Pantastic!

Not for the first time, a GTG attended by the local WIS community has resulted in an impromptu watch trade. Out went one of my Rolex sports watches, to be replaced by my second Panerai (the first being the magnificent 233, which I still miss).

Until last Sunday I’d never tried on a Radiomir, and whilst they’re sizeable chunks of steel the shape of the case means that they sit very flat on the wrist. The “wire” lugs also lend themselves to the slightly smaller wrist as they don’t really add to the bulk of the watch, and to my mind they’re therefore slightly more wearable than the Luminor range. Aside from that, the Radiomir case mirrors the design of the original models, and therefore has some historical significance.

This one is the “Historic” Radiomir Black Seal Logo (PAM 380), which is a reproduction of the design of the first watch the Officine Panerai produced for the Italian Navy in 1938. The case is polished 316L stainless steel and whilst it’s 45mm without the (signed) crown it actually sits nicely on my fairly small 6.75” wrist with no overhang whatsoever. It has a matt black (painted as opposed to sandwich) dial, with a mixture of baton markers and Arabic numerals (3,6 and 12) and subsidiary seconds at 9. The crystal is a slightly domed 1.9mm sapphire, with AR coating. Water resistance is a very decent 100m and the removable lugs take a 26mm strap, adding to the overall comfort and general sense of wearability.

Inside is the Panerai OPII calibre movement, which is essentially a modified, COSC-certified ETA 6497/2 (the suffix denoting the addition of seconds to the base movement). Details as follows:

· Hand-wound mechanical movement
· 16½ lignes
· 17 jewels
· Bridges personalised by Panerai
· Glucydur® balance
· 21,600 bph
· Incabloc® anti-shock device
· Power reserve 56 hours.

Now, here’s the thing. I am on the lookout for the slightly more esoteric PAM 337, which is also a little smaller at 42mm. However, whilst the 380 is a Base model and was intended to keep me going during what I anticipated would be a long wait, it might just do the trick for me. It’s a fair bit less expensive, wears well despite its larger size and actually seems pretty good as a watch for most occasions. It’s also bloody comfortable, so who knows – maybe it’s a case of itch scratched.

PAMtastic!

Panerai watches tend to polarise opinion, although there’s no doubting the heritage of the “original” company’s roots; its military connections, and those with Rolex, make vintage pieces highly prized by collectors and high-profile marketing over recent years has seen them establish themselves as a leading high-end brand. They’re big, bold and beatiful.

The Luminor 1950 8 Days GMT (which I’ve had for a few days now) is quite a watch. From Panerai’s Historical Collection, it sports a 1950’s style case set off by a sapphire dome that is nothing less than beautiful. The sandwich dial (the last of the dot dials, in fact) is as clean as you could wish for and functions include hours, minutes, seconds, date, second time zone, 24h indicator, horizontal power reserve indicator and second reset.

The movement is also a thing of beauty – an in-house hand-wound mechanical, Panerai Calibre P.2002/1, completely manufactured by Panerai; 13¾ lignes, 6.6 thick, 21 jewels, 8-day power reserve (which in practice is more like 10 days), 3 spring barrels, Glucydur® balance, 28,800 alternations/hour (4 Hz), and KIF Parechoc® anti-shock device.

All in all, the decision to bring something different into the fold has proven to be a good one. I really don’t see anything else getting wrist time for a while, and even after wearing this tank of a watch for a few days now I still find myself staring at it in awe. Hmmmmm.