Hello everyone, and welcome back to another Singaporean article! On this shiok Saturday, I’m reviewing the new Diplomat from local watch brand Aries Gold.
Positioned more as an entry-level everyday watch, the Diplomat offers a versatile style while possessing solid specifications. Let’s see if it’s any good!
Aries Gold – the Brand
Many of us Singaporeans should be familiar with the brand Aries Gold – we see Aries Gold watches stocked in watch retailer H2 Hub, which has over 10 locations in Singapore. What many Singaporeans may not know is that Aries Gold watches are actually “Made in Singapore” – the brand possess their own manufacturing and assembly facilities and team of watchmakers right here on our little red dot. If you would like to know more about Aries Gold’s brand story, do read my review of the Aries Gold Jolter (one of my personal favourites) here, in which I covered Aries Gold as a brand in detail. I also previously reviewed the Aries Gold Cruiser here, the Aries Gold Roadster here, the Aries Gold El Toro here, the Aries Gold Vanguard here, the Aries Gold Black Sea here, and the Aries Gold Dreadnought here. In addition, I did a feature article on why I believe Aries Gold to be the best watch brand under S$200, which can be read here.
Aries Gold Diplomat – Video Review
For those interested in viewing some hands-on footage of the watch, do check out my review of the Aries Gold Diplomat below!
Aries Gold Diplomat – Build Quality
As typical of the brand, the Aries Gold Diplomat features specifications that punches above its price point.
Firstly, the Diplomat uses a flat sapphire crystal. As aforementioned numerous times in my previous reviews, I’m a huge advocate of sapphire crystal due to its inherent scratch-resisting properties. Personally, I always look for sapphire crystal in my modern watches as it adds greatly to the durability of the watch. It is definitely a marked improvement over the mineral crystal of the fashion watches found at this price point. In addition, the WR rating for the Vanguard is 50m, meaning that you should have no issues wearing the Diplomat under the tap or whilst raining.
The Aries Gold Diplomat is powered by the workhorse Seiko NH36A movement – which features an additional day window as compared to the NH35A – which is visible through an exhibition caseback. Some quick specs: the movement beats at 21600 vibrations per hour, has 42 hours of power reserve, contains 24 jewels, and is hacking. I’m a fan of the movement, and greatly prefer it to the Miyota 8 series movement (which is the alternative movement commonly seen with microbrand watches). This is due to the fact that unlike the NH36, the Miyota 8 series movements are non-hacking, suffer from a stuttering seconds hand (some models), and in my own experience with the Miyota movements, are also more prone to accuracy problems. In contrast, the Seiko NH36 is a movement that is as reliable as they come. At this sub-S$200 price point, the Seiko NH36 movement is definitely the best bet, even if it’s undecorated.
Uncommon in watches of this price point, the Diplomat actually comes on a metal bracelet. It’s not nothing to shout home about though, and feels similar in quality to the bracelets of the Seiko 5 series. Still, the clasp fastens assuredly, and is signed with the Aries Gold branding.
All in all, the specifications of the Diplomat are great for its price. For less than S$200, there’s sapphire crystal, a robust Seiko NH36 movement, as well as a metal bracelet. What’s not to like?
Aries Gold Diplomat – Design
While the Diplomat doesn’t reinvent the wheel, it is still eminently striking with its blue guilloche dial.
Let’s put things in context. The sub-S$200 price point is dominated by watches from the likes of Daniel Wellington, MVMT, Fossil, etc, and often have lacklustre designs with the excuse of being “minimalist”. The Diplomat does not fall into the same pithole. For one, there’s a spiral guilloche pattern at the texture of the dial – a finishing texture that’s uncommon at this price point.
Secondly, the dial is actually layered, consisting of the bottom guilloche layer and an upper layer where the minute track is. Combined with the faceted applied indices, this gives the Diplomat a keen sense of depth, and separates it from the flat dials of most watches in its price segment.
Lastly, a set of alpha hands completes the contemporary look of the Diplomat, while the lollipop seconds hand adds a vintage touch. It’s a versatile aesthetic, one that would appear just at home with a suit as it would with a T-shirt and shorts. There’s even a day and date complication that aids its practicality. With many of us in lockdown currently (Singapore just entered the Phase 2:Heightened Alert), the days can blend together, and I found myself relying on the day window quite a bit to keep track of the days.
If there’s an area that betrays the low price tag of the Diplomat, it would be its all-polished case. The watch is simply polished throughout, and lacks the refinement that would be seen on higher-priced watches. There’s no contrasting finishing, no chamfered edges, sculpted lugs, etc – it’s essentially just a big bulk of metal. Still, the case is crafted from solid steel, and thus possesses a reassuring heft that some of its competition (I’m looking at you, Daniel Wellington) don’t. There’s also a signed crown, which is a detail that’s not always present on lower-priced watches.
On my 7-inch wrist, the 42mm case size of the Diplomat wears well. It’s definitely a modern sizing, but does not feel overly large. It’s large enough to feel sporty, but still small enough to function as a dress watch. It’s also not that thick, coming in at just 12.5mm, and should slide under most shirt cuffs.
Overall, the Diplomat has a well-executed design that belies its affordable price tag. There’s guilloche patterning provides texture, while the layered construction of the dial and the applied faceted indices contributes depth. And although there are multiple colourways available, on this blue hue the dial just pops. I like it – no complaints here!
Shootout: Aries Gold Diplomat vs Seiko 5 SRPE53K1
If you’re looking for an affordable, everyday watch, then your best “mainstream” alternative would probably be the Seiko 5 SRPE53K1, which has been affectionately termed as the “dress-kx” by watch enthusiasts.
In terms of specifications, the Aries Gold Diplomat edges out the Seiko 5 SRPE53K1. While both watches uses the Seiko NH36 movement (although it’s called the 4R36 in the Seiko) and have a similar quality metal bracelet, the Diplomat uses sapphire crystal, which is significantly more scratch-resistant than the hardlex crystal found in the Seiko.
From an aesthetic standpoint, it’s a much closer fight. Objectively, I would say that the Diplomat has the more striking aesthetic due to the guilloche dial and the faceted applied indices, which looks more sophisticated than the dial of the Seiko 5 SRPE53K1. However, due to the new Seiko 5 being inspired by the legendary SKX, there’s a recognizability to the Seiko 5 SRPE53K1 that the Diplomat simply cannot match. I’ll say this – if you’re a watch enthusiast, you would probably prefer the design of the Seiko 5 SRPE53K1. If not, the Diplomat would likely appeal better.
What’s undeniable though is the value proposition of the Diplomat. It’s 25% cheaper than the Seiko 5 SRPE53K1, despite having the better specifications and being arguably more refined. As such, if I had to pick a winner in this shootout, I would probably go with the Diplomat.
Conclusion – so the Aries Gold Diplomat “shiok” or not?
The Aries Gold Diplomat is great for a one watch collection. If you’re someone that’s simply looking for an affordable, robust, good-looking watch that can be worn in a variety of situations, then the Diplomat fits the bill perfectly. It has great specifications for the price, a dial that has depth and texture, and is very accessibly priced. In fact, I would say that it’s one of the best watches under S$200.
For those interested in the Diplomat, you can use the promo code “WAHSOSHIOK” to enjoy a crazy 50% off all Aries Gold watches online! After the discount, the Diplomat can be had for just $139.50 USD/ ~S$186, which is an absolute steal for what it is. I think the Diplomat works best for students, or fresh graduates that have a limited budget and just want a watch that can be worn with any outfit, and serves as a good gateway into the world of mechanical watches. At the very least, it’s definitely a much better price than most fashion watches at this price point!
View the Aries Gold Diplomat here.
View the full range of Aries Gold watches here.
Model: G 9034 S-BU
Case: Stainless Steel
Strap: Stainless Steel
Glass: Sapphire Crystal
Water Resistance: 5 ATM
Case Size: 42mm
Functions: 3 Hands, Day and Date
Movement: NH36A Automatic
P.S Do check out the new “Discounts!” page for exclusive discounts for Wahsoshiok readers! More brands will be added very soon – stay tuned.
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P.S.S.S Shiok is a common word Singaporeans use to express admiration or approval. As of 2016, you can find the definition of the word in the Oxford English Dictionary.