The Collector’s Series – Watch journalist Tomasz Kieltyka and his Panerai Luminor Base 8 Days PAM00560
It’s been three months since we started our voyage to circle the globe in search of collectors and their stories. Amazingly it is only until this week that we came across a Panerai owner. It was in Poland when we met Tomasz Kiełtyka, the founder and other half of Chronos24.pl (we first met with Luckasz and his Tudor Heritage Chrono). He’s a watch insider and a fine collector – and here is the story of his Panerai Luminor Base 8 Days PAM00560 and his journey through watches.
Tomasz was born the same year as “Some Girls” album by The Rolling Stones. He was destined to be an electrical engineer, but life had other plans. Following a period at a creative advertising agency, he then founded Chronos24.pl. He started the website as a means of expressing his passion for watchmaking rather than a purely commercial proposition. I believe it was the idea that by building a successful platform from which he could discuss his passion, that it would free up his spare time and allow him to find piece of mind and travel exotic destinations. This may or may not now be the case, but what I do know is he owns a beautiful Panerai Luminor Base 8 Days PAM00560! This particular reference has to be one of the brand’s most stripped-down watches in their current collection. It features an uncomplicated dial and pays homage to Panerai dive watch roots. Despite it’s relative simplicity it does house the in-house P.5000 which was introduced by the brand in 2003. In this interview we find out what drew Tomasz to the model as well as the brand.
When did you first get into watches?
Maybe I shall start with my first encounter with time measurement devices. As a kid, I have decided to disassemble and re-assemble my grand-dad’s pocket watch. The first stage went pretty well. Problems arose when it came to a correct re-assembly – as an effect I got in trouble with grandpa (laugh). Later came school and fashion for melody and calculator watches. The real fascination for mechanical timepieces came around college time.
What drew you to Panerai as a brand?
This was love at first sight. The simple form of the Luminor, with sandwich dial and crown protection device simply put a spell on me. Less than a year ago I managed to make my dream come true and bought the Panerai Luminor Base PAM00560, with 8-day power reserve. As you know, I am the founder and owner of the chronos24.pl online magazine, but very few know that initially it was supposed to be a website exclusively dedicated to Officine Panerai. It turned out however that the amount of materials dedicated to the brand would not support its due popularity.
Panerai has an immense history, can you tell us more?
What I like about the Panerai brand is that it is not following the general trends and remains loyal to its history. It is not just some watchmaking workshop history – the company has very strong ties to the Royal Italian Navy, which has been using Panerai watches. This explains the size of those timepieces. We shall also not forget that PAM’s only became available in retail in the 1990s – before that they were not accessible to the civilian world. What I like in this brand is the unique and recognizable design. One quick glance and you know it is a Panerai. On one hand it is a blessing, on the other hand, a curse – the brand became slave of its Luminor and Radiomir designs. Subsequent models were small modifications and generally strong limitations. At a certain point I was no longer able to follow all the references – I don’t think there is a way to remember them all… I am pondering whether and when will the brand decide to follow the fashion trends and increase sales by presenting a model with a dark blue dial or, for instance, propose something for the ladies. This last option – looking at the recently presented small P.1000 calibre does not seem that unlikely.
Why the Panerai Luminor Base 8 Days PAM00560?
I personally like sports watches a lot. Unfortunately, their dials are usually strongly overdone. Panerai is different. At the beginning I was considering buying the PAM00111 or PAM00112. But the PAM00560 model with the P.5000 calibre instead of the Unitas seemed a much more interesting proposition. Frankly speaking my personal Panerai top of the list is the PAM00372. Unfortunately, its gigantic diameter does not make a good match with my skinny wrist. I think the only solution is to start eating and working out on a gym (laugh). Coming back to the Panerai Luminor Base 8 Days PAM00560 – I also like the ritual of manual winding of the spring. The only thing I miss, I guess, is the power reserve indicator visible through the sapphire crystal caseback.
Where you ever concerned with its size?
No. 44 mm seems to be the acceptable limit for my wrist. Besides that, Panerai is a master in profiling the strap fixtures – the watch does not look like a big chunk of metal sitting on top of the wrist.
Do you tend to buy watches over brands?
To be completely honest with you – I first must like the watch as such. But not completely though. I do know models I like visually, but they have a history, which does not appeal to me and because of that, I would not buy them. There are also a few watches I mainly bought because of their history, like for instance the TAG Heuer Monaco and its relations to one of my favourite actors – Steve McQueen. Of course when I say I have to like it, I do not only mean the dial but also what the watch has inside, under the hood. There are a few watches I would preferably wear upside down.
Can you tell us more about the movement Tomasz?
In its press materials, Panerai claims that the mechanisms used in their watches are mainly in-house calibres. In reality, many of them are the benefit of being part of the Richemont group. I.e. the P.2002 / P.2003 / P.9000 and all related calibres were constructed in ValFleurier, and the P.999 in Piaget. This does not change the fact that the beating mechanical heart of my Panerai Luminor Base 8 Days PAM00560 is not a serial Unitas but something else. The P.50000 has an austere and visually simple look but personally I like it.
What is the case material?
Steel. I do not like watches with the black DLC coating, I am not crazy for titanium either. Titanium is lighter but more difficult to polish for example. I know that a steel case gives weight to the watch but I have no problem with this particular aspect – in fact, I like to feel the timepiece on my wrist.
How much wrist time does it get?
Since I am regularly getting some watches for the reviews, it unfortunately does not get as much as it would deserve. On the other hand, if I can put it on, I am pleased as if I had just bought it. No risk to get bored with it this way.
What sort of day/event do you find yourself strapping it on?
I like comfort and convenience, so I tend to dress sporty on a daily basis. A Panerai perfectly matches this kind of background. I also wear it on more formal occasions, dressed in a jacket and shirt. It also happened to me to wear it with a suit. Some may feel offended but in my opinion, if it is not the Oscars ceremony and the watch hides in the shirt sleeve, there is no tragedy.
Do you ever consider what a watch says about you? and if so what do you think your PAM00560 says?
Someone once said that everyone likes to practice sports or dreams to become a sportsman. I definitely don’t have the looks and because of my laziness, it is hard to force me into any form of activity. I secretly hope that this watch can give me a few points on the tough guy scale (laugh).
What does the future hold for the Panerai do you think?
It is a difficult question. Panerai Watches are a bit like the VW Golf – each subsequent model is an evolution. In the case of the car, this formula seems to be working for years. Question remains – does the same apply to watches? As I said before, this brand is the “hostage” of its own design and I don’t think they will give up this policy soon. This is why I see the next few years as a time of “revolutions” in the form of a new colour of the dial or case material.
Do you seek advice of anyone before buying?
First of all, I must be convinced myself to buy. Once past this stage, I ask some friendly persons if there is any reason why I should not buy this particular model. If the only thing they do not like is design, I of course stick to my initial opinion, but if the problem is a construction fault of the movement, which may require frequent visits in the service I can get effectively driven away.
What (if anything) have you got your eye on next?
Ouch…. the list is long – as opposed to the number of zero at the end of my bank account statement (laugh). Watches are unfortunately a rather expensive hobby. As far as my buying plans are concerned – I am dreaming of a simple, classic Nautilus. Looking at it more realistically, I think I am going to get a Rolex Submariner. A version from my year of birth preferably (and now that you know Tomasz was born the same year as a famous Rolling Stones’ album, you should know what kind of Submariner he’s looking for).
What three words first come to mind when you think of your Panerai Luminor Base 8 Days PAM00560?
Simplicity, austerity, timelessness.
Can a collector ever be fully satisfied with his/her collection?
All depends on the individual personality. There are people, who own billions and keep dreaming about multiplying the money without feeling any fulfilment – they never get enough. I prefer eating with a teaspoon and I think that setting small, but realistic goals allows me to enjoy what I have. Even though I realize that having unlimited budget makes it hard to build the entire collection of your dreams, I for sure have a list in my head – it is not even that long – which would allow me to get real close.
If a friend who wasn’t into watches asked for three reasons to start collecting what would you say to inspire them to get into watches?
First – this is the only piece of jewellery a man wears besides a wedding ring. Secondly, the watch can say a lot about the man and his personality. Thirdly, a well selected model does not age with changing trends – it is timeless.
What piece of advice would you give to someone considering starting a collection?
First – do never buy fakes – I do not tolerate it. Second – to start, choose a mechanical watch you like a lot. This does not have to be an expensive piece. Such a buy will be a perfect test: it will either push you to become interested and learn more (in such a case you are doomed and beyond the point of no return), or not.
When collecting, do you think its important to stick to a brand or a category (Patek/IWC or aviation/dive)
Even though I do have brands I like more than others, I never considered buying one brand only. The same applies to types of watches. I think you should follow passion and emotion. In the case of some strongly overpriced models this can be painful.
Is the Panerai Luminor Base 8 Days PAM00560 a keeper?
I like this watch a lot, but I think I would choose something else to bear this title.
The watch is beautiful, I have no doubt, but never liked watches without mentioning the date.