with an arrow-styled hours hand, a large sword minutes hand, and a red-tipped seconds hand lifted directly from the Ray. The handset is ideally paired to the dial both in terms of harmony of design (the bolder look of the dial and hands matches well to the new bezel design) and overall utility. Topping off the dial are the Orient logo and crest under the 12 o’clock marker, and “water resist” and “200m” above the 6 o’clock marker.
At 3 o’clock is the day/date indicator with black text against a white background. The elongated aperture does mess with the symmetry of the dial, just as it does with the original, but it doesn’t feel as tacked on as it often does with other replica watches. That said, the day and date wheels are strangely crude with some obvious alignment and kerning issues. The most flagrant example of the latter is “FRI,” where the letters sit right against the borders of the window with large spaces between each letter. It’s visually awkward and seemingly unique to this model, as the classic Mako did not have this problem. Again, at this price point it’s not really a deal breaker, but it does feel like a strange omission one might find from a smaller less renowned brand and not a company as large and experienced as Orient.
For the lume, Orient decided to go with an upgrade over the original Mako which many deemed lacking in that nighttime visibility department. The Mako USA uses Nemoto LumiNova, phosphorescent pigments that were first developed by Nemoto & Co in 1993. (The formulation was eventually adapted by the Swiss and sold under the Super-LumiNova brand.) As one might expect, the lume on the Mako USA does not disappoint, glowing green throughout the night with only a slight green tint in daylight.
There are three dial colors available under the Mako USA collection: black (Ref. FEM6500FB9) featured here, blue (Ref. FEM6500HD9), and white (Ref. FEM6500GW9). The black dial is a sort of classic matte black, and the blue dial has a metallic shimmer just like original Mako. The white dial is a unique addition under the classic Mako banner, and it is in my view the most interesting of the three. The stark white of the dial contrasts beautifully with the black bezel and hands, giving the replica watch a visual pop that the two more classic variants do not have.
The powerplant ticking away inside the Mako USA is the Orient Cal. 46943. It’s an older movement (used since the 1970s) manufactured in-house by Orient and based on a number of older Seiko movements, primarily the Cal. 7006. (FYI, Orient is a subsidiary of Seiko Epson Corporation.) Today, the 46943 is Orient’s workhorse movement and is found in a number replica watches in their current lineup, including the classic Mako. In general, the 469xx series is the base for a number of other Orient calibers, including ones with added complications like a GMT function and power reserve indicator. It features 21 jewels, a 40-hour power reserve, and a beat rate of 21,600 bph. There is no hacking or handwinding, but the movement has a highly efficient bi-directional winding system.
Straps and Wearability
One of the biggest changes brought in by the USA line is the new bracelet with solid end links. It’s something Mako fans have been clamoring for for quite a while now, as the bracelet on the classic Mako felt a bit cheap and insecure with the hollow end links. Other than the end links, the untapered 22mm bracelet is identical to that of classic Mako, featuring a fine-brushed finish and a branded fold-over clasp. Though the solid end links are certainly an improvement over the older hollow ones, they aren’t perfectly matched to the case. The end links sit a bit lower than the full height of case, and while everything feels secure, it does look a bit odd at certain angles.
Being a dive a replica watch, the Mako USA would look right at home on a number of different nylon bands. For desk divers, a leather band wouldn’t be out of place either. Here we paired the Mako with our rustic Model 2 in Natural Chromexcel for a decidedly more casual look. A classic leather strap would go a long way in dressing up the piece, which can be worn with a suit as easily as a tee shirt and jeans.
The Orient Mako USA edition is an excellent new entry into the affordable diver market, boasting a number of great updates over the classic series that make it a worthy contender in a pool already brim with some tough competition. Orient Replica Watch USA is famous (or perhaps infamous) for floating discount codes, which often knock down the prices of their replica watches anywhere between 30% and 50%. No such code exists for the Mako USA line, so the MSRP of $225 is the price you pay for the replica watch. That being the case, the Mako USA is priced higher than most of their other divers, but it makes complete sense when you consider the upgraded features which more than make up for the difference. Are there some nitpicks with the replica watch? Sure, there are definitely a few things that I would love to change. But as things stand, none of them are deal breakers (not for me, at least). The USA also doesn’t feel like a retread of an old design, so you shouldn’t feel guilty about doubling up if you already own a classic Mako.
It should be noted that the Mako USA is strictly a website only special and will not be sold in any retail stores, so it’s only available to American customers.