In the spirit of the 2010 Panerai Luminor Submersible in bronze, Panerai is today introducing a new Panerai Luminor Submersible with a case made of carbotech, a composite based on carbon fiber that, unlike the 2010 model, will not be tarnishing anytime soon. Due to the production process of the material, no two Panerai Carbotech Submersibles will be the same. It may be unquestionably modern in its build, but the design and utility are inspired by the original Luminor 1950 developed by Panerai in the ’50s. Those were famously used by commandos of the Italian Navy; this one probably won’t be, but that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be up for the task. This is still a professional grade instrument. The Panerai Submersible 1950 Carbotech features a matte black 47 mm case made of a composite for which it is named. In order to produce the plates of carbotech that form each of the components of the case, thin sheets of carbon fiber are compressed at a controlled temperature under high pressure along with the polymer PEEK (Polyether Ether Ketone), binding the material and ultimately resulting in a stronger and more durable composite. Carbotech is lighter and less corrosive than titanium or ceramic, and has the added benefit of creating a unique surface design for each and every watch.
Panerai has come a long way since its watches were first made available to the public in 1993. While the Italian powerhouse overawed the market with large, steel watches with hand-wound movements, Panerai has turned into a highly innovative Swiss manufacture.
Last year, Panerai was one of the few watch brands we were able to meet in person (during the Geneva Watch Days in August). And the staff of the brand’s Geneva boutique had a lot to show us, as Watches & Wonders (the successor of SIHH) was only done digitally. Now, I love a lot of things digital-only, but discovering new watches is something I would always rather do in the real world.
One of last year’s Panerai novelties is this Panerai Luminor Marina Carbotech in 44mm, reference PAM1661. Panerai sent us a PAM1661 to give it a try, and so I did. The black dial of this high tech Submersible plays backdrop to applied hour markers and the trademark 12 and 6 labeled in Arabic numerals. The lume applied to the hour markers and hands, as well as the copy at 12 and 6 o’clock, are pre-aged in color. A colorful additional appears in the form of a bright blue running seconds hand and second demarcations, and the word “carbotech” at the bottom. The blue is subtle but serves to liven things up a bit when paired with the black dial.
Inside the Submersible 1950 Carbotech is the Panerai built P.9000 caliber, an automatic winding mechanical movement featuring a three-day power reserve thanks to twin mainspring barrels. It’s a robust movement with a staggering 197 components to run the time and date. The trademarked “crown protection” device makes winding and setting as easy as pulling the pin (it’s also done in carbotech). The screwed-in caseback is made of titanium, and features an engraving of “Firenze 1860,” the founding city and date of Panerai, as well as an image of a slow-speed torpedo, which was apparently a means of conveyance for Italian commandos in the ‘40s.