Time to take a look at the bit more obscure once again. I truly enjoy getting my hands on watches that earned their start on Kickstarter just to see how they stack up based on specifications and price point with other watches in the same price category. Today I’m going to examine UHURU Watches which is based out of South Africa. Nick Warner, the founder, achieved full funding on Kickstarter for his first model, the Impi. The Impi was initially available in black and ivory dial options. The black dial option is no longer available so I’m going to focus on the ivory dial variation. The Impi model itself pays tribute to Zulu warriors, which were traditionally armed with a cowhide shield and a spear. Some of the characteristics of the Impi model have been delivered to illustrate the shield and spear without being comical. You can read more about UHURU watches in general at: http://www.uhuruwatches.com/, The Impi retails at $349 USD and comes with the following basic specifications:
- 316L stainless steel case
- 44mm diameter case (excluding crowns)
- Japanese Automatic movement
- Double domed sapphire crystal with anti reflective coating
- 20 ATM water resistance
Probably the first thing I look at on any watch is the case finishing. I’m not entirely sure why but the finish just always gives me a good feel for what I’m going to find elsewhere when inspecting the watch. The Impi is constructed of 316L stainless steel with a matte almost bead blasted appearing finish. The finishing isn’t perfectly even throughout the case, but overall is decent, so I initially had a good feeling about what I would see elsewhere with the watch. The case itself has some vintage appeal mixed with the modern in relation to the overall shape. Based on information from UHURU, the curved shape itself was a design aspect equating to the shapes and textures of a Zulu warrior shield. The overall appearance of the case is rather appealing. As the wearer, the weight of the case is also quite noticeable, as the Impi on the leather strap is rather impressive at 128 grams.
Moving on to the case specifications, the case measures 44mm and a robust 51mm including the dual crowns. The lug tip to lug tip measures 52mm and the watch is rather girthy at 15mm. With the aforementioned weight, combined with the other watch specifications, the Impi provides substantial wrist presence and will command quite a bit of attention. The signed crowns are perfectly proportionate with the other dimensions of the case at 7mm in diameter. The 3H crown is the screw down variety and is positioned nicely between crown guards for added protection. I have to admit the crown guards caught me off guard a bit. Even for the more established watch companies, crown guards tend not to provide adequate protection for the crown as the crown always seems to stick out several millimeters beyond the guard edges. However, on the Impi, the crown face is almost perfectly flush with the crown guard edges which will allow for outstanding side to side protection. The 3H crown controls the date and time complications and is quite easy to grasp with no play or wiggle when engaged. The 3H screwed down crown contributes to the overall 200 meter water resistance of the Impi. The 9H crown controls the internal bi-directional bezel. The 9H crown is not screwed down moving rather freely indicating the Impi wouldn’t be ideal for any sort of timed dive. Due to the overall case specifications, the Impi is probably best suited as a casual wear type watch. If it was slightly thinner it would fit comfortably under a dress shirt cuff.
Next, the Impi is fitted with a huge domed 37mm in diameter sapphire crystal with an interior anti-reflective coating. Beneath the crystal is a good looking ivory/yellowish colored dial. The dial is extremely clean and uncluttered, perfectly sized font type, with the limited branding placement painted above and below center dial. The Impi is not heavily lumed with only a minimal amount of application found on the markers and handset. The marker illumination is negligible and the handset lume is not much better. Do not expect to tell the time in poorly lit conditions for any length of time. I have always viewed lume as more of a gimmick, so I’m going to give UHURU a pass on this aspect. The hour and minute hands are what I consider lance or spear shaped, which goes back to the Impi model/theme corresponding to the weapon of choice of the Zulu warrior.
Outside of the strap, which I will discuss shortly, the case back itself is probably the most disappointing aspect of the Impi. The screw down case back is fitted with a sapphire display for viewing the movement. I have to admit I was surprised that the rear display was sapphire for a watch under $350. Now, if the Impi housed a Miyota 9015, Sellita or ETA automatic movement I could easily understand showing off the movement as some of those movements are nicely decorated. However, the Miyota 8215 housed in the Impi is quite unappealing in appearance. I would personally much rather have seen a highly engraved solid case back with the UHURU logo at the center. With that being said, the choice of movement by itself was a solid one for a first production. The Miyota 8215 has been around for a long time and is fairly reliable while not as accurate as newer Miyota automatic movements. Probably my biggest gripe about the 8215 is the lack of the hacking feature in order to set the time a bit more precisely. This particular 8215 movement has been performing about as expected at +20 seconds a day.
Finishing off the Impi is 3mm thick brown leather strap. The strap is fairly soft and supple lending to sufficient comfort on the wrist. The brown leather is a perfect compliment to the ivory/yellowish colored dial of the watch. The strap measures 24mm at the lug and tapers to 22mm at the tail and buckle. Personally, I hate taper but take greater issue with strap length. I have mentioned my issues with the length of the leather straps provided by many companies in the past and there is no difference in this particular case. On my 7 ¾ inch wrist, I am typically slotting in the 3rd sizing hole depending on the climate. I prefer a decent amount of strap tail extending through the floating keeper and this strap just doesn’t meet my expectations in this area. After several hours of wear, I tend to find the floating keeper dangling around near the lug which is absolutely frustrating. If the fixed keeper was a bit more substantial in size I would probably remove the floating keeper to eliminate the hassle. The strap is finished off with a standard pre-v style tang buckle. The Impi is an outstanding suitor for a nice custom leather strap so I would definitely suggest looking into that option if your wrist size is similar to mine or larger.
At $349 USD the UHURU Impi is nice looking affordable casual timepiece and in many cases probably unlike anything else in your collection. The Impi will provide a great change of pace and will be a great watch for multiple strap changes based on the situation. The watch has decent specifications ranging from the sapphire crystal to the dependable Miyota 8215 automatic movement. Overall, a solid first production from UHURU watches so I think the company is on the right track. I would like to thank UHURU for working with WatchReport.com on this review. I would like to thank you for reading my review and suggest viewing my brief YouTube video presentation on this model as well.