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

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