In the history of Panerai, what’s perhaps engraved in its history are its powerfully luminous displays which made them a military’s watch. After it developed its patented radium paste back in 1916, which ensured great visibility even in the darkest of conditions, it would go on to equip the Royal Italian Navy.
Radium being a radioactive material that’s not great for human exposure, even in limited quantities, was soon done away with in the ’50s, and tritium took its place, before SuperLuminova became the industry standard for luminous dials. But new developments with the material today have enabled the use of Super-LumiNova in everything from watch cases to yarn which brings us to Panerai’s latest range, the Luminor Marina 44mm, bearing the references PAM01117, PAM01118 and PAM01119.
A Tron-Like Luminor
The Luminor case is itself named for Panerai’s tritium-based Luminor material, for which the brand gained a patent in 1949. The cushion form of the watch, a Panerai signature, was given a more rugged presence via the integration of the lugs and doing away with the wire lugs that early Radiomir models bore.
The further addition of a crown protection bridge and flatter bezel distinguished the model from its classic-looking sibling. It first appeared in 1950, which makes the Luminor 70 years old this year. Naturally, this year is a celebration of the Luminor frame for Panerai and its first listing for 2020 is Luminor Marina with a design that’s aimed at pumping up the lumens on the dial and the watch as a whole.
On the watch, new parts have now been treated with the phosphorescent pigment, including the flange, the front and side of the crown protecting bridge, and even the stitching of the Kevlar-composite Sportech strap. In the dark, the watch glows with an unearthly presence and the dial and case is thoroughly illuminated.
The words ‘Luminor Marina’ and ‘Panerai’ have also been rendered in the same pigment, as well as on the small seconds display at nine o’clock. The design gives it a TRON-like appeal, a neo-futuristic design that’s 21st-century Panerai.
In daytime however, the PAM01117 Luminor Marina 44mm reverts to classic Panerai flavour, housed in a DMLS (direct metal laser sintering) titanium case. The technology has been used on numerous Panerai models in the past and essentially 3D-prints the case from titanium powder that’s melted by a powerful optical fiber laser and deposited layer by layer until it forms the case shape. The PAM01117 will retail for EUR 19,000.
The PAM01118 Luminor Marina Carbotech 44mm borrows from a newer technology developed with Panerai, which is Carbotech, which as you may know, consists of thin carbon fibers that are layered alternately and packed extremely tightly, before fusing under high pressure and temperature, and combined with a polymer. It’s illuminated in the same way as the PAM01117. The PAM01118 will be retailing at EUR 16,000.
The third model and the coolest is the PAM01119 Luminor Marina Fibratech 44mm, featuring a brand new material that’s presented by Panerai this year. Fibratech is developed in much the same way as Carbotech, but instead of using carbon fibers, Fibratech uses mineral fibers instead. These mineral fibers are developed from basalt rock (basically, volcanic rock) and a mineral additive.
While mineral fibers are commonly used and found in everything from building insulation to hydroponics, such materials are mostly man-made, instead of natural minerals. Basalt fiber is very similar to fiberglass in its physical properties, but adds fireproof qualities and excellent tensile strength. Panerai’s chosen to showcase the material as part of its 70th anniversary celebrations, highlighting the Luminor case’s rugged origins. The PAM01119 will be retailing in stores for EUR 19,000.
Beyond the new materials and addition of illuminated areas on the case, the LumiNova material that’s used in these models is the X1 grade, which offers longer-lasting fluorescence in the dark and improves legibility by over one-and-a-half times beyond grade A standards. That means it’s able to stay lit up clearly for hours in the dark.
Two straps are provided with each of the watches, and to further celebrate the brand’s 70th anniversary of the Luminor case, these watches come with a mind-blowing 70-year warranty, a testament to the brand’s confidence in their performance. For Panerai traditionalists, the watch’s design may be difficult to take in, but even they will have to admit, this is quite a statement maker.
Self-winding P.9010 calibre; hours and minutes; small seconds; date; 72-hour power reserve
44mm case in micro-sandblasted titanium produced by DMLS (PAM01117); Carbotech with titanium back with DLC coating (PAM01118); Fibratech with micro-sandblasted titanium caseback (PAM01119); luminescent profile treatment on crown protecting bridge and flange; water resistant to 300m
Panerai Sportech strap with luminous stitching with Velcro closure; additional strap in blue rubber with titanium buckle; strap-changing tool provided