Dagaz Aurora Hands-On

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The Dagaz Aurora dive watch is a mash-up of styles and is a refreshing departure from the pack of micro-brand divers that play it safe design-wise. The Aurora represents a very personal take by Jake Bourdeau, the owner of Dagaz Watch Ltd. (10watches.com), who came up with the design while vacationing Macau and took home some solid winnings at the casinos.

“The inspiration for the piece came to me on my vacations in Hainan where we go scuba diving, and Macau, which is known as the ‘Monte Carlo of the Orient’ with its casinos and Grand Prix racing,” he said. “The watch is, of course, first and foremost a dive watch, and is heavily inspired by both racing and casino influences, showing in the vintage rally diver feel and the roulette wheel dial.”

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The Aurora feels like you’re wearing a watch that can go on an adventure. It’s a watch that attracts attention, but doesn’t call for it. My officemates, who never say anything about my variety of watches, commented positively on the Aurora and a repeated adjective was “fun.” Small details such as the silver framed date window allow for a deeper appreciation upon closer inspection.

Overall build quality is superb and the finishes and inspired bracelet definitely made the Aurora a strong contender is a very competitive sub-$500 dive watch category.

DAGAZ_AURORA_FACE1Case: 316L stainless steel
Movement: Miyota 9015
Dial: black with red-and-white circular accent
Lume: C3 Superluminova
Lens: Sapphire double dome with inner anti-reflective coating
Strap: H-link steel bracelet
Water Res.: 200M
Dimensions: 43 (without crown) x 45mm
Thickness: 12.7 mm
Lug
Lug Width: 20 mm
Crown: 6 mm diameter x 3 mm thick
Warranty: Yes
Price: $495 (shipped)

Case
According to Bourdeau, the case shape draws from the Benrus Citation Electronic watch with its rounded/sunken caseback and sharper under-case and lugs. Casual observers, myself included, thought of the case as a Doxa-inspired designed, but if you Google image search for Benrus Citation, you will immediately see the Aurora’s roots.

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The rounded/sunken caseback and sharper under-case and lugs not only give it a distinctive look, it makes the watch very ergonomic. When coupled with the outstanding H-Link bracelet, the Aurora shines as an all-day watch.

My favorite component to the Aurora is its bezel, which has a wonderfully thin coin-edge that is still easy to grip and turn. I’m a sucker for a coin-edged bezel and this one works beautifully with firm indentations and no backtracking. A large lumed triangle sits like a crown over the engraved marking with a simple no-fuss font. I like minimalist fonts, especially on vintage styled divers, and the Aurora has one of the best bezel looks in any price category.

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Polished sides and signed crown and brushed case top create a classic look that matches the finish of the bracelet. The triple-sealed crown assembly is easy to use and feels sturdy.

Dial
The dial design is the most polarizing aspect of the Aurora. Some would consider the red striped line that encircles that outer edge of the dial a bold look, while others will consider it overly garish. For me, the overall look was festive and paired with a stainless steel bezel with engraved black numbers and markings, the brightness of the red and white decoration on the dial is held in check. Raised silver indices tipped with C3 lume and simple vintage diver hands also help restrain the wilder tendencies of the Aurora.

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The watch is finished with a domed sapphire crystal with inner anti-reflective coating that matches the retro look. Dagaz has been in the aftermarket Seiko sapphire mix for some time now and the quality of the Aurora’s sapphire is evident, providing a clear read on the dial and very slight distortion when looking at the watch from an angle. The lume shines bright and clearly.

The thin 120-click bezel, slightly domed sapphire and sloped case shape add up to an overall profile that looks very refined. There’s creativity at work here down to the simple caseback with Dagaz logo and three stars on each side of the circle. Clearly, the right match for the Aurora is a watch collector who doesn’t follow the status quo.

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Movement
This was my first experience with the Miyota 9015 and I would no doubt buy another watch housed with this movement. The seconds hand sweeps with purpose, hand-winding has a nice feel and when timed against my atomic G-Shock, the Aurora gained +3 seconds a day, which is pretty good for my tastes. When compared to my ETA 2824s or Seiko 6R15s, the 9015 is definitely a strong contender to be the best in this range.

Bracelet and Wearability
The bracelet evokes the look of the Seiko H-Link bracelets found on the vintage 6139 chronograph watches and rally divers of the late 1960s and early 70s. Second only to that stunning bezel, the H-Link bracelet simply elevates the complete package. It’s refreshing to wear a highly functional bracelet that isn’t some variation of a Rolex design and it simple oozes that vintage vibe.

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Packaging
The Aurora comes in small black Pelican-style case with the red Dagaz rune logo on the top. The soft foam liner protects the watch very well and ensures a safe delivery from Hong Kong. It’s a very basic plastic box, but it certainly is a nice extra that Jake has decided to use with his newest offerings.

Conclusion
It’s a cop out to say that the Aurora isn’t for everyone, so I’ll say it’s for those who walk on the wild side (R.I.P. Lou). Jake B has delivered many popular homage watches that have lauded by reviewers and by the watch buyers. With the Aurora, Jake decided to do things his way with the full understanding that he might shake up the mainstream.

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In this day and age, where people complain about the lack of originality in watch designs, the Aurora is a bold step towards breaking that mold.

by Li Wang

Images from this post:
Zach is the Co-Founder and Executive Editor of Worn & Wound. Before diving headfirst into the world of watches, he spent his days as a product and graphic designer. Zach views watches as the perfect synergy of 2D and 3D design: the place where form, function, fashion and mechanical wonderment come together.
wornandwound zsw

9 responses to “Dagaz Aurora Hands-On”

  1. Henry says:

    Where is the video?

  2. Josh says:

    Nice review. Dagaz’s original watches are starting to become more unique. It’s nice to see them putting more focus on their own watches rather than their mods.

    The Miyota 9015 is more in line as a competitor of the ETA 2892 than the 2824. Higher beat, lower cost, very accurate. I’m a big fan of the 9015.

  3. Garrett says:

    The Dagaz Aurora has been my daily wearer since I received it earlier this month. I get festive comments from friends as well – perhaps because the red-white patterning does remind people of candy canes, but that’s it’s unique, identifying feature to pay homage to roulette wheel and the rally diver heritage of Seiko watches.

    The H-link bracelet has a taper to the bracelet from the lug ends: 20mm to approx. 18mm. IMO, this is reminiscent of Rolex bracelets – but I think you’re right that it is more a tribute to Seiko’s vintage bracelets, albeit with improved construction of solid links.

    Screw-down crown is a joy to operate. Hope it was for you too!

    Thanks for this great review!

  4. Nice watch, reminds me of some of the Favre-Lueba Deep Blue’s that used a roulette wheel look on the bezel in the 60’s and early 70’s.

  5. Beng says:

    Great classic design – I believe Jakes done a bold and wonderful job .

    The homage I see in Aurora is from the DOXA line with a touch of the retro SEIKO 6139 rally chronograph and yet retaining its own identity whilst the H link bracelet takes its cues from the classic SINN heritage

    As good as the Miyota 9015 might be as an affordable alternative to the ETA, I find it lacks the refinement of the Swiss being much coarser in its winding and even to the extent of being somewhat gritty at times.
    The detents when pulling out the crown stem seems imprecise or perhaps being very stiff, although this differs to varying extent depending on its employment by different independent watch brands.

    Lovely to see the revival of retro 70’s popular look of the tonneau cushion ‘pillow’ case although its arguable that probably dates back to the original Rolex Oyster Case of the ’20s which made its way to the iconic Panerais

    • Ilya Ryvin says:

      Honestly, I’ve had varied experience with the 2824, so it really does depend on the brand and how they utilize the movement. I’d gladly take a boutique watch with a 9015 over an eta movement, especially if it means it’ll be several hundred dollars cheaper.

  6. bobbysamd says:

    Excellent review! I learned about Jake only recently and am definitely interested in the Aurora!

  7. Porter says:

    I love this watch and it makes you question so many other manufacturer’s pricing. I daresay a Miyota movement would last a lifetime and sure beats taking a Swiss bath for a few words at the bottom of a dial.