Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Panerai Radiomir Egiziano

With the 2010 SIHH coming soon, it's time to look back at one of the most special watches that was introduced at last year's SIHH - The PAM341 Radiomir Egiziano. This re-edition of the original Egiziano from the 1950's, is probably more a collector's item than a watch that one would actually wear. At least I don't think that many people can pull off wearing this watch with its whopping 60mm titanium case (75mm lug-to-lug). Besides Sylvester Stallone that is. There actually are photos to be found on the Internet showing Sly wearing the watch and looking good with it too.

PAM341 Panerai Radiomir Egiziano
PAM341 2009 re-edition of the Radiomir Egiziano

The original Egiziano was produced exclusively for the Egyptian navy in the 1950's. Hence the name Big Egiziano or Big Egyptian. Egiziano is Italian for Egyptian and where Big comes from is fairly obvious. The original model reference for the watch was GPF 2/56. The size and thickness of the watch can be explained by the requirements of the Egyptian navy, they wanted a big and indestructible diving watch that could take some serious punishment during daily use. The original watch was equipped with an Angelus 240 SF movement with an 8 day power reserve. The dial had the 8 giorni brevettato logo (8 days patented). This logo can also be found on the special edition PAM203. Panerai built only an estimated 50 units of the Big Egyptian, making the watch very rare and highly collectible.

PAM341 Panerai Radiomir Egiziano
The dial has the 8 giorni brevettato logo

Panerai also produced another watch for the Egyptian navy in the same time period (circa 1954). This watch is known as the Small Egiziano or Small Egyptian and it has a 47mm case, no crown guard. Its reference number is ref. 6154 and it has a Rolex movement. Like the Big Egiziano, this watch was produced in very small numbers. Members of the Egyptian Naval Forces attended the Commando School of the Italian Navy in the naval base of La Spezia. They requested similar watches as their Italian counterparts. This resulted in the ref. 6154.

I think that many Panerai enthusiasts today are hoping that Panerai are going to release a re-edition of this watch during the upcoming SIHH 2010. I know I would be all over it if would look anything like the original small Egyptian (photo below).

Panerai Ref 6154 aka Small Egiziano
The 47mm Small Egiziano or Small Egyptian (strap by Kevin Rogers)

Contemporary Radiomir watches can be easily recognized by the onion shaped crown and cushion shaped case, as opposed to the patented crown guard that the Luminor watches have. This distinction apparently did not exist in the early days, the Egiziano (both the original and the 2009 version) have the typical crown guard and Luminor style case but are named Radiomir. The Small Egiziano also shows Radiomir on the dial, but it does not have the signature Panerai crown guard. Radiomir was then used because of the radium paint that was used to make the indices light up in the dark.

PAM341 Panerai Radiomir Egiziano
The design of the new PAM341 is akin to that of the original 1950's Egiziano

The looks of the new PAM341 are very true to that of its predecessor, with the exception of the gold colored (brass) hands. The hands of the new Egiziano are black. And of course luminova is used as opposed to radium. Which is a good thing because the radium paint used on the old watches is radio active and simply dangerous. Something that was not known back in the days. It's interesting that although luminova was used, the color of the paint is yellowish/beige rather than green. This was obviously done to give the watch a true vintage/patina look. The PAM341 has a production run of 500 units although originally the intention was to produce only 300 units. An additional 200 units were/are produced because the PAM341 was such a big hit.

The 2009 Egiziano has Panerai's in-house P.2002/7 calibre with a power reserve of eight days and it's entirely executed by Officine Panerai. The list price was 28,500 US Dollar at its introduction.

PAM341 Panerai Radiomir Egiziano
Click the photos for a larger version

If you are interested in vintage Panerai watches, I highly recommend the book Vintage Panerai by Paneristi Ralf Ehlers and Volker Wiegermann. You can order a copy on their website www.vintage-panerai.de.

Related posts

The elusive PAM267 Marina Militare
An overview of watch posts on this blog

All photos © 2010 M.Wilmsen
All background art © E.Tay

Do not copy without permission.

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