When it comes to microbrand watches, it can seem that every Tom Dick and Harry has tried their hand at a sub $500 Rolex Submariner homage. So, when Panzera, an Australian outfit from Sydney launched the Panzera Aquamarine, not taking the obvious Submariner homage route but instead, opting to provide consumers with a quality alternative to Panerai, my intrigue was peaked.
At first glance it is clear to see that Panzera have taken inspiration from both the Panerai Luminor and Radiomir forms in their Aquamarine line. A substantial 45mm cushion style case with strong 24mm wide lugs protruding outwards, the Aquamarine is a watch for those who love a bit of wrist presence.
Wrist presence that the Aquamarine Atlantic blue fathom has in spades. Marketed as a watch built for the rugged Australian coastline, Panzera promise a great deal for a watch that retails for a staggeringly modest $393aud.
With a price tag under $400, you could expect that your dollar is being spread quite thin across the total package. However, to my surprise the Panzera Aquamarine is quite an interesting value proposition. Constructed out of 316L stainless steel, the 45mm case is undoubtably broad across the wrist. Anyone with a wrist under 18cm should be aware of just how large a 45mm cushion case can sit, especially with Luminor style lugs to add to an already large profile.
Whilst the piece offers a large diameter, it is complimented nicely by a thickness of 13mm, meaning that if you can pull of the width, the watch will slip under a sleeve nicely. In terms of finishing, the case consists of mainly high polished components, this adds a certain bling to the piece but over time is going to show signs of wear. Mixing up the finish with some brushing or satin textures could have really sent the Aquamarine to the next level.
Overall though, throughout my time with the piece I didn’t feel any rough or sharp edges, and the watch was very comfortable despite its larger size.
Powering the Panzera Aquamarine is the Miyota 820A automatic movement. The 820A features both day and date complications, seen through 3 O’clock cut-outs on the dial, as well as a decent but not spectacular 40 hours of power reserve. Overall, the movement Is serviceable for daily use and especially at this price point, I did notice some wobble and instability in the hands once the crown was screwed out. The hands would wobble slightly without much input when the crown is in time setting position, again this is something to be expected with an automatic under $500 and so, in the grand scheme of things, can be forgiven.
The real showstopper with the Aquamarine Atlantic Blue is the dial. When the watch arrived and I first saw the dial I was pleasantly surprised. Panzera have managed to pull off an impressive sunburst pattern across an almost bead blasted textured dial. The watch shifts tones and gradients easily in light, pushing beams of vibrant blue hues across its face as the sunlight moves over the dial.
For what can be considered an inexpensive automatic watch, the dial of the Atlantic Blue belongs on a watch of substantially more cost.
Moving in on the dial under macro, the printing of the 12 and 6 O’clock numerals is clean and sharp. The applied indices are cut evenly and filled generously with luminous material, and a touch of red paint at the tip of the seconds hand references the numeral at 12 and date indicator tastefully.
Panzera have opted for the use of skeletonised hands here, in large part so as not to obscure the pilots style date wheel aperture. Whilst this may have been a decision based in practicality It does feel a little odd to have an almost minimalist handset on a watch that in all other ways, is not shying away from its heft and fullness. The use of sword hands or thicker syringe style hands may have been more in keeping with the overall design of the Aquamarine.
Adding to the list of surprising features for this market segment, Panzera fit the Aquamarine with a flat sapphire crystal complete with two applications of anti-reflective coating. The use of both screw down crown and case back avail the timepiece with 200 metres of water resistance, and on the supplied soft rubber strap, makes the Panzera Aquamarine a real everyday watch, especially for those in a less formal setting for the majority of their day.
Looking at the Panzera Aquamarine 45, it is easy to see where costs have been cut. The use of the Miyota movement leaves a little to be desired. QC issues within the movement can be expected, and the extra cost of a Sellita 600 would have increased the power reserve and possibly tackled the QC issues. A Swiss movement would have bumped the piece up slightly in cost, an increase that would be deserving of what the Aquamarine offers from its dial and case construction. If you have the wrists to support the larger case size, $400 spent with Panzera is $400 well spent.
For more, visit www.Panzera.shop