Saturday, November 15, 2014

All-New Panerai Marina Militare

Note: This story is still very much a work in progress, and I plan to continue updating it significantly. When the story is complete, I will remove this notice.

...Exclusive First Look...

All-New Panerai

Radiomir Panerai
1940 Marina Militare
47MM PAM00587

At Jake's Panerai World, we were extremely fortunate to get ahold of the first Panerai PAM 587 to reach the United States, so a special thanks to Panerai for making this happen!!!

We've had the watch since last week, and I have been testing it and studying all the magnificent details. My preliminary opinion is that the PAM 587 is the most historically accurate, best-looking, absolute coolest Panerai ever made by the contemporary Panerai company, and I don't say that lightly...It belongs to both the vintage world and modern world, and as a result is a truly timeless design which remains ahead of its time...

Some Preliminary Observations:

• The tapered 26/22/4 strap took me by surprise. I thought I would not like it, and would want to instantly replace it with a 26/26/4 strap, but that was not the case.

• Brown leather strap with ecru stitching is sooooo good looking, warm and Italianate...Very 1940s English Patient (movie) palate looking...I'm surprised the hot-stamped OP logo kind of looks cool, and is much more low key than it looks in photos...Also the tapered strap is very comfortable and the highest quality OEM Panerai strap I have ever seen. I think one of the reasons it works so well is the strap is 4mm thick, so it is beefy, just like the watch...

• The curved and polished trapezoidal polished steel buckle gives the watch a dressier, more formal/modern industrial design look. Buckle is really beautiful...

Compared to the PAM 372

• The case is NOT the same as a PAM 372. The PAM 587 has taller, wider, curvier, squarer, thicker lugs, which look more balanced and masculine, and also have much longer flat bottoms. The top to bottom (from lug to lug) has the 587 measuring just a tad bit shorter (1/3MM)

• Wears smaller than a PAM 372, and looks much dressier as well. Has a much more fitted, curved look that hugs the wrist better than the 372.

 I am including the photo below that show a Luminor Panerai PAM00372 next to the Radiomir Marina Militare PAM00587. The 372 is considered by many Paneristi to be "THE Panerai", but I think that quotient has just changed with the advent of the PAM 587. The PAM 587 makes the 372 look almost contrived, whereas the 587 looks much more balanced and organic, and more complete in a less-is-more kind of way.

"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication." 
–Leonardo da Vinci

• The pointed pencil hands look super-sharp and clean, which give the watch a great streamlined, clean art-deco, Populuxe look...Arguably Panerai should replace the hands on the PAM 372 with these significantly improved hands. These pencil hands are not dauphine hands, but they have that great 1950s, longer and leaner, elegant, pointed look...Notice how in the comparison shot above that hour hand on the Luminor falls far short of covering the marker at 10 O'clock. 

Now notice on the Radiomir how it actually overlaps it. Also notice with the hour hand that on the Luminor it does not completely cover the 2 O'clock marker, and on the Radiomir it perfectly covers it. A friend of mine who wears a 372 said he was so bummed that his 372 didn't have the much better hands, and I mentioned to him that I think they might be upgradeable. I think Panerai should definitely change this detail on the 372.

• The 587 "Marina Militare" etching has a smaller font size, and looks more refined and elegant.

NSFW: If a man who already owns a PAM 372 buys a PAM 587, you might not want to mention it to your girlfriend or wife. If you say: "Look Honey, I got a new Panerai", and show it to her, there is a pretty high likelihood she will respond with something like, "You paid how much!?!? for the exact same watch!?!" and inevitably you will respond by saying, "No it's quite different!!! It has a 8MM winding crown instead of the big crown guard, and it has pointier sword hands, and..." She will likely cut you off, roll her eyes, and say, "It says 'Marina Militare', instead of 'Luminor Panerai'!?!?! Wow, thats really different!?!! Honey, maybe you are not as smart as I thought you were. You pretty much just bought the exact same watch again!?!?!" [Don't worry, if you are a Paneristi WIS that's kind of the point of the PAM 587, which is that all those subtle nuances are esoteric if not arcane, and that is really one of the great strengths of Vintage Panerai design ;-]

• Super clean, uncluttered BASE dial design is highly complemented by the simple 8MM winding crown. This watch is as simple as it gets, and the large dial makes it so easy to see the time at a glance. If you are not familiar with the term 'Base Panerai' it refers to the design of the watch dial, which is super 'Basic', meaning it only has an hour and minute hand, and lacks any complications, including seconds hands, or even single minute markers. Basically (pun intended) the PAM 587 has a 'Base' cushion case, which in my design mind is highly congruent with the simplicity of the 'Base' dial. 

In other words, the PAM 372 has what Panerai refers to as a "1950s Case", and the PAM 587 has what is referred to as a "1940s Case'. In my opinion the 'Base' dial is much more consistent with the simplicity of the 1940s case.

• This watch exudes warmth, understated sporty elegance, charisma and refinement. 

• Extremely versatile to mix and match with everything from shorts and flip-flops to being worn with a suit.

• Insanely timeless, art-deco, Avant garde design, which has been beautifully updated and modernized by Panerai.

• This is a TRUE Minimalist Masterpiece.

Evolution Of The Rolex/Panerai Cushion Case

• I think the 1940s Radiomir case is much more consistent with the 1930s Radiomir case, and seems like a perfect update of the design to make it inevitably perfect, and take it to its obvious logical design conclusion. 

I put together this next image which shows the actual evolution of the Rolex/Panerai Cushion case. All three of these watches were made by Rolex for Panerai. The first image shows a Radiomir Panerai Reference 3646, which was made in 1940, the second Radiomir Panerai is a Reference 6154, which was made in 1954 and began its life with a black dial that got bleached over the last seven decades by the radium located in the dial and hands. The last image shows a Luminor Panerai Reference 6152/1, which was made in 1946 and notice it has a very rare Marina Militare dial.

Pictured above Rolex Made Panerai References: 3646, 6154, and 6152/1

In other words, the wired lugs on the 1930s case were evolved into the 1940s solid lugs as seen in the photo above.

The photo below compares a 2006 PAM00232 to the 2014 PAM00587, and 2012 PAM00372. 

Pictured above Panerai References: PAM 232, PAM 587, and PAM 372

The photo above also illustrates how Panerai has evolved in technical design details over the past decade. Notice the PAM 232 has greenish colored five-minute markers, (which glow in green lume) as apposed to the same markers on the PAM 587 and 372, which are a warm tan/ecru (and glow in green lume). Also notice the "Radiomir Panerai" dial designation on the PAM 232 is pad printed, whereas on the PAM 587 and PAM 372 it is etched into the Sandwich dial, and then filled with the tan/ecru paint, which offers a much, much warmer and richer refined, thoughtful, complete vintage look.

If I have not seriously already confused you, basically the first watch pictured above has what Panerai today would refer to as a 1930s Case, the second they would refer to as a 1940s case, and the third watch has what they would refer to as a 1950s case. Of course there are some slight inconsistencies with this naming convention, but I think it makes good sense for Panerai to have adopted this nomenclature.

It is worth noting that the half-crescent crown-protecting device, despite being modern Panerai's greatest trademark, is really the odd man out. It is also ironic when you think about it, that in the 1950s Luminor case with the crown protection device, that it was the last experiment Panerai made, and there are proportionately very few examples of that case style in existence compared to the 1930s Radiomir wired lug, and 1940s Radiomir fixed lug style cases. Once again, the profoundly ironic takeaway point of is that today, the modern-made (after 1990) Panerai watches are best know for their trademark half-crescent crown guard, despite the fact the two generations of cases that came before it, comprise the vast majority of actual vintage Panerai watches. This is likely due to the fact that the half-crescent crown guard is unique, bold and outstanding, whereas the "Onion" winding crown and 8MM Brevet winding crown are far more generic and common looking. 

Once again, lets take a closer look at the difference between the two case designs. For all intents and purposes, these watches look identical with the exception of the winding crown area. 

Pictured above Panerai References: PAM 372 with Crown Guard, and PAM 587

On of the great Panerai mysteries, is where did the half-crescent crown guard come from? Who designed it and why? Also, it is important to note that Rolex stopped making Panerai watches in or around 1955, so you have to wonder if this was due to the fact that Panerai filed for a Patent on this new method of waterproofing a watch winding crown? It could have been an attempt to overcome the issue of the crown tubes potentially being able to be striped. Nobody knows today for certain, and an obvious question, is why didn't Panerai fit the watches with automatic movements?

Pictured below it a copy of the original Panerai Tight Seal Device Patent application filed in the United States Patent Office on November 26th, 1956. Figure 1 illustrates how the half-crescent crown guard functions.

The United States Patent Office application 2,954,665 was files by Maria Panerai and Guiseppe Panerai, both of 2 Piazza Galileo Ferraris, Florence, Italy, and it lists them both as the inventors of the Panerai Tight Seal.

The application claims priority back to an application filed in Italy on November 30, 1955. The way U.S. Patent law worked at the time, was that if you filed a patent application in a foreign country, was that you had one year to file your U.S. patent, so we see that the U.S. application was filed 6 days before the 1 year deadline.

At this point, it is worth asking the obvious question of why after putting all this energy into developing the half-crescent, tight-seal device did Panerai stop making watches altogether and apparently abandon this innovation?

It was likely due to market forces exercised by Rolex. The Rolex Panerai watches were the very first diving tool-watches ever made in history, and were highly experimental. 

As a matter of fact, I believe it was the Italian Royal Navy that was gun-ho on the diving watches in the mid 1930s, and it Rolex the better part of two decades to come up with the Rolex Submariner, which was based to a large extent upon the Rolex made Panerai watches.

Rolex never acknowledge this fact, but the historical design record provides overwhelming evidence to support this fact. The significance of this is that after Rolex formally introduced the Submariner at Basel World in 1954, it became THE Diving watch that all the divers wanted, including the divers from the Royal Italian Navy. Why? Because the Submariner had many features the Rolex made Panerai models lacked, including being equipped with automatic Rolex Perpetual moments. Also the Rolex Submariner modes had stainless steel Rolex Oyster bracelets that were completely waterproof, unlike the leather straps on the Panerai watches. The Rolex Submariner's also had a second hand, and most importantly a spinning bezel that could measure secondary time. Not to mention the Submariner models were 40MM, which made them easier to wear as an everyday watch.

So it was the Rolex Submariner that killed off the Panerai tight-seal, which makes it that much more profound that Panerai successfully resurrected the brand in the mid 1990s, and along with Richemont, and under the absolute control of the brilliant Angelo Bonati have grown the brand into a major success today, and once again, up until now, much of that success from a design perspective was based upon the tight-seal design.

Italian Royal Navy Panerai

It is also probably worth noting that out of all the historical images of Royal Italian Navy divers, and German Kampfschwimmers, that NONE of them, to the best of my knowledge were ever photographed with a vintage Panerai with the half-crescent, tight-seal crown guard.

The image below is about as old-school vintage Panerai as it gets! This is a very cool image of two Italian Royal Navy commandos, and the man pictured on the right, is wearing an original vintage Rolex made Panerai. He is standing next to a fellow Italian Royal Navy commando wearing a re-breather suit.

I added this image because we see the man on the right wearing what is clearly a Radiomir 3646 case, which is common. 

Same thing with this German Kampfschwimmer's Panerai, which is clearly a 3646 Radiomir with soldered lugs.

Also the greatest achievement of the Royal Italian Navy, was during World War II, when they secretly snuck in the harbor at Alexandria in Egypt and dropped two British Destroyers, and the commandos were wearing 3646 models. 

In other words, the 6152 models with the crown guards were developed in peace-time as prototypes, and never saw any real combat, and the teams illustrated below never wore these watches.

I think it is worth pointing out that one of the most outstanding details about vintage Panerai watches is that Rolex only made somewhere around 300 watches in total, which is astounding if you think about it. It stands testament to the brilliant artisanship of the Italian Panerai company, and their ability to push the envelop so hard. Think about this for a second. This article is about the new limited-edition Panerai PAM 587, which was produced in what many would consider to be a very small quantity of 1000 pieces for the international market, yet that is 700 more pieces that the vintage Panerai produced from 1935 to 1955!!! More than three times to be exact!!! And that is what makes Panerai so genuinely fascinating, is the fact they created so many different variants over such a long period of time. The other supreme irony is that these watch designs are as avant-garde today as they were back when they were originally designed. This fact continually blows my mind!!!!!

The Future of the 1940s Case

I would also like to add that as I understand it, Panerai intends to introduce more models in the future based upon their "1940s" case design, which I am very excited about, because I think it is such a great looking style. My intense love of the 1940s cases is in no way an indictment of the 1950s Luminor case with the tight-seal crown protecting device. As a matter of fact, wearing the PAM 587 makes me like and appreciate the PAM 372 that much more. As I write this paragraph, I am wearing the 587 on my left wrist, and the 372 on my right wrist, and it is amazing how similar, yet different they look. They really are kind of Yin & Yang, and compliment each other like Peanut Butter compliments Jelly. 

Also, I would like to share another interesting point. The PAM 587 dial has the "Marina Militare" etched into it, which in Italian means "Navy". There are MANY watch brands, which over the last several decades have offered fake "Milspec" / "Military" Special Ops/ Navy-Seal watches, and I tend to think the say thing about them as I think of Omega watches with "007" featured on the watch dial or hands. They are just fako/poser/stupid watches. The vintage inspired Panerai watches are a whole different story. They pay homage to the first real dive watches in history, and their historical provenance is 1000% real!!!

I am also really a purist when it come to Panerai watch design. I only wear 47mm Panerai watches, which have a basis in history. I think the 44mm Panerai watches, look cool, and I like many of them, but would not personally wear one. It's not that I dislike them, I am just madly in love with the 47mm historical models that are largely based on vintage Rolex made Panerai watches.

• The etched OP logo on the 8MM winding crown is beautifully executed, and highly dimensional.

• Super low-key, understated design. This watch is bold and outstanding, but in a quiet, reserved kind of way. Most people, I imagine won't recognize it is a Panerai for two different reasons. First, since it lacks the half-crescent crown guard, and secondly, since it does not say Panerai on the dial. Having the 'Marina Militare' designation is kind of like a reverse, reverse psychology, in the sense it will throw most people off. And that is kind of what the quiet appeal is of this watch. It's like a more gentlemanly Panerai. If the PAM372 is Sylvester Stallone, the PAM587 is Cary Grant. Some watches are about showing others who you are and what you have achieved. This watch is about showing yourself who you are, and not caring what other people think...

The Past Is Prologue
Vintage Rolex Design DNA

• Amazingly good-looking, handsome watch, with very Rolex Oyster Cushion-Case look. Basically this watch is very rich in Rolex DNA, including the 8MM Brevet 'Big Crown'. This might sound unusual, but in my mind all the vintage Panerai watches, since they were made by Rolex are basically Rolex watches. The best vintage inspired Panerai watches, including the PAM587 have so much art-deco Rolex design DNA, that in my mind they are amazing Rolex watches...

It is important to realize that Rolex and Panerai were once as close as brothers, and now in some ways they may seem like distant cousins. The Rolex watch pictured below is a 47MM Rolex Reference 6154, which was made in the early 1950s, and I put it next to the late 2014 PAM00587 to illustrate how similar the case DNA design is, as well as the sharp pencil hands. Obviously back in the 1930s through the 1950s, Panerai made their own trademark 3, 6, 9, 12 Sandwich dials in their Italian workshops.

The Rolex on the left was made just around the time of the Rolex Submariner model in the early 1950s, and shares its 8MM 'Big Crown', which is a great look. The Panerai PAM 587 shares this fantastic look, and I measured the crown diameter–just out of curiosity– which came in at 8.5MM. There is a tremendous amount of subtle design refinement in the Panerai that is not visible to the untrained eye, but this is both the beauty and mastery of Panerai today.

Despite being an immense fan of Panerai, at my core, I am even more of a Rolex fan, and the thing that originally drew me to modern Panerai was the awesome Rolex Design DNA...Hopefully at some time in the future, we will once again see Rolex and Panerai collaborate together, and pick-up where they left off...

Ironically the vintage Rolex-Made Panerai model 6152/1 which the PAM00587 is based upon, was the Panerai model that first got me to fall madly in love with the Panerai brand. 

Having worn a PAM00372 for a year now, was basically a stop gap to my grail watch which is really a Rolex Made Vintage Panerai Reference 6154. The PAM00587 is so close to the Reference 6154 with the only difference being the raised 'high-hat' crystal v. the domed low-profile crystal like you would see on a PAM00127 'Fiddy'. 

The Original Rolex Made Panerai
1952 "Marina Militare" Reference 6152/1

The photo below shows me years ago wearing the original Rolex Made Panerai 6152/1, which had a "Marina Militare" dial designation. This is the exact vintage 1952 Panerai the 2014 PAM00587 is based upon. Just to by crystal-clear, this is a photo from years ago, wearing an original Rolex made vintage Panerai, and not the new one it is based upon.

The photo below give us a close-up shot of the original Rolex made Radiomir Panerai with the "Marina Militare" dial designation. 

The photo below shows the Rolex 8MM Brevet winding crown which clearly has the Rolex logo on it. The main difference between the original, and the all-new PAM00587 is that the 587 has flattened lug ends and a solid steel casebook, which is thicker than on the 587. Personally, I like the improvements made to the 587.

The photo below shows an original Rolex made Radiomir Panerai 3646, next to the Rolex made Radiomir 6152/1. This photo speaks volumes on the design evolution of the cushion case from having soldiered lugs to fixed lugs. 

Just to be clear on the the difference, the Reference 3646 with the soldiered lugs required the leather strap to have to be sewn around and onto the lugs!!! So in order to remove or switch the strap, you would have to cut one strap off, and sew on another. With the advent of fixed lugs, you could simply pop-off the spring pins, and easily swap straps. Talk about going from the Flintstones to the Jetsons!!!

The photo below is James who is an industrial designer who worked for a company I own named BulletTrain. Today James works for Tesla in Northern California. This wrist-shot offers another perspective on what the original 6152/1 that the PAM587 is based upon looks like (complete with 'Marina Militare' dial designation).

In the days and weeks to come, we will be doing an in-depth review of this instant-classic limited-edition Panerai. The photo below of the 587 is on the best I have seen so far. You can learn much more about this beauty from the first preview article I wrote on the PAM 587.

What Could Be Better Than The PAM 587

As previously mentioned, in my personal opinion, the PAM 587 is the best watch made by Panerai since the brand was resurrected in the 1990s. In my opinion, the three four Panerai watch designs from made by the modern Panerai company are the PAM 249 and 448, which are extremely similar. Also the PAM 372, and the PAM 587.

I would score them on a scale from 1-100 as follows:

PAM 249=95%
PAM 448=96%
PAM 372=96%
PAM 587=97%

So the obvious question, is what could hit a perfect score of 100%?

If modern Panerai makes a 6154 based upon Hammer's brown dialed example, it would be Purfect!!!! Hammer's 6154 is pictured below on the right, with the brown Radiomir Panerai Dial.

The 6152/1 the PAM 587 is based upon is pictured below on top. 

Hammer's 6154 is pictured above, and notice is has a much sleeker case profile, which in my mind is perfect!!! Especially the low profile domed crystal design, and the smaller caseback.

Below is a photo of another Rolex made Reference 6154 that was photographed by Martin Wilmsen, and man is this a seriously beautiful watch!!!!!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Shreeve & Company 1940s Theme Panerai Party

...Panerai Special Event...

Shreeve & Company
1940s Theme Panerai Party
BIX Restraunt in San Francisco

Tonight I attended a Panerai Special GTG Event in San Francisco hosted by Shreeve & Company, and they held the event at the famous San Francisco restaurant named BIX, which is nestled in a hidden alley near downtown San Francisco.

In the photo below, I am pictured (on the right) with the President of Panerai, Rafael Alvarez (pictured on left wearing necktie). Of course, I am rockin' my Luminor Panerai PAM 372 as you can see below.

Panerai fans came from all over the Bay Area to attend the elegant San Francisco GTG, including many of the beautiful saleswomen from Shreeve. If you live in the Bay Area you are probably familiar with Shreeve & Company, which is renowned for their superb jewelry and watches they offer.

In the photo below, we see Panerai President Rafael Alverez discussing a Panerai model with a Panerai customer. Rafael is a veritable walking encyclopedia of all thing Panerai, and he is equally passionate about the brand.

The photo below shows the Oysterbar located on the actual bar at BIX Restaurant. BIX is renowned for offering a very warm and romantic setting, which worked perfectly for the 1940s themed evening.

BIX Restaurant is designed like a 1940s Supper-Club, and upstairs you can see the railcar like booth seats.

I have always liked the painting hanging in BIX that shows a beautiful woman kissing a circus clown. I think the name of this panting my be Kissing A Fool...

Of course the star of the show were all of the wonderful Panerai watches, which, as usual were wonderfully showcased.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Kimbal Musk Panerai

...Panerai Coolness...

Kimbal Musk

Kimball Musk is a famous restauranteur and former high-tech maverick, who also happens to be Founder of TESLA Motors, and SpaceX,  Elon Musk's brother. You can see Kimbal Must sporting his Panerai in the video interview below.