Personalising an Aries Gold Collective, The Great White dive watch with H2 Hub.
A fortnight ago, when I received the invitation from H2 Hub to review their new Aries Gold Collective series and watch personalisation services, the questions that popped into my mind weren’t oh, which watch would go best with my wardrobe? Which option, which strap, which colour would best describe my personality?
Instead, the ex-graphic designer in me sprang awake and wondered just how the personalisation process would be. Having worked on design projects for over two decades, I knew all too well how something that sounds so straightforward in writing could easily end up inexorably frustrating.
Beginning with how concepts in one’s mind often do not always turn out quite as expected in reality. Double the likelihood when instructions are only communicated online.
With great curiosity, I accepted the invitation and while waiting for H2 Hub’s reply, I took a detailed look at their website. Now, I’m not making this up. Although I’ve only ever bought a battery from them, I’m somewhat familiar with the physical stores of this local watch retailer. Actually, quite familiar.
One is at AMK Hub, which is where I head for meals whenever I’m at my co-sharing office. In fact, that outlet is behind a fruit juice store that I always buy from. And so, yeah, more than once have I browsed their watch displays while sipping mixed fruit juice.
I’ll say this too. While I’m familiar with H2 Hub’s physical stores, I didn’t know they have such a large web presence. If you haven’t, do take a look at their online store and ongoing promotions.
H2 Hub’s Watch Personalisation Process
Here’s what happened after the initial communications.
- I was invited to pick a “base design” from 12 watches. All options offered were from the new Aries Gold Collective The Great White collection.
- The next decision involves where and how I would want personalization to be. Specifically, whether I would want any image on the dial or caseback, and whether I would like any text on the dial. (H2 Hub’s team helpfully provided several images as samples, including samples of the fonts used for words on the dial)
Deciding which “base watch” to go for was easy. Of late, I’ve been on the lookout for something rose gold in theme or appearance. I immediately decided on Aries Gold’s The Barracuda AG Collective G 9040.
What to have on the dial and caseback, on the other hand, was a bit of a task, and again it’s because of my ex-job. I wanted a simpler customisation, but I didn’t want something too simple, if you know what I mean. At this point, I also started toying with the idea of a music-themed design that’d go well with my YouTube uploads.
In the end, after an hour of indecision, I opted for a simpler black design for the dial; I’d leave the caseback as it is. I’d also have my site URL or blog name on the dial.
I then did my own visual mock-up in Photoshop, just to see how everything would be.
Couple of things happened within the next day. Firstly, I was advised that it would be better to go for a shorter text on the dial, otherwise, the font would be tiny. (My mistake, I ought to have realised). Secondly, and I didn’t expect this, H2 Hub reverted with their own mock-up for me to approve.
Long story short, I approved the mock-up right away. Less than 48 hours later, my personalised Aries Gold dive watch was at my doorstep.
Aries Gold Collective | The Great White Collection
A quick introduction to the Aries Gold Collective, The Great White collection, before I share pictures of my personalised watch.
Launched in Feb 2022, AG’s The Great White Collection is built to last. The collection comes with numerous designs too, all possible for personalisation. Each design also enjoys an elegant name. For example, the Admiral, the Reef, the Aegean Blue, and so on.
As for details of the built:
- 42mm 316L Surgical Grade Stainless Steel Case
- Scratch-proof Ceramic Bezel
- Scratch-proof Sapphire Glass
- 300 Meters Water Resistance
- Japanese Miyota 8215 Automatic Movement
- Rubber or Solid Stainless Steel Strap
- Swiss C5 Superluminova Option for Indices and Hands
- A stylish travel watch pouch with every watch purchase
- 100% Authenticity with Warranty
(If you purchase from H2 Hub, you’d furthermore enjoy free shipping for orders above SGD 80/-, and the option for instalment payment.)
To me, The Great White collection embraces design directions that are pronounced but sleek. Apart from the darker options such as The Stealth and The Submarine, most are also visually prominent with bold colours and lots of metallic touches. Masculine signatures throughout, in other words.
As for the maker, Aries Gold, do you know that it’s a Singaporean brand with over 40 years of history? (I didn’t! I always thought AG is American)
Founded by lifelong watchmaker CK Woo and today, sold all over the world, Aries Gold watches are exclusively manufactured in-house with individual components all placed through stringent quality testing. Yes, including the straps too.
On some websites, this Singaporean brand is highlighted as an affordable option for premium timepieces. Looking at the price tags and the designs available, I’ll say it is certainly the case.
Delivery and First Impressions
I’ll let the photos below do the bulk of the talking. But to highlight:
- H2 Hub’s package was very well-protected. Everything was sealed or bubble-wrapped. Given recent incidents of irresponsible delivery persons, this is to me, thoughtful and meticulous.
- One of the things that we fear most in graphic design, and printing, is the horrid situation of the actual print looking nothing alike the digital mock-up. (For example, colour discrepancies) I’m glad to say what H2 Hub delivered looked exactly like their mock-up.
A Matte Finish for the Dial
I should highlight this because I expected otherwise.
It didn’t show in the picture above, or the one below, because I took efforts to minimise reflections during photography. But under the right light angle, one can see that the dial, i.e., what my music picture is printed on, is of a matte finish.
Actually, if you look hard enough at the rest of my pics, you’d probably notice it.
I’m not sure whether this finishing is because of the base material or simply a production decision. Part of me also suspects it might be because having a gloss/reflective surface underneath the sapphire glass casing ain’t that great an idea.
Whichever the reason, I’m not too bothered; it’s barely noticeable anyway. The only impact of this finish, to me, is just that the printed image is slightly less sharp.
The Barracuda: A Classic Statement with Modern Brushes
The Barracuda itself had several surprises for me.
First off, it’s heavier than I expected. Even more so than my old first-gen Tissot T-Touch. This might be an issue if I were to wear it while playing music but otherwise, I believe it’s an indication of quality. The Barracuda is, in and out and strap included, made of solid and reliable components.
Secondly, the craftsmanship is immaculate! I’m not a horologist in any way, but I do have a photography setup that allows me to scrutinize the Barracuda with 10x magnification. Every mm of it was assembled without any looseness or disparity. The sweep of the second hand is also smooth and, of course, quiet.
Coming to appearance, the classic dive watch approach with a prominent bezel and dashes of rose gold on the strap, is pronounced, bold, and modern. Not exactly easy to match with the right top, as I discovered, but there are fun opportunities and discoveries.
I found the bold colours especially attractive under warm light.
To sum up, I’m reviewing one service and one timepiece here. H2 Hub’s Aries Gold watch personalisation service and the Aries Gold Collective The Barracuda.
For the former, hey, I have no complaints at all. Communications and the design process were smooth and thoughtful. The actual work and delivery were fast as well. Frankly, I didn’t expect my watch to arrive so quickly.
The quality of personalisation was flawless too.
As for The Barracuda, I initially worried whether it might be a little too hefty and loud for me. After wearing it for a week, I can safely conclude I was just being neurotic.
The weight is a non-issue at all. Despite the bold colours, the Barracuda is not difficult to match with attire too. I think it goes best with simpler styles and colours.
And to reiterate, this is a solidly constructed watch. You can feel the worth just by holding it.
As a personalised gift to a loved one, any design from the AG Collective series would be perfect too.
Head over to H2 Hub’s online store for more details of the AG Collective The Great White Collection. Personalisations can be arranged online with purchases.
Check out my other gadget reviews.