Let’s face it: there aren’t a lot of options for serious dive watches under $200. The Seiko SKX, Orient Ray II, and Orient Mako II are probably the best mechanical options at this price point. This is a review of my personal favorite of the three: the Orient Mako II with a blue dial and Pepsi-style bezel (reference FAA02009D).
So what do you get when you pay $150 bucks new for this diver? Well, quite a bit actually. Here are some of the highlights:
- In-house caliber F6922 automatic movement with day, date, hacking and manual wind functionality (the last two of which are missing from the SKX)
- 120-click unidirectional dive bezel, which allows the wearer to time their dives (or anything else) and ensure diver safety
- Screw-down case back and crown that gives the watch 200m of water resistance
The Mako II measures 41.5mm wide (excluding crown), 47mm lug-to-lug, has a lug width of 22mm and is 13mm thick. But beyond all these technical specifications, let’s talk about how the watch looks and feels on the wrist.
On the wrist, I prefer this watch on a strap rather than a bracelet. It is currently pictured on a blue vanilla-scented Bonetto Cinturini rubber strap, which I purchased from Amazon for around $30. To be honest, the standard bracelet left a lot to be desired. It felt very clunky and the hollow end-links made it difficult to attach and remove. However, this is understandable as some sacrifices needed to be made to get the watch to its price point.
When I look at the watch though, I can immediately forgive the shortcomings of the bracelet. Personally, the styling is really what puts this watch over the SKX. I love the sunburst dial, which looks almost black in darker lighting but is a brilliant blue in direct sunlight. I love how the tip of the seconds hand matches with the pepsi bezel, giving the watch just a splash of color that keeps things interesting. Finally, I love the lume, which is generously applied and visible even in the light after it’s been charged.
One thing that did not impress me, however, was the finishing on the sides of the case. I would describe the finishing as “semi-polished” – it’s not highly polished to the point where you can see your reflection, but it’s definitely not brushed either like the top of the lugs. To me, the end result looks like Orient was going for a polished look but decided to cheap out halfway. I would have just preferred that the entirety of the case was brushed. It would also help to bring out the dial by keeping the case more subtle.
In terms of the practicality of the watch, I also noticed that the bezel was very difficult to turn. While this is a good thing for using the watch when diving, as it’s less likely that the bezel is rotated accidentally, perhaps this could have been compensated for with deeper grooves in the bezel for better grip. A similar complaint can be made for the crown; its small size and shallow grooves made it difficult to unscrew. Furthermore, the threading and winding feel is not great, but at least the watch can be manually wound (as I pointed out earlier, the same cannot be said for the SKX).
So what’s my conclusion? Throughout the review, I’ve pointed out several things that I don’t like about the watch: the bracelet, the finishing, the winding action, the mineral crystal (the last one I didn’t mention earlier). However, for a price of $150 all of these things are forgivable, especially since I love the aesthetic of the dial and bezel so much. There’s a reason that this is one of the most popular choices for an automatic diver under $200 – it’s a lot of watch for the money. Watches that address the aforementioned shortcomings can easily cost several times that. Overall, if you’re willing to make some sacrifices for the sake of your wallet, the Orient Mako II is my choice for the best dive watch at this price point – and I think it should be on your shortlist too.
What do you think? Would you pick this watch over the Seiko SKX? Let me know in the comments below.