Hello everyone, and welcome to another Singaporean article! On this shiok Saturday, I’m rounding up the 16 best things that I’ve reviewed this year.
Given that this will be the last article of 2020, I thought it might be interesting for me to highlight the products that I’ve personally enjoyed the most. If you haven’t heard of them, do check them out – I’m sure you will enjoy them as much as I did!
Here are some of my favourites this year:
A Malaysian microbrand, the Herve Alvia (pictured below) is one of my favourite microbrand watches of 2020.
Who they are: According to Herve, their vision is to design a future classic: a new watch, born in the 21st century, with cues from the greats gone by. They strive to offer watches that would meld past and present to form a timepiece that could be carried into the future, pairing vintage aesthetics with modern technology for accuracy, reliability and style. With this in mind, their maiden watch – the Alvia – was born.
My opinion: To be honest, I’m not quite sure why Herve isn’t as recognized, or as “hyped” in the microbrand watch world as some of the other brands are. I think the Alvia is a terrific maiden offering from Herve – I will say that the Herve Alvia is perhaps the best watch that I’ve reviewed this year. It has rock-solid specifications, a thoughtful design, all at a wonderfully low price point. It’s a perfect balance of vintage and modern styling, and wears beautifully on the wrist. If you’re looking for a vintage-inspired everyday watch, I honestly think that the Herve Alvia is your best bet under S$500.
Review: I reviewed the Herve Alvia here.
Where to buy: Herve’s web-store. Herve is also a partner of Wah So Shiok – readers enjoy 10% off all Herve watches on their web-store! Just quote “WAHSOSHIOK” to enjoy the discount.
One of the most affordable brands on this list, Aries Gold is a brand that some of us would be familiar with. If you didn’t know that it is a homegrown brand – well, now you know!
Who they are: “Amid an ambitious global expansion blueprint, Aries Gold is now an international brand sold in 28 countries (including USA, Australia, Germany) – a hard-earned milestone for the only “Made in Singapore” watch brand. After a successful collaboration with International Rock Band Foo Fighters last year, Aries Gold continues to break new grounds by collaborating with International Rock Band Aerosmith in 2017 to promote their unique code: Combining worldclass design with quality watchmaking.”
My opinion: Aries Gold is a brand that is often scoffed upon by watch enthusiasts, and I think that’s a shame. Personally, I sincerely believe that Aries Gold offers some of the best value propositions that you can get for ~S$200. Take the Black Sea for example. The Aries Gold Black Sea ticks a lot of boxes – it’s automatic, has good lume, a nice leather strap, vintage styling, and most importantly, a unique corroded dial that sets it apart from the tons of affordable well-built dive watches out there in the microbrand market. I would like a future update to come with a few upgrades (in particular, a domed sapphire crystal and a black date window) but as it stands, the Aries Gold Black Sea is one of the best, if not the best dive watch you can find for under $200 USD. Like most Aries Gold watches, the value proposition here is irresistible.
Review: I reviewed the Aries Gold Black Sea here.
Where to buy: Click here. Aries Gold is also a partner of Wah So Shiok – readers can enjoy a crazy 50% off all products on their web-store. Simply quote “WAHSOSHIOK” upon checkout to enjoy the discount!
The Vintro Le Mans 1952 Automatic would be the perfect pick for those looking for an affordable mechanical chronograph.
My opinion: The Vintro Le Mans 1952 Automatic is a great value proposition – you’re getting an automatic column-wheel chronograph (based upon the legendary Venus 175 movement) for just S$600+! I’ve seen other microbrands selling mecha-quartz chronographs for more. As a lover of vintage watches myself, I absolutely love the dial of the Le Mans 1952 Chronograph, which is a retro beauty. It’s quite unique as well due to the incorporation of both a tachymeter and a telemeter scale on the dial. If you love its vintage styling, but still find the price a tad too high, there’s also a mecha-quartz version available.
Review: I did a review of the Vintro Le Mans 1952 Automatic here.
Where to buy: Vintro’s web-store. Vintro is also a partner of Wah So Shiok – readers enjoy 10% off products on their web-store! Just quote “WAHSOSHIOK” to enjoy the discount.
If you’re looking for bang-for-buck dive watches, Phoibos will be right up your alley.
Who they are: “Phoibos was founded in 2016 by the Chinese couple of Ethan Guo and Emily Feng. Inspired by a trip to Greece they took, Ethan and Emily named their watch brand after ancient Greek mythology. Phoibos is the alternative name to Apollo, the Greek God of Sun and Light. Translated, Phoibos means ‘Bright, Shining, One’”
My opinion: Phoibos offers a lot of value for money. Take the Proteus (with a meteorite dial) for example. For $377 USD, you get sapphire crystal, a workhorse Seiko NH35A movement, Swiss Superluminova, a superb bracelet, ceramic bezel, 300M WR rating, and a meteorite dial. In fact, the Phoibos Proteus is probably the most affordable option if you’re on the hunt for a meteorite dial watch – that in itself is saying something. If you’re looking for a tough as nails watch that comes with the bragging rights of having a slice of the moon on your wrist, then the Phoibos Proteus is a no-brainer. There’s also a recently introduced Proteus with an aged steel case (but without the meteorite dial), priced at just $269 USD after the discount code below.
Review: I reviewed the Phoibos Proteus here.
Where to buy: Phoibos’ web-store. Phoibos is also a partner of Wah So Shiok – readers enjoy 10% off all watches on their web-store! Just quote “WAHSOSHIOK” to enjoy the discount.
Formally known as MILÉNEAL, Montage is a watch label best known for offering beautiful dress watches at an affordable price point. Their latest offering is the Prestige, a series of automatic dress watches with fume dials that are terrific value for money.
Who they are: Previously named as MILÉNEAL, Montage “…create timepieces that are of flavorful combination between Vintage & Contemporary.” Just like how the word ‘montage’ has the meaning of piecing together separate sections and fragments to create a whole new composite, Montage seeks to put together different quality parts to make a complete timepiece that is meant to complement your style.
My opinion: I think the Montage Prestige is the best dress watch that you can buy under S$300. The fact that you get a Miyota 9015 movement for under S$300 is impressive in its own right, but Montage takes it up a notch by pairing the movement with a gorgeous fume dial. The Montage Prestige possesses both form and function, and it puts its similarly priced fashion watches counterparts to absolute shame. If you’re someone looking for a nice “first watch” but don’t want to spend a lot of money, the Montage Prestige is perfect for you. Even for seasoned watch collectors, I think the Montage Prestige will definitely add something different to your collection – unless you already own a Moser of course!
Review: I reviewed the Montage Prestige here.
Where to buy: Montage’s web-store. Montage is also a partner of Wah So Shiok – readers enjoy 10% off all Montage watches on their web-store! Just quote “WAHSOSHIOK” to enjoy the discount.
Best known for their affordable customisable watches, UNDONE has managed to establish themselves in their niche despite the relatively short span of time that they have been around. With a focus on collaborative watches this year, it looks like UNDONE is set to grow from strength to strength!
Who they are: “Established in 2014, UNDONE is the world’s leading custom watch label founded by a team of dedicated watch industry veterans. The core philosophy of the company is enabling everyone from all walks of life to create their unique personalized watch at a great value without sacrificing quality. By combining traditional watchmaking with modern-day technology, UNDONE grants people the power to narrate their perception of time through their tailor-made watches. The production of all UNDONE brand products is made in-house, allowing their team to have full control over every aspect that goes into the making of their unique watches.”
My opinion: As a fan of Batman since young, wristing the UNDONE Batman watches was definitely shiok. It has a wonderfully executed design that pays tribute to the hero of Gotham City, yet done in a tasteful manner that isn’t gaudy or childish. The specifications of the watch are good too, and I’m particularly impressed by the UNDONE Batman’s Grade 2 Titanium case, as well as the usage of two different types of lume. All in all, the UNDONE Batman is a great commemorative watch that will please both fans of the superhero, as well as watch enthusiasts. Collaborative watches don’t always turn out well, but I’m glad it did here!
Review: I reviewed the UNDONE Batman here.
Where to buy: UNDONE’s web-store. UNDONE is also a partner of Wah So Shiok – readers enjoy 10% off products on their web-store! Just quote “WAHSOSHIOK” to enjoy the discount.
I’ve also reviewed multiple strapmakers this year, but two stood out to me.
A standout for me this year was Vario’s Vintage Italian leather strap.
My opinion: For those looking for an affordable leather strap to pair with your dress or vintage watch, I highly recommend the Vintage Italian Epsom strap from Vario. The leather is sourced from Italy’s Provincia di Vicenza – widely regarded as the source of the world’s finest full-grain leather – and feels incredibly supple to the touch. As it’s full-grain, it will also patina beautifully over time. In addition, the straps have been carefully treated to provide stain and water resistance. As the icing on the cake, the strap even comes with quick-release spring bars for easy interchangeability. I sincerely believe that Vario makes some of the best leather straps for S$50.
Review: I reviewed the Vintage Italian strap here.
Where to buy: Vario’s web-store. Vario is also a partner of Wah So Shiok – readers enjoy 8% off products on their web-store! Just quote “WAHSOSHIOK” to enjoy the discount.
As their name suggests, Cozy Handmade specialises in handmade leather straps that doesn’t break the bank.
My opinion: I have to say that the Vintage 404 is my favourite handcrafted strap of 2020. It’s made from great quality leather, and is meticulously handcrafted – as all straps are from Cozy Handmade. However, I really appreciated how clean and elegant the strap is due to its stitchless aesthetic. Paired on my UNDONE Urban Vintage, the simple design of the Vintage 404 strap elevated the timepiece, resulting in a stunning look. I love the texture of the strap, and in particular the olive green colour of the Vintage 404, which pairs beautifully with the yellow gold case of the Urban Vintage. It’s also very comfortable on the wrist due to the vegetable tanned cowhide lining and its thin nature. At just ~S$70 (after the promo code below), I think the Vintage 404 strap is a steal.
Review: I reviewed the Vintage 404 strap here.
Where to buy: Cozy’s web-store. Cozy Handmade is also a partner of Wah So Shiok – readers enjoy 10% off products on their web-store! Just quote “WAHSOSHIOK” to enjoy the discount.
Due to Circuit Breaker – whereby retail shops were forced to close for almost three months – I didn’t have the chance to review many tailors this year. Nevertheless, amongst the few that I did review, two stood out.
Located within the luxurious premises of Pan Pacific hotel, Meiko Tailor pays homage to the art of tailoring. Run by Head Tailor Uncle Chung – who has over 50 years of experience in tailoring – Meiko Tailor is perhaps the personification of the maxim ‘old is gold’.
My opinion: Meiko Tailor is perhaps the only true blue bespoke option in Singapore that won’t break the bank. A tailor is considered bespoke when he specialises in the drafting, cutting, and fitting of the garments – all of which Uncle Chung oversees for every customer. There’s no template used at Meiko Tailor, as everything is custom-made from scratch, based upon an individual’s specific measurements. The experience of Uncle Chung (who has been doing tailoring longer than even my parents have been alive) shone through during my experience at Meiko Tailor. In addition, Meiko Tailor boasts a local in-house production. Not only does that translate to a more stringent quality control and greater consistency (Uncle Chung personally inspects every finished garment), it also allows Meiko Tailor to offer one of the shortest lead time amongst bespoke tailors. The lead time of bespoke tailoring is often 1-2 months – due to Meiko Tailor’s in-house production, their usual lead time is just 1-2 weeks! Furthermore, Uncle Chung has recently been joined by his daughter Adele in the business. Adele, being a trained image consultant, brings modern styling advice to an established lao jiao tailor, ensuring that customers get the best of both youth and experience. Overall, if you’re looking for an affordable bespoke tailor with an emphasis on craftsmanship, or simply need a well-crafted suit in a jiffy, I highly recommend paying Meiko Tailor a visit.
Where to buy: 7 Raffles Blvd, #02-01 The Pan Pacific, Singapore 039595
Based in Orchard Plaza, Ehkay Corner has been offering great affordable suiting options since the 1980s.
My opinion: Despite their affordable price point, Ehkay Corner ticks a lot of boxes. Unlike the majority of the other affordable tailors popping up on Facebook currently, Dinesh and his wife Hina have been managing Ehkay Corner since the 1980s – that’s over 30 years! In fact, Dinesh picked up the trade from his father and elder brother, who ran the business before him. In terms of experience, Dinesh and his wife definitely have it in spades. In addition, Ehkay Corner also boasts a local, in house production. In contrast to the vast majority of the other tailors at this price point, Ehkay Corner does not outsource – all garments are produced in their workshop locally. As a general rule of thumb, tailors with an in-house production have better control over their back-end, and therefore possess a higher consistency in their products as compared to tailors who outsource their production overseas. If you don’t trust me, just look at their Google ratings – a near-perfect 4.9/5 rating from over 200 satisfied customers! Furthermore, there’s even a fitting session in their tailoring process for a better fit. Overall, Ehkay Corner is one of the best affordable tailors in Orchard. Their shirts are also rather affordable, so if you’re looking for an affordable tailored shirting option, do consider Ehkay Corner! Lastly, Ehkay Corner also offers affordable rental services, so if you only have a temporary need for a suit (e.g groomsmen, prom, etc) that could be an option as well. Their rental prices are for 72 hours, so that’s a relatively better value than other tailor rental services that mostly only rent for a day.
Where to buy: #01-57 & #01-01 Orchard Plaza, 150 Orchard Road Singapore 238841. Ehkay Corner Tailors is also a partner of Wah So Shiok – readers enjoy 10% off their final purchase amount! Just quote “WAHSOSHIOK” whilst making the appointment or in-store to enjoy the discount. Readers can also get 5% off rental services.
The dress shoe industry is probably one of the hardest hit ones during COVID – no one needs formal shoes when most office jobs are WFH currently. Several local shoe brands have folded, or on the verge of folding. However, one shoe brand has impressed me.
Arden Teal seems to be going from strength to strength, with the homegrown label introducing multiple new offerings this year, including what is perhaps the most affordable blake-stitched dress shoe on the market.
My opinion: If you’re searching for bang-for-buck dress shoes, I highly recommend Arden Teal. I love this Carlota Blake-Stitched Oxford from Arden Teal. I think the value proposition is unbeatable. I honestly don’t think you can find a blake-stitched dress shoe for cheaper. The fact that it features a leather outsole is the icing on the cake. For those who are more discerning in their choice of shoes – perhaps you’re a budding sartorialist – then I’ll definitely recommend you to opt for the blake-stitched variant of the Carlota wholecut oxford. It’s a beautiful pair of dress shoes (just look at the photo above!), and it will last you for years.
Review: I reviewed the Carlota Blake Stitched Oxford here.
Where to buy: Arden Teal shoes can be bought online here. As Arden Teal is an official affiliate partner of Wah So Shiok, simply quote “WAHSOSHIOK” upon checkout to enjoy 10% off all shoes store-wide!
As we start to go out more (have you been to Orchard recently?), we not only want to look good, but also smell good. Here are two perfume brands that I’ve really enjoyed this year!
Maison 21G specialises in “tailor-made perfumes”, allowing customers to create their own unique scent at an affordable price.
My opinion: I absolutely loved my perfume workshop with Maison 21G – it was undoubtedly one of the highlights of my year. Firstly, their Duxton road boutique is welcoming and beautifully designed. Secondly, I love their concept of “tailoring” a scent for yourself. As you guys know, I’m quite big on tailoring, and was immensely intrigued by the concept of bringing the same notion over to fragrances. How Maison 21G works is simple – they have over 30 different solo scents, and which customers can combine to make their own unique scent. According to the brand, there are over a hundred different combinations for customers to explore! My favourite has to be combining Tea Time with Terrific Tonka, as well as Cannabis Cloud with Ginger Game. Oh yes – Maison 21G also offers free engraving on each of their perfume bottles, so they make for great gifts as well!
Where to buy: Interested readers can buy from their online store here, or visit their lovely boutique over at 77 Duxton Road. As Maison 21G is an official partner of Wah So Shiok, readers can quote the promo code “WAHSOSHIOK” upon checkout to enjoy 15% off all products and workshops online!
Describing themselves as an artisanal fragrance label, Scent by SIX positions itself as the perfume brand for “trendy, adventurous and soul-searching individuals”.
My opinion: One of my favourites, Scent by Six really wowed me with their new Hikaru fragrances, both in the perfume form and the pillow mist. As the name suggests, the new Japanese inspired Hikaru fragrances possess a ton of fresh and citrusy notes. I really enjoyed spraying the Hikaru perfume before I head out in the morning – it’s a perfect perk-me-up. I also loved applying the Hikaru pillow mist before I head to bed. There’s something about the Hikaru pillow mist that calms and soothes me, and allows me to sleep easier. I use the Hikaru pillow mist nightly – if that’s not a ringing endorsement, I don’t know what is!
Review: I reviewed the Hikaru fragrances here.
Where to buy: Interested readers can buy from their online store here, or visit their physical stores at Bugis Junction. As Scent by SIX is an official partner of Wah So Shiok, readers can quote the promo code “WAHSOSHIOK” upon checkout to enjoy 10% off all products online!
Last but not least, I was also impressed with a couple of the accessories that I reviewed this year.
Known for their literary infused bags, Gnome & Bow offers bags that are sure to separate you from the crowd.
My opinion: Gnome & Bow is definitely one of my personal favorites here. I love how they seamlessly weave literary elements of iconic fables into the design of their bags. This year, I reviewed their Porthos Briefcase, and I really enjoyed it. In fact, it’s my go-to briefcase now. It’s functional (read the review to find out the various storage compartments available), stylish, sleek, and pairs well with everything. You might have even spied it in some of my other reviews, such as my review of Esquire’s Atelier. I also appreciated the way the briefcase pays homage to Dumas’ famous literary work, The Three Musketeers. I would say that it’s my favourite bag of 2020!
Review: I reviewed the Porthos Briefcase here.
Where to buy: Interested readers can buy their bags off Gnome & Bow’s web-store, here. As Gnome & Bow is an official partner of Wah so Shiok, simply quote “WAHSOSHIOK” to enjoy 10% off all products store-wide!
Designed with minimalism in mind, Faire Leather offers wallets that are simply packed with functionality.
My opinion: Unlike the other young startups on this list, Faire Leather Co is able to tap upon the decades worth of manufacturing capability of Tocco Toscano – ensuring that you get a quality product (likely crafted by the same craftsmen who have been making Tocco Toscano products for decades) at an affordable price. There’s a reason why they managed to raise over $400K on their debut Kickstarter project, making them one of the most funded Singaporean crowdfunded project till date. Personally, I love the ability of Faire to combine sleek, minimalist looks with ultra-functional utility. Take their Specter Bifold Wallet with Cardholder for example. Despite the minimalist look, it has a hidden card slot and a quick access card slot with a pull-tab. Form and function, at a price that won’t break the bank. It’s my current wallet of choice, and definitely the favourite wallet that I’ve reviewed this year.
Review: I reviewed the Faire Leather Specter Bifold Wallet with Cardholder here.
Where to buy: Interested readers can order from their web-store here. As Faire Leather is an official partner of Wah So Shiok, simply quote “WAHSOSHIOK” to enjoy 10% off all online orders.
If you’re looking to start your fountain pen or journaling journey, a great place to get started is local stationary purveyor, Cityluxe.
My opinion: I recently developed a love for fountain pens and journaling during this Circuit Breaker period. Like many, I spent most of my CB time in front of my computer, and I just wanted a break from the digital life. As such, I found myself spending more time taking physical notes, putting pen to paper, planning my days and what I wanted to accomplish during the CB. The more I wrote, the more I grew to appreciate fountain pens. In many senses, fountain pens are exactly like mechanical watches. Sure, there are cheap ballpoint pens that will get the job done at a fraction of the price, but it simply doesn’t exude the same enjoyment as a fountain pen does. There’s a sense of class and workmanship to fountain pens that I really appreciate. I highly recommend more of my peers to look into fountain pens, and the journaling lifestyle in general – and get your products from Cityluxe, of course!
Where to buy: Interested readers can buy from Cityluxe’s web-store here. As Cityluxe is an official partner of Wah So Shiok, simply quote “WAHSOSHIOK” to enjoy 10% off all online orders.
That concludes my list of the 16 best things that I’ve reviewed this year. 2020 has genuinely been a very trying year, but these products have at least put a smile on my face. I can’t believe that 2020 is already ending – the year felt like it flew by. I sincerely hope that 2021 will be a better year. I already have a ton of exciting product reviews lined up in January, and will be introducing a few new initiatives in the upcoming months. I can’t wait to see what 2021 holds for Wah So Shiok!
P.S Do check out the new “Discounts!” page for exclusive discounts for Wahsoshiok readers! More brands will be added very soon – stay tuned.
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.