I assembled the new Panerai movement the other day. I wish there was a way to rephrase that sentence so I could accurately convey how challenging I found it to be. To be absolutely fair, it was at the end of a long week. You may think that Watches & Wonders is more chilled out than either of the big two watch fairs, but you are absolutely wrong, my friend. Nothing in Hong Kong is chilled out, especially not large-scale exhibitions of haute horlogerie.
The calibre P.1000 is designated to replace the P.999 as the smallest movement in Panerai’s catalogue, and there are a number of qualitative improvements that you may not have noticed at first glance.
The calibre P.999 is a good-looking movement. In fact, it’s probably the most traditionally constructed movement that Panerai has. Fully bridged. Large, screwed balance beating at 21,600vph (3Hz), suspended from a balance cock with a whiplash regulator for adjusting the index. What all this means, is the P.999 was built to simultaneously demand and allow for a high level of manual adjustment.
The calibre P.1000, however, uses a slightly smaller, more streamlined balance supported on both sides by a sturdy balance bridge. It beats at 28,800vph (4Hz), which means it’s more resistant to chronometric error caused by shock. The entire works are covered by a single plate, which adds strength. This means that the P.1000 is a lot tougher than the P.999.
Additionally, whilst the P.999 had 60 hours (2.5 days), the P.1000 has three days of power reserve, no small feat, considering the greater energy requirements from a higher balance frequency (the more frequently you release energy from a source of stored power, the faster it runs out…).
The P.1000 also has a stop-seconds function that simultaneously brakes the balance and resets the small seconds counter to zero when the crown is pulled out. A boon for those who obsess over setting the time with the greatest precision possible.
One other thing that I absolutely love about the P.1000 is that it is entirely coherent with the Panerai aesthetic. The P.999 didn’t really do it for me, because I’d look at the watch and get this tough, tool-watch, no-nonsense, demeanour. And then I’d turn it over and look at the P.999, and it just never seemed all that congruent to me, with the whiplash regulator and finer finishing.
I think Panerai watches work best in terms of concept and design when the watch and movement match as well as they do with the P.1000 and the new Radiomir 1940 42mm. Then again, apparently the most sought-after Panerais are the ones with the Minerva movements…
The beauty and economy of the P.1000 made itself known to me as I was disassembling and reassembling it. The movement may be simple enough, but simple doesn’t always mean easy. Take a close look at it when one of the new Panerai Radiomir 1940 42mm timepieces falls into your hands and you’ll see it very quickly. I certainly did.
[Adapted from a post by Suzanne Wong, available here.]