Hello everyone, and welcome to another Singaporean watch review! On this shiok Sunday, I’m reviewing the El Toro from local watch label, Aries Gold.
The El Toro is one of Aries Gold’s older models, but it caught my eye instantly whilst I was browsing through the H2 Hub website. I reached out to Aries Gold thereafter, and they kindly sent one over for me to review. Let’s see if it’s any good!
Update: I’m pleased to list the Aries Gold El Toro on my new web-store, The Shiok Shop.
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 (with over 10 locations in Singapore) across the island. 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 details of 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, and the Aries Gold Roadster here.
Aries Gold El Toro – Build Quality
Aries Gold is known for providing great specifications for the price, and I’m pleased to discover that is again the case here on the El Toro!
Firstly, the El Toro utilises a flat sapphire crystal. As aforementioned numerous times in my previous reviews, I’m a huge advocate of sapphire crystal due to their 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. In addition, the WR rating for the El Toro is 50m, which should render it safe for most daily activities except a trip to the pool or the sea.
The Aries Gold El Toro is powered by the automatic Miyota 82S0 movement, which is unsurprising given that it’s one of the only affordable skeletonised movements on the market currently. It beats at 21,600 bph, hand-winds, has about 42 hours of power reserve, but does not hack. I’m usually not fond of the Miyota 8 series movements due to the stuttering of the seconds hand, but this issue was not present on the El Toro that I received.
The Aries Gold El Toro comes on a black genuine leather strap, which I found to be serviceable. The lining is rather comfortable, and it’s definitely better than the cardboard-like lining one finds on lower quality straps. There’s also a nice butterfly clasp – signed with the Aries Gold branding – that enhances the dressy feel of the watch. However, as the strap is merely “genuine leather”, the leather will not patina the same way top grain or full grain leather would. Granted, the patina would not be that obvious on this black leather strap, but it will certainly be a factor for consideration if you opt for the other colourways of the El Toro.
Oddly, there’s also lume on the Aries Gold El Toro, which I found strange given that it is marketed as a dress watch. It’s not Swiss Superluminova – Aries Gold states that they use Japanese lume on the El Toro – so it’s not very strong, but I guess it’s there if you need it!
All in all, I think the Aries Gold El Toro possesses good specifications for the price. There’s sapphire crystal, a skeletonised Miyota automatic movement, a decent strap with a butterfly clasp, and even lume.
Aries Gold El Toro – Design
While the specifications are decent, it is in the design that the Aries Gold El Toro really shines.
I’m utterly enthralled by the dial of the Aries Gold El Toro. The Geneva striping of the dial reminds me of one of my grail watches, the Glashutte Original PanomaticInverse. Being a fan of mechanical watches, I love how the dial of the El Toro pays homage to the art of watchmaking by incorporating Geneve striping (usually a movement decoration) into the dial. The Geneve striping shimmers in the light, and I appreciate the extra effort that Aries Gold took to include blue screws and red rubies (synthetic, of course) on the dial. It’s pretty unique too – aside from the aforementioned GO PanomaticInverse, I’m unaware of another watch that feature similar aesthetics.
In addition, the dial of the Aries Gold El Toro is skeletonised, allowing one to appreciate the mechanical movement within. I find the skeletonisation to be done tastefully. The design is complex and adds depth of the dial, but does not distract from the Geneve striping/blue screws/red rubies decorations. It’s clear to me that quite some thought has been paid to the way the dial is skeletonised. There are quite a few microbrands that offers “skeletonised” watches, when all they do is simply cut a hole in the dial to expose the movement within. Skeletonisation is an art – it should highlight the intricacy of beauty of the mechanical movement, and in this regard I think the Aries Gold El Toro fared quite well. When worn on the wrist, I can see the beating balance wheel as well as the incessant action of the pallet fork, which is simply captivating.
Elsewhere, I liked the quirky use of a crosshair counterweight for the second hand. I also liked the use of Roman numerals, which enhances the dressy feel of the watch. The Roman numerals are situated on a brushed metallic surfaces, which I found juxtaposed nicely with the Geneva striping on the rest of the dial. All in all, this is a watch with a dial that is full of details, with depth and texture in spades.
In case you haven’t noticed, I absolutely adore the dial of the Aries Gold El Toro. If I had to nit-pick, I would say that the words “sapphire crystal” should probably have been omitted. I’m not a fan of superfluous text on the dial, especially one that states the obvious. In my opinion, putting the model name – El Toro – would have been a better aesthetic choice. However, Aries Gold has shared with me that for just S$10, you can print your own name on the dial, where the words “sapphire crystal” is on standard models. I think that’s pretty cool, to have your own name (or a loved one’s name) on the dial. Another knock that I have is that the El Toro isn’t the most legible of watches, due to the lack of large minute indices. Often, it takes me a while to read the time on the watch, whereby I’ve to squint at the minute track for a few seconds first. I’m personally fine with it – skeletonsied watches aren’t exactly the most legible – but if legibility is a priority for you, you’re probably better off getting a dive/pilot/field watch.
Moving on from the dial, the Aries Gold El Toro features a stepped bezel, which I found adds a nice Art Deco touch to the watch. Again, it’s an aesthetic that’s rarely seen in modern watches, with the Reverie GT being the only other watch I know that shares a similar bezel design. In my opinion, it reinforces the depth of the watch, giving the El Toro a substantial 3D presence.
The case of the Aries Gold El Toro is relatively simply polished throughout. Personally, I would have liked for the case to possess a higher level of finishing (bevelled edges, textural contrast, etc) but given the low price point of the El Toro I can’t really complain much. That being said, I am pleased to see a signed crown, which isn’t always the case when it comes to affordable watches. The crown is nicely sized as well, making hand-winding the El Toro an ease.
The El Toro possesses an exhibition caseback, through which one can view the mechanical movement within. The movement isn’t ugly to look at, but I was hoping for a higher level of decoration here – a signed custom rotor, and some Geneva striping/blued screws to reflect the aesthetics of the dial. Perhaps that might be too tall an order for a S$300+ watch, but personally I wouldn’t have minded paying a tad bit more for a better decorated movement. To me, it’s a shame that the movement is bare bones, considering how the El Toro is supposed to pay homage to watchmaking. However, I suspect that most would be more excited by the opportunity to customise the caseback of the El Toro (and other Aries Gold watches) for a mere S$10. If you’re planning the El Toro as a gift, or simply something to commemorate an occasion, do make use of their personalisation services!
While the Aries Gold El Toro is on the slightly larger side at 43mm wide, the watch wears well on my 7 inch wrist. I find the sizing modern, and it should suit a wide variety of wrist sizes. At 12.7mm thick, the El Toro is still slim enough to be considered a dress watch, and shouldn’t have much difficulty slipping under a shirt cuff.
All in all, I absolutely adore the aesthetics of the Aries Gold El Toro. The dial is incredibly detailed, full of texture and depth. In particular, I love the idea of showcasing traditional watchmaking decorations – Geneva striping, blued screws, red jewels, etc – on the dial. The skeletonisation is executed tastefully as well, and I often find myself glancing down and admiring the beating movement within. For a sub-S$400 watch, it definitely packs a visual punch that belies its price tag!
Shootout – Aries Gold El Toro vs Thomas Earnshaw Bauer
If you’re looking for a relatively affordable watch with similar Geneva striping design aesthetics, the Thomas Earnshaw Bauer is the only other watch that pops into my mind. As such, I’ll be pitting the Aries Gold El Toro against it in today’s shootout!
In terms of specifications, the Aries Gold El Toro has the edge over the Thomas Earnshaw Bauer. Both watches share the same Miyota openworked movement and possess lume, but the El Toro features sapphire crystal whilst the Bauer uses a mere mineral crystal, rendering it significantly less scratch-proof.
From an aesthetics standpoint, I find the Aries Gold El Toro to be significantly more attractive than the Thomas Earnshaw Bauer. It’s clear that much more thought has been put into the design of the El Toro – there’s attention to detail when it comes to the execution of the design, with depth and texture in the dial. It’s much more visually striking as well, at least in my opinion! In comparison, the Bauer comes across as a tad lazy in its design. There’s not much depth to the dial, not much textural contrast, and the skeletonisation comes across as an afterthought. To be very honest, the Bauer looks like an Aliexpress watch with the Thomas Earnshaw branding slapped on!
When it comes to value, the Aries Gold El Toro trumps the Thomas Earnshaw Bauer. The Bauer has an MSRP of over S$900 – that’s more than twice the price of the El Toro! As such, I believe the El Toro to be the (much better) value proposition, and it emerges as the clear winner in this shootout.
Conclusion – so the Aries Gold El Toro “shiok” or not?
Without a doubt, yes. It’s a terrific package. It possesses good specifications, but it features an excellently executed dial that does a great job at paying homage to watchmaking. Sure, it can’t hold a candle to the aforementioned Glashutte Original PanomaticInverse, but at S$390 (after promo code below) it doesn’t have to. It’s visually striking, robust, and there’s even the opportunity to personalise the watch through custom text on the dial and/or the caseback – what’s not to like?
For those interested, the promo code “WAHSOSHIOK” will grant you S$5 off all watches from the H2 Hub web-store! After the discount, the Aries Gold El Toro can be had for just S$390, which I think is a steal considering the amount of detail packed into the watch. Good specifications, great design, at an excellent price! In addition, the promo code “WAHSOSHIOK” will give you 20% off all Aries Gold watches from their web-store. Depending on their pricing, one may be cheaper than the other, so do check both out.Depending on their pricing, one may be cheaper than the other, so do check both out!
Update: The Aries Gold El Toro can be had for just $364 on The Shiok Shop – an unbeatable price.
View the Aries Gold El Toro here.
|Case Material||Stainless Steel|
|Strap Material||Genuine Leather Strap|
|Movement||Japan Automatic 82S0|
|Local Warranty||3 Years|
|Water Resistant||5 atm|
|International Warranty||2 Years|
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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