The Orient Mako USA II absolutely gives all these microbrand divers a run for the money when it comes to features and value. You have to think twice before spending more money!
In my watch collection, I have several Orient watches: a few dress pieces, the Orient Defender, and a few divers. You could say that I’m a fan. They consistently put out solid watches at more-than-fair prices. That right there is a huge, driving factor in what I think of watches and how I rate them: bang for the buck.
I received the white dial Mako USA II as a birthday gift from my kids, the black dial in the pictures was a recent addition. I had been looking at if for several months and was just waiting for Orient to drop a coupon so I could snag it. (That’s one thing to remember with Orient. Several times a year they have a decent sale and that’s the time to score a watch if you’re buying it directly from their website.)
Talking about buying direct, up until very recently, you couldn’t purchase this watch anywhere buy their website because it wasn’t part of their wholesale distribution network. Starting sometime in October 2019, it looks like a few additional retailers will be stocking the watch.
It’s a basic diver watch with all the trimmings, but there are a few upgrades that sets this apart from the regular Mako, namely a sapphire crystal, drilled lugs, better lume, and a different bezel. It also comes on a decent bracelet, but I’m not always a bracelet guy and quickly removed it. A note here, the Strapcode aftermarket bracelets for the Orient Mako & Ray do not fit the USA II version. I found this out the hard way.
After spending more than a few weeks with this, I just might claim the Mako USA to be the ultimate automatic dive watch around the $300 mark. I say around because the price fluctuates so much, the retail price on OrientUSA.com is $450, but the watch seems to always be on sale in the low $300’s. Now, I know there’s stiff competition at this price point, but I don’t see many other dive watches coming close in specs. The two things that push this watch up a notch (past most competitors) are the drilled lugs and the sapphire crystal.
Speaking about the crystal and bezel, this is the big difference in construction between the standard Mako & Ray and the Mako USA II. The crystal is inset below the bezel. In the standard version, the crystal is flush with the bezel. Personally, I like the look of bezel inset, but I understand the argument about scratching and banging the watch and I know that the bezel is easier to replace than the crystal. This may be true, but none the less, I still like the bezel design on the Mako USA II.
To reiterate, this is a great watch. In my opinion, it wears awesome, has perfect, modern dimensions for a variety of occasions, and looks fantastic to boot! It also highlights how amazing the regular Mako & Ray are. I know all those SKX zealots out there will disagree, but for $150 or less (depending on where you find it) the standard Orient Mako blows away any other comparable dive watch. I love my SKX, but, to me, the standard Mako & Ray are, bottom line, superior.
As a side note talking about having an original watch on the wrist, I can count on four fingers how many times I’ve actually seen a SKX, Turtle, or even a Samurai out in the wild.
Now, what makes a watch great can be very subjective, hence, there are very many snarky comments on YouTube and Instagram! However, my prime point of evaluating all this gear comes down to a few things, but the main foundation is value and that’s where the Orient Mako USA II shines! It delivers a solid punch to the gut in the value category. When compared to many microbrand divers, you would have to spend close to $200 more just to get a kickstarter or some trendy microbrand on the wrist. Nothing against those at all. I myself don’t always want to wear what everyone else is wearing, but it’s still important to note the price point. I guess that’s where the charm of all the microbrands come in to play, having something that most other people don’t. Being ahead of the curve.
In the end, if you’re looking for a full-featured, good looking dive watch with the specs and pedigree to claim some wrist time, the Orient Mako USA II is fantastic. At 40mm wide, with 22mm lugs, the watch fits almost everyone’s wrists. Its 13mm height is still slim enough to slide under a shirt cuff and overall it will draw attention for its good looks, not because you have a giant piece of metal on your wrist.
For sure, it has my “buy recommendation.” Either for yourself or a gift, you will not be disappointed. The standard version is also ideal for those just getting into watches who want something with lots of looks but without costing a fortune.
Blair Witkowski is an avid watch nut, loves pocket knives and flashlights and when he is not trying to be a good dad to his nine kids, you will find him running or posting pics on Instagram. Besides writing articles for Tech Writer EDC he is also the founder of Lowcountry Style & Living. In addition to writing, he is focused on improving his clients websites for his other passion, Search Engine Optimization. His wife Jennifer and he live in coastal South Carolina.