My journey to find this watch came about when I was trawling through the forums for a Panerai homage. I am in love with the Panerai’s simplicity in design. But I knew that spending 5k+ on a Panerai was not going to be a viable option at this time, but I know one day that time will come. Until then I wanted to satiate my thirst for having something that was similar and that wasn’t going to break the bank.
Upon my midnight trawling online, eyes tired and feeling sleepy out it pops up. I found a video on the outer edges of youtube with barely any views with a guy showing the Marina Militare watch in action, my eyes lit up with excitement and I was practically sold right then and there.
However, I didn’t buy it immediately. I did what most watch people do when they find something unknown and fascinating online. I looked around for any reviews to justify my time and potential hassle for a $150 no-name watch investment.
To my surprise, the user reviews were scarce and not enough to draw a statistical conclusion on whether it was good or bad. The scattered reviews sounded similar to this:
- People loved it and it was quality for the money.
- The seller/shop who was selling them went MIA (not responding to emails) — and was a huge red flag to me.
- Some received watches with mechanical defects
- “The watch is amazing to have fun with”
I wasn’t a confidant as coming out of it because the reviews were scattered and well mixed. You probably know the feeling, I felt like I just wasted hours online on a watch that’s potentially a “hunk of junk”.
With that said I found a sales page on Aliexpress of the watch and if you know anything about Aliexpres,s its a high chance of never getting the item you ordered, and its a high probability of quality issues.
But the specifications looked somewhat decent, it actually looked like a potentially good watch.
The Marina Militare Specs
- 50mm stainless steel solid case with a very nice looking case back opening showing the internal Seagull movement.
- Mineral Scratch-proof crystal
- Authentic Leather strap (I expected it not to be real)
- Lume dial and hands
- 48 hour power reserve function and indicators
- Date window and second-hand subdial.
- Water Resistance 5AM
- Sandwiched dial similar to the beloved PAM (most other look-a-likes dont even go to this level)
“Looks like I’m are buying another watch”
Thats where my credit card popped out and I laid it out beside my keyboard, ready to order. But I paused, my mind was torn between ethics of it because it was such a close copy of Panerai that it seemed wrong. Plus I was coming to terms with the possibility of waiting over 3 months for this thing to be delivered as it was coming from China.
But curiosity got the better of me
“Screw it” I said, and clicked the buy now button and the deal was done. I mulled over the product page for another 10 minutes thinking if I made the right decision and went to bed.
It was like a dream, I completely forgot about the mental ordeal it took to buy this watch. I went on with life, preoccupied with my business and 2 weeks later the long-anticipated package arrived.
The opening experience was lackluster as best, but not surprising for a $150 watch. I was in the shower when the mailman delivered it. My wife got to it first an she would be the one to let the curiosity get the better of her and unboxed it for me.
It came in plastic air protection bags and no box, typical Aliexpress style. My immediate thought was doubt, and with the little voice in my head saying “its probably going to be trash, but don’t worry its only $150”.
At A Closer Look:
- No visual scratches or imperfections anywhere, it was clean from front to back, nothing was out of place, tacky or cheap.
- It had weight to it and it didn’t feel cheap.
- I ran my fingers over the watches bushed finished case to look for dents or imperfections, and absolutely none.
- The soft smell of the leather bellowed up and hit my nostrils and it was love from there, It was as authentic as it gets. And as I type this I can smell the pleasant leather aroma.
- The latch for the crown protector is solid and easy to adjust the time. It’s truly satisfying to wind up and see the power reserve indicator react accordingly. When the crown is been disengaged the Seagull movement kicks in and the second’s dial turns without a hitch.
- It has a strong lume but it doesn’t last long.
- A small pet peeve with the date window because it can be hard to read, but not a deal breaker.
- The size with worth mention, That Marina Militare is huge and is built like a tank. Its 50mm in width and 18mm in thickness and looks big on my wrist.
But “Wow” I’m blown away with this thing.
For a $150 dollar watch its worth every cent. For the money it’s not hard to forget what it doesn’t have, which is the unboxing experience with the box, papers, warranty and all that pretty stuff that makes it feel good for a few minutes. But is it worth the extra $150? Personally, I’m not really bothered.
A Fun Fact
If you type “Marina Militare” google you get images of an Italian warship and a fashion brand that has nothing to do with the watch itself. Either way, the Italian warship idea for inspiration makes this watch sound more flattering over some fashion brand.
Homage or Fake Argument
Since posting this review, its had its fair share of comments praising the Marina Militare’s existence in the market for being a more financially friendly way to own a similar design to the beloved Panerai. But there have been comments from the community calling it an outright fake and disregarding its place in the market. And both opinions are completely fair!
Whichever side of the fence you sit, the point of watches is to appreciate the greater creations of what watchmaking has to offer (rich or poor). There are watches that take close inspiration from luxury brands like Rolex and we see known brands like Steinhart doing that, and it takes nothing away from Rolex.
So let’s look at it from this angle. Where there are expensive luxury watch brands (mostly anything these days) there are affordable counterparts (homages) and I can rattle off known and respectable brands all day.
But there are outright fakes that are claiming to be said-luxury-brand, and this is where its not ok.
I believe watchmaking is being pushed to a new level of competitiveness. It’s cheaper to manufacture a good quality automatic watch for much less money, but if you want the precious metals and gems inside the watch then you pay the premium.
Fun Fact: Scientists have cracked the code and have managed to make gold out of nothing. Gold, a finite precious metal with store value, with small limited quantities has just been reproduced in a lab and there is no way of telling from the “real” to the “fake”.
Another fun fact: There is a correlation to where the positive and negative comments are coming from and it’s really not surprising at the statistical significance.
- Negative comments – Older 45+ men who are obviously financially established in life who own a house or two. Who has family and they enjoy the good things in life.
- Positive Comments – Ages 18 – 30 men who are just getting into horology, who are building their financial stability through entrepreneurship, or a focusing on moving up the corporate ladder. These are hard-working people who are building up their finances to able to afford luxury watches.
The Marina Militare is an Automatic watch that screams quality. Its got all the bells and whistles, plus more with a price tag less than $200 that may send the alarm bells ringing for any watch snob.
You can find Panerai homages from brands that have that “Pam feel”, but they are way more expensive and actually nothing special like the Marina Militare.
So if you love Panerai’s but you don’t want to spend stacks of cash right now, then the Marina Militare may satiate your need for a PAM shape in your collection then I highly recommend it.