Saturday, August 29, 2009

Panerai OEM Cashmere strap

One of the nicest OEM straps ever made by Panerai must be the OEM Cashmere strap. This strap originally came with the Panerai 127 (Fiddy). Some straps look great when new, but age horribly. With this strap it's the other way around - the more it's worn, the better it looks. The cashmere strap has an amazing texture and the quality - as is the case with most OEM straps - is unrivaled. It is a bit thicker than most other OEM straps and it's very comfortable to wear.

Looking for a great combo for the 249, the Fiddy cashmere strap immediately came to mind. Both the 249 and the 127 (Fiddy) are 47mm watches that take 26mm wide straps. So the straps can be exchanged. This is definitely one of the nicer 249 combos (photo below, click for a larger version).

Panerai PAM249 California dial - on OEM cashmere strap
Panerai PAM249 aka Cali (California dial)

About the photo

To bring out the texture and "glow" of the strap, I used a dialed down and snooted SB800 and pointed it at the strap from the camera's low right. To bring out the detail in the crystal I aimed a second strobe at a sheet of white cardboard above the watch. The diffused light on the crystal (or plexi actually) is bounced light coming from the cardboard. This helps to prevent hot spots from the strobes. A third strobe was positioned on the camera's left with a very low output to create some depth.

Panerai PAM127 Fiddy - on OEM cashmere strap
Panerai PAM127 aka Fiddy

The photo above shows the original combo, the cashmere strap belongs to the PAM127/Fiddy. The strap is darker now from wearing it regularly.

Related posts

Simona di Stefano vintage green crocodile strap
PAM249 Radiomir 1936
Six different straps for a PAM127

All photos © 2009 M.Wilmsen

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The StrapSmith - straps for Panerai

Besides the OEM Panerai straps, there are plenty of strap makers to choose from if you want to dress up or dress down your Panerai watch. One of the more well known strap makers is Rob Montana - The StrapSmith. Being a Panerai enthusiast himself, Rob knows like no other what to expect from a good strap. And that shows in his work. Rob's straps are hand made and he is an absolute pleasure to deal with. But what counts the most is of course the quality of his product. I can guarantee that there's absolutely nothing wrong when it comes to that.

The StrapSmith / Rob Montana strap for a PAM00000
PAM0 with a strap by Rob Montana - The StrapSmith

My approach to judging the quality of a strap is to look at things that I don't like about other straps. For instance, I don't like it if the loops are too wide so that you have to fiddle with the screws to mount it on the watch. I don't like it when the strap doesn't properly fit between the lugs - especially if a strap isn't wide enough... And a strap must of course be comfortable to wear. In my honest opinion, Rob's straps are perfect in every way. You should absolutely consider getting one!

The StrapSmith / Rob Montana strap for a PAM00000
The strap compliments the Zero really well

This particular strap is a beautiful shade of brown. It came with a single wide keeper and a sewn in polished steel buckle. The keeper is stitched on the inside in the shape of a cross. Granted, you don't see that when you wear it - but details like that can really put a strap above the rest. The color of the stitches both matches the leather and the paint of the dial very well.

The StrapSmith / Rob Montana strap for a PAM00000
The strap comes with a single wide keeper

You can order one of Rob's straps on his website and you can find a few more photos of this combo on

The StrapSmith / Rob Montana strap for a PAM00000
Click the photos for a larger version

Related posts

An overview of posts about straps on this blog.

All photos © 2009 M.Wilmsen

Friday, August 21, 2009

PAM249 Radiomir 1936 "California dial"

The Panerai PAM249 is a Special Edition Radiomir from 2006. I have to admit that when the watch was first introduced, it did not really do it for me. But I guess that this is one of those watches that slowly grows on you - until you finally get it. Well that was the case for me anyway. Learning more about the vintage Panerai watches certainly helped. The PAM249 is a remake of the vintage Panerai model 3646 California dial, which dates back to 1936. The striking "art deco" like California dial shows an unusual combination of Roman and Arabic numerals. The original vintage Panerai had blued steel hands and a plexi as opposed to a crystal.

PAM249 Panerai Radiomir 1936
Panerai Radiomir 1936 "California dial" (click for large version)

According to the book "Vintage Panerai The References" - by Volker Wiegmann and Ralf Ehlers - the Rolex California dial was used in model 3646 watches of type E,F and G. 16 units of type E are documented, 11 units of type F are documented but only 7 of those are fitted with the California dial - and finally there are 7 documented units of type G. If you are interested in vintage Panerai, then the aforementioned book by Volker and Ralf is highly recommended. You can order the book on the website

PAM249 Panerai Radiomir 1936
PAM249 on top of a photo of the vintage 3646

Having had the opportunity to take photos of the beautiful 3646, I was convinced that the PAM249 is "the next best thing" and a must have for Panerai watch collectors. The above photo shows the 249 on top of a print of a photo that I took of the vintage 3646. As you can see the blued steel hands of the vintage watch have deteriorated but look all the more beautiful.

PAM249 Panerai Radiomir 1936
PAM249 caseback

The PAM249 has a crystal caseback, unlike the vintage 3646 which has a solid caseback. The crystal case back allows you to see the nicely finished movement in action. The 249 uses the hand-wound mechanical Panerai OP X calibre. The cushion shaped Radiomir case has a diameter of 47mm and it is made out of high grade stainless steel. 1936 units of this Special Edition watch were produced. The number of units of course references the year (1936) in which the original model 3646 was produced.

PAM249 Panerai Radiomir 1936
Sideview showing the slightly domed plexi

Although Panerai decided to use a crystal case back for the 249, the watch does come with a domed plexi like the original (photo above). A second plexi is supplied in case it gets damaged. Plexi is of course not as scratch resistant as a crystal but Panerai decided to use a plexi to stay close to the design of the original watch. And it does look great.

PAM249 Panerai Radiomir 1936
Panerai Radiomir 1936

The one thing that is a little bit disappointing is the strap that comes with the watch. Fortunately it's simple to change straps on the PAM249. The strap shown in the photos was made by Justin Chen.

Related posts

An overview of posts about Panerai watches on this blog

All photos © 2009 M.Wilmsen

Sunday, August 16, 2009

PAM00316 48mm Radiomir Tourbillon

Panerai certainly made a leap forward with the introduction of their Manifattura line. The range of incredibly well manufactured and generally very reliable in-house movements is very impressive. Especially considering that Panerai have been developing these movements for only a relatively short period of time. Research and development have always been strong points of Officine Panerai - but with the introduction of the P.2005 movement Panerai have undoubtedly put themselves on the map of haute horlogerie.

Panerai PAM316 48mm Radiomir Tourbillon GMT
Panerai 316 Radiomir Tourbillon GMT

The platinum Panerai Radiomir 316 features a tourbillon, a device invented by Breguet in the late 18th century. The purpose of this invention was to eliminate errors in rate of pocket watches that were generally worn in upright position. Although a tourbillon offers the best possible accuracy in a wristwatch, only very few watch brands offer this complication. Simply because it is very complicated and very expensive to manufacture such a function. Panerai have undertaken the challenge and even introduced further improvements in this field. And Panerai wouldn't be Panerai if they didn't decide to not make the tourbillon visible on the dial of the watch. Only a blue dot on the dial at the nine o'clock position - rotating every 30 seconds - indicates the presence of the tourbillon.

Panerai PAM316 tourbillon
The tourbillon can be seen through the crystal of the case back

The PAM316 furthermore offers a GMT function with an am/pm indicator at the three o'clock position. The cushion shaped Radiomir case is a whopping 48mm and it's made from platinum. For some reason the watch doesn't look its size when on the wrist. It's just perfect.

Panerai PAM316 tourbillon
Panerai Radiomir Tourbillon GMT

The crown of the watch is pulled out to the first position to set the time. You pull out the crown to the 2nd position to set the second time zone. The watch has the Panerai 12 hour GMT function so that the second time can be read in a very natural way.

Panerai PAM316 48mm Radiomir Tourbillon GMT
The crown has the OP logo

I probably said this too many times about too many different Panerai watches, but this may very well be one of the most beautiful Panerai watches I've ever seen. Mind you, the list price is currently 95,000 Euro. I assume that this is not within the price range of many watch enthusiasts...

Panerai PAM316 48mm Radiomir Tourbillon GMT

Click here to view all 24 photos I took during this shoot on

Related posts

Overview of all Panerai watches on this blog

All photos © 2009 M.Wilmsen

Monday, August 10, 2009

PAM Zero and another off-camera flash example

So you've read this earlier post about wristwatch photography with off camera flash techniques and you're ready to give it a go. But now that you have all your gear, how do you set up? How do you prevent hot spots on the watch from harsh light, how do you prevent reflections in the case and where do you put your strobes? The truth is that there are a million ways to achieve more or less similar results, but here's an explanation that might help you find what works for you.

Panerai PAM00000
Panerai PAM00000 - click for a larger version

To achieve the results shown in the above photo, I positioned a large piece of foam board (2) above the watch. This already prevents things in the room from being reflected in the case and crystal, but it serves another purpose. As you can see in the setup picture below, the foam board also functions as a reflector. The strobe (1) on the camera's left is pointing upwards to produce an even and soft light that is bounced off of the foam board and onto the watch. Because you don't point your strobe directly onto the watch, you won't get a so called "hot spot" either.

After taking a few first test shots I noticed that the strobe on the left was showing in the left side of the case. To prevent this I placed a small piece of white cardboard against the strobe (1).

Next - to make the watch look more three dimensional - I positioned a second strobe on the right side of the camera and I placed a milk white piece of acrylic/plexi glass between the watch and the second strobe (3) to function as a diffuser. This also prevents reflections on the right side of the case, because the lit up acrylic is reflected in the case and bezel instead.

Finally I changed the angle of the strobe on the left a few times and I put the watch at an angle too - until the light on the nine was a bit brighter than it was on the rest of the crystal. In my opinion this makes the watch look more realistic.

Below are two more photos that I took using this setup. The position, the angle and the output power of the strobes was different for the photos below, but both the technique and the setup were more or less the same.

Panerai PAM00000

Panerai PAM00000

The camera was in manual mode and I used an aperture of F16 and the shutter speed was set to 1/30th for all the photos. Note that even with F16 the depth of field is relatively shallow. This is caused by a) the length of the lens (105mm) and b) the distance between the lens and the subject. You can read more about this here.

Related posts

Wristwatch photography strobist style
Lighting setup for a PAM326 wristwatch
Camera settings and depth-of-field for wristwatch photography

Photos © 2009 M.Wilmsen

Feedback is appreciated!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

New vintage style crocodile straps by Simona di Stefano

Well known strap maker Simona di Stefano (Florence, Italy) has recently introduced her new style vintage croc straps. I can't deny that I'm a long time fan of Simona's straps and her new ones do not disappoint.

Simona vintage croc straps
Simona vintage style crocodile straps

Simona vintage croc straps
Simona's tan crocodile strap

The croc straps can be ordered with "cut edges" or with so called "rolled edges". In case you don't know the difference: the edges of the latter (rolled edges) are folded and thus rounded. This obviously requires more leather but the result is really nice.

Simona vintage croc straps
Panerai PAM243 submersible

The cut edge straps (in this post) are less expensive. Lucky me - because in my opinion the ones with cut edges offer a perfect balance between dressy and casual. It's just a matter of taste of course but the good thing is that you can choose your style. The cut edge versions are a perfect match for my PAM243 (photo above).

Simona vintage croc straps
Simona vintage croc strap

And the new vintage straps do look equally nice on the more dressy PAM233 (below).

Simona vintage croc straps
Panerai PAM233

View all 31 photos of the straps pictured in this post on

You can order Simona's straps on her website:

Related posts

More strap posts
Simona's vintage green croc strap on a PAM127/Fiddy

Photos © 2009 M.Wilmsen