Although bronze cases have become almost mainstream these days, there is one brand they will always be most associated with: Panerai. It seems fitting then that this year, as the Florentine brand establishes the Submersible as its own stand-alone collection, we see the introduction of a new Panerai Submersible Bronzo, under the reference PAM00968. Building on the legacy of its forebearers, it incorporates the new Submersible design codes unveiled at SIHH 2019 and introduces for the first time a ceramic bezel matched with bronze.
Panerai debuted its 47mm bronze behemoth in 2010. Officially named Luminor Submersible 1950 3 Days Automatic Bronzo, this limited-edition model quickly became known by its nickname “Bronzo”. Proving popular with collectors and enthusiasts alike (or Paneristi, as they prefer to be called) it soon became an iconic model for the brand. It arguably also kick-started the trend for bronze watches.
A robust and durable material, bronze was commonly used in deep-sea diving equipment and for boat fittings – prior to stainless steel – because of its resistance to saltwater corrosion. Hence its choice by Panerai, a brand that regularly trumpets its strong association with the sea. A deceptive material, it oxidizes over time giving the impression of rust and corrosion, but this is limited only to the outer layer. The distinct green patina which forms protects the metal underneath from further corrosion.
This is a slow, ongoing process and the formulation of the patina is entirely unique. It can also be completely reversed and started anew should you wish to refresh the look of your watch.
The new Panerai Submersible Bronzo continues this proud tradition, although unlike its predecessors, it is not a limited edition. According to the brand, the 47mm case is comprised of “161 grams of heavy metal, for modern heroes only.” That heavy metal is, of course, brushed bronze, or more accurately, an alloy of copper and pure tin. This is the same material used for the classic bridge device protecting the winding crown (which is trademarked by Panerai).
This time the dial is brown (previous versions were green or blue) and features luminous hour markers and dots in a matching bronze hue. The date appears in a small window at 3 o’clock, while the small seconds at 9 o’clock provides a ready indication that the watch is running correctly. As with all Panerai dive watches, the focus is on simplicity and legibility.
Interestingly though, unlike on previous models, Panerai has this time opted to go with a micro-sandblasted brown ceramic disc for the bezel insert. This is in keeping with the new design DNA of the Submersible collection (for example the PAM00683 and PAM00959) but it does seem slightly at odds with the Bronzo concept. Ceramic’s reputation for being impervious to the elements is pretty well-documented. This is not a material that will fade or show any signs of ageing over time, so it will be interesting to see what one of these Bronzo’s looks like in a few years when it has a lovely patina on the case paired with a shiny, new-looking bezel.
Inside is the same in-house P.9010 calibre found in many of the new Submersible models. This automatic mechanical movement beats at 28,800 v/ph and offers a 72-hour power reserve via two barrels. Unusually for a serious dive watch – the Panerai Submersible Bronzo is rated water-resistant to 300m/1,000ft – the movement is visible via a rear sapphire crystal. You will also note that the caseback itself is titanium, a much more hypoallergenic material than bronze.
Worn on a brown leather strap with contrast beige stitching, everything is held in place by a trapezoidal brushed titanium buckle. Price for this non-limited edition is EUR 16,000, which is a bit of a step up from the blue dial PAM00671. More detail on www.panerai.com.