PAM914 Panerai

Hands On – The Panerai PAM914

The Skinny

  • 44mm x 13.5mm
  • Caliber P.5000 manual-wound 8-day time-only with dual barrels
  • Stainless steel case with 300m water resistance
  • Leather strap + rubber strap
  • Year of release – 2020
  • Price upon release – $7100

Self Denial & Toxic Masculinity

I denied myself a Panerai for decades. First in my twenties and thirties because I couldn’t afford one, and then in my forties and early fifties because I’d convinced myself that I was too effete and sophisticated for such a big expression of male bravado. I’d over-associated Panerai with Sly Stallone, and I’d over-associated large watches more generally with what I probably thought of as toxic masculinity.

How absurd the ways in which we assign watches symbolic meaning.

How absurd the power I give a watch to stand in for my self.

And now I own the PAM914. How did I get there?

PAM914 Panerai

The Spurious Arguments Against Panerai

To bolster my self-denial of a Panerai, I have over the years indulged in the following spurious arguments. None are even remotely original, and none hold up.

Argument 1 – Panerai isn’t even Italian anyways. This ridiculous argument holds about as much water as a 300m-rated dive watch in a bathtub. And to think of Panerai as Swiss may even be an absurdity, seeing as most Swiss watches are largely produced in Asia and merely assembled in Switzerland.

Argument 2 – Panerai has lost its way. Oh maybe because Panerai sold to a large Swiss group, or because Panerai used ETA movements, or because Panerai’s designs are all over the place, or because P’s in-house movements aren’t somehow sophisticated, or because P renamed its product lines a few years back, or because P released the Due, which wasn’t waterproof enough for a bathtub. None of that is a reason not to enjoy a watch.

Argument 3 – Panerai doesn’t make a quintessential Panerai anymore. This argument wasn’t entirely spurious, but then P released the PAM914, and so this argument fell apart. For a time it was quite difficult to find the one Panerai that spoke to me and felt like the simple good old Panerai we all wanted. There was always a “Base Logo” or some hobnailed dial or weird naming convention or, gasp, a date window. PAM914 solves all of that.

PAM914 Panerai

Enter The PAM914 – The Perfect Panerai

Panerai releasing the PAM914 is like the Rolling Stones playing “Satisfaction.” It was just an undeniably dead-center kind of watch, the one you might have sent into space to represent Panerai to aliens. It’s the Panerai that didn’t have some feature you wished was or wasn’t there. Here’s why this watch is the perfect Panerai.

PAM914 Panerai

The perfect size. Forty-four millimeters is perfect for a Panerai Luminor model. Smaller ones seem crammed and against the spirit of the brand, and larger ones are just really large

Robust water resistance. Three-hundred meters of water resistance can go in a bathtub and far beyond. This water resistance supports the narrative history of the crazy torpedo-riding nutjob fascists these watches were originally designed for. Only frickin’ Italians would do that. Nuts.

Minimalist dial. No date, no seconds hand, and nothing to screw up the amazing simplicity and unexpected serenity of this watch. Essentials only, and perfect for it.

Italiano, si! It’s 8 GIORNI, not 8 DAYS. And that little Italian word on the dial just reminds us that this sucker was designed in Florence just a block from the river in a studio that’s still there selling Panerais to tourists, as it should be.

Eight Days a Week. Winding a watch once a week and letting it roll for so long is awesome. The lack of a seconds hand seems to remind us that the PAM914 is all about the long-haul, the big gears turning slowly, like a Ducati V-Twin pulling heavy from way down in the torque range and overtaking everyone else at Mugello, or the Ferrari V12 Superfast that nearly (and literally) almost made me crap my pants on the same racetrack, so powerful was its torque. It’s a very cool movement.

PAM914 Panerai

So satisfying. Winding this watch is a joy. The crown guard lever needs to come out, and that’s fun as hell. Kind of looks like the watch has an erection when it’s pulled out, and then you must service this randy timepiece accordingly. The action of the large crown is buttery, and it gives one the sense that the double barrels are taking a lot of energy into their springs and storing it up, which is exactly what’s happening, of course. I’ve never felt a smoother and more positive keyless mechanism. Very satisfying – for me, if not for the watch.

Beige Lume. But not just any beige, but the exact kind of golden lume that you see on photos of rare vintage Panerai watches. It’s not trying to look super old like the newly “aged steel” models from Panerai, but this golden hue lends the PAM914 charm. Goes great with casual clothes, too, and looks mellow and warm rather than overly modern and clean.

PAM914 Panerai

Strap monster. Which the kids say to mean it looks great with lots of different straps.

Sandwich dial. Gotta have it. Anything else just isn’t really Panerai.

Perfect proportions. You can dislike this watch all you want, and you can find it an expression of toxic masculinity, sure, but you can’t deny that this watch is as perfectly proportioned as a Cartier Tank Louis. The two watches may seem to have little in common, but in fact they’re both wonderful studies in the flow of a watch and strap around the wrist, of how carefully proportioned numerals and hands on a dial inside a beautifully finished case of unique shape can become something far greater than the sum of these parts. Find me a Rolex or an Omega that flows as beautifully as the PAM914. You can’t, I promise. I’m convinced you can’t even find me a Royal Oak that flows as elegantly as the PAM914. 

PAM914 Panerai

Why the PAM914 Is Very Italian Afterall

The PAM914 is ultimately Italian because of this incredible flow of the design. This is what we Italians do; we forgo a measure of practicality in favor of the very practical concern of making sure things are beautiful and emotional, because those qualities are – practically speaking – a really big part of the ownership experience.

Italian design is specifically beautiful because of the way forms move seamlessly across components and surfaces to create a very satisfying whole. We can see this flowing quality in how a Ferrari’s various surfaces become a sweeping whole, or how an Italian suit (especially from Florence or Naples) hangs flawlessly over the body, creating a seamless visage, or how this Panerai manages to take a rather bizarre set of case shapes and proportions them into an entirely original but beautifully flowing shape that – magically – fits my wrist better than many of my far sleeker watches.

PAM914 Panerai

And for this reason alone, my effete objections to Panerai were unfounded and entirely misguided. Contrary to my assumptions, the PAM914 has all those amazing effete and sophisticated qualities I’ve always associated with Italian style and design. This totally surprised me.

I’ve struggled to wear any other watch in my collection since I got the PAM914, and I’m way past the honeymoon phase. How lovely to be so pleasantly surprised so many decades into my watch journey.