I’ve always loved the PAM 36. To me, it is the single most stunning, impulse-control-eviscerating, modern Richemont-era Panerai ever made. And I remember the first time I ever saw it on someone’s wrist — improbably enough, a rather attractive woman at a dinner party, who later explained to me that she had coopted it from her fiancé’s watch box. The four lines on the dial — “Marina Militare” at 12 o’clock and “Luminor Marina” at six o’clock — are to this day indelibly seared into my consciousness.
It was around 2004, six months before I was about to launch Revolution, and I immediately rushed to the one and only resource for all things Panerai, www.paneristi.com, and after a bit of searching through their reference section, I found the object of my unbridled, carnal, electric lust. It’s a watch that I would discover was rich with history.
In terms of Panerai chronology, it was the second limited-edition watch created by Angelo Bonati, the man who has so ably led Panerai in its transition from a military secret to a luxury brand over the last two decades. The first was the legendary Panerai PAM 21, a platinum Radiomir with a vintage Rolex movement built using a Cortebert ebauche. Famously with the sale of this series of 60 watches, Bonati recouped the entire cost of purchasing Panerai. (You can read my interview with him where he talks about this here.)
The PAM36B was the first titanium Luminor Marina ever made (the diving watch PAM 25 was the first titanium Panerai). It was the first Luminor Marina with a sapphire back, and as such, it was the first watch to display Panerai’s highly decorated Unitas cal. 6497. It came in a massive limited-edition box with an impressive-looking limited-edition document, upon which its sequential number out of 200 watches was handwritten. And perhaps most of all, it was the first modern Panerai with a “four liner” dial and the first Panerai created by Bonati to feature the words “Marina Militare”.
It’s an amazing example of how words in Italian sound so much more colorfully evocative. Specifically the seven alliterative syllables of “Marina Militare”, which bristle with the pioneering machismo of the clandestine Italian Decima Flottiglia MAS, who wore them in underwater sorties against Ally warships, in actuality combine to just mean “Navy” in English.