- Solid red gold case with 50 meters water resistance
- In-house caliber P.9010 autowinding with 72 hours of power, date, sub-seconds, and jumping hour hand
- Year of release: 2020
Panerai On Par With The Holy Trinity
It’s been liberating to shed my expectation that Panerai should – in accordance with rather dubious notions of authenticity – still be making watches like those supplied to Italy’s naval frog swimmer from the 1930s until 1970. No one rides on the back of torpedoes anymore, and like most luxury watch brands Panerai has long since moved on from its days as a manufacturer of mil-spec tool-watches. It’s time some of us Panerai fans did the same.
Cut to the 2020s – Panerai is a luxury watch brand that can fairly be compared to Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet and Vacheron Constantin. Panerai lacks the Swiss origins reaching back to the Enlightenment, but Panerai has two lines of credibility The Holy Trinity lacks: 1) a rich history of producing tool watches and 2) the accompanying design language.
In the 1970s, we got the Nautilus from Patek, the Royal Oak from Audemars Piguet, and what soon became the Overseas from Vacheron, but each of those sport watches was an attempt to stay relevant as trends changed from dress to tool watches. Panerai actually stopped making mil-spec tool watches in 1970, but in the 1990s the Italian firm recreated its WWII-era tool watches for civilians, and those large-format Panerais have set the trend in men’s watches ever since.
In 1997, The Richemont Group bought Panerai, and the firm left Italy to become a Swiss manufacturer. Ever since, Panerai has proliferated high-grade in-house movements, precious metal cases, proprietary gold blends, novel carbon materials, and on and on with what I believe to be a fascinating blend of traditional, high-end mechanical watchmaking and cutting-edge technology all bundled into classic 20th-century designs unlike any other.
It’s a hell of a formula, and the PAM1112 makes it obvious just how refreshing and effective this formula is.
The Luminor Case at 44m in Red Gold
This has always been my favorite Panerai case shape and size, and I’ve tried them all. Every wrist is different, as are preferences, of course, but as one who has scrutinized hundreds of watches, I submit that there is a balance of proportions with the 44mm Luminor case that works especially well with Panerai’s dial layouts. There’s enough space for the designers to create many successful arrangements, but not so much space as to appear empty.
The locking crown guard is an iconic feature that, in my opinion, is a must-have were one to own just one Panerai. The polished bezel against the circularly brushed case flanks lends the watch a mid-century vibe and a luxurious feeling simultaneously, a combination that defines Panerai’s higher-end models.
Panerai’s red gold has always been my personal favorite gold blend on a modern watch. The basic red gold formula is 75% gold and 25% copper, while Panerai’s is 24% copper and .4% platinum. This ratio lends the gold strength, but also a ruddy hue that appears earthy where, say, pink gold (75% gold, 20% copper, 5% silver) appears more airy. The visual weight of Panerai’s red gold suits the highly utilitarian, blocky nature of the Luminor case. With brushed surfaces dominant, that earthiness is even more apparent.
A Dial of Fascination
In my opinion, the sandwich dial is, like the Luminor case, a must-have were you to own just one Panerai. To see this format executed with a gorgeous deep blue radially brushed pattern with the red gold hands floating above transforms what was once a utilitarian hi-viz diving dial into a curious mid-century design marvel.
As much as I love the simplest of Panerai dials, I am continually drawn to the busier layouts. The PAM1112 gives us the seconds dial at 9-o’clock and the date aperture at 3, and for me this more complex layout lends the watch a feeling of luxury, complication, and travel-readiness that suits a solid gold watch – especially when we consider the jumping hour hand.
The Caliber P.9010
While many of Panerai’s more utilitarian steel and titanium models use solid casebacks, the sapphire window of the PAM1112 is the obvious correct choice. I want to point you, dear reader, to the macro images I’ve made because I believe they demonstrate a level of finishing that puts Panerai on par with Vacheron, Patek and Audemars Piguet.
While not everything can be seen in an auto-winding watch due to the large rotor, what can be seen is beautifully finished, with no flaws that I could find, even along the beveled edges of the bridges, which is where one typically finds sloppiness. The bevels around the rubies are especially impressive, but so is the beveled edge of the handsome transverse balance bridge, under which we find a solid gold free-sprung balance wheel. Finally, draw your eye to the radial brushing of the auto-winding rotor’s mount at the very center of the watch – a lovely touch.
Snailing on the inner plates and linear brushing on the outer bridges indicates that – like movements from the Holy Trinity – nothing is left unfinished throughout the 200 components of the P.9010.
The P.9010 offers a jumping hour hand which does not stop the movement when being adjusted, making travel between time zones easy with no interruption to the accuracy of your setting. It should be noted that the jumping hour adds considerable complication to the movement when compared to standard time-date movements. Twin barrels store 72 hours of power, and the oscillating rotor powers those in both directions.
The works spins on 31 rubies, and, impressively, the P.9010 is just 6mm thick.
Putting It All Together
If you, like me, prefer to own a watch that’s not the typical top seller – something unique enough, but still iconic and with a solid history – you may find that a higher-end Panerai scratches a number of horological itches that even a watch from the Holy Trinity can’t reach. For me, it’s the unique tool-watch design language being married to such high-end manufacturing and materials that creates the undeniable hook of the PAM1112.
And I believe the prices of Panerai’s gold models to be comparatively low, especially when you consider the quality of the movements on offer. But unlike a solid gold Rolex Submariner or a gold Royal Oak, the Panerai maintains an earthiness that avoids the blinginess of so many solid gold tool watches today. Instead of bling, we get warmth, earthiness, history, a touch of steampunk, and a level of horological quality that, as far as I can tell, is second to none.