SIHH 2018: Panerai Brings Innovation and Fresh Updates
Another year at SIHH is upon us and one question is on the mind of collectors, what will be the biggest draw when Panerai releases their latest novelties? Here’s a recap.
Every year, Panerai has managed to step outside the box as only they can. At past SIHH fairs, the world witnessed the release of the Bronzo and gawked in amazement at the CarboTech; an innovative design and technical execution that we saw in the Lab-ID last year. This year – even with the introduction of a handful of complicated pieces – it was the expansion of the Due Line and other base models that seemed to be what everyone was focused on. Without forcing you to read pages and pages of press releases, I’ll give you the rundown of the latest offerings from Officine Panerai from the 2018 edition of SIHH.
LUMINOR DUE – Slim and Smaller
With a new generation of thinner Panerai cases introduced a few years back, Panerai not only turned towards a broader customer base, but they created a product that offered most of the brand’s original DNA in terms of design, while making it a size that could easily be worn with suits and still fit comfortably under a cuff. The collection was expanded this year with the addition of eight new pieces including three in a 38mm case size; all featuring automatic movements. The 38mm Luminor Due is now officially the smallest Panerai ever been made by the brand.
A feature on the new 38mm and 42mm Luminor Due is the new Quick-Change system, which works by pressing a mechanism on the back of the strap near the lugs. This allows the owner to quickly slide off the original strap and replace it with a bevy of new color and material options. I’m a huge fan of the Quick-Change system on my PAM312 which uses a pushpin mechanism, but this new version for the Due line gives you the ability to change straps on the fly without the use of any tools.
Let’s first discuss the PAM903 and PAM906 models which, while sharing the same dial design and look, vary in their actual size. The PAM903 is a 38mm automatic and the PAM906 is the 42mm version with the same automatic movement. These two watches feature white dials with blue Arabic numerals. A vintage lume can be seen on the blued hands in the correct lighting environment, which makes for a really nice color palette on the dial. Completing the look is the standard “Luminor Marina” on the top of the dial and “Automatic” text above the six. Though I am not the biggest fan of the faux lume on many of the newer pieces, I actually do like the color combination on the white dial pieces because I believe the colors are complimentary. Both pieces are powered by an OP XXXIV Calibre which has a 3-day power reserve. The watch is finished with one of the new strap offerings from Panerai in a medium color blue to pair with the dial.
Next, we have the duo of the PAM755 (38mm) and PAM904 (42mm). Much like the two models previously mentioned, they are essentially the same watches in the same sizes, but each feature an anthracite sun-brushed dial, iconic baton indexes at the 12 and 6, date window at the 3 0’clock position, and a sub-second dial at the 9 o’clock position.
The next novelty in the collection – the PAM756 Luminor Due Automatic Oro Rosso in red gold – contains the OP XXXIV Calibre movement with 3-day power reserve and was also made with the now recognizable white dial with blue Arabic numerals and faux vintage lumed indexes. The major differences in this piece is that the case, bezel, hands, and sub seconds hands are made of Red Gold. Or the most part, this model looks a lot like the PAM741 (42mm) that was released earlier in the Due collection which features a mechanical in-house movement. The PAM906 is finished beautifully with a light blue alligator strap which compliments the color in the dial perfectly.
Want to know more? A new 38mm Luminor Due Automatic in red gold was added to the “FU” collection of timepieces. The PAM908 (which is limited to only 300 pieces), features a red gold 38mm case and black sun-brushed dial with gold hands. While previous “FU” models featured a Chinese symbol of luck on the dial, the PAM908 shows the symbol on the case back where it is beautifully etched in the middle and surrounded by meaningful floral patterns. First, the plum flowers (expressing perseverance) and also, peonies (symbolizing wealth).
The final two offerings in the Due collection are the largest watches of the group; each having 45mm steel cases. The PAM943 and PAM944 both feature an anthracite sun-brushed dial and faux vintage lume on the hands, batons, and at the 12, 6, and 9 markers. The PAM943 has a date at the 3 o’clock mark and a sub second on the dial to the right of the 9. If you look at the case back, you’ll notice that it is powered by an in-house P.4001 micro-rotor automatic movement with power reserve on the bridge. The PAM944 is the first GMT offering in the Due collection as well as being the first to show the power reserve on dial. To the right of 9’o’clock, you have a sub second dial featuring the AM/PM indication, and the watch contains the P.4002 micro rotor automatic movement with 3-day power reserve.
LOGO COLLECTION – Back to Basics
Officine Panerai went back to its roots with six new versions of their classic logo dial watches. These new releases start at the attainable price of $4,750 USD for the base dial. There were some minor changes made, such as a spring bar system to help bring the price down. A notable positive is that for a reasonable entry-level (for Panerai) price, you will get a watch that has upgraded from the ETA movement of old to the brand-new P.6000 manual wind movement with 3-day power reserve. All the watches in the collection feature a 44mm polished steel case, bezel, and crown guard. There are three base dials as well as three Marina versions with a large sub second in place of the 9 o’clock numeral. The PAM773 is a base dial with a white logo below the Panerai text. The PAM774 is the base dial with blue logo. Finally, and the PAM775 contains a white dial with full Arabic numerals and the logo in blue.
Moving on to the Marina models, we have the PAM776 Luminor Marina with white logo, PAM777 with blue logo, and last but not least, there’s the PAM778 white dial with blue logo. You’ll also notice that a number of the logo dial pieces feature Panerai’s new canvas strap line which I found to be quite fitting for these pieces, not just because of their colors, but also because of their simplistic look.
Moving up the line into one of the more technical pieces for 2018, the brand introduced the PAM767 Luminor 1950 Tourbillon GMT Titanium. This timepiece is similar to the PAM578 with the exception of the inner ring of the watch which is finished in a blue color as opposed to the gray which was seen on the previous model. Like its predecessor, this piece is one of the first applications of metal-laser-sintering with titanium powder in a watch. 3D printing the watch case allowed it to be created with a hollow core, making it 35% lighter than any previous skeleton tourbillon in Panerai’s collection. To cut even more weight out of the final product (which weighs only about 98 grams in total) the P.2005/T movement uses titanium bridges, plates, and spring barrels. These combined characteristics make for a beautifully executed piece and precision timepiece.
Rounding out the Officine Panerai Novelties for 2018 is one of the most complicated pieces in their lineup. Taking inspiration from the PAM365 Equation of Time Tourbillon from 2010, the new PAM920 Luminor 1950 Tourbillon Moon Phase Equation of Time takes creative complications to the next level by introducing (for the first time) a Panerai watch featuring a moon phase.
The new PAM920, when compared to the older version of the watch, has a skeletonized dial as well as complications such as the equation of time, GMT, month, date, sunrise, and sunset to name a few. The date on this timepiece is displayed in a peculiar way, making it almost look like a digital display. Because the dial is skeletonized, the overall look – in my opinion – would be affected negatively with a typical date wheel. To alleviate an esthetic disturbance, Panerai has developed an innovative system which they also patented. The date plate is made of borosilicate glass and the dates have laser modified optical properties which make it virtually invisible in all positions until it is under the date window.
The key component to this model – the moon phase complication – can be viewed on the case back (which housed a star map on the previous L’Astromono). This stunning complication features a clear distinction between night and day, and by using a system of two discs that rotate together, the wearer is luckily able to read not only all the phases of the moon, but also a disk that shows the 24 hours in the day, and the sun and night sky in the hours.
While the novelties introduced by Panerai didn’t have unique materials or funky designs, I believe they made a nice step forward in expanding the Due line; a line that’s been swiftly growing for the brand by going back to its roots while simultaneously pleasing a lot of their purists. Of course, the brand’s SIHH presentation wasn’t going to be complete without a daring, advanced piece like the L’Astromono, but amazingly enough, that novelty actually hasn’t been the star of the show based on feedback on social media.
For me and many others, the star of the show (or should I say stars?) are the 38mm Luminor Dues that were released. Bigger isn’t always better, which these watches prove. They have opened their customer base and a thinner and smaller watch will truly be a step in the right direction, I believe. Some purists may disagree with my position, but the evolution was necessary and for me, it has been very welcomed.