The maritime brand answers market conditions with two new watches breaching its previous entry level price.
by James Buttery
Panerai has plenty to talk about at the moment with a new CEO, in the shape of former Roger Dubuis boss Jean Marc Pontroue, after 21 years of Angelo Bonati at the helm and, as a result, new watches are coming thick and fast.
The maritime brand is pushing hard on pricing, having broken its own entry-level price point three times in recent months, first with the £4,000 Luminor Base Logo 3 Days PAM630 (a contemporary manually wound Panerai which Chris Hall reviewed here) and now with a simultaneous brace of Radiomirs using the same in-house 21,600vph P.6000 movement used in that Luminor.
Firstly, the Black Seal Logo 3 Days Steel, above, brings that entry point down to £3,700 with its black dial and engraved and lume-filled numerals and small seconds at the nine o’clock position.
I’ve never really understood Panerai’s Black Seal watches. While the term describes the appearance of the wetsuit-clad Italian Navy Frogmen of WW2, apart from the wording on the dial the watches themselves don’t seem to have any noticeable point of difference to set them apart from the rest of the collection. It’s a name awaiting a purpose.
More interesting is Radiomir Logo (PAM753), above, Panerai’s new most accessible watch, priced at £3,400. The design is pure unadulterated Radiomir; there’s not even a second hand to obstruct that lusciously simple dial. Panerai has distilled everything that is good about the Radiomir design and placed it in a watch with an in-house movement that is considerably more affordable than any Panerai of recent years.
While the sheer scale of the 45mm Radiomir steel cases used for these watches won’t suit every wrist, it is exciting to see new watches shave away years of price increases, great news for buyers.
While undoubtedly important for the brand, not all of Panerai’s efforts have been focused on these entry level pieces. There is also the charismatic Luminor California 8 Days DLC (PAM779, £6,900).
Panerai has a solid history of releasing California dials (as an aside, it was spotting the California dial on a friend’s 2006 Limited Edition PAM249 that rekindled my own childhood interest in watches a good few years ago), it has several watches with eight days of power reserve and it has even produced black DLC-coated titanium watches before.
What Panerai has not done before is combine all of those elements into a single 44mm watch and then mount it on a rugged Bund leather strap for good measure. The PAM779 utilises Panerai’s inhouse P.5000 manual 21,600vph movement with twin barrels offering 192 hours (on eight days) of power reserve and sets thermally blued hands against its black California dial.
Yes, the PAM 779 will certainly attract accusations of taking a kitchen sink approach to watch design. It does teeter precariously on the edge of sound judgement, of throwing so many Panerai tropes into the mix that it risks coming off as a homage to Panerai rather than something the brand might create itself but, in the end, the watch is cool enough to dismiss such arguments. It is also unique in the brand’s collection, something which will no doubt prove popular among the Paneristi.