Disclaimer: this video/review was not sponsored by Jianghun, San Martin or any other entity. However, they agreed to sell me this unit at a small discount.

Jianghun JH0101 War Drum ‘Brown’: https://www.jianghunwatch.com/products/jh0101?VariantsId=10005



Jianghun emerges as the newest venture within the realm of watch brands linked to the manufacturer behind San Martin watches, known for its prominent standing among affordable watch collectors (outside of the bigger names like Timex, Seiko, Casio etc.). In the digital landscape of affordable watch collecting, San Martin has earned accolades for its impressive build quality and competitive pricing, largely propelled by endorsements from influential reviewers such as Jody from Just One More Watch and Gary from I Like Watches. These reviewers play a pivotal role in guiding collectors through the crowded (and often times disappointing) market of budget-friendly watches by spotlighting truly noteworthy pieces.

San Martin has been critiqued for its penchant for producing homage watches, which, despite their high quality, often replicate popular designs from other brands – not uncommon to the watch industry, but a topic of heated debate among the purists and apologists. This approach has seen commercial success resulting in somewhat stifled creative originality within their catalog. So over time, San Martin built a reputation for making great quality watches that look like other watches, even though they always had a few models in their catalog that were unique and original designs. This trend began to shift with the release of the original design SN0116-G-V5, celebrating the “Year of the Dragon” which quickly sold out due to its unique Chinese-inspired design elements and vibrant color scheme. The success of this model led to the creation of another original design, the “Loong Year Collector Edition” SN0129G-4.

To further propagate this shift towards originality, San Martin has launched Jianghun Watches, a brand dedicated exclusively to original and culturally rich designs, maintaining the excellent quality expected from San Martin. This initiative is a refreshing development for enthusiasts like myself who have come to value originality in watch design. With the introduction of the War Drum JH0101, available in four dial colors (brown, black, green and purple) and priced at an accessible $299, with a pre-order discount to $269, Jianghun is set to carve a niche for original and culturally infused designs in the affordable watch market.

Let’s check it out!


The War Drum presents a case that combines form, function and originality in its design. With dimensions measuring 41.65mm in diameter and 49.10mm from lug tip to lug tip, complemented by a 13.50mm thickness including its curved crystal and embossed (slightly raised embossing) case-back, the case offers a bold presence. It has a 20mm lug width. The overall pebble-like silhouette features an excellent brushed finish on the sides and on the integrated fixed bezel. This design choice is quite unusual, but also original, with excellent legibility. The build quality and finishing of the case is about as good as you’ll find on most watches in the sub $10000 price range, which is bizarre and impressive when you consider the watch’s sub $300 price tag. But this won’t come as a surprise to those who’ve handled San Martin watches in the recent past.

The unique integrated bezel, adorned with hour markers demarcated by polished, scalloped sections, ensures easy reading of the time. A generous application of anti-reflective coating on the domed sapphire crystal further aids legibility of the dial. The cylindrical, straight lugs that angle downwards are reminiscent of welded lugs from the post-pocket watch era, featuring drilled holes that facilitate easy strap changes. The joints between lugs and cases are perfectly set, and the brushed finishing on the lugs is impeccable. The joints between lugs and cases are perfectly set, and the brushed finishing on the lugs is impeccable.

One of the standout features is the substantially sized 9.5mm screw-down crown at the 3 o’clock position. Its onion-style design is not only visually appealing but also ensures ease of operation, a critical aspect given its size. The smooth action and stability of the crown, alongside the seamless integration with the case, highlight the exceptional manufacturing tolerances – a class apart from majority of the watches I review in the sub $2000 range.

The solid case-back is secured with six screws, featuring a beautifully embossed tiger in a traditional Chinese art style, centered around the brand’s logo. I’m glad to see them indulge in more artistic choices that cultural depth to the watch – and I hope they build out a cohesive design story through the rest of their catalog tying into similar motifs. This watch is rated for up-to 200m of water resistance.

Overall, the case is excels in quality, especially when considering its price point under $300. The attention to detail is indicative of a commitment to quality that rivals watches far above its class, and the creative design style allows this watch to celebrate it’s terrific quality and stand on it’s own two (four) feet (lugs).


This JH0101 is the brown dial variant, and is perhaps the more vibrant and summery option compared to the other options available. This dial features a textured base with a subtle fumé effect – darker at the edges and lighter at the center. The textured dial base is similar to what you might see on other watches I’ve reviewed like the Armand Nicolet JS9 diver, or more popular and recent releases like the Patek Philippe 5226G.

The dial includes a white printed minute track segmented in four-minute intervals, which is crisply rendered and enhances overall legibility. A standout aspect of this dial is its unique hour markers, employing a sandwich construction that creates a kind of floating island aesthetic. The cardinal markers are accentuated with luminous yellow accents – a triangular motif at 12 o’clock and circular ones for the other cardinal markers, adding a bit of flair to the layout. The quality of these elements is meticulous, with great attention to detail and good quality control.

Printed directly below the 12 o’clock marker is the brand’s logo, with additional text placed above the 6 o’clock marker. The printing is sharp and clear, maintaining the dial’s sleek aesthetics. The hand set includes a distinctive bold hour hand reminiscent of, but distinct from, Tudor’s Snowflake design, with more traditional minute and seconds hands. All are brushed and generously filled with lume.

Overall, the dial of the War Drum is hopefully a taste of Jianghun’s pursuit towards innovative design and quality execution. While the theme of circular and spherical elements is predominantly well-integrated with the War Drum inspiration, a more thematic continuation into the hand design could enhance cohesion. Nonetheless, the current design offers a compelling visual appeal that captures the essence of the War Drum theme effectively, and is very well executed with great attention to detail and quality control standards that will put most Seiko watches under $2000 to shame.


The JH0101 showcases lume performance that meets, if not exceeds, the expectations set by San Martin and all the other equivalent micro-brand peers. The use of a sandwich dial, a design choice known for enhancing lume potency and longevity, significantly contributes to its standout lume capabilities. This design technique allows the green C3 lume – applied to the hands and recessed elements of the dial – to emit a strong, enduring glow. Accentuating this effect, orange composite C3 lume highlights the cardinal points, adding both functionality and a visual flair to the watch’s nighttime visibility.

The combination of a generously applied high-quality lume and the sandwich dial construction ensures that the Jianghun offers excellent luminosity that persists throughout the night. In my video, I include a 25 minute time lapse against my Tudor Black Bay 41 Monochrome and my San Martin SN0129G-4, and the Jianghun appears to glow brighter and last longer than both of the other watches. Overall, even those with high standards for lume performance are likely to be satisfied with this watch.


The War Drum is powered by the Seiko NH38A movement, a reliable no-date variant of the popular Seiko NH35 caliber. This movement is a true ‘no date’, and eliminates the phantom date setting, offering a cleaner user experience without unnecessary complications. Historically, I’ve had reservations about this movement, particularly due to past experiences with its rough hand-winding action and general performance in micro-brand watches. However, at the $300 price point, the use of the NH38A in the War Drum is understandable given its reputation as a robust, affordable option. And to be fair to them, this particular movement feels much better to operate than my past experiences – the hand winding action feels much smoother than the typical gritty operation I’ve experienced in the past.

My other area of critique is directed towards Seiko’s broad accuracy tolerances, which officially range from -20 spd to +40 spd – a standard that seems outdated for modern mechanical movements. Nevertheless, the performance of this specific piece has been commendably stable, with accuracy within single-digit deviations daily during my testing period. While my bias towards against Seiko NH35s is transparent (and also Sellita SW200), I will say that this particular experience has been entirely positive, perhaps indicating rigid quality control steps and regulation steps prior to the shipping of these watches.

On The Wrist

The dimensions of this watch are probably going to have a lot of narrower wristed folks slightly worried so I’ll put these dimensions into a bit more context here. The JH0101, despite its relatively larger dimensions, presents a more compact visual profile than one might expect. The case diameter of 41.65mm represents the measurement at the case’s widest point, but the bezel section itself is just over 39mm. Additionally, the total thickness, when considering only the main body of the watch minus the slightly domed crystal and the embossed case-back, is about 11.5mm.

Moreover, the 49.10mm lug-to-lug might seem daunting, but thanks to the downward angling and the slender cylindrical design of the lugs, the watch effectively wears smaller, approximately 47.85mm from strap end to strap end. This design makes it quite wearable on wrists not typically suited for a 42mm x 50mm x 13.5mm watches, comfortably fitting my 6.75″ wrist, and should suit wrists down to about 6.25″ without too much lug overhang.

Wrapping Up

To conclude, the Jianghun War Drum marks an impressive debut for the brand, boldly stepping into the watchmaking arena with a design that is bound to polarize opinion. This approach is essential for a brand centered on originality in design. Truly creative and original designs often divide opinion, and the JH0101 does just that, challenging conventional tastes and pushing the boundaries of traditional watch design. Design is not a democracy, and if you make something that everybody loves (like a homage to a popular watch), then you’re not pushing the boundaries enough.

The watch community should embrace and encourage projects like Jianghun that aim to innovate and bring creativity and originality to the forefront. Such endeavors enrich the industry and offer consumers a broader spectrum of choices beyond conventional designs. In that regard, I’m happy that San Martin decided to start this brand, and I’m more than happy to support this endeavor. They’ve long been known for making high quality and very affordable pieces, but unfortunately it was their homage designs that seemed to resonate most strongly among the affordable watch consumers. The backing of San Martin, known for its quality affordable pieces, lends manufacturing credibility and I hope that Jianghun can evolve into a recognized player in the watch industry, potentially introducing higher-end models with advanced movements and features.

The War Drum itself offers a distinctive experience with its unique design choices. It caters well to various wrist sizes, provides several dial options, and delivers exceptional quality for its price point. For those who appreciate San Martin’s craftsmanship but seek something beyond homage designs, the War Drum presents an excellent opportunity to support a fresh and original endeavor in the affordable watchmaking field.