The Orient Mako was my first mechanical watch and I couldn’t think of a more perfect introduction to the watch world. It’s a Japanese automatic with a quality in-house movement for $150. Most mechanical watches at that price point don’t just exhibit inferior craftmanship–they’re often not even worth buying. However, Orient has a strong grasp on what matters most to watch enthusiasts and civilians alike, and they knew exactly what costs to carve out to leave an affordable and very respectable watch.

Founded in Tokyo in 1950, Orient Watch Company is Japan’s largest producer of mechanical watches. In 2009, they became a subsidiary of Seiko, which is a brand a lot of people are familiar with. In addition to other watchmaking advances (like the development of power reserve indicators), Orient manufactures their own movements. That’s nothing to shrug at. Not many watch companies do this, let alone in the $100 range.

Reading the time is easy because the look is clean and classic. Hour and minute hands are sword style and the second hand is red-tipped, which is a nice touch.

The dial displays a day-date window with a delicate, beveled steel border. The style of the border is a little dated to me as the steel framing is common on vintage watches from the 60s and 70s.

The dial is protected by a flat, slightly raised, no frills mineral crystal that has collected a few scratches over the years (it’s no sapphire). The bezel is a 60-click unidirectional diving bezel that is difficult to turn.

The luminous paint on the hands and dial markers doesn’t have much intensity and tends to fizzle out pretty quickly. I don’t mind; in fact, I consider this one of the first features I’d cut from the watch if I were looking to make a sub-$200 automatic.

The watch has a decent but unimaginative 40mm case with brushed and polished surfaces. On the case is a signed, screw-down crown in the 3 o’clock position used to set the time and date. The signed crown is a nice touch–again, one of those features that some watches don’t have that cost three times as much. There is also a 2 o’clock pusher used to control the day window.

I don’t like that changing the day is done using the screw-down 2 o’clock pusher. I wish that pusher controlled the date seeing as you need to change the date more often than the day with continuous wear.

The Mako comes with either a stainless steel oyster-style bracelet or a vented rubber strap. The rubber strap has a silly dolphin-like icon that makes the watch look more like a kid’s toy than a serious timepiece. Go for the bracelet because the quality is excellent for the price, although I wish the bracelet had solid end links.

The Mako houses an Orient Caliber 46943 automatic movement with a 40-hour power reserve. The accuracy of the timekeeping is pretty awesome. For 2 years, my watch has been running 3-5 seconds slow per day. I’ve paid 5 times as much for Swiss Made watches with half the accuracy.

Something else to note is that when you move your wrist, you can definitely feel the rotor swinging around in the case, which is something I’ve never experienced before. Given that this was my first automatic, I expected all automatics to feel this way, but they don’t and it most likely happened with the Orient because the case wasn’t as dense. I’ve never owned another watch that I could “feel.” Honestly, it’s probably a sign of lower quality, but I kind of miss it in my nicer watches.

The Orient Mako is a best buy as far as automatic divers are concerned. It comes in black, blue, pepsi (blue and red), yellow and orange. If you’re just getting into watches or looking for a thoughtful gift for someone who appreciates a good watch, this is it.