Saturday, June 7, 2014

Radiomir Panerai PAM 424 Updated: Date Complication Removed!

...Panerai New Model Introduction...

Radiomir Panerai PAM 424 Updated
Date Complication Removed!

Panerai just announced, as seen below in the photo, they are making a significant change to the current PAM 424 model by removing the date!!!

This is a significant move on many levels and I offer my design insight and opinion on a purely constructive basis. I never liked the the original PAM 424 since I thought having a date on the dial ruined the beautiful balance and symmetry of the Art-Deco California dial. Arguably the true beauty of the "California" dial is that it is already sufficiently complicated looking with its existing visual complexity.

Also, there is a rule in graphic-art design, which makes a lot of sense, that says, on any object, there should NEVER be more than two different typefaces, and by having the Arabic typeface on the date wheel, it adds visual conflict that overcomplicates the dial and makes it look way too busy.

Significance Of The California Dial

The Panerai PAM 424 model is based upon one of the most historically significant and beautiful vintage Rolex made Panerai watches ever made, which had an original Rolex Reference Number of 3646 (pictured below). The Panerai Reference 3646 was made in the late 1930s, and featured an Art-Deco Rolex "California" dial, which is unique in the sense that it lacks any brand designation. This gave the dial and watch a super-clean, streamlined Art-Deco look.

The "California" dial featured an upside-down pyramid shaped twelve-o'clock marker, as well as horizontal rectangular markers (indices) located at 3, 6, and 9; coupled with Roman numerals markers at 1, 2, 10 and 11 on the top half of the dial, and featuring Arabic numeral markers on the bottom half of the dial at 4, 5, 7, and 8.

The original vintage Panerai 3646 (pictured above) also had wire lugs that were soldiered to the case, so if you wanted to change the strap, you would have to cut-off the old one with scissors and sew on the new one in place!?!? Also, as a model, it's pretty much identical to a "California" dial Panerai Reference 3646, with just a different dial–same body, different face.

The Most Iconic & Timeless Vintage Panerai Watches

The Reference 3646 (pictured below) is also considered to be, in my opinion, one of the five most iconic vintage Panerai watches made. The other four models include the 3646 with the now classic "base" 3, 6, 9, 12 dial as seen below.

The Luminor Panerai, Reference 6152/1 (pictured below) which sometimes had the Marina Militare dial, as seen below is also considered to be one of the most classic vintage Panerai watches ever made. This vintage Panerai model from the early 1950s is the basis for the contemporary Panerai PAM 372. It is ironic that the vast majority of vintage Panerai watches lacked the crown guard, but today, it is very popular and iconic.

Also, the Radiomir Panerai Reference 6152 (pictured below) and Reference 6154 models from the early 1950s, which lacked the half-crescent crown guards, are also considered to be two absolute classics. The photo below shows a rare "bleach blonde" 6152. Just to be clear the 6152 (without the half-crescent crown guard) and the 6154, look very similar from the front, but the 6154 has a skinner, more shapely and streamlined body.

Today, the only Panerai made that REALLY looks like the original vintage model is the PAM 372, which is pictured below on the right side. The watch pictured on the left side is an original Luminor Panerai PAM 6152, which was made in the early 1950s. Since they are so similar looking, many contemporary Panerai enthusiasts refer to the PAM 372 Luminor Panerai as "The Panerai." This is the case, (no pun intended ;-) since the contemporary PAM 372 has more authentic and accurate Panerai DNA than any other model made today.

So what does all of this have to do with anything? I would argue that the Reference 6152 Luminor Panerai model (pictured above), and the Reference 3646 Radiomir Panerai with the California dial (pictured below) are so timeless and iconic, they are really kind of like what the Rolex Submariner and GMT are to each other for Rolex–both absolute iconic classics.

In 2006, Panerai made a special limited edition version of the "California" dial Panerai, and they gave it a PAM 249 model designation. This model was limited to 1936 watches, and this watch was highly praised by enthusiasts as being a the first REALLY authentic looking 47MM modern/contemporary Panerai made. The PAM 249 is pictured below on the left side.

In 2012, Panerai introduced a new stainless steel "Califronia" dial model, named the PAM 448. This new model looked in many ways like the PAM 249, but if you look closely at all the subtle details, you find they are quite different, but in a quiet way. For instance, the five minute markers on the PAM 249 are pad printed much sharper and crisper than on the PAM 448, but even though the markers on the 448 are printed with much rougher edges, it gives it a more authentic, vintage look. 

In the photo illustration above, the 448 seems to have more of a tan colored lume, with the 249 being whiter. This is an optical illusion, and likely had to do with them being shot in different light. In other words, if you had them both in front of you on a table, they would be more similar in color. Also notice the 249 has a 26/26 straight strap, and the 448 came on a tapered 26/24 strap, with white stitching. In the future, I hope to do an extremely detailed comparison between the 249, 448, and 424 to reveal all of the subtle detail differences, which are pretty profound!

So now let's explore the significant update on the PAM 424. The PAM 249 and PAM 448 are no longer available and sold-out quickly since they were made in such highly limited editions. In 2012, when Panerai launched the PAM 448, which was a limited edition of 750 pieces, they also introduced the PAM 424, which was NOT a limited edition. The PAM 424 looked similar to the PAM 448, and it added a date aperture window complication, as well as a Officine Panerai logo (above the 6 O'clock marker), and it featured gold hands, instead of the beautiful blued hands which matched the blue hands on the original 3646 California dial, which were carried forward and incorporated into the PAM 249 and PAM 448. The new/updated Panerai PAM 424 also has a sapphire crystal as apposed the plexiglass crystal the 249 and 448 have. The updated PAM 424 is pictured below, next to the outgoing/discontinued Panerai PAM 424. They look identical in every way, with the exception the new PAM 424 lacks the date.

By removing the date from the PAM 424, in my opinion, Panerai made a HUGE improvement, which many enthusiasts will love, since it makes it much more balanced, historically accurate and authentic looking.

In my personal opinion, I think Panerai should also offer a version without the logo on the dial, that also has blued hands. Some would argue that it might upset collectors or drive down the resale value of the PAM 249 and PAM 448, but I don't think that is a real issue. In the final analysis, I think the real beauty of the vintage Panerai watches was based upon their absolute and pure tool-watch design simplicity, and as Leonardo da Vinci put it so beautifully: "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication."


  1. "I thought having a date on the dial ruined the beautiful balance and symmetry of the Art-Deco California dial"... Jake, first time I visited your blog and couldn't agree more. Compliments to your eye for detail and balance!

  2. Just bought a new 424 (6/2016) with no date and it says 252/1000 on the case. Is this model really limited to 1000 pieces?

    1. 1000 units of that series/year. The 424 is not a limited edition.