If you are in the market for an over-engineered diver, the Benarus Mako Black may well be what you’re after. The company—founded 15 years ago in Germany (now based in Hong Kong)—is one of the earliest microbrands to design and peddle timepieces. As part of that first wave of watchmakers to leverage the power of the Internet, the chatter of watch forums, and the emergence of social media platforms, Benarus honed in on the enthusiast crowd, building itself a reputation as a producer of solid dive watches.
In a world of Kickstarter campaigns, and fly-by-night micros, Benarus differentiates itself from the herd by producing self-financed watches in small runs that frequently sell out quickly. Given the brand’s relative longevity in the independent scene—with little to no advertising budget—one might take this as indication of quality and general customer satisfaction.
Indeed, the Mako Black—featured here—is one heckuva watch. Especially when you consider that it retails for less than $600USD.
The 316L stainless steel case of the Mako is a beastly 44mm in diameter, made even broader by the 45mm knuckled bezel. It also measures 16.4mm thick (including the domed sapphire crystal) and 51.7mm lug to lug. From its profile, the watch more closely resembles a marine instrument—though its sharply dropping lugs and female endlinks do wonders for comfort on wrist.
But the Mako isn’t just a big watch. It’s a functional one, as well. The solid, screwed down case back and oversized, threaded crown at 4 o’clock help provide the diver with a whopping 1000m of water resistance. It also includes a helium escape valve at 2 and a scratch-resistant, matte ceramic bezel insert. In addition, the drilled lugs—de rigeur on a toolwwatch, as far as I am concerned—allow for easy strap changes.
The watch is brushed throughout, giving it a utilitarian appearance that suits its primary function perfectly. And its 120-click, unidirectional bezel has a crisp, satisfying action with absolutely no back play. I am particularly fond of the bezel edge, which is fat and broadly scalloped for easy manipulation.
However, one of the most impressive aspects of the Benarus Mako is actually its bracelet. This is not often true of budget-conscious microbrand offerings; however, the Mako has a unique double H-link construction that is complementary to the case aesthetics and size. Each piece is nicely rounded at the edges and attached by screws. In addition, the chosen clasp has a ratcheting mechanism that can be used as both a micro-adjust or a dive extension. This does bring the watch to a hefty 292g; however, I can’t help but think that the two make a perfect pairing. Benarus will also include a random-coloured rubber strap with each piece.
The Mako dial, for its part, takes legibility to a whole new level. The shark tooth markers (and matching bezel pip) are bold, and made bolder by the sector-style sandwich construction of the chapter ring. The sword handset, brash. Throw in an extremely bright application of C3 Super-LumiNova, and you are dive ready. The only subtle element in the entire design is, in fact, the colour-matched date wheel at 4:30.
Benarus have chosen a workhorse movement for a workhorse watch. The ubiquitous and easily serviced Miyota 9015 beats away at 4Hz and offers a 42-hour power reserve.
In total, there are five different dial variants of the Mako. Other than the Black model (featured here), you can choose from Laguna (Cyan), White, Blue, and Red. The Mako can also be purchased with an ETA movement in steel, bronze, or titanium, when in stock.
|Case||316L Stainless Steel|
44mm Diameter (45mm /w Bezel)
51.7mm Lug to Lug
22mm Lug Width
Unidirectional Bezel /w Ceramic Insert
Screw Down Crown/Case Back
1000m Water Resistance
|Dial & Crystal||Domed Sapphire Crystal|
42-Hour Power Reserve
|Strap||Stainless Steel Bracelet|
/w Ratcheting Clasp
& Rubber Strap
Benarus Mako Black
While I used the term “beastly” to describe the Mako dimensions, it is in fact known colloquially as the “Mini-Meg” or “Baby Meg”—after the brand’s own Megalodon. The 47mm diver, which mirrors the Mako dial, is rated to 2500m of water resistance, and comes in variants of steel, bronze, and a more wrist-appeasing titanium. Most iterations are powered by the ETA 2824-2. So if you are ever tempted to dive the ocean’s bathypelagic zone, the Megalodon has you covered. If you are stuck on the Mako, however, you’ll be limited to the mesopelagic zone—also known as the “twilight zone,” beyond the reach of the sun’s light. Enjoy!
While it may be smaller than the Megalodon, the Benarus Mako is nonetheless a big watch. I’m not sure it’s so much a quibble, as it is a fact. Not everyone will have the wrist for it.
The build quality of the Benarus Mako Black is robust. The finish, excellent. The small batch production allows the brand to enact strict quality control, and it shows. The bezel alignment and action of the Mako is one of the best I have experienced under $1000. If you like a big watch (like I do) then there is very little not to recommend in this timepiece. The bracelet, in particular, is well beyond what you might expect at this price point. The black rubber strap that accompanied the watch is also of good quality and in keeping with the size and heft of the watch. Its water resistance is more than anyone will ever require, and the dial legibility would make this an excellent dive partner. People throw around the word “beater” a lot when discussing tough watches, but if the Mako were used to set the standard, you wouldn’t hear the term nearly as often.
The Benarus Mako Black retails for $599USD. For more information, please visit the brand website.
About the author
Brent Robillard is a writer, educator, craftsman, and watch enthusiast. He is the author of four novels. You can follow him on Instagram.
Off The Cuff articles are full-length, hands-on reviews of the watch in question and represent the opinion of the author only. All photos are original, unless specified otherwise. If you would like to have your watch reviewed on this site, contact us here.
Please understand that using any links to products on this site might result in us making money.
3 thoughts on “Off the Cuff: Benarus Mako Black”
One of the most exciting hour markers I’ve seen in a while.
Great looking watch!
LikeLiked by 1 person
I wanna like it, and I do to some degree….those lugs are just throwing me off quite a bit
LikeLiked by 1 person