Very few watch brands have achieved as much as Officine Panerai has, based on just two main collections. The Italian manufacture, with its roots in Italian naval history, has stayed very true to the DNA of the Luminor and Radiomir, each year offering subtle new features that have kept fans happy and hungry for more.
At this year’s SIHH, the manufacturer unveiled its stunning concept Lab-ID Luminor 1950 Carbotech 3 Days (PAM700). The 49mm case for the Lab-ID, which stands for Laboratorio Di Idée, is made from carbotech, a composite material introduced by Panerai at SIHH 2015 with the Luminor Submersible 1950 Carbotech (PAM616).
The outstanding feature of this carbon composite is its dense, uneven blackness, the appearance of which varies from cut to cut, making each dial unique. Carbotech is also lighter and more resistant to external stresses, while being hypo-allergenic and not subject to corrosion.
Taking its play with carbon further, a coating of carbon nanotubes has been used for the first time for the display dial. The optical properties of this special coating absorb light, reducing reflection to a
minimum and giving the sandwich dial a startlingly deep black appearance. The blackness is contrasted by the bright blue indices and markers.
Powering the Lab-ID is the P3001/C semi-skeletonised, hand-wound calibre, featuring components made from a new integrated Tantalus-based ceramic that requires no additional lubricants. The watch comes in a black leather strap with matching blue sewing.
They always say if you don’t evolve, you stay like a rock in the same place and people don’t see you anymore. So you need to evolve. For Panerai, what can we do? It can be the material, the movement, or other improvements. You have to create a difference. Sometimes, the innovation is the main thing,” says Panerai CEO Angelo Bonati.
“In previous years, we have presented ceramic, carbotech, bronze ... We take this from our DNA, from the sea. Last year, we had the titanium case and we put in [the tourbillon]. This year, we have put together different technologies in order to create a concept watch that is full of innovation while keeping the original DNA of the brand. That’s why we realised the Lab-ID.”
Particularly unusual is the fact that despite being a concept watch, which normally means a unique piece not yet in production, the Lab-ID comes in a limited edition of 50 pieces and with a whopping 50-year guarantee.
“[Fifty] is just a number we decided on for marketing purposes. It could well have been 100 years. It just says that we are so sure of the technology we adopted, and the innovation we are creating, that we are confident of guaranteeing it for 50 years,” Bonati says.
“So why is it called a concept watch despite us making 50 pieces? Because we can use these concentrations of technology in various combinations to transform Panerai in the future.”
Innovative material is also the hallmark of Panerai’s new Submersible 1950 BMG-Tech 3 Days Automatic in 47mm. At first glance, the PAM692 may seem rather similar to other Submersibles from the brand – until you take a closer look at the material. The case, bezel, winding crown and associated protection device are made of bulk metallic glass (BMG),
made from a special glass-like alloy in a way which prevents crystallisation.
This disrupted atomic structure offers extreme resistance to wear, high strength and great lightness: useful qualities for an underwater watch. The dive piece is water resistant up to 300 metres and houses the new P9010 in-house movement with a power reserve of 72 hours. The P9010 – a thinner version of the P9000 – also powers the rest of the Submersible 1950 novelties for this year. The thinner calibre has allowed Panerai to introduce the first 42mm case for the Submersible 1950 collection: the classic stainless steel Luminor Submersible 1950 3 Days Automatic Acciaio, and the Luminor Submersible 1950 3 Days Automatic Oro Rosso, which features a black ceramic bezel. Both are water resistant up to 100m.
Bronze makes its third appearance with the Luminor Submersible 1950 3 Days Automatic Bronzo in 47mm and, for the first time, with a blue dial. Rounding up the dive collection are two titanium models, also in 47mm: the Luminor Submersible 1950 3 Days Automatic Titanio and the Luminor Submersible 1950 Amagnetic 3 Days Automatic Titanium. The latter is the latest version of the first anti-magnetic watch produced by Panerai and also features a black ceramic bezel.
Rounding up Panerai’s SIHH 2017 offerings is the Luminor Marina 1950 America’s Cup 3 Days Automatic, which comes in a limited edition of 300 pieces. The novelty is the official watch of the 35th edition of the sailing world series that takes part in May.
The 44mm stainless steel case also houses the P9010 and the black dial features the date at 3 o’clock and the seconds sub-dial at 9 o’clock. The words “America’s Cup” are shown below the Panerai brand at 6 o’clock, with the race logo on the caseback.
Panerai has also designed limited editions for the Oracle Team USA: chrono flybacks in ceramic and titanium, and a classic Luminor 8 days in stainless steel.
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