When I got the call that my local Panerai boutique had a new, ultra-limited edition Year of the Dragon watch for me to inspect I made my way as fast as I could! These dragons will not wait around for long!
Panerai and China have a mutual admiration for each other; Chinese consumers love their Panerai watches for their sturdy, over-sized good looks, and their strong statement of individuality! Conversely, Panerai loves their Chinese buyers, and they honor them with China only models.
Panerai further honors the Chinese market with yearly pieces commemorating the 12 different zodiac signs of the Chinese astrological calendar: this year’s piece is model PAM840 aka the Dragon Watch. The PAM840 is meant to embody the powerful and mercurial emperor of the Chinese zodiac through the mystical and mythical dragon – and his or her equally mythical watch. To keep the mystique, Panerai have limited production to 50 units total.
The Panerai Dragon watch is housed in a “Sealand” case; a ‘hunter’ style case 44mmLuminor, with the patented crown guard and locking mechanism at 3 o’clock.
Hunter cases were first developed to protect the fragile crystals of pocket watches from the rigors of use on a fast-paced hunt. When you see the level of intricacy of the hand chased steel and gold engraved lid, executed by James Purdey and Sons of London, (a sister brand to Panerai in the Richemont Group), you realize that it is a bit like using a Pablo Picasso tile as a trivet to protect the surface of your kitchen countertop!
The OP III movement powers the PAM840; a Chronometre grade movement based on the Valjoux 7750. The same unit found in the Luminor Submersibles and Luminor Marina Automatic models.
Opening the spring-loaded lid, hinged at 12 o’clock, reveals a steel dial, with alternating textures, black hour markers – reminiscent yet different from the tuxedo dials found on the other Sealand models. For those of you looking for that famous Panerai luminosity – have no doubt that in the dead of night the time will be legible – but having only ‘dot’ markers at each hour, stick markers denoting 15, 30, 45 and 60 seconds on the subsidiary seconds dial and luminous hands – the Dragon watch is not going to be your choice for nighttime or sub-aquatic adventures!
From the perspective of aesthetics and workmanship, there’s certainly a lot to like about this watch. I have a few Panerai watches, some of them are China only and Shanghai only models – none are as limited and therefore exclusive as this! Indeed, the PAM840 would make a nice addition to my collection and would surely be the crowning piece of any Sino-centric watch collection – but for one small detail: I’m an Ox!
More information can be obtained through the Officine Panerai website.
This article is written by Mario Squillacioti, editor for Monochrome Watches.