Panerai has something that no other brand has this much of. It is one of the rarest commodities in watchmaking, and many watchmakers lose sleep over the lack of it. That commodity is space. You’d expect a Panerai to be big and bulky since it is an essential part of the DNA of the brand. In a particular instance then it does them a lot of good since the more room you have in a movement, the sturdier and more robust you can make it. In a wrist watch you have a limited amount of space to work with, and with the recent trend towards thinner and smaller watches, most brands are being challenged to make something that works reliably.

Panerai however, because of its DNA, is exempt from this trend, and that results in manufacture movements like caliber P.5000.

Panerai 1With a thickness of 4.5mm, the height of the P.5000 is the same as that of the Unitas movements that Panerai used to power their earlier manual wind watches with, and it’s diameter is actually slightly smaller. Yet for Panerai this was enough space to build a movement with a very impressive 8 day power reserve. This is actually still something to get used to. Yes, there are watches that feature even longer power reserve, but in general most manual wind watches still give you about 48 hours, or two days. The first difference you will notice with this movement is that you have to turn the crown considerably longer to fully wind the watch. And just when it gets tedious, you are there. The next 8 days you can enjoy the comfort of it’s continuous running as if it where a quartz watch, with the risk that you get so comfortable that you actually forget to wind it again. For that reason it would have been nice if Panerai, as they did with some of their other movements, could include a power reserve indicator on the back.

Panerai 2This would also make the back of the Luminor a bit more exciting, because there is not that much to look at. Not that that its necessarily a bad thing, because Panerai has good reason to show you this little of the inner workings. The more you show, the less sturdy your movement becomes. This is often not such a problem, but Panerai went obviously for maximum stability, given the fact that they have used a full bridge over the balance wheel to keep it in place, which remains a better and more sturdy solution than the common half bridge. The same can be said about the two mainspring barrels that Panerai used in this model, but that you don’t see, except for the capstone of synthetic ruby that marks their center. With such a long power reserve, these mainspring barrels have a lot of force in them. It is absolutely vital for the correct and precise operation of the movement that this force is controlled, since only the smallest misalignment can cause the movement to jam. Covering them as fully as possible will contribute to their stable operation. With that all said, it is not so that Panerai created a boring movement. The style, complete with the brushed decoration and letters filled in with blue, is typical Panerai and only Panerai. It doesn’t look like anything else on the market, and that has especially these days has a certain charm to it.

Panerai 5The two Luminor Base models here only differ 1 number in their official designation, the white dial one known as PAM00561 and the brown dial one is PAM00562, yet they are almost as different from each other as yin from yang.  The white dial one first of all has a white dial. Although it is not the first time that Panerai has done this, they are still not as common as black dials, or even blue dials amongst Panerai. The dial is also not a sandwich dial, but has full Arabic numerals indicating the hours and only luminous dots above them to tell you the time at night. Second there is the case material, which is stainless steel, with the majority of it polished to perfection. The result, especially combined with the white dial, is considerably more extroverted than most Panerai.

Panerai 3The PAM00562 is quite the opposite. The matte titanium case is complemented by a brown sandwich dial featuring the typical Panerai lay-out. The brown dial is so dark that one expects it to be black, but light under a specific angle or the presence of a watch with a black dial, will tell the difference. The dial and case make the watch more subdued in character than the PAM00561, but also more powerful because of it.

Panerai 7Telling time with only two hands is in the world of sports watches still a rarity. Most watches in this category have at least a seconds hand to accompany them, yet this Panerai Luminor Base only shows the bare minimum, which one could say is consistent with its basic, manual wind movement. What sets this watch apart from the rest, is that Panerai did not do it to cut corners, on the contrary, they wanted to show how well they could master the essentials. That is why the movement has a 8 day power reserve and still can handle the active, if not rough, lifestyle most Panerai’s have to deal with. That is also why its design may look very basic, as is usually the case with great classics, you’ll have to remember that making it look basic is often far more difficult than making it look complicated.

Martin Green
Eclectic taste in Haute Horlogerie, passion for diamond set watches, loves the classics

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