Panerai take the Luminor from the beach to the boardroom with the 38mm Luminor Due, but does it work?
No brand has contributed to the proliferation of the over sized watch trend of the 2000’s more than Panerai. Known for pushing the upper limits of wearability, Stallone excepted, the Firenze based manufacture has routinely pumped out watches with 47 and even 50mm cases.
In fact, the standard Panerai case size is a meaty 44mm, and that’s not taking into account the brands most recognisable feature, the crown guard. It’s a well established fact that Panerai watches are big and hardy. So, what happens when the brand takes their famous Luminor case and scales down to 38mm? Surely that’s just not Panerai, or is it?
Recently I acquired the 38mm Panerai Luminor Due Pam00926, Panerai’s answer to the industries shift towards smaller case sizes. For reference, I have a 17cm wrist or about 6.7 inches in old money. Panerai has been a brand that like many of my small wristed brethren, I have admired from afar.
The story of a late 19th century jewelery store in Firenze Italy, taking the dive into making their own watches with the help of Hans Wilsdorf, the founder of Rolex, has long captured my imagination. Panerai are a brand with significance in the watchmaking world at large, they developed radium paint which is the basis for all luminous materials used on dials today. Their signature Luminor crown guard was a big step in the road to true water resistance in wristwatches.
When Panerai released the Due line in 2018, the brand welcomed consumers who don’t have forearms fit for the latest instalment of whatever Hollywood action blockbuster is coming this summer. The Pam 00926 measures just 38mm across, not including crown guard, and that means it is wearable for anyone with wrists down to about 15cm.
The watch is an absolute dream on wrist, its light thanks to its titanium case, more on that later. The movement inside is only 4.2mm thick, which keeps the overall case surprisingly slim, allowing the watch to sit low and slide under a cuff with ease.
The Pam00926 features a sun-brushed blue dial, complimented beautifully with gilt hands both for hours and minutes, and for the small seconds positioned at 9’oclock in typical Luminor style. The dials base colour is a fairly flat royal blue, and indoors with little light to bounce around, it sits comfortably in that state. However, introduce a little light to the watch and the dial comes to life. Shifting from dark blue hues, reminiscent of ocean depths, to iridescent cerulean shards skipping out across the face. Then for one last trick, at night the dial seems almost subdued purple, as though its waiting for a kiss from the sun to set it off on its cyan dance.
Night also brings another big trick from the watch, the indices are cut into the dial in typical Panerai sandwich dial fashion, and beneath the blue, lays generous amounts of luminous material. When the lights are out, the Luminor Due shines bright still.
The Pam00926 features a case made of grade 5 titanium, in both brushed and polished finishes. The use of grade 5 not only gives the case its grey tone, it means that the watch is much lighter and much more scratch resistant than its stainless-steel counter parts. The titanium used in the Due is in fact around 5 times harder than regular stainless steel.
Beneath the dial and powering the Pam00926, is Panerai’s in house automatic calibre P.900 which is based on a ValFleurier ebouche. The slim calibre affords the watch with a substantial 3 days power reserve at a smooth 4hz. Although, on the 00926 the movement is not visible as the brand has opted for a closed case back, whilst the P.900 is not an especially highly decorated movement, it would have been nice to have the option of a sapphire case back.
The lack of a sapphire case back is made all the more confounding as the watch features only 30 metres of water resistance, due to the use of a snap on case back. This is by far the biggest draw back of the Due line as a whole. For a brand so heavily steeped in dive watch tradition, so heavily known for watches that get wet, 30 metres of water resistance just doesn’t quite cut it. Surely the addition of a screw on case back could have easily brought the rating up to a swimmable 100 metres.
The second somewhat suspect design decision in the Due line, is the quick release strap system employed. Panerai have done away with the traditional spring bar attachment, or even the more recent quick release spring bars housed within straps. In its place we find a sort of clip on arrangement, whereby a trigger is depressed within the strap and then the strap is tilted and pulled away from a fixed bar. Admittedly this is quite a nifty system, but it does leave you with only OEM strap options if you decide to switch things up later down the track, and that can be very expensive.
It’s a good thing then that the supplied blue alligator leather strap is spectacular. The texture is spot on, the beige stitching is even and well executed, and the leather is soft on your skin and extremely comfortable throughout the day.
The Pam00926 is not your typical Panerai, it certainly looks like a Panerai but it bears few of the brands hallmarks. By all accounts, the Due should feel like the lesser Luminor, but it doesn’t. What the watch feels like is a modern Panerai, a new generation of Luminor for the modern man. A watch not to be strapped to a wetsuit and dragged down to the ocean floor, but a watch to go about your daily business in style. The Pam00926 fits beautifully into everyday life, and yes whilst it can’t go for a swim with you, it can go just about everywhere else. The Pam00926 is as comfortable in shorts and T-shirt as it is in a suit, it’s a different direction for Panerai but its not a bad direction at all, in fact it might just be the right way forward in the end.
Panerai Luminor Due Specification:
Model Reference: PAM00926
Case Diameter: 38mm
Dial: Blue sun-brushed with luminous Arabic numerals and hour markers. Date at 3 o’clock, small seconds at 9 o’clock
Case: Brushed titanium
Bezel: Polished titanium
Movement: P.900 Calibre
Power Reserve: Min. 72 hours
Water Resistance: 3 ATM / 30 meters
Australian Retail Pricing: $10,200.00
Availability: Available now
Local Authorised dealers :
- Brisbane – The Hour Glass
- Melbourne – Kennedy Watches and Jewellery
- Sydney – The Hour Glass, Gregory Jewellers and Watches of Switzerland
- Perth – Watches of Switzerland