Panerai The Theory of Carbon
Known for its plenty of material marvels, Panerai created many groundbreaking inventions in the field. You may find any usually used material or many other uncommon substances in their product catalogue. The Manufacture has so far made the black PVD case and bronze case rank among one of the most interesting options, while the avant-garde composite ceramic-aluminum is still their exclusive material. After the bronze Submersible was unveiled in 2011, this year comes a new composite material based on carbon fibre. It will definitely excite many Panerai aficionados again, for its colour and pattern does set it apart from typical carbon fibre watches.
Luminor Submersible 1950
Carbotech 3 Days Automatic – 47mm PAM616
Starting from 1990s, Panerai has been the pioneer in the use of innovative materials. They have achieved and realised thus far that they are of one the brands first using PVD and ceramic case, skyrocketing the black watches to fame. When the PVD, DLC and ceramic case have become so popular in the market, they introduced the ceramic-aluminum and bronze case to astound the watch world. After four years since the bronze watch launched, Panerai goes a step further to develop a new material dubbed as Carbotech – a composite material based on carbon fibre. In fact, carbon fibre has been widely applied in watchmaking today. Yet, the carbon fibre case Panerai creates is different from other watches made of carbon you’ve seen.
The new Carbotech is composed of 7 thin sheets of carbon fibres. Each layer adds a high-end polymer PEEK, which binds the composite material together under high pressure. Indeed, Urwerk once applied the material PEEK to make the hour satellite because of its strong and durable nature. With a closer look, you will notice the Carbotech looks quite different with common carbon fibre. The carbon fibres used are very long, so as to ensure great aesthetic uniformity, and the sheets are superimposed and pressed together at different angles, which creates a unique surface design for each and every watch. Years before Panerai let the effect of corrosion on the bronze case make the watch a personalised one. This time they use a different approach to the same goal. When comparing with Audemars Piguet’s forged carbon, the Carbotech shows a more regular pattern and both are very smooth in texture. Speaking of Carbotech’s other characteristics, it is 3 times lighter than titanium and 10 times stronger than stainless steel.
Besides a breakthrough in the use of material, this piece also offers exquisite details. For instance, the piece is fitted with a black rubber strap with the “OP” logo in Panerai blue, echoing the blue second hand and the wording “Carbotech” on the dial, while the caseback is engraved with the iconic S.L.C. torpedo motif, both illustrating typical Panerai’s fashion. Perhaps you still vividly remember the highly sought-after composite and bronze models when they hit stores. To satisfy everybody, this Carbotech watch is neither a limited nor boutique edition, which means you may have a better chance of getting it.
After the success of PVD case models, Panerai introduced the PAM292 in black ceramic in 2007. The reference with the S.L.C. torpedo motif was highly sought-after.
The Composite ceramic-aluminum unveiled in 2010 gained much admiration by its brushed brown finishing.
In 2011, Panerai created a new bronze alloy which is highly resistant to corrosion. The case surface would oxidise and form patches of patina depending on wearer’s habit, which gives the piece a sense of character – the older the better.
Luminor Submersible 1950
3 Days Chrono Flyback Automatic Titanio – 47mm PAM614 & PAM615
Apart from the continuous research in the field of innovative materials, Panerai succeeded in developing and making its first in-house P.2002 hand-wound movement in 2005, followed by the first in-house P.9100 automatic movement with chronograph functions in 2013. The latter is housed either in stainless steel or red gold case and contributes to the P.9100/R movement with regatta countdown function. Just before this year’s SIHH, we introduced you the 44mm PAM580 in ceramic equipped with the P.9100 movement. The latest additions are enlarged to 47mm in diameter and cased in titanium, adding a strong sporting character to the watch.
The PAM614 and PAM615 both house the P.9100 movement with flyback chronograph functions featuring a column wheel and vertical clutch and offering 3-day of power reserve. This new Submersible twin look very alike, yet the bezel can tell the difference – the PAM614 is equipped with a titanium bezel, while the PAM615 a black matt ceramic bezel which is similar to the anti-magnetic PAM389 released in 2012. Aside of the different bezel, the PAM615 is lack of a date aperture at 3:00 o’clock and replaced by a 12-hour counter. To ensure the simplest and clearest time reading, the small seconds dial is assigned at 9 o’clock. The chronograph minutes and seconds hands are both positioned centrally on the dial and distinguished from each other by different colours: the seconds hand is blue while the minute hand is rhodium plated, which provide an amazing contrast against the black dial. Last but not least, the pieces come with a rubber strap with the “OP” logo in Panerai blue and the distinctive S.L.C. torpedo motif on the caseback.
3 Days Acciaio PAM604
Besides the Carbotech watch, the PAM604 is another stars of Panerai this year. Its rarely seen engraving fascinates many Panerai aficionados. If you are really tempted by it, you shouldn’t think too long as this handsome piece is limited to 99 pieces and sold exclusively in the Florence boutique in Piazza San Giovanni.
The long-ago Panerai for Purdey collection once showed the Manufacture’s craftsmanship of engraving. In recent years, the Chinese Zodiac series takes the same roles. It is worth mentioning that the masterful engraving on the Radiomir Firenze is performed by the skilled hands of the engraver who has also decorated the Chinese Zodiac series. The latest Radiomir Firenze is created to celebrate the grand re-opening of the newly expanded Florence boutique. The geometric pattern and the Florentine Lily form the motifs on the case, exuding an age-old aesthetics. Indeed, it is more challenging to engrave on the curved sides of case than the flat case cover of the Zodiac watches. Plus, the work is made more demanding due to the hardness of stainless steel as it is harder then other precious metals in nature. As a result, each case requires more than a week of work. The geometric and floral motifs are first drawn as a temporary outline – using powdered chalk or magnesium powder – and then engraved with a burin by engraver. Thus, The ornately engraved surfaces are formed of very thin parallel lines. Any error would mean that the artist had to start the work all over again.
Back then, the special edition PAM232 featured the golden Arabia numerals and the signature sandwich brown dial. Today, Panerai shows us this nicely decorated PAM604 inspired by the 1930s’ design style. Although the dial is no longer brown, the vintage Italian touch and the refined engraving ensure the PAM604 is as good as the PAM232, if not better.
Mare Nostrum Titanio
– 52mm PAM603
Why does this piece opt for the dial and strap in brown instead of green? Just a wild guess: the green nylon strap is specially left for the Hong Kong edition PAM606. Yet, the brown dial does showcase a refreshed appearance. “Mare Nostrum” has always been named for the chronographs created for the deck officers of the Royal Italian Navy by the Manufacture. This classic 52mm watch has been reissued a handful of times, first in 1993 and second in 2000. And it is reborn the third times this year. As mentioned above, the original prototype boasts a dark green dial and strap. The latest reference changes the colour to brown and its case is made of titanium instead of stainless steel. The two sub-dials are still kept at 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock, while the bold design is defined by the sawtooth bezel. The watch is equipped with the Minerva based OP XXV hand-wound movement, a powerhouse beating at a rate of 18,000 vibrations per hour and offering a power reserve of 55 hours.
Equation of Time 8 Days Acciaio – 47mm PAM601 &
Equation of Time 8 Days Acciaio – 48mm PAM516
Whatever the functions Panerai watches have, it is interesting that they usually share similar looks. The PAM601 and PAM516 are both equation of time models, same as the PAM365 launched in 2010. They are, of course, not the same. The new releases don’t come with a tourbillon, so you won’t find it on the caseback or the dot signaling the rotating tourbillon on the sub-dial at 9 o’clock. What’s more, the sunrise/sunset indicator is taken out to give a more minimalist look, while the display of date and month at 3 o’clock, and the linear equation of time indicator at 6 o’clock stay remained on the dial. As we know, Panerai is not keen on producing wristwatches with complicated functions. Besides the tourbillon, equation of time indicator represents another complication of the Manufacture. And this year they offer two choices of stylish yet functional pieces.