I have owned dozens of luxury timepieces in the past 8 years of collecting. I only own ten today- the rest have been sold, flipped and traded. Trading watches has become my hobby. With my contacts and our partner forum, the Canadian Watch Collector, I am easily able to change one or more watches for something I desire more. After dozens of trades, I guess it was inevitable that I would regret a few. There is one trade that I regret a little more than all of the others.
About 3 years ago, I acquired a PAM00540. I will describe this special edition Panerai in a moment. Rather than pay cash for the 540, I traded several other watches, including a (very) recently acquired BR126. When I think about it, I actually had an amazing deal for the Panerai. For sure, I was an economic loser on the deal, but I ended up with a 3-month-old boutique edition Panerai in unworn condition. At the time, owning a Panerai Luminor was an obsession and I scored one sweet example.
The PAM00540 is a “special edition” Luminor that was sold exclusively by the Venice Panerai boutique and limited to 100 examples. In reality, Panerai made thousands of these watches and not only 100. You see, every other boutique edition Luminor was essentially the same watch, albeit with a different engraving on the back. The 540 has an engraving of Venice, the 432 has an engraving of Singapore, the 468 has an engraving of Miami and so on. These “special edition” Luminor models have another unique feature in addition to an engraved case back — they have a “pig” dial. This dial has a raised image of frogmen riding a torpedo, which is a nod to the original Panerai watches made for the Italian navy. Rather than the famous Panerai sandwich dial, the boutique edition Luminors have a painted “dirty” dial. This is less desirable than a sandwich dial, but the “dirty” dial has a faux patina which is really gorgeous. The 540 etc. have a classic 44mm polished case, a brushed buckle and a sensational “Assolutamente” strap. I am told that the 540 uses an undecorated ETA Unitas-based movement. While a limited edition numbered boutique edition Luminor sounds really amazing, it is inferior to a comparable 111 when you think about it. It doesn’t have a decorated movement, exhibition case back or sandwich dial. It is, however, utterly beautiful and you won’t see one on any of your friends’ wrists.
Why did I go and trade my gorgeous PAM00540? Well, by the time I traded it, I also had a “superior” PAM00359 in my collection. I convinced myself that I only needed one PAM in my watch box. I was wrong about that! There were also a few features that bothered me about the 540. I did not like the engraved case back. I did not like having a painted dial as opposed to a sandwich dial. I grew tired of the basic movement. And I had started to crave a Rolex. I eventually traded the 540 toward a Rolex Datejust II. How did I enjoy the Rolex? Well, I later traded it for a Radiomir PAM00183! If you know your Panerai, you will see that this was almost like going back to square one. I would have been better off keeping the 540. But I am a serial flipper and I am always looking forward to the next target…
Of all the pieces I have traded or sold, I miss the 540 the most. The main reason is that it was just so damned beautiful. It lacked a few key features for a Panerai, but it certainly looked amazing on the wrist. The dial had this wonderful finish that used to reflect the light in such a beautiful way. The simple, clean, classic Panerai dial was made special by that torpedo. The colour of the numerals was a wonderful combo with the Assolutamente strap, but I also had a bunch of aftermarket straps. My favourite strap was a black textile strap. Here was a Panerai that LOOKED totally Panerai while having some unique aspects to differentiate from your buddy’s “ordinary” PAM. Today, I realise that I had it made. And remember, I had a 359 at the same time! If I could go back in time to any point during my collecting career, THIS would be it. I would go back to having TWO stunning Panerai and about a dozen awesome straps to alternate between. That was awesome!
Do you lack the necessary cash? Perhaps you can sell off some other watches or negotiate some trades for your grail. Just be careful — the watch flipping game is a double-edged sword.
The positive thing about my trading is that I got to enjoy many different luxury timepieces afterwards. Although I miss the 540, I now have a more diverse and elegant collection. But I would still hang on to that 540 if I could do it all again. If you’re going to roll in the watch game, you have to be willing to risk some regret and you have to expect that you will doubt some of your decisions. I have always been aggressive and impulsive with my trades. I see a chance to acquire a grail, or own a brand I’ve never had before, and I just go for it. The 540 is a stinging reminder that I don’t always anticipate my future desires correctly.
Are you itching for a new piece? Do you lack the necessary cash? Perhaps you can sell off some other watches or negotiate some trades for your grail. Just be careful — the watch flipping game is a double-edged sword. As always, the fun is in the search…