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.

By John Biggs

John lives in Brooklyn and has loved watches since he got his first Swatch Irony automatic in 1998. He is the editor of WristWatchReview.

6 thoughts on “In Review: The Aragon Divemaster 4”
  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.

    1. 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.

  2. Idk. I just bought a 42mm Divemaster 4 with an Automatic Swiss Ronda R150 Movement, sapphire crystal, sapphire bezel with 120 clicks on a ball bearing. It has superluminova on the hands, applied indices, crown and bezel. It’s got solid links and end links, a milled clasp, screw down crown and a blue mother of pearl dial.

    I happen to think it’s a beautiful watch lol. I will say, it’s one of the only designs of theirs that I like.

    I paid $255 directly from their site. For that price that’s an outstanding value. For reference the Orient Kamasu is $280 and “everyone” seems to love that watch and thinks it’s a good deal as a starter watch.

    I think Aragon’s high prices are a gimmick, because when they have a sale the watches go on sale for insane discounts. If you buy the watches on one of their sales…just be mindful of the specs for the price…generally the sale prices are definitely worth it, if you like these types of watches.

  3. The reviewer seems to have an emotional outburst rather than an actual horological review. This was NOT a review! This was most certainly buyer’s remorse. When you review, and expect people to respect what you’re saying, you CANNOT make the entire review about YOUR likes/dislikes. The word “mess” being used to describe the watch is the real “mess”. Reviewer continues to cite too high of a price, saying ebay has the better price is incorrect. I bought this exact watch from the Aragon site because Aragon site was CHEAPER than ebay! It was the direct opposite of what the reviewer stated. The site sold it at $450, while ebay sellers were asking from a low of $650, to an AVERAGE of $900. I know, because I bought mine around the time of this “review”. I have no confidence in this review because 1.) The reviewer’s “anger” represented more at play than doing a ‘review”……maybe Aragon refused to GIVE him a watch for his precious opinion? 2.) Since I own this watch, I can clearly refute most of what is being said. The D4 NE88 for $450 is a very good buy. At the so called “list price” of $1500 it would be an “ok” buy. There is PLENTY of detail in this watch; the crown does NOT have “play” in it, as you can set your minute hand exactly where you’d like with NO problem. Accuracy wise, it is just ok. I think Aragon certainly should have spent some time fine tuning it. The lume is nice…while it lasts. The design IMO is superb. As for the metal not being “shiny”, I don’t get it??? The matte finish is what they set out to do and did it well. I am one who prefers the matte look. I really hope NO ONE takes this poor assembly of words by the “reviewer” seriously, as he did not consider or speak in any horological terms, nor did he consider anyone’s tastes but his own. This “review” was an assault on a small company that probably can’t afford to give away their watches to everyone claiming to be legitimate watch reviewers. I’m glad your name is on it so I’ll know to stay away from your opinion in the future.

  4. Well, you paid $500 for watch you can get much cheaper. Is it worth $500? No. But blame yourself for paying that much for it. Their website constantly has sales and you can get a lot of their watches for $99 to $169. Do a little research next time before dropping $500 on something you don’t know anything about and you might be a little happier with your purchases. I’d say your anger should be directed at yourself.

  5. I have now purchased 4 Aragon watches an as I don’t own the above I can’t comment on that directly. But for what I paid each piece has an NH35 movement and as I have 14 watches with this movement I have zero issues with it. Aragon for the most part make good watches at a price point very few watchmakers can do their individual slightly flamboyant and on the larger side .But are all great value.Horology doesn’t start an end with Rolex. For the ordinary person they are a well made easy and affordable way to enjoy watches.

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