Panerai review by TimeCaptain – PAM00359
Today, we’ll be reviewing the Panerai Luminor Marina 1950 3 Days Automatic Acciaio PAM00359. That’s a long name for a watch! I’ll explain it as we discuss. I have enjoyed this timepiece for the past year. I have worn it in all sorts of situations and I have worn it on a dozen different straps. I have worn about a dozen different timepieces over the same time, so I think I can really review the PAM00359 (the “359”) thoroughly.
First of all — the name. A Luminor differs from a Luminor Marina in that a Luminor has no seconds hand whereas a Luminor Marina has a small seconds hand. Now, a Luminor (Marina) 1950 has an entirely different case to a Luminor. The “standard” Luminor has a “boxy” case whereas the Luminor 1950 has a sensational cushion-shaped case. This difference is huge. Also, most the of the Luminor 1950 models use more high-end movements such as P.9000 while many Luminor models are still using ETA-based movements until they are phased out by the new calibre P.5000 movement. Finally, the word Acciaio means steel.
So basically, the 359 is a 44mm steel Luminor with the 1950 case and a high-end, in-house calibre P.9000 movement. This is a bold and in-your-face watch, my friends. Mine currently sits on a Panerai assolutamente strap. With Panerai, part of the fun is swapping straps. I’ll expand on this later, but this particular assolutamente strap is a far better complement to the dial colors than the black strap that comes with the 359. With this strap/color combo, the 359 is stunning and will attract lots of attention…even from non-watch guys (muggles).
The 359 may not, however, be the right PAM for you. In many ways, it is NOT a typical Panerai. It differs to most Luminor 1950. It has a polished case, whereas the 312, 321, 351, etc. all have brushed cases. The obvious difference is the 11-numeral dial whereas most PAM have 3 or 4 cardinal numerals with “sticks” marking 5, 10, etc. There are a few Panerai with the 11-numeral dial, but it’s not typical. It does have a sandwhich, so that’s important. But it also has a “dirty dial”, in other words, the color of the luminous lower layer of the sandwhich dial (i.e. the numerals) is a sandy vintage color. On most Panerai, this is a greenish color. Personally, I think the dirty dial is far nicer and allows that nice combo with a tan strap such as the assolutamente. The polished case is nice and high-impact, but the brushed case is more rugged looking and more “Panerai”. And for the sure, the dial with minute markers is FAR more Panerai. So the 359 is a high end Panerai with serious wow factor, but it lacks some of the raw, basic Panerai flavour and this has left me unfulfilled many times. The 359 is the crown jewel of my collection and it is my third Panerai after moving up from “lesser models”. But I often wonder if I would be happier with a plain, basic 112 or a new 560 with a more familiar Panerai look.
Let’s talk about wearing a 359. I have very large wrists at 7 3/8” and even on my wrist, the 359 is massive. The 44mm width is not excessive but the 1950 case sits very high on the wrist. This was a main selling feature for me — the wrist presence is huge. Could you find more wrist presence on another piece? Yes. But you’d spend 3 times as much and the difference would be marginal. The cushion-shaped 1950 case stands out and screams for attention. The original strap is dressy, my current strap looks more military and the OEM rubber strap is high impact. Did you read our interview last summer with David Coulthard prior to the Grand Prix in Montreal? On the way to meet Adam at DC’s TW Steel party, our friend FormulaTime picked me up. When he saw me wearing my 359 on its rubber strap, he burst out laughing and said, “That’s a baller’s watch!” You see? This is what it’s like wearing a Luminor 1950. People notice it and they ask about it. It’s not discreet — it’s fun. Lately, on the Panerai assolutamente strap, lots people have been complimenting me on my piece. The 359 is huge so I often bang it on doorwars, walls, etc. But I like it that way — I like large timepieces.
Now, the other thing about the 359 is the sheer beauty and quality of it. The matt black dial does not shine and it is large and plain. It just looks so nice and high end. The clean, simple dial is beautiful to look at, as is the P.9000 movement which can be seen through the back. I may have liked it better without a date window, but the date is certainly useful. The interior of the case is brushed and I love to look at the matt black dial contrasting against the brushed inner bezel. Simple is beautiful. Bold is beautiful. Panerai is beautiful. I wear my 359 with suits, shorts, jeans… it can be dressed up and dressed down. I should also mention that the 359 has Panerai’s quick-change mechanism for the strap. It takes only a couple of minutes to swap straps, but it’s good to have extra buckles because the buckle can take a while to change.
Let’s talk about the engine. The 359 is powered by Panerai’s P.9000 in-house calibre. Now we’re getting serious. Discovery Channel did an episode of “How it’s Made” that actually shows a 359 being produced. It’s all laser-guided machines and high-tech stuff. It’s awesome! The P.9000 looks the part. It is an automatic movement with a full 3 days of power reserve. Let me explain the importance of this. After wearing it for a few days, I can put down my 359 on Friday night, wear my weekend chrono all weekend, and find my 359 still ticking on Monday morning. That’s cool! And if you want to manually top up the power reserve, it’s easy to manually wind. Now this is easily the most accurate piece I’ve ever worn. For the past year, it has been losing less than 2 seconds per day. That’s a staggering level of accuracy — and it’s been consistent. The most interesting aspect of the P.9000 is that it has no quick-change for the date. Instead, you pull the crown to position 1 and then you adjust the hour hand (back or forward) independently of the minute hand.If you’re 10 days off, it’s quite long to set the date. But it’s cool and it’s useful for changing time zones as you can advance or reverse the hour while holding the minute steady. Now, I am obsessive about synchronizing the second hand and minute hand so that the second hand hits 60 PRECISELY as the minute hand hits its minute marker. This is almost impossible on the 359 as there are no minute markers… almost. Beside the date window, at 15 minutes, there is a tiny marker. When I set up my 359 after a rest, I watch as it nears 15 minutes past the hour and then I try to synchronize the minute hand as the second hits 60. I set it 1 minute fast so that, as it loses 1-2 seconds per day, it slows down to real time. I realize that NONE of you will go to these lengths, but for me, it’s part of the fun. I recommend any model with the P.9000 movement for all the reasons described above. It is… awesome.
In summary, what can we say about the PAM00359? It’s a statement piece. It’s massive. It’s high end. It has cool technical features. It has endless strap options. It’s bold. It’s impressive. It is simple and elegant and gorgeous. The 359 is not for a casual fan, it’s for a guy who is serious about his timepiece. But it might not be right for you. If you have never owned a Panerai before or if you do not own one already, you may prefer a more-typically-Panerai 312. Or even a more basic 111 or 112. These pieces may feel more distinctly Panerai. Or perhaps the subtle variations of the 359 are exactly what you are looking for. Check out Panerai’s catalogue.
As always, the fun is in the search…