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 colorways 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:

Aragon Divemaster 4
Aragon Divemaster 4

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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About the Author / Author Expertise & Authority

John Biggs: I live in Brooklyn, NY and write about technology, security, gadgets, gear, wristwatches, and the Internet. After spending four years as an IT programmer, I switched gears and became a full-time journalist. My work has appeared in the New York Times, Laptop, PC Upgrade, Gizmodo, Men’s Health, InSync, Popular Science, and I’ve written a book called Marie Antoinette’s Watch about the most famous and mysterious watch ever made. I am the former East Coast Editor of TechCrunch.com.