Side-By-Side: Seiko SKX007 + Orient Mako USA

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Last week we took a look at the new Orient Mako USA, Orient’s reimagining of one of their most popular entry-level divers. At $225, the Mako USA–which comes updated with some higher-end specs–offers some serious bang-for-your-buck value. The comments section for that review understandably brought up comparisons to the SKX007, Seiko’s flagship diver and probably the most iconic affordable dive watch currently on the market. So it got us thinking, does the new and improved Mako rival the venerable SKX007?

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Now, I’m sure you’re thinking that it’s not exactly a fair comparison. After all, the SKX007 is considerably cheaper, readily available for approximately $160 (the made in Japan version is considerably more) on either a rubber or a stainless steel bracelet. But if you take into account that an aftermarket bracelet with solid end links tacks on another $60, give or take, then the two watches line up in terms of monetary value. So, for the fun of it, let’s compare these two excellent dive watches and see each one stacks up.

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Case

As we noted in our review, the case of the SKX007 is unique to Seiko and represents a natural progression of a design lineage going back several models, among them the 62MAS, the 6105, the 6306/9, and finally the 7002. Coming in at approximately 42.5mm wide with a lug-to-lug length of 46mm, the case is well proportioned and it wears a bit smaller than its dimensions might suggest given the shorter lugs. The case on the Mako USA is similarly sized at 41.5mm with a lug-to-lug length of 47mm. The Mako wears about the same and looks balanced on the wrist. Both cases are 13mm thick (13.25mm for the SKX007, to be exact), and neither sits too high off the wrist. Both cases feature a mix of polished and brushed surfaces without any sharp transitions. They’re also both water resistant up to 200m, but the SXK007 has the distinction of being ISO-rated.

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The biggest visual and structural difference between the two cases is the positioning of the crowns (between 3 and 4 o’clock on the SXK007 and at the traditional 3 o’clock on the Mako) and the addition of a pusher at 2 o’clock on the Mako. The pusher configures the date function, so it’s more of a necessity to get full functionality out of the movement (more on this later). The crown action on the Mako is decidedly better than that of the SKX007, which is known for being relatively underwhelming.

Both watches have 120-click bezels, though one might argue that the bezel on the Mako USA is better built. Each click feels solid and sure on the Mako and there is absolutely no back play. It hits the standard of what we’ve come to expect from a well-built diver for under $1000. Before I compare the bezel on the SKX007, I should say that the construction on it is by no means bad. In fact, the bezel on the SKX007 is relatively well executed. However, it does have a sort of alternating hard click/soft click as you rotate it, giving it that low-resistance feel one normally finds on lower-end dive watches. That said, I personally prefer the bezel on the SKX007, as the Mako bezel is a bit too stiff for my liking. I also prefer Seiko’s two-tiered groove pattern that allows for a sure grip, as well as the inclusion of a shielded lume pip. Ultimately, I’d argue that both bezels are well done at their respective price points, and that any preference with regard to action will come from the individual.

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One of the biggest selling points of the Mako USA is the updated sapphire crystal. The SKX007 is equipped with Hardlex, Seiko’s proprietary mineral crystal that, according to Seiko, is supposed to better handle scratches. Between the two, sapphire has the advantage of being far more scratch-resistant. In the case of the Mako, the crystal also sits a little lower in the case/bezel, so it is less likely to get banged up from daily wear. In the case of the SKX007, the use of Hardlex adds to the legibility of the dial, whereas the sapphire crystal detracts from it on the Mako due to lack of AR.

Dial and Hands

Aesthetically, the two dials are incredibly different. The SKX007 boasts a no-nonsense tool diver look. It’s highly legible with big bold white markers packed in with Seiko’s incredible lume and laid against a black base. The hours and minutes hands are classic Seiko, with a sword shaped hours hand and a stylized arrow for the minutes. There is no extraneous text or branding, just the logo under 12 o’clock and the water resistance rating above 6. The look is a bit spartan, but it’s also highly effective.

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In contrast, the Mako USA dial redesign is definitely a dressier take on a dive watch. The markers are steel bordered, as is the calendar aperture. The Orient logo and crest are also more ornate than Seiko’s logo, and add further credence to dress diver assessment. That said, it’s an incredibly attractive design, one that is well matched to the handset and to the overall aesthetic of the watch. The lume quality has also been improved from the classic model.

One area where the Mako fails to compare to the SKX007 is the day/date wheel. In our review of the Mako, we discussed some of the alignment and kerning issues with the day wheel, most evident on “FRI.” The Seiko has no such problems.

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Movements

Comparing the two movements is actually interesting because they’re both essentially older Seiko movements (Orient is a subsidiary of Seiko Epson Corporation), so the architecture and specs are quite similar.  Seiko’s 7s26 movement is a beloved industry workhorse. It’s also one of the simplest automatic systems around, built around 4 primary moving parts. It features a quickset day/date display, automatic bi-directional winding (via Seiko’s patented Magic Lever system), 21 jewels, a beat rate of 21,600 bph, and it doesn’t hack or handwind. In terms of accuracy however, the range is quite large, with the 7s26 rated at approximately -20 to +40 seconds per day. Based on reports, the 7s26 seems to run the gamut out of the box. That said, the movement can be adjusted to achieve greater accuracy.

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Orient’s Cal. 46943 is also a workhorse (though it’s used exclusively by Orient) and can be found in number watches in the brand’s current lineup. In fact, 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. The Cal. 46943 is an older movement, manufactured in-house by Orient in the ’70s based on a number of older Seiko movements, primarily the Cal. 7006. In terms of specs, it is quite similar to the 7s26 in that it too features 21 jewels, a 40-hour power reserve, and a beat rate of 21,600 bph. There is also no hacking or handwinding, but the movement has a highly efficient bi-directional winding system. The Cal. 46943 also tends to be far more accurate out of the box, with most owners reporting a variance of just a couple of seconds a day. Where the Cal. 46943 falls short is the lack of an integrated quickset day function, remedied with the inclusion of a pusher at 2 o’clock.

Straps and Wearability

Both the Mako and SKX007 wear the same, and they’re both divers so they’ll look good on a number of different straps. And even though the Seiko can be described as a tool diver, with the right strap it can be worn into the stuffiest of offices just as easily as the Mako can.

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One of the most welcomed changes brought in by the Mako USA model is the inclusion of solid end links. This is almost a necessity on any modern watch, and it’s a small detail that goes a long way in giving a watch a more expensive look and feel. The one negative to say here is that the end links are not a perfect match to the case, as they sit a bit lower than the full height of case.

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Seiko’s standard bracelet features hollow end links and most (myself included) often swap it out in favor of either a rubber or leather strap, or a nylon slip-through. There are, however, some great aftermarket options for high-quality bracelets with solid end links. I have personally purchased the jubilee band from STRAPCODE and think it works quite well. I especially love the way the vintage styling of the bracelet dresses the watch up a bit. It’s a relatively affordable option at about $63. Ebay seller wjean28 is another great resource for high-quality aftermarket bracelets.

Conclusion

So, to answer the prompt laid out in the introduction, I would say that the new Mako USA diver comes close to rivaling Seiko’s well-established SKX007. There is a lot to like about the watch, and both the Orient and the Seiko have their fair share of positives and negatives that it would be difficult to argue for one over the other based on some arbitrary points system. With that said, I personally prefer the SKX007. It’s a great no-frills diver with a lot of attractive design cues and excellent build quality, and it’s also readily available for anyone looking to get one. The biggest negative for the Mako USA edition watch is that it’s only open to American customers for purchase through Orient’s American distributor, which means that our overseas friends have to look for a work around if they want to buy one.

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Ilya is Worn & Wound's Managing Editor and Video Producer. He believes that when it comes to watches, quality, simplicity and functionality are king. This may very well explain his love for German and military-inspired watches. In addition to watches, Ilya brings an encyclopedic knowledge of leather, denim and all things related to menswear.
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