Monday, June 28, 2010

New Lau & Van Leijden Alligator straps

I received this prototype of the new Lau & Van Leijden alligator strap last week and I was asked for my opinions. Call it a review if you like. Kinda cool to be asked for that, although all I have to offer is a strap buyer's opinion - I'm no strap maker or leather expert. Having been asked to post reviews here by various strap makers, I'm also facing a dilemma. What if I don't like a strap that someone sends me... not that that's the case for the strap in this post, but what if it was... Something may not be my personal taste but that obviously doesn't mean that it isn't any good. And I wouldn't want to get in the way of anyone's business either.

There's only one solution, I'm not posting anything here unless I'm either enthusiastic about it or if the strap maker accepts any public critique I may have. To be honest, I just can't write anything positive about stuff I don't like. That just doesn't suit my character.

Now that I have gotten that off my chest, I can only say that I am very enthusiastic about this new alligator strap by Lau & Van Leijden.

Lau & Van Leijden alligator strap
New alligator strap by Lau & Van Leijden

Taste is subjective, quality is a different thing altogether. Besides trying to get a general impression of the quality, one of the first things that I always look at is how a strap fits at the lugs. I just hate it if a strap doesn't properly fit i.e. if it's too loose. I prefer straps that are just a little bit too wide at the lugs, as most straps seem to shrink a bit over time. And sometimes more than a bit, which resulted in quite a few of my straps disappearing to the bottom of my strap box. Never to see the light of day again. This Lau & Van Leijden alligator strap is probably 24.5, perhaps 25mm wide - because it fits nice and tight between the lugs. Perfect!

Lau & Van Leijden alligator strap
First grade special tannings dark brown alligator

Then let's have a closer look at the material and craftsmanship. The strap is made from alligator hide with a semi gloss finish and a special tanning that is exclusive to Lau & Van Leijden. The color is deep brown and the color of the stitches matches the finish (the stitching is only slightly lighter). The hides are so called first grade and bought from a tannery that also supplies Hermes and Salvatore Ferragamo. You can easily tell the difference, because this strap is very supple and you won't see the edges peel off nor will the upper layer show any cracks when you ply the strap. Trust me, that's definitely not true for all alligator straps out there. I remember buying an alligator strap a few years ago that looked like it was made from an old ladies purse when I received it in the mail. And guess what... it was. Yuk. The leather of this strap however, is top class.

Lau & Van Leijden alligator strap
The stitching is perfect, both on the in- and outside

Another sign of quality - at least in my opinion - is the stitching, which again is perfect. If you buy a vintage style looking ammo strap you may think it's cool that it looks like it was stitched by a drunken sailor - but this type of alligator strap has to look classy. So nice and straight stitches all the way please. Good job again. This particular strap comes with a sewn-in polished steel Pre Vendome style buckle. I don't know if the strap can be ordered with e.g. brushed steel buckles. Nothing to complain regarding the buckle either.

Lau & Van Leijden alligator strap on a Panerai PAM000
Mounted on a Panerai PAM000

So is there absolutely nothing to whine about? Yes there is, I have to send it back ;) This strap is certainly very high on my strap wish list as of now!

You can contact Lau & Van Leijden by e-mail for further information: As far as I know, prices will be in the 180-200 Euro range, which is not cheap but certainly reasonable for a high quality hand made alligator strap.

Lau & Van Leijden alligator strap on a Panerai PAM000

Lau & Van Leijden alligator strap on a Panerai PAM000
Click the photos for a larger view

Photos © 2010 M.Wilmsen

Related posts

Lau & Van Leijden Sienna strap
An overview of strap posts on

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Orient USA Watch Winner

Hey "Barams"... send me an e-mail, you've won a Orient USA automatic watch!

Friday, June 25, 2010

The coolest way to store your straps

Sure, you can store your straps in a shoe box, hell you can just throw 'm in a drawer. But come on, all those nice straps deserve to be taken care of - so how about a cool box to keep things organized. If you're into Panerai then you'll probably have a bunch of ammo straps like I do. And I seriously can't think of a cooler way to organize my straps then this original metal ammo container!

Greg Stevens ammo box for straps
Greg Stevens ammo strap box

The boxes are built from original surplus ammunition containers. They come with a polyethylene foam insert that will hold up to 14 straps and three screw drivers or other strap changing tools.

Greg Stevens ammo box for straps
Click for a larger photo

If you're interested in one of these boxes, you can find them here:

Greg Stevens ammo box for straps

Related posts

An overview of posts about straps

© 2010 Photos M.Wilmsen

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

PAM351 Luminor Marina 1950 3 Days Automatic

The second watch of the new 44mm line up that I could photograph is the PAM351 Luminor Marina 1950 3 Days Automatic. Technically this is the same watch as the PAM359 that I posted previously. In terms of looks it is completely different watch.

Panerai PAM351 Luminor Marina 1950 3 Days Automatic
Panerai PAM351 Luminor Marina 1950 3 Days Automatic

The PAM351 has quite a few of the ingredients that are highly appreciated by the brand's aficionados; a 1950's style 44mm titanium case, a tobacco brown dial and a set of gold hands. Taking these aspects into account and considering the popularity of the technically similar PAM312 and PAM320 (introduced in 2009) - the PAM351 must have what it takes to become a big hit.

Panerai PAM351 with brown dial and gold hands
The brushed titanium case as seen from the side, note the polished edges on the case back

Perhaps you know these forum posts where people ask "What new Panerai model are you hoping for?". I for one have replied at least a few times saying that I'm hoping for a Luminor with a brown dial and gold hands. Albeit that my dream watch would be a hand-wound mechanical stainless steel base... Perhaps in 2011?

Panerai PAM351 with brown dial and gold hands
The 351 has a brown dial and gold hands

The 1950's style case of the PAM351 is brushed titanium, but its bezel is made from polished steel. In my opinion Panerai have managed to combine brushed and polished surfaces into a great looking contemporary wristwatch. When you think about it, it's quite bold to combine titanium, polished steel and gold hands - but it does seem to work quite well.

Panerai PAM351 with brown dial and gold hands
Panerai combined a titanium case with a polished steel bezel

All Luminor Marina 1950 3 Days watches in the contemporary line up share the same in-house P.9000 movement. This movement is 7.9mm thick, has 28 jewels and ticks at 28,800 alternations per hour. It offers a power reserve of 3 days by use of two spring barrels, as opposed to the 3 barrel models that offer an even longer power reserve. E.g. the automatic PAM270 with its power reserve of 10 days.

Panerai PAM351 and PAM359 case backs
The case backs of the PAM351 and the PAM359 (on the right).

The PAM351 has a crystal case back. In the above picture you can see the case backs of both the 351 and the 359 on the right. The PAM359 has a polished steel case but the case back and crown guard are brushed.

Panerai PAM351 and PAM359 cases
A comparison shot of the titanium case of the 351 and the steel case of the 359

The above screen shot shows the polished steel 1950's case of the PAM359 behind the titanium case of the 351. As you can see the difference in materials used make these watches look very differently.

You can see the rest of the pictures that I took of the 351 and 359 on

All photos © 2010 M.Wilmsen - do not use these photos without permission.

Related posts

PAM270 Luminor 1950 10 Days GMT
PAM359 Luminor Marina 1950 3 Days Automatic
PAM312 Luminor Marina 1950 3 Days Automatic
PAM320 Luminor Marina 1950 3 Days GMT
SIHH 2010 Panerai Novelties

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

PAM359 Luminor Marina 3 Days Automatic

One of the watches in the new contemporary line-up is the 44mm Panerai PAM359. It was introduced at the Geneva SIHH in January of this year. The 359 has a few interesting features and a not so common look.

Panerai PAM359 Luminor Marina 3 Days Automatic
PAM359 Luminor Marina 3 Days Automatic

Not many Panerai watches have all the numbers on the dial - except for the 3 in this case because that's where the date window is. My first impression was that the watch was to replace the PAM164 - and that it did not really seem to have much of Panerai's DNA. Vintage Panerai specialist Volker Wiegmann however posted a photo from the Panerai historic archive (on that proved me wrong. I can't repost the photo here, but the dial is definitely inspired on that particular photo. For your information, Volker is co-writer of several must have books about vintage Panerai. His website is also worth checking out.

Panerai PAM359 Luminor Marina 3 Days Automatic
The Luminova is beige

The PAM359 has a black sandwich dial that appears to have a nice brownish hue under certain light. The color of the Luminova is beige as opposed to the green Luminova that we are used to from most Panerai watches. Beige colored Luminova seems to be in vogue now as it's also used for the 2009 Special Edition Egiziano (PAM341), the new composite Radiomir (PAM339) and the new "Lo Scienziato Radiomir Tourbillon" (PAM348 and PAM350).

Polished 1950's style case
The watch has an all polished 1950's style case

An interesting detail is that - to my knowledge - this watch has the first all polished 1950's style case. All other watches with this type of case are brushed, usually in combination with a polished steel bezel. Examples are the 233, 270, 127, 312, 320 and so on. The crown guard with its Reg. TM. engraving however is brushed. As you can see in the above photo, the 359 has a crystal case back. The watch has Panerai's in-house P.9000 automatic movement with a power reserve of three days.

Panerai PAM359 brushed crown guard
The crown guard has a brushed finish

Besides the crown guard, the steel part of the case back also has a brushed finish and the large size steel buckle is brushed too. The watch comes with a very nice black strap with beige stitches. The color of the stitches perfectly matches the color of the Luminova. I don't think that I have seen a nicer OEM strap to date.

Panerai PAM359 brushed buckle
The large size buckle with its brushed finish and Panerai engraved

The PAM359 is not in shops yet, it is expected to be available later this year. When I first posted about this watch I really didn't expect that the watch would get so much positive feedback - although of course not everyone is very enthusiastic about it. Looks like this 359 will be a popular watch amongst both seasoned Paneristi and the regular watch buying public. One of the good things is that it is a regular production watch, so it may not be as difficult to get a hold of one as would be the case if it was released as a special edition.

Panerai PAM359 Luminor 3 Days Automatic
The black strap has beige stitches that match the color of the Luminova

Panerai PAM359 Luminor 3 Days Automatic
Click the photos for a larger version

All photos © 2010 M.Wilmsen - do not use the photos without permission.

Related posts

An overview of the watches at the 2010 SIHH
PAM270 Luminor 1950 10 Days GMT
PAM320 Luminor Marina 1950 3 Days GMT
PAM312 Luminor Marina 1950 3 Days Automatic
The Panerai Radiomir Egiziano

Friday, June 11, 2010

Orient USA automatic watch giveaway

Hey Martin, you have a nice blog, how would you feel about us giving away a free watch to one of your readers? Well that would be nice, so here goes...

Orient USA are giving away a free watch on!

Orient Watch USA CEM5J006U
The Orient USA CEM5J006U

All you have to do is enter a comment in which you describe why you would want to win the above watch and in two weeks from now a winner will be chosen. I will post the name of the lucky winner on my blog on Saturday the 26th of June 2010. The winner can then contact me so that you don't have to leave your e-mail address if you don't want to.

- US residents only this time, I'll try to organize something for all outside the USA another time.
- Winner will be contacted directly by Orient Watch USA about receiving the prize.

The CEM5J006U that you can win is an automatic watch with a stainless steel case and a solid screw back. It is water resistant up to 50 metres. The watch has the Orient Automatic Day/Date movement. Orient have a nice product line. If you're interested in an affordable diver watch, then check out their website There's also an interesting racing watch, the Orient CFT00004B.

Good luck!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

PAM330 Radiomir Tourbillon GMT

The Panerai Radiomir Tourbillon GMT PAM330 is essentially the same wristwatch as the Radiomir PAM316. The differences between these two Radiomirs are that the 330 has a 18ct pink gold case and a brown dial, as opposed to the 316 which has a platinum case and a black dial. Another small but noticeable difference is that the rotating dot at the 9 o'clock position is blue on the platinum 316. On the 330 it is the same color as the indices, which is yellowish green (Luminova).

Panerai PAM330 Radiomir Tourbillon GMT
Panerai PAM330 Radiomir Tourbillon GMT

Besides the 316 and 330 there's also a titanium Radiomir Tourbillon GMT with a brown dial, the PAM315. All three models have the same movement and functions, a hand-wound mechanical Panerai Calibre P.2005, with a 6 day power reserve using three spring barrels. The watches offer an impressive number of complications (seconds, second time zone, power reserve indicator on the back, 24h indicator) of which the tourbillon is obviously the most impressive. Nonetheless, Panerai have chosen to make the tourbillon visible only from the back.

Panerai PAM330 Radiomir Tourbillon GMT caseback
The tourbillon is visible through the crystal case back only

The rotating dot at the 9 o'clock position is the only indication of the presence of the tourbillon on the dial. For a moment I thought that Panerai had chosen to leave this route when they introduced the PAM348 at the 2010 SIHH. Because that Radiomir (Lo Scienziato Radiomir 48mm GMT Tourbillon) does have a tourbillon that is visible on the dial. However, the PAM365 which was introduced at the same time does not. Both the 348 and the 365 are part of this post: SIHH 2010 Panerai novelties.

Panerai PAM330 brown sandwich dial
The 330 has a brown sandwich dial and the OP logo on the crown

In case you don't know what a tourbillon is, such devices - invented by Breguet in the late 18th century - were used to eliminate errors in rate of pocket watches that were generally worn in an upright position. In a contemporary mechanical wristwatch a tourbillon offers the best possible accuracy, yet only very few watch brands offer this expensive and impressive complication. Another thing that is very impressive about this beautiful PAM330 is its price, it lists at a staggering 98,000 Euro.

Panerai PAM330 Radiomir Tourbillon GMT
Click the photos for a larger version

Related posts

PAM316 Radiomir Tourbillon GMT (platinum)
PAM319 Luminor 1950 8 days Rattrapante (pink gold)
SIHH 2010 Panerai novelties

All photos © 2010 M.Wilmsen
Do not use these photos without permission

Friday, June 4, 2010

PAM112 Luminor Base 44mm

Like the PAM210 in my previous post, the Panerai PAM112 is a base watch - it has a hour and a minute hand only. However in a 44mm Luminor type case and with a crown guard. The current version of the PAM112 has the same sandwich dial as the PAM210 Radiomir, albeit that that watch is 45mm.

Panerai PAM112 Luminor Base 44mm
Panerai PAM112 Luminor Base 44mm

The PAM112 has been in production since 2002 (E-series) but the earlier version had a smaller and polished crown guard and a painted Luminova dial. It is probably no coincidence that Panerai stopped production of the PAM2 at the same time the company started producing the 112, as the two models would have been very similar if not the same. Which does make me wonder why the 112 was introduced in the first place. By that time the PAM2 didn't come with a tritium dial either. Tritium was only used for the 2A and early B's. From the 2005 H-series PAM112 onwards however, the watch comes with a sandwich dial and a larger brushed steel crown guard.

Panerai PAM112 Luminor Base 44mm G-series
From the H-series onwards the 112 has a sandwich dial and brushed crown guard

The watch is currently still in production and part of the Panerai Historic line. Other regular production base Luminors in this line are the PAM0 with the OP logo on the dial, the white-dialed PAM114, the titanium PAM176 and the destro PAM219. Besides these models that are still in production, there are of course several special edition and discontinued base Luminors. Those are a bit harder to come by and in a different price range as a result of that. All current production base models have Luminova dials, as Tritium is no longer used by Panerai as a material to make the numbers and hands light up in the dark.

Panerai PAM112 crystal case back
The crystal case back and decorated movement

The movement in the 112 is an ETA based hand wound mechanical movement, the OP X calibre. It has a 56 hour power reserve. There's a swan's neck regulator for a simple and effective way of fine tuning its rate. The case back shows the Cotes de Genève decoration on the beveled bridges.

Panerai PAM112 Luminor Base 44mm
A closer view of the swan's neck regulator

Most Radiomir watches with a case back crystal have a depth rating of 100 metres (10 bar) - the Luminor base watches however, have a depth rating of 300 metres despite the use of a case back crystal. The Panerai PAM112 currently comes with a black calf strap and a large size polished steel buckle with Panerai engraved.

Panerai PAM112 Luminor Base 44mm
Click the photos for a larger version

All photos © 2010 M.Wilmsen - do not use these photos without permission.

Related posts

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PAM210 Radiomir 45mm
PAM0 Luminor base logo

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

PAM210 Radiomir 45mm

One of the more affordable Panerai Radiomir models is the Panerai PAM210. The watch has a base sandwich dial in a cushion shaped case, with a large winding crown at the 3 o'clock position. The crown has Panerai's OP logo. "Base" is a term used to describe watches that have only a hour and a minute hand without any further complications. Its strength lies in its legibility and in its simple design. But sadly, the latter is probably also the main reason why there are so many fake versions of this watch. Goes without saying, but really, don't buy fake watches.

Panerai 210 Radiomir 45mm
Panerai 210 Radiomir 45mm

This model definitely shows Panerai's link to the historic models and military roots, as it does resemble the vintage Radiomirs and the PAM21. The 21 was the first Radiomir watch that Panerai created for the general public. The 210 may very well be the closest you can get to Panerai's DNA in this price range.

Panerai 210 Radiomir 45mm sandwich dial
The 210 has a large sandwich dial

The movement in the 210 (Panerai OPX calibre) is a modified ETA 6497 movement and it is hand-wound mechanical. The large numbers and indices are cut out of the dial to reveal the underlying Luminova coated disc, which makes the watch one of the most legible watches around.

Panerai 210 Radiomir crystal case back
The crystal case back and onion shaped crown with OP logo

The case is stainless steel and measures 45mm. The case back has a crystal as shown in the photo above and below. The exposed parts of the movement have a nice finishing, the bridges are decorated with diagonal patterns and have beveled edges. The screws that are visible through the crystal are blued. You can also see the swan's neck regulator which is an adjustment system used to regulate the rate of a watch. This is done by precisely creating return torque for the index using a spring that is shaped like a swan's neck. Hence its name.

Panerai 210 Radiomir case back
The case back with its crystal aka display back of the 210

As is usually the case with Panerai Radiomir watches with a display back, its depth rating is 100 metres. Panerai also offers a 18 ct. pink gold version of the watch, the PAM 231. Besides the difference in the materials used (gold vs steel) the 231 is identical to the 210.

Panerai 210 Radiomir black calf strap
The watch comes with a black calf strap

The PAM210 was introduced in 2005 (1500 units in the H-series) and it is still in production. The watch comes with a really nice black calf leather strap and a large size steel buckle with Panerai engraved.

Panerai 210 Radiomir
Click the photos for a larger version

All photos © 2010 M.Wilmsen - do not use these photos without permission.

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PAM323 Radiomir 10 Days GMT
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