It’s only March, but Panerai has already made it clear that 2019 is unequivocally about the dive watch. The professional grade Submersible dive watch to be specific, which this year becomes a stand-alone collection in its own right. Alongside the new models, Panerai is also offering unique ‘experiences’ related to the world of the Submersible. These experiences are exclusively available to those who purchase one of the special, limited edition models within the new range. The Panerai Submersible Chrono Guillaume Néry Edition PAM00983 we are looking at today, for example, is limited to just 15 pieces and comes complete with a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Who Is Guillaume Néry?
You may be thinking that we’ve already written about the new Panerai Submersible Chrono Guillaume Néry Edition. And you would be right. However, that was the non-limited PAM00982, which you can read about here. So, just who is Guillaume Néry and why has Panerai dedicated not one but two watches to him?
If you’re a hardcore diving enthusiast, the name may already be familiar to you. If however, you’re like me, and prefer to spend most of your leisure time in the water floating about in the shallows, a bit of background is probably helpful. As you might have guessed already from context, Néry is a professional diver. More accurately, he is a multiple world record French free-diving champion. Néry and his partner Julie Gautier have also become somewhat famous for their incredible underwater films. There’s just something hauntingly beautiful about watching Néry dive into a black abyss without any equipment.
It’s easy to see then why he would be a prime ambassador for the brand’s professional grade dive watch. Unlike other brand ambassadors, however, Néry is lending more than just his name and his reputation to these new models. Instead, he has a rather special experience in store for the fifteen individuals who manage to purchase the limited edition model. Those fortunate few will be invited to join him on a special whale watching dive in the oceans surrounding his home on the picturesque South Pacific island of Mo’orea, in French Polynesia.
Presumably, all fifteen will choose to wear their new Panerai Submersible Chrono Guillaume Néry Editions to accompany them on this once-in-a-lifetime experience. That’s certainly what I’d be doing. Not only is it perfectly suited to that sort of environment, but it also looks totally badass.
Before I go any further; yes, the case is 47mm and, yes, that is arguably too big for many wrists. Panerai has never been about making small watches though, nor has it been about making watches for everybody. The brand is proud of its Italian military heritage and that shows through strongly in its design DNA. This is meant to be a functional tool watch, and to some degree, size does matter.
Like the non-limited version, the case – including the specially engraved caseback – is made from lightweight titanium. This special edition, however, receives a black DLC coating all over, giving it a very stealthy appearance. The unidirectional rotating bezel used for tracking elapsed time is also in black DLC-coated titanium and features a matte black ceramic insert with a luminous graduated scale.
It’s comfortable on the wrist despite its impressive size, thanks largely to the use of lightweight titanium. On the right-hand side of the case, Panerai’s trademark crown guard ensures the crown can’t be accidentally accessed during a dive. On the opposite side are the two screw-in pushers at 8 and 10 o’clock for controlling the flyback chronograph. Engraved on the solid screw caseback is a rendering of Guillaume Néry free-diving, along with his signature and the depth of his final record dive: 126 metres, achieved with a single breath.
What really caught my eye about this watch though is the dial. I quite like the shark grey colour scheme on the non-limited version but this textured gradient blue and black dial is really something else. Not only is it highly legible, but it is also highly attractive. According to Panerai, the colour scheme was inspired by the seas of Polynesia, hence the use of this unusual turquoise blue for the chapter ring, chronograph seconds hand and some of the text on the dial. What makes it for me though is the stark contrast against the blackness of the case. This just makes the dial really pop in my opinion.
Hours and minutes are displayed centrally, as are the chronograph seconds (turquoise blue hand) and minutes. Running seconds are shown on the sub-dial at 9 o’clock and elapsed chronograph hours are counted at 3 o’clock. All the hands (with the exception of the central chronograph ones) have lume, and legibility is further improved in low-light conditions thanks to applied luminous white dots and indexes.
Inside is the same Panerai P.9100 calibre found in the non-limited model. This automatic movement, executed entirely in-house, beats at 28,800vph and offers a power reserve of 72 hours courtesy of its two-barrel configuration. It’s also equipped with a device for zeroing the seconds hand to enable perfect synchronisation with a reference signal. More details about this movement in our review of the PAM00653 here.
The new PAM00983 comes on a Panerai personalized black rubber strap with a trapezoidal titanium buckle. Designed to be worn in the water for long periods of time, it’s comfortable on the wrist. The strap is probably not really suited for office attire, but then again neither is this watch.
Price & availability
The price of the 15-piece limited edition Panerai Submersible Chrono Guillaume Néry Edition PAM00983 is EUR 38,900, which is just over double the cost of the non-limited version. I can imagine this is going to be a sticking point for some people given that the differences are all purely cosmetic. In reality though, what you’re really paying extra for is the unique experience with Guillaume Néry. Whether that will be enough to convince diving enthusiasts to part with the extra money remains to be seen. But it is admittedly unique, very cool and a bold move from Panerai.
More details at www.panerai.com.