Around the world, Panerai has long been an iconic brand with loyalists who believe in the timelessness of the time piece. The Panerai community is fiercely passionate—they love nothing more than discussing the brand and its products, and sharing that with each other whenever possible. In the UAE, many of the biggest watch collectors and watch communities were initially brought together by their love of Panerai.
When the Panerai brand was founded in Florence in 1860, the Panerai watch came into being in the world of the depths of the sea. To be precise, the depths of the Mediterranean, where in March 1936 the commandos of the Italian Navy first tested the prototype created by Panerai in response to the request to the General Staff to develop a special luminous underwater watch. The Royal Navy, as it was then called, evaluated the creations of many established producers, but the only example which satisfied all the rigorous requirements of the military authorities was the one which would become Panerai’s first prototype. It was also, according to many, the first professional underwater model in the history of matchmaking: the Radiomir.
In the years before the Radiomir was created, watches had already been made that were water resistant because they had a double case, that is, they were inserted in hermetically sealed case, or fitted in a case that could resist the pressure of water to a certain depth. But water resistance alone was not enough for the Italian military authorities, who required a watch which met several other requirements that were fundamental for the commandos who would operate underwater for long periods, frequently in critical conditions.
When the Florentine watchmaker Panerai created the Radiomir, the company had already been a trusted supplier of the Navy for some time. In 1938, two years after the success of the prototype, it put into production the first ten examples for the men of the naval assault forces which were part of the Italian Navy’s Submarine Command. On their wrists, over of the waterproof suit of rubberised fabric, the commandos wore both a watch, the indispensible instrument for synchronising all wartime operations, and other precision instruments developed by Panerai, such as the depth gauge and the compass.
Equipped with only the most vital equipment, the divers of the Submarine Command carried out their operations riding slow-speed torpedoes—special underwater vessels which carried tow operators seated astride the vessel. On these human torpedoes, the commandos explored the depths of ports in the Mediterranean under extremely difficult conditions, in the darkness of the night in waters which were frozen and muddy. They descended 40 metres below the surface of the sea and remained immersed for hours, depending on their instruments, which consequently had to be guaranteed to provide the maximum resistance, reliability, accuracy and legibility.
These are Panerai’s origins, sure, but this is not the use of the watch for most people today. In fact, in our discussions with watch experts the world over, it is clear that watch tastes are changing. Though Panerai’s large faces have always been well received in the UAE, where size has often been the style, watch collectors the world over are getting more conservatives in their tastes, preferring less ostentatious watches that match better for an evening suit.
Enter the Panerai Luminor Due 3 Days Titanio 42mm. Though it is, in every way, a classic Panerai, we were struck at first how well the Panerai style translates to this size. While previous Panerai we have had make their presence on your wrist known, and give one the feeling of removing leg weights once you’ve taken it off at the end of the evening, the Luminor Due is much more subtle, but just as pleasing.
That comfort factor makes this a much easier watch to recommend to the discerning collector in 2018, especially a collector who is more likely to keep their most prized Patek Philippe in a temperature-controlled safe than wear it out except on the most special of occasions. Much like the early Panerai watches were made for doing, this one is made for wearing, and it wears beautifully. Though it may not be the watch recommended for deep-sea divers, there are plenty of other Panerai that fit the bill for that task. This one is made to complement your best suit, or enliven and refine your jeans and t-shirt look.
As far as what’s going on inside: The P.1000 is a new in-house hand-wound calibre with a power reserve of three days. The movement has the fundamental functions—hours, minutes and the seconds counter at 9 o’clock—and it is 12 lignes (26.8 mm) in diameter with an overall thickness of 3.85 mm. Consisting of 152 components and with 21 jewels, the P.1000 calibre is solid, strong and reliable, and it is immediately recognisable as a Panerai calibre from both the technical and aesthetic points of view.
Watch tastes are changing, and Panerai is changing with them.