One of the Panerai watches that was an absolute favorite of mine is the PAM252 Luminor North Pole GMT. This watch is a 2006 special edition watch - dedicated to the North Pole expedition - of which only 500 units were produced.
Panerai Luminor GMT North Pole - SE 2006
The 252 has the looks of Panerai submersible watches, but - although it is water resistant up to 300 meters - technically it's not a submersible. Its rotating bezel is not used to calculate submersion time but it functions as a compass aid instead. The letters N,E,S and W are on the bezel to indicate North, East, South and West. The watch can be used to find the north direction by making the hour hand point straight at the sun. Half the angle between the hour hand and the 12 o'clock index. This direction is south! You can then rotate the bezel to that position to keep track of where you're going. It's a nice function but probably more of a gadget than a useful one.
The engraved case back of the 252
The PAM252 has a solid steel case back with a picture of the polar ice cap engraved and the signatures of Mike Horn and Borge Ousland. The engraving refers to Mike Horn's North Pole Winter Expedition, the objective of which was to travel across the thousand or more kilometers of ice which separate the northernmost part of Russia from the North Pole. This was the North Pole expedition that followed Mike Horn's first solo solo circumnavigation of the Arctic Circle (the Arktos expedition).
Officine Panerai was an exclusive partner of the North Pole Winter Expedition and they have developed this technically advanced watch especially for the expedition. It has a soft iron inner case to protect the OP VIII automatic movement from the influence of the earth’s magnetic field which is very strong in the vicinity of the North Pole. The watch also has a 24 hour GMT function and a date at the 9 o'clock position.
The 252 has a really nice blue dial which was one of the features that made me buy the watch. I don't own it anymore but one of the drawbacks was that it was quite hard to find a good looking strap combination for the watch. The watch comes with a rubber strap and a Velcro strap. Those are nice looking and good quality, but I personally don't like to wear rubber straps at all.
Ted Su French ammo strap
One of the combos that I liked best was the one shown in the above photo. The strap is one of Ted Su's French ammo straps. Another really great strap for this particular watch is a Simona blue crocodile strap as shown in the photo below.
Dark blue Simona crocodile strap
You can find more photos of the PAM252 in the Paneristipix.com photo database.
All photos © 2009 M.Wilmsen