Panerai PAM508 Ceramica (3).jpg

Panerai SIHH2013 : Part 2, in the rubble

As written above, the 47mm steel version of the Radiomir 1940 PAM514 is not very successful... However, the PAM515, works much better!

Why?

Where the PAM514 suffers from a somewhat depressing pessimism, failing to fill the emptiness of the dial, the PAM515 is doing much better thanks to its different colours...

Then the pink gold case: one might or might not like it, it is a question of culture, taste ... Personally I love the "Funky Collector“ side which contrasts heavily with the refined brutality of the watches of the OP. However I know that pink or yellow gold repels many of you.


But where the aesthetics of the 515 turns out to be more efficient than the 514 is with the dial. The contrast between the brown dial and the pink gold case is much less aggressive than the contrast between the black and polished steel of the PAM514, so the opening of the 515 looks smaller. Furthermore the lively golden hands occupy the dial much better than the steel hands. Finally, the date, with a lower contrast between the cream font and the brown disc time make us somewhat forget the little date, even if it is slightly incongruous in this context...


The movement of this PAM515 (following the example of the 514) is a P.3000, frequenced at 21,600 v/h for 72h of power reserve; a great 16 ½ lines movement, very successful, and perfectly Panerai legitimate (at least as much an Unitas! ).

Without claiming that this is the ultimate version of the Radiomir 1940 case, which is in its infancy in the Panerai range, this is today the version that offers the best Paneriphilie / price ratio.

To stay in the yellow metals, let’s talk about the painful case of new Bronzo, the PAM507, aka "the watch of shame”, a 99% replica of the former Bronzo (for a more complete description of the PAM507, I invite you to read my article on the PAM382).


What changes in comparison to the old one? The power reserve, displayed by the P.9002 caliber, slight evolution of the P.9000. And, on the back of the titanium ring, warning, this is rather subtle, the engravings are protected by a gilt coating, in a refined watchmaking way.

Lets say that it is a clone, with a different haircut, of the PAM382 "Gonzo".

And all the problem is there.


One should remember an interview of M. Angelo Bonati, CEO of Panerai. This document was published on the website of the New York Times, September 23, 2011.

Selected extracts:

« The boat has now inspired Panerai’s new Luminor Submersible 1950 3-Days Automatic Bronzo PAM382, the first Panerai watch with a bronze case… The use of bronze gave the watch, “a special look that makes it very unique and exclusive,” he added... Mr. Bonati said that reactions to the new bronze watch had been “enthusiastic,”… “It’s all sold,” he said, referring to preorders by retailers. Mr. Bonati said the company had no plans to do more bronze watches.

“This was a very special edition. And I think that’s why Panerai is appreciated by collectors,” he said. “Such a watch will not only keep its price but also increase in value."
 
Then, definitely, affirming that the Officine would not produce more watches in bronze was probably daring, even reckless, and may have resulted from a misunderstanding...
 
But the Officine had ample room for a totally different bronze watch; a non-exhaustive list of suggestions: a SLOB, a Bronze Subzilla, a Bronze Bomba, a Bronze Radiomir with straight lugs, etc, etc, etc ...
 


To produce the exact same watch, is displaying lack of basic respect to the collectors, who paid themselves a PAM382 at a high price, at over 20k€ (almost triple the original price), a few weeks before this SIHH2013!

Where is the exclusivity?

The Officine was a customary of limited edition involving only those who believe in?. But anyway, so far, the direction of the OP (which validated this project to the detriment of other more interesting one), kept a certain extent to the presumptuousness. The movement, the finish, or the number of copies varied greatly between two California Dial, for example...


With this PAM507 Bronzo, everything is the same, the metal, the movement, the finishes and even and especially, the number of copies.

The displayed power reserve on the dial is used as a fig leaf, but it don’t hide the lack creativity.


However, at least one point changes significantly, the price: the watch is about 2000 € more expensive... the collectors will appreciate.

Fun and truthful dialogue when storing the watches laying on the table after the photos, the gentleman seeing a Bronzo on the table:
Sir, you forget a watch !

Ah, no, it's mine. It is true that they look somewhat alike. :)

Ah, yes, the intellectual honesty compels me to admit that I ordered one. Gonzo forever!  :)

The PAM508 "ceramica" will nevertheless reconcile us with the Submersibles (and the Officine).

This diver (CF Iso 6425 ), reuses the case of the 47mm PAM382, and also its caliber, but uses ceramics instead of bronze.

So we might be sceptical at first glance. Ceramic models at the OP, the Radiomir PAM292 and especially the recent nonmagnetic Submersible PAM389, are not paragons of visual balance. Until now, the ultra-modern look of ceramics was not really melting in the neo-vintage charm of the Panerais.


One of the keys of Panerai’s success is that it's watches combine the brutality of a military watch with Transalpine class. You only have to see an Italian military or carabinieri: in general their uniform is better cut than an Anglo-Saxon bureaucrat’s costume ... Italy has class.

Thus, this PAM508 ceramic combines the brutality of a 47mm Submersible with the stealth of a commando watch, all with class: so Italian.


I have read a lot of critics in the topics of the eggshell (or even egg yolk) indexes, and, although I'd like to see a version with green luminova indexes, they are not intrusive in the landscape. These cream fluo indexes (new color introduced by Pifpaf) even give a lot of life to the dial, and are fitting with the vintage spirit that we expect from a Panerai.

We will not insist over the aspect of the ceramic, which might benefit from may be a bit duller, or more anthracite, or green (think about the old ceramic IWCs). We will also brush aside the caliber that we already know, the P.9000.


However we will focus on the scope of this Submersible Ceramica. The PAM382, the "old Bronzo" that I wear daily, is sometimes heavy, almost uncomfortably so, and a lighter watch is needed for daily use.

Conversely, this PAM508 is super lightweight, it is disconcerting, with the habit of wearing such massive watches, we put some strength in our gesture to lift it, however, here, the watch tends to fly...

It weighs probably around 60 grams. It is ultra-comfortable to the wrist, despite its volume.


Failing to weigh as much as a dead donkey, it however costs the price of a well alive thoroughbred Arabian. Announced at more than € 13,000, it will easily exceed € 14,000 upon delivery, with regular price increases...

A very, very, accomplished watch, almost perfect. But reserved to the most wealthy Paneristi.


To conclude on this subject SIHH2013, I must tell you about my Christmas holidays. Because I was in Florence, the city that saw the brand’s birth.

A magical city. A countryside of total beauty, a sublime nature, that hugs you. I quote the girl who accompanied me: "From Stendhal’s Syndrome”. The poor Stendhal developed chest spam observing the beauty and the masterpieces of Florentine architecture. To cry for ! Depression assured leaving Tuscany.

In Italy, entering any greasy spoon, you eat the best butcheries, cheeses and meats, drink the best espresso. With the exception of desserts one eats better than in France! And it's a French who you says so, regretfully…

On Christmas evening, we were in a restaurant. The atmosphere was lively without being noisy, the service was attentive without being oppressive, the food was perfect. And upon paying, patatra, on top of the sizable check (a hundred €uros), the Florentines restaurateurs have added several taxes, including a cover charge and a service fee for few tens €uros more ... These supplements would have deserved to be included in the price of food and drinks. In the great scheme of things nothing serious, but pettiness of this ilk destroys a magical evening like this one.

And finally, this Christmas Eve makes me think of the 2013 SIHH. In absolute terms, this was a successful show. Few new (and so much the better !) but effective watches. The PAM512 Radiomir 512 revolutionizes the "small" Panerai, the PAM508 Ceramica seems essential to me, and the PAM526 Regatta watch is a turning point in the evolution of the brand. But these nice successes are a bit tarnished by the pettiness of the PAM507 "neo-bronzo". The Officine would benefit in improving compliance to self proclaimed policies of limited series, both for the respect of the customers and to preserve its own image...

Watchonista recommends:

  1. Part 1 of this review.
  2. The SIHH2012 of the Officine.
  3. The SIHH2011 of Panerai.
  4. The PAM382 "Gonzo", the most delirious review in the history of watchmaking web.
  5. More pictures @ Firenze!
  6. The homepage of the OP on Watchonista.
  7. More photos of the PAM526.
  8. Other pictures of the PAM512.
  9. Yet more photos of the PAM515
  10. Other views of the PAM507.
  11. More pictures of the PAM508.