Home $500-$1000 In Review: The Aragon Divemaster 4

In Review: The Aragon Divemaster 4

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I’m a sucker for big watches.

But I’m not a sucker.

When I saw the Aragon Divemaster 4 automatic chrono on eBay I was intrigued. It wasn’t affordable — they’re $1,500 on the site — but for $500 on eBay I figured I could take a flyer on this thing and see what was up. The watch arrived and it was, to say the least, disappointing.

Aragon has a wide range of watches in various color ways and they appeal to the beginning collector. They’re big, beefy, and bold and the pricing, factoring in massive eBay discounts, makes it seem like you’re getting something special. Like Steinhart and the other “cut out the middleman” sellers, Aragon overpromises and under-delivers.

Bottom Line? It Sucks

What’s my beef? Well, the movement is junk. It’s sloppy, it loses a few minutes daily, and the entire thing doesn’t need the massive case Aragon has given it. Setting the time was an adventure in estimation since there was too much play in the crown. The design is ugly — not Seiko Orange Monster ugly but just ugly — and the metal is matte because it can’t be shiny. All told, you’re getting a very cheap watch for a bit more than you’d pay for a similar name-brand Seiko or Tissot.

Should I be this harsh on a micro brand? No, but this example of micro brand cost-cutting was particularly galling. These aren’t $1,500 watches and I’d wager they’re not even $500 watches. They’re commodity pieces slightly modified and given a Japanese movement. If the company put some thought into design and manufacturing and reduced its line to a few classic pieces I’d probably be more willing to give them a break but look at this mess:

Chefs always warn you about places with huge menus. This place has a huge menu. None of these watches feature anything close to attention to detail and quality control and it’s quite frustrating. By no means do I want to disparage the work of a small manufacturer but Aragon has taken a leaf from the mall kiosk watch playbook and modified it to make the collector set a bit more interested. These are automatic watches and everybody knows autos are better than quartz. But why not make the entire package superior? Why depend on a scattershot technique of offering a mess of styles in hopes that someone wants a massive purple watch that doesn’t keep good time?

We’re a watch review site. We usually write about watches we like. But in this case I hated the Aragon Divemaster 4. It’s an insult to watchmaking, it’s a mess, and it’s expensive. There is no greater force in the world for a watchmaker than the support of fans. This company, given its sloppiness, doesn’t deserve that support.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Ouch! Toughest review I’ve ever seen on a watch blog!

    I don’t own the Divemaster 4 and don’t disagree with anything you’ve said. I do actually own an Aragon watch, but a much cheaper Parma 2, and it’s pretty good for the price I paid. Solid watch, NH35 movement, lugs that hug the wrist. But granted Aragon aren’t for everyone – most of their designs I find a bit garish and the only models that catch my eye are their more subdued variations. But it seems their fans love them for the more far out color choices. I wouldn’t buy the Divemaster chronograph, and the design certainly isn’t to my tastes, but it seems there’s two aspects intertwined in your review – the price of automatic chronometer-based watches in general, and whether or not Aragon’s particular iteration is good at this price, which is inseparable from the cost of the movement issue.

    I don’t understand the swing towards automatic chronometer movements that seems to be taking place in the microbrand world. They’re expensive and a Seiko VK64 will do the job just as nicely (and maybe even more accurately). More to the point – if you really need to time something these days why not just use your phone? It seems to me to be a symptom of a problem in the watch industry where companies are able to make movements with some or other complication, which increases their price, but the complications themselves aren’t that useful (I’d say the same about GMTs too!).

    Anyway, like I said, I don’t disagree with what you’ve written so aren’t looking for an argument! I’ll be staying away from the Divemaster chrono – but also all automatic chrono’s for that matter. I just don’t see the point and the value for money isn’t there for any automatic chrono I’ve seen. But it’s hard to argue against the value of Aragon’s Divemaster 42, for example: a smaller more versatile case, stainless steel, sapphire crystal and NH36 movement for $139? The lower price range seems to be more their territory rather than the $500+ range.

    • I love chronos so don’t get me wrong: if they had pulled this off I’d be quite impressed. Instead, they cheated and created a watch that is definitely in the lower dregs of eBay-dom but they’re selling it for way too much. If you want to take a flyer then by all means and if you have a good three-hander from Aragon then more power too you. I’m just really disappointed in this and I was honestly excited by it at first.

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