From the earliest of its watches made at the request of the Italian Marina Militare to the attractive brown-toned watches of 2010, the simplicity of the Panerai concept and the power of the original design is striking and thankfully, the brand has restrained variation on design within the limits of those original templates. And, importantly in terms of the inspiration for today’s Panerai, the company has always set new standards in terms of performance as well as design. The parameters set by the Marina Militare meant that these were the first wristwatches designed to survive prolonged submersion at any significant depth.
While the brand’s catalogue does include movements that are quite as complicated as any, the core point of Panerai is to make excellent, robust watches in the best of Florentine traditions, a stance emphasised by 2011’s Calibre 3000 series movement as well as the existing Calibre 9000.
The automatic ‘tractor’ Calibre 9000, designed and made by Panerai at Neuchatel in 2009, is the power behind this year’s new, bronze-cased Luminor Submersible 1950 – a massive 47mm watch, which has become known as the Bronzo (PAM382) since it was unveiled in January at the SIHH fair.
Bronze apart, the watch is almost identical to the titanium PAM305, but the Bronzo falls within Panerai’s manifaturra line, meaning it is more expensive than their watches equipped with third-party movements and the use of bronze adds to the cost, of £6,500. It is, unsurprisingly, a seriously robust watch, being rated to 300m despite the crystal case-back.
The bronze, however, makes all the difference. The age patina that bronze acquires (differing with each piece depending on the time worn and the skin of the wearer) combined with the murky green of the dial make this a really distinctive watch, redolent of all the history Panerai is so keen to underline, both maritime and of Florence, and at the same time plain great design in its own right.
James Gurney edits QP, qpmagazine.com