- Reference PAM01347 & 01348
- Distressed stainless steel case
- 100m water resistance
- Manual mechanical caliber P.5000 with dual barrels, 8-day power reserve and sub-seconds at 3-o’clock
- Leather straps
- Released March 2023
- Price upon release – $9,700
Large Panerais Are Not So Similar
A friend once joked that Panerai only made one watch. For years I more or less agreed with the underlying sentiment. However, owning and wearing a 44mm Panerai Luminor PAM914 for the past many months and then checking out these new 45mm Radiomir models made me realize that the Luminor and Radiomir models can be entirely different.
It’s worth mentioning here that standard front-facing photos do little to reveal the stark differences between a Luminor and a Radiomir, yet in person those differences are obvious. The Luminor and Radiomir both carry similar traits that make a Panerai a Panerai (big numerals, same numerical font, sandwich dials, lots of negative space, large squarish cases), and some of those traits are nearly identical between the two models. Those similarities seem to leap out of photos, obscuring what makes these models so unique.
It’s not just photos that cause one to assume most Panerais are similar, however. It’s a characteristic of human perception that we initially fail to distinguish between members of a category we aren’t familiar with. I know avid rock fans who hear all jazz as the same, city slickers who can’t tell one tree from the other, and so on; it’s all just jazz, or just trees, or just Panerais. Spend some time with these things, however, and differences reveal themselves.
What I failed to imagine prior to this loan period was that two similarly sized Panerais could play entirely different roles on wrist and in a collection. I just didn’t understand wanting to own more than one Panerai. And now, having fallen for these Radiomir models, I want to own at least two — probably more.
Colors Don’t Distinguish Panerais As Much as You’d Imagine
Before seeing the brown-ish dialed PAM01347, I was convinced that I would have chosen the blue PAM01348 simply because the color is so different from my black and beige Luminor PAM914. But, in fact, the brown PAM01347 is more different from my Luminor than the blue one. This was a big surprise.
Part of the reason is that most photos of the blue watch seem to oversaturate the blue tones, which are subtler in person (I did my best to represent the actual color in these images, but it’s even mellower in person). The blue dial fades to black at the edges. and the blued steel handset blends with the blue dial just as the black hands on my Luminor blend with its black dial. The blue watch is nearly monochromatic. Meanwhile, the brownish dial of the PAM01347 isn’t black at all, and the blued steel hands jump off the brown dial due to both the color difference and the increased contrast.
Indeed, color doesn’t make Panerais as different as I’d assumed. It’s other characteristics of the colorway – e.g. contrast, saturation, mono-/multi-chromaticism – that distinguish these watches. I think this is important to keep in mind, because we tend to chose colors first and blindly accept the other qualities that color bestows on a watch. All of this seems more true for Panerai due to the relative simplicity and sheer size of the dials. But I’ve since learned that colors play different roles with these Panerais.
Large Radiomirs With Wire Lugs Can Be Downright Dressy
Indeed, a 45mm Radiomir can be surprisingly dressy – even if that Radiomir sports a distressed steel case, an unpolished leather strap with contrast stitching and a dial faded to look like a vintage watch, as these references do. Elegant! This was the biggest surprise of all.
Who knew I’d be pairing a large distressed Panerai with a sports jacket for a nice dinner out? Who knew I’d find a sense of elegance when wearing one of the most famously rugged and large tool watches in horological history?
I’d already found my Luminor PAM914 surprisingly elegant, which for that watch comes down to the fully polished bezel and case, the open space on the dial and the exquisite level of finishing of that dial and handset. It seemed to me that a Radiomir with no bezel to speak of, primitive wire lugs, and an intentionally distressed steel case and faded dial would have been the more casual watch. I was entirely wrong.
The elegance of these Radiomirs resides in the exquisite case shape, especially when seen from the side, but also from the lack of crown guards (a feature of all dress watches), the traditional crown shape, and the gorgeous box crystal riding high above the retro-styled convex bezel. All of those features remind me of lovely dress watches of the 20th century. And the wire lugs look so delicate (though, to be clear, they are not physically delicate).
A Case For The Large Distressed Steel Case
The distressed steel adds a great deal of dimension to the case, drawing out its unique curves and angles in ways that clean steel does not. The complexity of the Radiomir case was never as obvious to me when handling them in the past, and it seems a rather genius play to have distressed the steel in this way.
I’d assumed the distressed steel would have reduced the elegance of the watch, but instead this treatment becomes perhaps the most elegant feature. Yet again, I find myself surprised.
It’s not just that the curves and angles are more prominent under this faux-aging treatment, but also that the distressed steel is mellow and warm and unexpectedly luxurious. It doesn’t look dirty or even distressed (perhaps a misnomer); it looks artfully burnished, like a beautiful piece of silver horse tackle or a bronze sculpture that’s been partially darkened to enhance the depicted form. Think Hermes and Rodin, and not old tools or steampunk objects, as many writers have assumed when reporting on the press release and not the watch itself.
No, there’s nothing particularly steampunk or Dickensian about these Radiomir models. You should, instead, expect a uniquely elegant experience wearing these Radiomir models. These watches are perhaps better paired with twills and tweeds than fine wool and silk, however. Both references emit a kind of antique, worn-in aesthetic — but to confuse that with a rough-shod industrial vibe would be a mistake. The perfect pairing is probably cashmere knits.
The faded dials really play nicely with the distressed steel. The overall effect of the dial is not that of age, per se, but of softness, depth and warmth — not unlike the finest tropical dials.
There’s an understatement here that one doesn’t usually associate with Panerai, and which makes wearing these watches a subtler statement than wearing even some of the smaller, thinner Panerai Due models I’ve tried on. It’s remarkable how size has little to do with vibe when it comes to Panerai.
The PAM01347 and 01348 provide 100m of water resistance, which is fine for any watch in my opinion. I’ve been below 100′ with a watch rated to 100m, and it was dry as a bone when I surfaced. Water resistance ratings are conservative for a reason. The screwed-down crown inspires additional confidence. I’d SCUBA dive in these watches without worry, though I’m not recommending it any more than Panerai is.
The P.5000 eight-day manually wound movement is spectacular to behold. Many don’t agree with me, from what I’ve read, but for me any in-house movement is worth a look-see from time to time, if only because you won’t see it anywhere else. I happen to like large solid 3/4 bridges as we see here, and it suits the watch.
With Panerai movements, you not only get a look at a cool in-house movement, but at a member of a diverse family of movements that includes perpetual calendars and split-second chronographs, which are some of the most difficult movements to make. This is associative value. I feel this value in my time-only Vacheron movements, that they are members of a distinguished family, even if not the most prestigious members themselves. The pedigree is there.
I really enjoy an eight-day movement. The winding takes a long time, but the crown action on a P.5000 is superlative, and the feeling of powering up the dual barrels for the next week is unique. There’s a level of commitment there that I enjoy.
Originally the eight-day movement was used in Panerai dive watches in order to reduce wear on the crown, where water could seep in. Today, however, such concerns are anachronistic and nostalgic, which is part of the charm of this movement. A huge power reserve like this may not be the most jaw-dropping of features, but it’s genuinely useful (unlike many complications) and requires an engagement with the movement that – in my experience, at least – deepens my connection to the timepiece.
Wearing These Radiomir References
First of all, the straps are, like all Panerai straps, gorgeous. The blue suede (made in Austria) is casually elegant, while the brown strap (made in Italy) is begging for the marks of wear to adapt it to the worn-in look of the whole watch. Sumptuous is the word I’d use to describe both straps, and comfort is abundant.
Overall these models wear like watches much much smaller than 45mm. I own 40mm watches that wear larger than these Radiomir models do. No question the wire lugs shorten the whole package and reduce bulk, but it is also the skin-diver-like slope of the case out to its four corners that helps these watches wrap around your wrist like a much smaller watch.
And lastly – if redundantly – wearing the PAM01347 and 01348 in an entirely elegant experience. I can’t stress enough how fine these watches feel to wear. Which isn’t at all what most people have been saying about these models. They are crafted to appear as if they’ve been through decades of hard use, yet Panerai simply can’t make a watch that’s not finished exquisitely. That finishing along with brave artisnal treatments and unique historical designs simply adds up to elegance.
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