There are not too many watches that I would consider a “must own.” However, the Imperious Man of War is one of those rare exceptions. When I say must own, I don’t mean I recommend that you own this watch, or that maybe you’ll like it. No. You WILL love this watch. This blog post specifically refers to the model I currently own, the stainless steel model with the black dial and full stainless steel bracelet. If you like Panerais, and strap changing, but can’t afford the $4,000+ price tag, but also aren’t fond of the cheap homages, this is absolutely THE alternative. Click “Details” to continue!
I can go on all day about the design of this watch. First and foremost, there is an obvious inspiration from Panerai with the sandwich style dial (for those who are unfamiliar with this term it means there are 2 dials, one background dial, and one that sits on top that has the hour markers and numbers punched through it to reveal the bottom dial). Also similar to Panerai are the Arabic numerals at the 12, 3, 6, and 9 o’clock position. Lastly the cushion style case design is borrowed as well.
The thing I love about this particular “homage” to a Panerai, is that while it is technically an “homage” it has its own characteristics that makes it unique.
I’ll start with the case design and the aggressive “shoulders” on each side of the case. These raised treatments on each side give it almost an effect that it’s wearing armor or something, it gives it that beefy look. It also has a very unique crown protector with a thick and aggressive crown underneath.
Another subtlety that I love about the case design is that the case is wider than it is long. Not including the crown the watch is 50mm in diameter, but only 45mm high. This design not only offers an excellent fit on the wrist (especially for smaller wrists like me) but also allows you to catch a glimpse of the beautiful end links of the bracelet or the strap you are wearing when you look at the time. This may be a subtle treatment in concept but you’ll really see what I mean when you wear it.
Another couple of great features of the design is the heavily domed sapphire crystal and the textured sandwich dial underneath. You really need to see the dial in person to appreciate it. In the light you can see a beautiful, bumpy, almost asphalt like texture that plays just wonderfully in contrast with the underlying green superluminova covered hour markers and hands.
Speaking of hands, the sword style hands and simplistic straight-line second hand were a perfect choice as well. Everything else that is on the dial is also expertly laid out as well. ”Swiss Made” is easily visible and nicely spaced surrounding the “6″ numeral. I love the big and bold “I” logo, with the powerful “IMPERIOUS” font underneath, and what they did with just “MAN OF WAR” centered by itself towards the bottom, completes the clean and simple dial layout perfectly. I am also a big fan of the dial being cut to expose about 5 dates, with a raised section framing the current date, with a luminous arrow pointing to it.
Overall it’s one of the best designed watches that I’ve owned, and at the price point, it’s a no lose situation.
The Imperious man of war has a great fit for almost any wrist size. Let me first start off by disclosing that the bracelet is built for bigger wrists. As I’ve stated I have a 6.75″ – 7″ wrist, and in the cold seasons I have to remove all of the links from the bracelet for it to have a snug fit (which I prefer for a heavier watch). When it gets hotter, I add 1 link. I wouldn’t recommend the bracelet model for anyone with under a 6.75″ wrist. However, this watch has been such a success, and the bracelet model is so hard to come by, that I’d buy it anyway, and sell the bracelet. There are plenty of people on WatchGeeks and other various fora that would happily spend up to $100 on just the bracelet alone.
Now that I’ve explained the bracelet, I’ll go into how it wears on a strap. Of course, if you buy any other model of the Man of War, or sell the bracelet on this particular one, you can play the strap game all you want. It is extremely comfortable on any leather strap I’ve owned. It takes a 26mm strap, as it has a 25mm lug opening. The curved lugs and smooth curved case back complete the fact that it’s definitely a comfortable watch to wear.
Speaking of the strap changing game, I’ll start off by explaining how easy the system is on this watch, and how it even rivals Panerai in simplicity. The watch has an excellent strap changing system, where all you need is a regular HEX key, the size 3 one specifically. One side of the lugs has the hex shape, and the other has a triangle shape, to avoid any confusion. The cool thing about the tube, is that when you finally unscrew and pull it out, you’ll notice the threads of the screw are on the HEAD end of it, and not at the very end, which sometimes causes frustration when trying to line it up at the end. All you do is slide it in through the new strap until you feel a click, and it screws in very easily. Of any watch that I’ve owned this is the easiest to change straps.
As far as the finishing of this watch, I’ll say that it definitely lives up to its “Swiss Made” tag on the bottom of the dial. There are some watches out there that claim to be Swiss Made, and technically are, but most likely barely meet the requirements. This watch totally looks, feels, and runs like a Swiss Made timepiece. The high mirror polished finish on the bezel, “shoulders”, and lugs contrast beautifully to the brushed finish on the case, and is evident that a lot of care went into the finishing of this watch. The bracelet reflects this as well with a high polish on the inner section against the brushed outer section. The heavily domed sapphire crystal is extremely high quality and is set perfectly into the case.
Flip the watch over and you will find another sapphire crystal revealing the workhorse Sellita SW200 Swiss automatic movement (which for anyone who’s curious runs just as good as an ETA 2824-2). Nothing was skimped when it comes to the finish on the caseback either, as the rim surrounding the exhibition crystal has a nice brushed finish, while the outer edge of the caseback has a nice polished finish for contrast. One of my favorite features of the case back is the black imperious logo that has been printed on the underside that hovers over the movement. Just a nice touch that wasn’t necessary but goes to show the attention to detail.
The Sellita SW200 Swiss automatic movement keeps excellent time at -4s / 24 hours and couldn’t be happier all around with the finish of this watch. When you hold it in your hand you can feel Swiss Made quality.
One last important detail that speaks volumes about the construction of this watch is the fact that it has a 30ATM or 300 meter water resistance rating. This is completely unnecessary for the type of watch that it is, but speaks volumes about the goals that Imperious wanted to achieve in regards to the quality of the build. With all of the other features mentioned before, it is just an added bonus and icing on the cake as far as quality and bragging rights of the watch are concerned. It shows the true passion Imperious has for quality timepieces.
This leads me into a list of noteworthy specs and some necessary input.
Case Width: 50mm – Definitely wears like a 50mm, maybe a tad bigger because of the large crown protector, but the smaller height sort of helps balance it out.
Case Height: 45mm – I felt this was a noteworthy specification because of what I mentioned earlier about having a smaller wrist and not having the watch hang off the edges of your wrist preventing you from seeing the ends of the straps / bracelet.
Lug width: 25mm – I know this is not an even number when it comes to straps (normally we see 20, 22, 24, 26mm, etc.), but a 26mm strap will fit just fine. It only has to condense .5mm on either side. You can get some nice straps at one of my favorite places started by Stan Betesh, founder of Deep Blue called PANATIME.
Case Thickness: 17.5mm – However that’s a bit exaggerated due to the domed crystal, it wears thinner, more like a 16mm. It’s the perfect thickness proportionally in relation to the width and height.
Movement: 26 Jewel Swiss Made Sellita SW200 Automatic – This movement is just as good as an ETA 2824-2 in my opinion. ETA just has the name to back it, but there is a history behind Sellita that proves their equality. Here is a link to a fellow blogger who laid it out pretty nicely.
Crystal: Domed Sapphire – This is one of the best features of this watch in my opinion. It is so perfectly set into the case and has such a nice curve to it that it plays beautifully in the light.
Water Resistance: 30ATM or 300 Meters – As mentioned above, I found this significant because it is not meant to be a dive watch, but easily surpasses dive watch qualifications, which again speaks to the passion put into creating this watch and other Imperious watches.
I know this was an extremely long read, but it just goes to show you how much I really do love this watch and how strongly I endorse it. This is why I tagged it as a “Must Have” watch. Please don’t get me wrong, I know I’m mostly describing the bracelet/stainless model but I’ve also owned the all black model on the rubber strap, and fully recommend that one as well. Any Imperious Man of War that you can find under $500, ESPECIALLY the stainless on bracelet, has my full recommendation. If you happen to be a gold tone kind of person (unfortunately I’m not), it is the only other imperious made that comes with a bracelet, and can often be found cheaper. The unfortunate thing is, having been a limited production watch, it is so hard to find, but so worth the hunt. Keep your eyes peeled on eBay and all of the buy/sell/trade sections of the various fora out there, and if you see one, I strongly recommend you grab it. You will not be disappointed.
Below is some photography I have taken of my Man of War at various times, and have also included some done of the black stealth variant as well (which I unfortunately no longer own but hope to reacquire. I hope you enjoy!