As a niche brand, Panerai benefits from its own very strong and very closely-knit community. The brand’s unique history and limited production runs make it a magnet for watch collectors looking for rarity and the first auction dedicated solely to Panerai models last year showed the growing importance of the brand among collectors. But the new models presented at the SIHH 2015, which start at around €15,000, make the Panerai dream more elusive.
Like all Panerai models, the devil is in the detail in the two new Luminor Submersible models. Note, for example, that the pushers on this true diver’s model are located on the left-hand side of the case (to avoid disturbing the aesthetics of the brand’s patented crown protector) and are screwed in. A mixture of green SuperLuminova for the hour markers and hour hand and blue SuperLuminova for the minute hand and dive time indicator on the rotating bezel offer optimum clarity. Powered by Panerai’s in-house P.9100 calibre, which has a flyback chronograph function and offers 72 hours of power reserve, the new models come with a choice of brushed titanium bezel (PAM 614: €14,200) or a black ceramic bezel (PAM 615: €15,700) on the 47mm case.
The new Luminor Submersible 1950 Carbotech™ was the brand’s talking piece at the show. Its case uses a new carbon composite material that consists of sheets of carbon fibre compressed with the high-end polymer PEEK (Polyether Ether Ketone) that binds the composite material and makes it even stronger and durable. As with so many carbon composites, the individual layering and the cut of the material used to produce the case produce a random pattern, effectively making each case unique. Carbotech™ is three times lighter than titanium, corrosion-resistant and hypoallergenic. But this, too, comes at a price, since each case middle takes 10 hours of machining to produce. Using the P.9000 self-winding calibre, with small seconds at 9 o’clock, and complete with a new rubber strap with blue “OP” signature and logo, the Luminor Sumbersible 1950 Carbotech™ (PAM 616) costs €15,7000.
The equation of time debuts
Its Radiomir 1940 case may be less complex and produced in steel, but the hand-wound calibre P.2002/E is what adds value to the new Radiomir 1940 and Luminor 1950 Equation of Time Models. Offering a substantial 192-hour (8-day) power reserve, this in-house calibre also displays the small seconds at 9 o’clock, as well as the day by hand at 3 o’clock and the date in a window, also at 3 o’clock. But the linear scale at 6 o’clock where Paneristi would expect to see a power reserve indicator has been transformed into an equation of time display that displays the difference, in minutes, between mean time and solar time. The power reserve display is relegated to the case back, where it is displayed by a small indicator hand.
The dial remains faithful to the classic Panerai sandwich construction, with the hour numerals and markers cut out of the upper half of the sandwich. Slightly larger holes cut out of the bottom half of the sandwich allow a greater amount of SuperLuminova to be added, providing improved brightness over a longer period. The two versions are both available as limited editions: 200 in the case of the Radiomir 1940 model (PAM 516: €18,400) and 100 in the case of the Luminor 1950 version (PAM 601: €18,800).
Roots with the Italian navy...
Any trace of Panerai’s first chronograph model, the Mare Nostrum, produced for the Royal Italian Navy in 1943, has been lost. But a few prototypes remained and these served as the basis for the new Mare Nostrum model presented by Panerai at this year’s SIHH. A limited edition of only 150, it has an imposing 52mm titanium case that sets it apart from the Radiomir and Luminor models and is powered by the hand-wound OP XXV in-house calibre, which is based on the Minerva 13-22 calibre. PAM 603 to the aficionado, this watch exudes vintage character with its split-level brown dial and retails for €37,000.
...and in Florence
To commemorate the renovation of its historic store in the heart of Florence, Panerai has produced a strictly limited edition of 99 watches with a beautiful brushed stainless-steel case decorated with Bulino engraving. Baptised the Radiomir Firenze, PAM 604 is powered by the P.3000 hand-wound 3-day calibre and costs €18,800. As if it wasn’t exclusive enough already, this collector’s piece can only be purchased from the historic store in Florence that it commemorates.