This year’s SIHH offering from Panerai has something for everyone! Historical cases, innovative tech, and Special Editions designed to tempt. Let’s start the week with a look at all new Panerai’s at 2013’s SIHH.
In the music industry there is an expression: “You can’t fool the fans”. Critics, (and hacks like me) spend all day looking at and reading about new models and new brands. Sometimes we’re really lucky and get to review a piece in the flesh, courtesy of the maker (then return it).
Sometimes we have the chance to go to the boutiques and see the pieces before they hit store shelves. Sometimes all we get is a JPEG file and a spec sheet. Then we write about them. In the end, our relationship with the watches we review is fleeting. For devotees of certain brands it’s the exact opposite; they go out and lay down hard earned Dollars, Pounds, Euros, Yen, RMB…etc to buy what they like. Market forces are pretty strong indicators of what people like. Like it or not, over the past few years the market has spoken – and Panerai is the name it speaks quite a bit.
Not wanting to ‘pay for the same real estate twice’ I will only briefly recount the notion that Panerai are all brawn and no brain watches. Some collectors dismiss them as style oriented and lacking substance (technically) because they are almost exclusively sports watches. It’s an easy reputation to develop and a tough one to shake. Everyday more and more brands are entering the market for sports watches and bringing nothing to the table but oversized cases. Panerai is much, much more than that. I can hardly think of a brand that has been so successful at weaning itself off ebauche movements with a genuinely strong press forward into becoming a serious in-house manufacture (yes, I know – they still buy-in some movements…)
For the past few years SIHH has been an opportunity for Signor Bonnati and Co. to demonstrate exactly what they are capable of on a technical level. This year they have demonstrated their commitment to innovating not just through their in-house movements but also their case materials. Through the 12 new models introduced this year they are providing a glimpse into the future of the brand.
The Historic Line offers us a look at four new Radiomir models. PAM00514 and PAM00515 (both 47mm cases in stainless steel and red gold respectively) employ Panerai’s in-house P.3000 3-day manually wound movement.
While PAM00512 and PAM00513 (both 42mm cases in stainless steel and red gold respectively) use the manually wound P.999/1 movement with 60 hours power reserve.
The so called ‘1940’ case is named for the next stage in the historical evolution of the Radiomir case from the original 1936 design to the more rugged 1940 version. The ‘new’ cases have solid horned lugs and pass on the Brevet style crown in lieu of a screw-down crown distinctly reminiscent of a Rolex crown. All four have sapphire on the top and bottom. All four have seconds at ‘9. The 47mm models have date windows at three.
All four of these models owe their existence in the line-up to the success of last year’s models Special Edition models PAM00398 and PAM00399. Though the movements are not the desirable Minerva units, the cases, dial configurations (barring the date function on a manual wind Panerai – which first appeared first on last year’s PAM00424) are more or less the same.
The Contemporary collection for 2013 adds three new Fly-Back chronographs. PAM00524 and ‘525 are 44mm (stainless and rose gold respectively) ‘1950’ styled cases (complete with their trademark crown-guard) housing the brand new caliber P.9100 movement. The P.9100 is a newly developed in-house, 37-jewel, automatic movement with 3 days power reserve, vertical clutching mechanism for the chronograph and Fly-Back chronograph function. It features a date at 3 and constant seconds at 9 o’clock. The push-button at 10 starts and stops the chronograph and the pushbutton at 8 resets the flyback function to zero and allows for it to continue a new timing cycle without stopping.
To try to keep the dials as simple as possible the standard Panerai cutout dial augmented by minute graduations between the 5 minute markers and hours. This allows for the chronograph times to be read relatively quickly and easily.
Next is the Regatta with more sporty looks: it’s the PAM00526, a 47mm titanium Regatta watch featuring the P.9100/R caliber movement. The ‘526 trades date for a 12 hour totalizer positioned at 3 o’clock and a Regatta countdown timer. The fly-back chronograph functions the same way on the 526 as it does on its slipmates, however there is the curious orange button at 4!
The orange button moves the minute hand of the chronograph back one minute per click. This allows for the captain to set the correct time until launch and have it countdown. The dial on the 526 differs from the 524 and 525 by adding a scale for calculating speeds in knots and orange minutes for the last five minutes of the countdown timer.
You will find sapphire crystals topside and below deck on both watches – only the crystal over the dial is coated with an antireflective layer. The PAM00524 and PAM00525 are rated to 50M water resistance. The PAM00526, owing to its nautical theme, is rated to 100M.
This year’s Specialty offering is the PAM00530; a 47mm titanium, ‘1950’ style case housing the P.2006: 8-day manual wind movement that features a rattrapante function and power reserve indicator, that’s all?! Yes, and we already showed it to you 2 months ago, click here.
The rattrapante, also known as “split-seconds” is a function that allows you to time two separate events. For instance, two of your horses are racing in the same event this weekend. Start the chronograph at the firing of the gun. (Both horses run and run and run…) As the finish line approaches you press the stop button and the first second-hand stops! Then as your second horse approaches you stop the seconds again and record BOTH finishing times.
Example two: You are racing your new track-day car this weekend (question: if you have enough money for two race horses and a dedicated racing car – does it really matter if it’s a weekday or weekend?). You want to time individual laps AND your overall time: once again – as the race starts, set off the chronograph. When the first lap ends, note the time then hit the reset button. One of the hands continues timing from the very beginning – one is instantly reset to time the lap. (Now brace yourself because all this fiddling with a watch means you’re about to go into the wall at HIGH SPEED!) You see – a very practical feature!
Think of this as the “Fans Only” section. You want a Special Edition watch? You have to be a known customer – a polite way of saying – “you’ve bought stuff before… lots of stuff!” Special Edition watches are ‘Boutique Only’ items. They are only made in limited numbers and allocated sparingly. From what I can gather – the intention of the Special Edition watches is to reward the faithful with pieces that are not going to be reproduced. Each Special Edition watch sold is recorded at the boutique and the owners name is registered with Panerai. From my experience you cannot ask that a Special Edition watch be sold as a “gift” or with (so called) ‘open’ papers so that you can sell the watch and have the buyer’s name recorded.
The system is set-up to build immediate cache into all of the Special Edition models that has the unintended consequence of making the watches the target of less devout buyers and sellers. As you may or may not have gathered from past missives – I don’t really like to discuss prices – this is no exception. What I will say is that if you really want to buy a Special Edition watch – take out your checkbook and start spending now because you’re going to need to buy up a decent number of regular production watches to be anywhere near the top of your dealer’s allocation list! (Been there, done that, got the hats, t-shirts and watches to prove it.)
First up: PAM00364 – the Son of Subzilla. If we set the Wayback machine to 2004 and 2005 we can recall the model PAM00194 – aka the ‘Subzilla’ the 47mm, 2500M submersible with it’s chunky bezel. This year Panerai pay tribute to that legendary model with the ‘364. Model ‘364 is a 47mm, titanium, ‘1950’ style case – complete with chunky bezel. The watch is rated for depths up to 2500M. This time around, the Subzilla is powered by Panerai’s in-house P.9000 automatic movement with 3 days’ power-reserve. Only 500 will be produced and sold this year, so line-up early at your local boutique!
Next up, the PAM00508 – Luminor Submersible. Picking up where the likes of the model PAM00024 and PAM00025 left off, the model PAM00305 has been a sensational production watch for Panerai showing off it’s in-house P.9000 movement vs the OPIII movement which is derived from the 7750 movement. A Regatta version of 2 years ago was fitted with a GMT hand and blue dial (PAM00371). The new(ish) PAM00389 gave Panerai’s all in-house 300M dive watch a touch of modern tech with a ceramic bezel insert that would defy scratching! The all new, PAM00508 is an all-ceramic version of the ‘305, ‘389 and ‘371 style models; tick the boxes for 47mm ‘1950’ case. Tick the box for P.9000 movement’s 3-days power reserve. Tick the box for a flat black dial that matches the ceramic of the case – this time add vintage, ecru colored lume and matte black hands to complete the ‘stealth’ look. Very light weight and scratch resistant. Don’t drop it – it will shatter!
The final wristwatch is the model PAM00507: Luminor Submersible ‘1950’, three days power-reserve Automatic Bronzo – aka ‘Son of 382’ or ‘Son of Bronzo’! Talk about a watch designed to show its age! The new Bronzo, like the legendary PAM00382 before it was hewn from a block of CuSN8 (for those of us not up on our periodic table of elements – that means Copper and Tin alloy). This makes the watch dense and heavy. It also means that as the watch is put into production it will show signs of aging vis-à-vis it’s copper constituency that will oxide into a patina over time and exposure to the elements. This is intended to give every single watch it’s own unique appearance. The other feature that makes the ‘507 unique to this year’s line-up is the flat green dial; only ever seen before on the ‘382! The fundamental difference between the ‘507 and its predecessor the ‘382 is the presence of a power-reserve indicator on the dial. Also different is the number made available: 1,000 units to be sold of the ‘507 vs 500 of the ‘382.
The last Special Edition piece is not a wristwatch; it’s a pocket watch. Model PAM00446 is a 59mm ceramic watch with a skeletonized movement featuring Panerai’s P.2005/S 6-day power-reserve, tourbillon movement with GMT and 24-hour indicator. The watch is even guaranteed pressure resistant to 30M! (I don’t recall Cousteau ever wearing a waistcoat when he dived – but it simply may not have been the fashion back then!)
Here we see Panerai return the tourbillon to its natural habitat! Originally invented to compensate for the fact that pocket watches sit upright for most of the day – the tourbillon uses its rotating cage to compensate for the effects of gravity. Panerai’s interpretation of the device is an escapement rotating freely on one plane every half minute; that is then taken and rotated on a perpendicular plane to the movement itself! This means that the rotational inertia created is not in one circular vector but rather spherically! Conceptually this will allow the tourbillon to compensate for errors caused in ‘any’ position not just upright.
I am not going to sit here and say that the styling of the ‘446 is sedate or elegant, the phrases typically associated with pocketwatch aesthetics. It’s fairly big. It’s on a chunky black ceramic chain. In black and ecru it’s kind of otherworldly. The skeletonized movement (also black) looks something akin to the framework of some type of alien’s ribcage… like the woman on cover of Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s album, “Brain Salad Surgery”… it’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. But the tech behind it is unquestionable: everything from the presentation, to the materials used, to the ingenuity behind the 277-component movement is first rate.
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Panerai invested heavily into the engineering and production of these pieces. Not a single movement utilized is wrought from outside hands. The functionality and features will appeal to well-heeled, active folks. The motifs of each case and each dial are the same heard throughout the Company’s history. Will Panerai continue to be dogged by claims of brutish looks and ancient tech? Perhaps, but not by their fans, the Paneristi, who will likely read this and cheer loudly.
This article is written by Mario Squillacioti, contributing writer for Monochrome-Watches.