The history of Panerai is probably well known, with its link to the Italian navy, and in particular the frogman commandos of the First Submarine Group Command of the Royal Italian Navy. The Florentine watchmakers created timepieces for the Royal Italian Navy; in 1936 they created the very first ‘Radiomir’. In 1940 the Radiomir was slightly changed (now Radiomir 1940) and in 1950 the legendary Luminor 1950, with its iconic crown protection mechanism, was first created. Much can be said about Panerai’s history, however commercial success didn’t start until the, what we now call, the pre-Vendôme period. During this year’s SIHH Panerai introduces a set of two pre-Vendôme inspired watches, the Panerai Luminor 8-Days set.
Limited to only 500 examples, the new Luminor 8 Days set of two watches inspired by these pre-Vendôme watches; to be precise, the so-called Slytech models that sold in 1996. The pre-Vendôme era was from 1992-1997 and Panerai offered three collections: Luminor, Luminor Marina and the Mare Nostrum chronograph.
The Luminor and the Luminor Marina were 44mm big dive watches, with the iconic crown protection mechanism, and equipped with the rugged (pocketwatch) movement Unitas 6497 (the Luminor featured only a minute and hour hand, while the Luminor Marine had an additional small second hand at 9 o’clock.) Alternatively the Mare Nostrum chronographs came in 42 mm steel case. The majority of the Pre-Vendôme watches was delivered in oak presentation boxes. In parallel there were the Slytechs – ‘custom made’ models ordered by Sylvester Stallone featuring ‘Slytech’ on the dial and they arrived within a large box with a number of ‘goodies’ including a miniature model Maiale (Pig) type submarine used by the Decima Flottiglia MAS of the Royal Italian Navy Commandos during World War 2. Now in 2016 Panerai offers the Luminor 8 Days Set (PAM00786) with similar ‘goodies’.
Let’s have a closer look at both watches. There’s a left-handed (Destro in Italian) version of the Luminor Black Seal and a re-edition of a very rare Luminor Daylight with a gorgeous white dial and blue markers. First and foremost the presentation box is a thing of beauty. It is made of pear wood with a teak base and contains a model of the human torpedo (Maiale or Siluro a Lenta Corsa – slow speed torpedo), together with a rare book about the military equipment of the special forces of the Royal Italian Navy. Panerais’ playing a prominent role of course. In addition, in the box we can find a spare strap for each watch and a high quality screwdriver.
The hands and hour markers of both watches of the Panerai Luminor 8-Days Set (PAM00786) feature creme-coloured (patina mimicking) SuperLuminova. The white dial is the ‘Daylight’ and the black dial is the ‘Black Seal’. Both have a screw back, engraved with the words “Officine Panerai Firenze” and the OP logo, both are water-resistant to 30 bar (equivalent to a depth of 300 metres). Inside ticks Panerai’s in-house movement, calibre P.5000, which is entirely manufactured in the Panerai manufacture in Neuchâtel. The calibre beats at 21,600 vph (3Hz) and is equipped with a Glucydur balance and a KIF antishock. Its twin barrel configuration gives approximately 8 days of power reserve. All in all we are talking about a fantastic calibre; sophisticated and rugged at the same time, however not visible for the owner because of the closed case-back like Panerai used back in the old days.
The Luminor Black Seal Left-Handed 8 Days is the version with the winding crown and the trademark lever device protecting the crown on the left side of the case; the so-called Destro. The tradition of making watches with the crown on the left-hand side was already used by Panerai in the 1940’s, when some models were made in this way to enable the watches to be worn on a diver’s right wrist, while the compass and depth gauge were worn on the left. Another hypothesis is that lefties are more ergonomically accurate for military personnel (worn on the left hand) and the crown is much more protected from hits and other nasty surprises. The Luminor case in this model is 44 mm in diameter and is made of stainless steel coated with DLC (Diamond-Like Carbon).
The Luminor Daylight 8 Days, the other watch in the Luminor 8-Days Set, is the replica of a 1996 rare model. The striking detail here is the white dial – as in the Daylight models of the time – on which, remarkably, all the markers and the hands are an intense blue color. It is likely that this version was replaced after the delivery of the first prototypes, so the few surviving examples have become extremely rare. The hands, including the small seconds hand at 9 o’clock, are blue, as are the large markers indicating the hours. In this model the case is 44 mm in diameter and is made of 316L stainless steel with a polished finish. Here, the crown protecting device is placed traditionally on the right-hand side. In keeping with the dial, the strap is blue alligator, and the steel tongue buckle is sewn-in, as was the case with the vintage models.
This Panerai Luminor 8-Days Set PAM000786 Special Edition is limited to 500 pieces and has a list price of € 19,900 Euro.