Friday, July 31, 2009

PAM21 - The grail of grails

I was honored by a request to come to New York to shoot Panerai photos for a Paneristi calendar project this month. I shot several of the most interesting vintage and modern Panerai watches. It is out of the question to show any of the photos before the calendar is officially made public, but I can post a photo of one of the watches that will be featured in the calendar - the Panerai PAM21.

This watch is considered to be the grail of all Panerai grails by collectors and enthusiasts. I'm sure that its current value - more than 200,000 US Dollars - has something to do with its grail status and desirability. And of course the watch is most truthful to the historic roots of the vintage Panerai ref. 3646. But I do feel that this is in fact one of the most beautiful Panerai watches ever produced. It's simply breath taking in person.

Panerai PAM 21 Radiomir
Panerai PAM21 Special Edition Radiomir 1997

The PAM21 is the first special edition Vendome Panerai watch that was produced in 1997. The watch is a 47mm Radiomir with a platinum case and a hand-wound period Rolex movement. Only 60 units were produced. The dial is a beautiful shade of (tobacco) brown, quite unlike the brown of its little brother the PAM232 - a 2006 SE watch remake of the PAM21.

Panerai PAM 21 case back
Case back of the PAM21 showing its period Rolex movement

The 21 originally came with an alligator strap that was sewn to the case. That means that you cannot change straps without cutting the original strap. Some watches were however supplied without the strap, because of import/customs problems with regards to exotic leathers at the time.

Related posts

An overview of Panerai watches on this blog

Photo © 2009 M.Wilmsen

Friday, July 24, 2009

PAM292 Ceramic Panerai Radiomir Black Seal

The black Panerai Radiomir was first introduced in 2007 and it is now slowly making its way to the lucky few on the waiting lists. As opposed to other earlier black Panerai watches - like the Pre V 202/A and 203/A, the PAM 4,9,26 and 195 - this Radiomir is not a PVD coated watch. Its case is ceramic. There is currently only one other ceramic Panerai watch, which is the PAM317 about which I posted before (Ceramic Luminor Chrono Monopulsante).

PAM292 Radiomir Black Seal

PVD watches are made with stainless steel cases to which a black coating (PVD) is applied. I read in an interview that Panerai themselves feel that especially the early PVD cases turned out to be too fragile. The cases scratch easily and once that happens, there's not much you can do about it. Ceramic however, is about five times harder than stainless steel and as a result much less prone to scratches. The new Ceramic watches are Panerai's solution for a much more reliable product. But the production process of ceramic watches is much more complicated and time consuming - mainly because the material is so hard. The cases are not molded, but made by machining. This is most likely why it has taken quite long for the first watches to be delivered to their owners. But, it's worth the wait.

PAM292 Radiomir Black Seal
The submarine aka "pig" on the dial

There is another interesting detail about this Black Seal. Although the watch is not a Special Edition, the 2008 run does no longer have the little submarine - often referred to as the "pig" - on the dial. This seems to make the 2007 (J) series an instant collectible. The J-series is limited to 1,000 pieces and another 1,500 pieces will be made for the K-series (2008). Sadly I've seen several 292's being offered for prices that are a few thousand above the list price already.

PAM292 Ceramic Radiomir Black Seal

The 292 is part of the Panerai historic line. It has the hand wound OP X movement with a 55 hour power reserve. The case is 45mm and it is water resistant up to 100 meters.

PAM292 Ceramic Radiomir Black Seal

PAM292 Ceramic Radiomir Black Seal

I had the opportunity to take these photos of this beautiful watch some time ago, but didn't post any until now because I wasn't that happy with the results. This was the first all black watch I ever photographed and I did not have a clue about how to properly light the watch. The 292 is just too nice to not post any photos and some information about it.

Related posts

Ceramic Luminor Chrono Monopulsante

Photos © 2009 M.Wilmsen

Saturday, July 4, 2009

On request: 19 strap combos for a Panerai 243

After an earlier post about twenty different strap combos for a Panerai 233, I was asked to make a similar post about straps for a Panerai 243. I should have been able to take at least twice as many photos of different strap combos for the 243 as I have owned many more straps than shown in this post. But quite a few straps have gone to different homes by now. Browsing through my archive I did manage to find nineteen photos that I made over time of different combos for this watch.

Panerai PAM243 with a green shark strap by strap-works
Green shark strap by strap-works

The PAM243 is not really a watch that you can easily dress up. Many different styles of straps look good on this watch, but it will always have that rugged look and feel. The watch originally comes with the new style Panerai rubber strap with a brushed steel buckle - shown on the right in the photo below. The other straps in the photo are the earlier version OEM rubber straps (with a folding clasp aka deployant). The new style rubber no longer has the words officine on one end and Panerai on the other. There's an embossed logo on both ends instead.

Panerai OEM rubber straps deployant and buckle
Panerai OEM rubber straps - the 243 strap on the right

In my opinion the 243 is at its best in combination with an ammo type strap. Although I have worn it on a crocodile strap quite regularly too. Below are eighteen photos of different combos, number nineteen is showing at the top of the page. You can click the photos for a larger version.

Panerai PAM243
Kevin/BigB ammo
Panerai PAM243
Strap-works
Panerai PAM243
The Watchboys shark
Panerai PAM243
Justin Chen lizard
Panerai PAM243
Justin Chen ammo
Panerai PAM243
Kaktus Drifter Original
Panerai PAM243
Ted Su French ammo I
Panerai PAM243
Micah/Vintager straps z-matten
Panerai PAM243
Ted Su French ammo II
Panerai PAM243
Simona dark blue croc
Panerai PAM243
Ted Su Swiss ammo
Panerai PAM243
ABP special tannings blue croc
Panerai PAM243
Julien Landa strap
Panerai PAM243
OEM light blue croc
Panerai PAM243
Kaktus Drifter Havanna
Panerai PAM243
Simona honey brown croc
Panerai PAM243
Simona black calf/copper stitches
Panerai PAM243
OEM funnel strap (of the 233)

Strap makers

These are the contact details of the strap makers referred to in this post:
Julien Landa
Micah/Vintagers straps
Simona straps
The Watch Boys
Strap-works
Ted Su
Kaktus Straps
Kevin/BigB on watches24seven
ABP Paris

Justin Chen doesn't have a website but occasionally offers his straps on the AC on paneristi.com.

Related posts

Twenty strap combos for a Panerai 233
An overview of more posts about straps

All photos © 2009 M.Wilmsen

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Two base Panerai watches - 11 years difference

Besides the real vintage, Pre-Vendome and Pre-A-series Panerai watches, the early A series Panerai watches are sought after too. The first three are by now financially out of reach for most of us enthusiasts. If you can find one at all. Prices have gone through the roof over the last few years. But as said, the A series (1998) Panerai watches are special and sought after too - and still to be found for reasonable prices. One of the reasons that these early models are sought after is that the indexes and hands are made with Tritium, a substance that has now been replaced with Luminova. An example of such an early watch with Tritium is the base model Panerai PAM 2A.

Panerai PAM2A and PAM0K base
Panerai PAM2 A next to a PAM0 K on the right

The PAM2 is no longer in production - there are A series and a few B series units only. But one very similar base model that has been in production since 2004 (G series) is the PAM0 aka the Logo. Still in production and very popular. The design similarities are quite obvious as you can see in the above photo. The most important difference is the use of Tritium versus that of Luminova on the new PAM0.

Panerai PAM2 and PAM0 base

The PAM2 is about 11 years older than the Logo on the left. The tritium of the PAM2 has already developed a nice patina (yellowish color) but it is still in excellent shape. With some of these older Panerai watches, the tritium is deteriorating and even coming loose. It's interesting that the shape of the numbers is almost exactly the same on both dials and that the numbers and indexes are more or less equally thin. The paint does appear to be slightly higher on the dial of the 2A than it is on the Logo. And the edges of the paint seem to be slightly more rounded.

Panerai PAM2 and PAM0 base

Another difference between the two watches - besides obviously the logo on the dial of the PAM0 - is that the crown guard of the PAM0 has a brushed finish. Furthermore the lever of the 2A is not in the center of the crown guard - a detail that you can see in the above photo. The lever is however almost exactly in the center of the crown guard of the PAM0. Like the 2A, the Logo still has the old strap changing system with screws, as opposed to the new push button system that is found on other new Panerai watches.

Panerai PAM0 close up of the dial
Close up of the PAM0 dial

Panerai PAM2 and PAM0 base
Luminova (PAM0) versus Tritium (PAM2)

One last note with regards to older Panerai watches with tritium dials: Panerai are no longer having Tritium replacement parts in stock. They will replace your Tritium parts with Luminova parts if you send your watch in for service. That is of course unless you clearly instruct your service center not to touch those parts.

Related posts

PAM00000 Panerai Luminor Base Logo
The Panerai 1950's style Luminor case
PAM2A in this post about composition
PAM24A Submersible (A-series)

All photos © 2009 M.Wilmsen