Over the last couple of decades, Panerai has grown so far beyond the very first offerings that it had when it was first acquired by the Richemont Group, as to defy description; the company has made everything from some of the most underappreciated tourbillons in the business, to perpetual calendars, astronomical clocks, and pretty much everything else you can think of. Panerai watches have become not only the functional instrument and dive watches that originally made the brand’s reputation among enthusiasts, but exercises in pure design as well and there are now so many different variations on the original theme that it’s possible to find anything you might want in the catalogue – from serious functional dive watches to high complications and everything in between.
And yet, fundamentally, there are and have been, and probably only ever will be, two Panerai watches: Radiomir, with its wire lugs and echo of the very early days of professional and military dive watches (lest we forget, watches like the Submariner and Blancpain 50 Fathoms are follow-ons to the saboteur’s and combat diver’s watches of World War II) and of course, Luminor, with its distinctive and irresistible lever crown locking system. Both have such strong identities that over the years the variations on these themes have proven inexhaustible, but the basic designs and attributes of the original models still have a powerful appeal.
Panerai has just announced that it has created a limited edition – the Luminor Submersible Automatic Acciaio PAM00731 – which will be offered, in an interesting twist, not at authorized dealers or Panerai boutiques, but exclusively through Panerai’s online e-boutique. Much of Panerai’s core collection is available to purchase online as well, but this is the first time they’ve offered an e-boutique-only limited edition.
PAM00731 is a classic, tool-watch Luminor. It’s housed in a 44mm stainless steel case and is water resistant to 300 meters. There’s a unidirectional bezel for timing total dive time and/or decompression stops, and the movement is the Panerai OP XXX caliber – a pocket watch sized movement at 13 1/4 lignes, running in 25 jewels at 28,800 vph. Power reserve is 50 hours and it’s also a COSC certified chronometer.
The two most distinctive features of the PAM00731 are the distinctive locking lever for the crown – which, if you’ve never had a chance to play with one, is one of the most fun ways to secure a crown that’s ever come down the pike – and the dial. The latter is a very deep blue which depending on how the light hits it can seem anything from a sky-at-dawn azure, to almost black.
Price at launch is $7200, and production’s limited to 100 pieces. You can find it (as well as all of Panerai’s other online offerings) at the US Panerai e-boutique, at Panerai.com.