Buying Your Second Panerai OR TimeCaptain’s Top Ten Panerai
As a follow up to Buying Your First Panerai, I have decided to highlight ten sensational Panerai timepieces that should be considered as the next PAM in your (growing) collection. I will exclude vintage and discontinued Panerai models to focus on pieces that you can acquire today through an authorized dealer (AD). I have also excluded special edition models. For sure, there are some incredible older models that you might like to own, but we’ll stick to current models today. We’ll take a look at some typically PANERAI pieces as well as some PAM models that offer something really different. Are you ready? Let’s begin!
PAM00351 Luminor Marina 1950 3 Days Automatic Titanio 44mm
It is quite likely (if you read my initial blog!) that your first Panerai was a nice, basic 111 or 112. So, perhaps it is time to look for a Luminor 1950, which has a larger, cushion-shaped case giving immense presence on the wrist. The 351 uses a much more sophisticated in-house Caliber P.9000 movement, which offers a full 3 days of power reserve. There is no quick-change system for the date — the hour can be advanced, or reversed, independently of the minute and the date changes accordingly. This is so very cool and useful for time zone changes etc. The 351 is quite unusual because it has a tobacco coloured dial and, get this, a TITANIUM case! Ba-boom! Of all of the timepieces I have ever strapped to my wrist, the 351 must rank in the top 5. If you show up to a cocktail wearing a nice, light blue suit, and a 351… YOU DA MAN! What the 351 does for collection is to present Panerai as not only a cool a historic novelty, but also as a real serious example of high end watchmaking. It has a stunning case design, a fairly typical Luminor Marina dial, high end materials and unusual colours.
PAM00112 Luminor Base Acciaio 44mm
To me, this is the most iconic Panerai and definitely the one to have. The ‘base’ dial has two hands, 4 cardinal numerals and no seconds hand. This gives a gorgeous, simple, clean and typically Panerai look. The 112 also has a sandwich dial, which is such an important feature for a PAM. A sandwich dial has two layers — the bottom layer is the luminous stuff and the top layer has the numerals cut out, exposing the lume underneath. The 112 has an exhibition caseback, exposing Panerai’s manually wound OP X Caliber movement. Now, this movement is based on the workhorse ETA Unitas movement and is not, technically, in-house. What watch snobs won’t get, is spending thousands of dollars on a Unitas movement when you can buy one in a $600 watch. My response? First of all, THIS version of the Unitas is HIGHLY modified by Panerai and made to the absolute highest levels of quality. It is simple, solid, reliable, easy to service and quite accurate. It is also somewhat true to Panerai history. The very earliest Panerai watches used Rolex pocket watch movements. So the idea of taking a big pocket watch movement (such as the Unitas) and sticking it inside a Panerai case is quite authentic and gives the 112 a traditional Panerai feel. The bad news is that Panerai are phasing out these movements in favour of new in-house movements such as P.5000. More on that later. But soon, you won’t be able to find a new 112.
Now, we cannot really mention the 112 without mentioning the 111, which is basically the same watch except that it has a Luminor Marina dial. The difference is that a Luminor Marina has a small seconds hand. I much prefer the base dial, but in real life, the seconds hand is extremely useful. I use it to track the accuracy of the watch and also to time steaks on the Barbecue.
If your first Panerai was not a 112 or a 111, then one of these two pieces must be at the top of your list for PAM number 2. The biggest mistake I ever made as a collector was NOT buying a 112 when I had one in my hands at my local AD. I have regretted it ever since.
PAM00560 Luminor BASE 8 Days Acciaio 44mm
So the 560 is really the eventual replacement for the 112. It has a 44mm case, which I believe has been refined a bit. It has a base dial, a sandwich dials and an exhibition caseback showing off the P.5000 movement. The manually wound P.5000 offers and incredible 8 days of power reserve. I want one! You see, the 560 offers all of the typical Panerai character while upping its watchmaking credibility with an in-house movement that you only need to wind once per week. That would be great for me because I wear a different piece every day. You could wind a 560 on Monday and wear it, not wear it until Thursday, wear something else on Friday, and the 560 is still ticking on Saturday and good for the whole weekend. Awesome! And the best part is that gorgeous, simple, clean, obviously PANERAI look. Yes!!! And if you want a Marina dial, you have the 510. There is a even a 562, which is a base dial with… titanium case!!!
PAM00524 Luminor 1950 3 Days Chrono Flyback Automatic Acciaio 44mm
Now this is different. The 424 succeeds in delivering a flyback chronograph complication while still retaining a very typical Panerai flavour. It also has a ‘dirty dial’ where the lume is a sandy-brown, faux patina colour. I just love the dirty dial and you can combine it with all sorts of straps if the stitching matches the lume. Then you get superb colour combos. Being a 44mm Luminor 1950, the 524 has wrist presence galore. If your first PAM was a base model, then this 524 could be a great potential addition.
PAM00533 Luminor 1950 10 Days GMT Acciaio 44mm
While we are on the topic of dirty dials and complications, we MUST consider the 533. Wow! Once again, you get a 44mm Luminor 1950 case with a dirty dial. But check out the complications. The 533 uses Caliber P.2003, which is an automatic piece using 296 components. It has a linear power reserve indicator to measure its 10 days of power reserve. It has a GMT function, an AM/PM indicator and… a seconds reset function! This is just killer — it is so useful for setting and synchronizing time. The 533 shows the date also. I love how the P.2003 packs so much into its movement. The 533 is for the Paneristi who really wants a ton of mechanical engineering going on on his wrist. And if you would love all these features in a stealthy blacked out piece, Panerai offers PAM00335 in ceramic. Boom!
PAM00422 Luminor Marina 1950 3 Days Acciaio 47mm
I recently reviewed the 422 and declared it to be the ultimate timepiece on Earth. I have not changed my opinion! In 47mm, the 422 just demands attention. Its very sophisticated and refined case means that it wears well- even with dress shirts. But it really is a show-stopper. Manually wound is the way to go for me, and the 422 does this with 3 days of power reserve. The coolest feature? A power reserve indicator… on the back! Yes! Genius! The 422 offers my favourite complication of all while cleverly placing it on the back so as not to ruin the clean dial. To me, the 422 is the MOST Panerai of all Panerai. It combines all of the key traditional Panerai features with size and real high end watchmaking. This really is the ultimate.
PAM00183 Radiomir Black Seal Acciaio 45mm
Let’s get back to basics for a minute. Here, we are looking at OP XI Caliber, which is another version of that no-frills manually wound movement. It is basic and robust. The 183 has a simple Marina dial with a sandwich dial, of course. The Radiomir are always a bit more elegant and ‘vintage’ than the Luminor. If you already have a Luminor, then why not consider a Radiomir? After all, the Radiomir-type case was the very first case that Panerai used. I love the 45mm Radiomir models, but the worst part is that it is much more difficult to change their straps. With a Luminor 1950, there is a quick-change system which allows you to swatch straps in (literally) less than 1 minute. You can change the strap on a 183 yourself, but it’s much more tedious. Nevertheless, I looked at a 183 at my local AD recently and it took my breath away- it is really that beautiful.
PAM00610 Radiomir Black Seal 8 Days Acciaio 45mm
As with the Luminor, the entry-level Radiomir are moving toward the caliber P.5000 movement and this leads us to the brand new 610. Thankfully, Panerai have brought back the base dial on the 610. Take a look at what I said above about the 560 and you can pretty much copy-paste it here. In fact, the 610 is one of my most coveted models at the moment. I love the elegant, vintage character of the 45mm Radiomir case and now it is available with an 8 days manual movement. The 610 is definitely on my target list.
PAM00572 Radiomir 1940 3 Days Automatic Acciaio 45mm
Now we have to look at some Radiomir 1940 models. These have much more refined cases than the regular Radiomir cases- they have more contemporary lugs and more contemporary crowns. Both are a huge plus, in my book. I am tempted to focus on 47mm models such as the 514, but the 572 stands out for me. It has a 45mm case and ALMOST a base dial. Here, Panerai were very clever in keeping the ‘9’ and placing the small seconds beside the 9. The result is an absolutely gorgeous dial which has the small seconds but no date. It is powered by an in-house Caliber P.4000 which uses an off-center rotor. Among the benefits of this innovation is a thinner movement. The 572 just oozes simple, beautiful elegance and its movement shows off some cool watchmaking ability.
PAM00372 Luminor 1950 47mm
Finally, we have to look at the 372. Just look at it, and then tell me your impressions. It’s simple and basic, right? It’s huge. And it oozes Panerai DNA. Made as a real homage to vintage Panerai timepieces, the 372 doesn’t even use sapphire crystal. It uses Plexiglass! This was done to give an authentic vintage feel. The 372 uses sapphire on its exhibition caseback, however, which shows off the in-house Caliber P.3000 movement. This manually wound movement offers 3 days of power reserve. The 372 is an absolute brute on the wrist and, like the 422, seems to express everything PANERAI. For this reason, the 372 is among my favourite timepieces in the world. I came close to acquiring a 372 once and often regret not doing it. I feel like a 372 would represent a real milestone in my collection as it is such an icon. Whenever I mention the 422 as the ultimate timepiece, I consider the 372 with its (nicer) base dial. The 372 does not have that cool power reserve indicator, though. But what a masterpiece.
So there you have it. I hope this blog has given you some ideas for your next PAM. I am on my third PAM already and I am always looking for the next one. So don’t pretend you can be content with just one PAM. As always, the fun is in the search…