Watches & Wonders 2020: Panerai Stuns With New High-Tech Luminors, A GMT, And A Tourbillon

For the first digital edition of Watches & Wonders, Panerai releases a fleet of new models featuring multiple proprietary materials, a sailing-inspired GMT, and a tourbillon model that comes with an Arctic adventure.

By Thomas Hendricks

The coronavirus has brought much of the world to a standstill, but like time itself, our industry continues to move forward. Kicking off this year’s digital Watches & Wonders, Panerai continues to reinvent its classic models through new high-tech materials. With eight new releases, there’s a lot to be excited about. So let’s dive in!

New Luminors Seven Decades In The Making

In 2020, Panerai marks the 70th anniversary of its tritium-based luminescent material, Luminor, which later became the name for their signature model that we know so well. To celebrate this milestone and to continue pushing the needle, Panerai is launching a team of new Luminors featuring eye-catching luminescent applications and case materials never before seen in watchmaking.

Let’s start with the similarities between these models before delving into their differences. Each of the new Luminors is housed within a 44mm case featuring the brand’s signature protective crown bridge and each sport the bold Arabic numerals of Luminors past. There’s also the standard dial layout with a sub-seconds register at 9 o’clock and a date window at 3 o’clock. Inside the case of each new Luminor is Panerai’s in-house P.9010 movement with two spring barrels, Incabloc shock protection, and three-day power reserve. And that is, by and large, where the similarities end.

The first, and perhaps most noticeable, difference that sets the PAM01117 and PAM01118 apart from the pack is the adventurous expansion of lume leaping beyond the normal confines of the dial. Here, the dial, hands, indices, numerals, flange, crown, crown bridge, and even the strap stitching are lined with the latest generation of Super-LumiNova.

Panerai has long been known for its legibility, and these new watches take that expectation to its delightful extreme. The result has more than a bit of a Tron look to it and represents some welcome aesthetic risk-taking from the traditional brand. And after decades of proving their functionality, why not have a little fun?

A Focus On Materials

With much of Panerai’s DNA set in stone, the brand has turned to its materials as an outlet for innovation. Of the eight new models released during W&W, only one is made from steel, and even that isn’t what you think it is.

One such material on display here is the light and sturdy Carbotech. This high-tech material is made of layers of carbon fiber (7 layers per millimeter) that are fused together under immense heat and pressure. Once cooled, these cases resemble ebony wood grain, lending a natural touch to an impressive feat of R&D. The material can be found, in whole or in part, in half of Panerai’s releases for W&W 2020.

Another first for the brand, and watchmaking at large, is the proprietary Fibratech of the PAM01663 and PAM01119. The material originated in the aerospace industry and has now been adapted by Panerai for timekeeping. The key ingredient here is the mineral basalt. The dark and finely-grained volcanic rock has been bound together in thin layers using polymers and, yet again, plenty of heat and pressure.

The result is 60% lighter than steel, corrosion resistance, and beautiful, forming a matte material resembling a heavily brushed metal. Of the two new Fibratech pieces, the PAM01119 stands out as the higher-end model, sporting the Tron-like accents mentioned before and limited to just 270 pieces across Panerai’s boutiques.

The Luminor Marina DMLS (PAM01662) is the monochrome counterpart to its brethren dressed in sunrayed blue and spikes of luminescent green. The case material here is a sandblasted DMLS titanium.

What is DMLS titanium, you ask? The acronym refers to Direct Metal Laser Sintering, a 3D printing process whereby powder, in this case, titanium, is compacted together just below the melting point to form a solid whole using a fiber optic laser. If one thing rings true at this point, it’s that Panerai did not take the path of least resistance with this latest batch of releases. The Luminor Marina DMLS is finished with a Carbotech bezel, crown, and lever with its numerals and indices finished in gray Super-LumiNova for tone-on-tone consistency.

Finally, gold. But not just any gold. The Luminor Marina Panerai Goldtech is cased in the brand’s own red gold alloy with 24% copper and 0.4% platinum. This precious metal iteration is perhaps the most luxurious of the bunch, reinforced by its accompanying blue alligator strap, satiné soleil dial decoration, and 5 bar water resistance.

Setting Sail With Luna Rossa

This GMT model celebrates Panerai’s ongoing partnership with America’s Cup contender, Luna Rossa. The elite sailing team dons this start-of-the-art Panerai collection while racing in competitions around the world. So, where do I sign up?

This piece sticks close to the Luna Rossa GMT model we covered during SIAR 2019 in October (read the full article HERE). Both models feature the P.9010/GMT movement with a three-day power reserve and jumping hour GMT. They also share the same pièce de résistance: a thin sheet of the actual sail from the Luna Rossa teams’ AC75 monohull racing craft adorning the dial. The difference here lies in the case material. While the SIAR release is cased in Carbotech, this Watches & Wonders iteration is made from black DLC-coated titanium.

A Limited Edition Tourbillon Set For Adventure

The most unique and most exclusive release from Panerai is the Submersible EcoPangaea Tourbillon GMT 50mm Mike Horn Edition. Limited to five boutique-only pieces, the model celebrates the brand’s partnership with explorer and conservationist Mike Horn.

First, let’s talk about the watch. The sizable 50mm piece is the only steel watch in this batch of releases. But, of course, this limited edition is made from limited edition steel, a proprietary material recycled from the drive shaft of Horn’s sailing ship, Pangaea.

This watch is powered by the manual-wind P.2005/T, a skeletonized titanium movement with three barrels, six-day power reserve, and a 30-second tourbillon, developed entirely in Panerai’s Neuchâtel manufacture. The watch is adorned with “Arctic” blue details and an engraved porthole sapphire caseback.

Best of all, each of the five owners these watches are personally invited on an arctic expedition led by Mike Horn himself. So while other watches may make you feel on top of the word, this watch actually takes you there.

(Images provided by Panerai)

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