Second Time With The Panerai Luminor Due
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Second Time With The Panerai Luminor Due

Best known for its big, bold watches, Panerai has delved back into its horological and military history to create a subtler timepiece for the present.

By Rhonda Riche

You may think you know Panerai. You may even have a few of these distinct timepieces in your collection. But the company still manages to surprise us with its innovations, most recently with the introduction of the Panerai Luminor Due collection.

Due (pronounced "doo-eh") means "two" in Italian, and these slimmed down watches represent an evolution of the second generation of Panerai’s Luminor, one of the most successful and recognizable timepieces of the 20th century.

In order to fully appreciate the beauty of the Due collection, we must dive deep into the history of the original Luminor.

Born at Sea

Quintessentially Italian in both style and innovation, Panerai was founded in Florence (the birthplace of the Renaissance) by Giovanni Panerai in 1860. The company’s offerings evolved as the quickly as the modern times. In 1900, Giovanni's grandson Guido took over and started creating watches and other instruments for the Italian Navy. In 1916, they introduced Radiomir, a radium-based powder that lent a certain luminosity to watch and instrument dials. In 1936, Panerai produced a prototype for Italian Navy Frogmen, also called the Radiomir, the first military diver.

After the end of World War II, Panerai continued to innovate with the introduction of “Luminor” — a new, Tritium (hydrogen isotope) based, self-luminating compound. And one year later the manufacture took all of the technological research that it had accumulated before the beginning of the conflict to create a new crown-protecting bridge and a reinforced case with lugs carved out of the same block of stainless steel. This model became known as the Luminor 1950.

The Evolution of Panerai

In the intervening years, Panerai continued to create timepieces for the Italian Navy. These watches were highly coveted by collectors but not widely available to civilians. At least until 1993, when limited editions of three models —the Luminor, the Luminor Marina and the Mare Nostrum — were presented to the Italian public.

Enter the Luminor Due

In 1997, Panerai distribution went global. In 2002, they opened up a manufacture in Neuchatel, Switzerland, where they began producing in-house movements and calibers, including its first tourbillons. The brand also ushered in the era of the oversized case, favored by fellows who wanted a fine timekeeping device that also had wrist presence.

The man of the new Millennium, however, is looking for a different personal style statement. He (and more than a few shes) love the traditional look of the Luminor 1950. He is into more minimal and colored dials. And he can’t fathom how to wear a bulky watch under a suit. 

Maximal Minimalism

The new Due line, first presented in 2016, was inspired by the case of the Luminors of the 1950s, but given an elegant update by Panerai’s designers and engineers. What really makes the Due so appealing to both longtime and first time Panerai buyers is its accessibility.

Style-wise, they are incredibly versatile. The new Dues are the thinnest of any of Panerai’s creations, maintaining its tool watch traditions while implementing a wide range of materials, colors, mechanisms and sizes to make them suitable for almost any occasion.

The 42mm models — which include the Luminor Due 3 Days Acciaio (PAM00676), Luminor Due 3 Days Oro Rosso (PAM00677) and the Panerai Luminor Due 3 Days Titanio in brushed titanium (PAM00728) — are only 10.5 mm thick! They all share the traits that make Panerai so instantly recognizable, such as the highly legible dial design, luminous markers and the patented bridge-and-lever device that protects the crown and helps ensure the watches’ 30-meter water resistance. All dials are in Panerai’s signature “sandwich” style, with a small seconds subdial at 9 o’clock.

Still there are little differences that make the Due Collection a little more atypical. The dial of the Titanio for example, is a sun-brushed blue; while the two Oro Rosso versions sport either a rare-for-Panerai ivory-colored dial with blue applied numerals (PAM00741) or a sun-brushed anthracite dial, as featured in the PAM00676.

The time only Dues also give the wearer extra mileage because the minimalist aesthetic complements any suit as well as more casual attire.            

Also rare for Panerai are the prices, with the Luminor Due 3 Days 42mm coming in at $7,900, the Titanio at $8,600 and the Oro Rosso for $21,900.

Big Time

Then there are the 45 mm pieces: the Luminor Due 3 Days Automatic Acciaio (PAM00674 & PAM00739), Luminor Due 3 Days Automatic Titanio (PAM00729), and the Luminor Due 3 Days Automatic Oro Rosso (PAM00675).

While the PAM00674 and PAM00739 have the same name, there is a sizable difference between the models. In that the PAM00739 is powered by a beautiful skeletonized movement featuring a 22-carat gold decentralized micro-rotor . 

The pieces feature a classic Panerai dial display and their 45mm cases give them a bigger and badder look without all the extra bulk (they are 3.95 mm thick). These watches also feature luxurious alligator straps.

The 45 mm versions are priced at $10,500 - $14,300 for the steel, $11,200 in titanium and $25,500 in gold.

Inside Moves

As striking as the updated Luminor Due collection looks, true beauty always comes from within.

Inside the hand wound versions is the Panerai’s in-house manufacture Caliber P.1000, with a three-day power reserve stored in two mainspring barrels. The Oro Rosso features a more sophisticated, skeletonized version, called P.1000/10.

The next two models — the Panerai Luminor Due 3 Days Automatic Titanio (PAM00729) and Luminor Due 3 Days Automatic Acciaio (PAM00739) have automatic movements and larger, 45-mm cases.

Hour of Power

Inside the hand wound Titanio is the Panerais in-house manufacture Caliber P.1000, with a three-day power reserve stored in two mainspring barrels. The Oro Rosso features the more sophisticated, skeletonized version, called P.1000/10.

The automatic Acciaio has a skeletonized P.4000/10 movement and a 22k gold micro-rotor decorated with clous de Paris, open worked bridges with circular brushed finishing and gilded engraving that can be seen through a sapphire “porthole” in the case back.

The newest member of the Due family, the automatic Titanio, is powered by a P.4000 caliber with a micro-rotor made of lightweight tungsten can be seen through a sapphire porthole on the case back.

The Luminor Due collection offers the lightest and thinnest cases ever offered by the manufacture, which makes these timepieces attractive to buyers who may have balked at the bulk of the original Luminor without losing the spirit.

The new Dues are some of the most accessible Panerais, price-wise, making them alluring to first-time Panerai clients.

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