By TLex Last year IWC wowed us with a stunning new AQUATIMER collection, this year it is fellow Richemont Group favorite, Officine Panerai who have taken to the sea with a stunning new Submersible collection lunched a SIHH 2015 in Geneva, today.
Sadly there wasn't the reissue of the 1980s Mille Metri that I had hope for, but Panerai have nevertheless excelled themselves – and for me the standout model has to be the new Luminor Submersible 1950 Carbotech™ 3 Days Automatic AKA PAM00616, which epitomizes the popular marriage between modern and vintage. With its cutting-edge Carbotech case, it calls into question the use of traditional metals such as steel. Surely this is the future (the here and now) of the modern mechanical dive watch!
Each and every new Luminor Submersible 1950 Carbotech™ is unique and different from the others thanks to the technical and aesthetic characteristics of Carbotech, a new composite material which is making its debut in high-end watch-making with Officine Panerai.
One of Panerai’s greatest assets in watch-design is its ability to draw upon a fantastic military diving heritage to combine notes from its past with the latest in watch-making trends and innovations. In 2011, they wowed us with a Luminor Submersible that for the first time had a case made of BRONZO, an ancient material with unmistakable nautical connection, personalized by ageing with the passage of time.
Today, Officine Panerai’s Workshop of Ideas has its eye firmly fixed on the present and future with a remarkable new technical case material that has been used for the Luminor Submersible 1950 Carbotech™. Carbotech, a composite material based on carbon fiber has never before been used in the watch-making. I’m pretty sure there are similar carbon-based composite cases on the market such as LW’s new CARBON, but this is a first. As well as providing exceptional technical performance, carbotech has an uneven, matt black appearance, which when cut results in an example that is unique.
The structure of carbotech is designed to enhance both the aesthetics and the performance of the material. It has been used to make the case, the rotational divers bezel and the Panerai’s trademark lever bridge which protects the winding crown. To form the plates of carbotech from which these components are made, thin sheets of carbon fibers are compressed at a controlled temperature under high-pressure together with a high-end polymer known as PEEK (Polyether Ether Ketone) thus binding the composite material so that it is even stronger and more durable.
The carbon fiber strands that are used are very long, so as to ensure great aesthetic uniformity, the sheets are superimposed and pressed together in such a way that the fibers of each layer are set at a different angle to the ones above and below. With this structure, the mechanical properties of carbotech are much higher than those of similar materials or of other materials used in the world of watch-making, such as ceramics and titanium: carbotech is lighter than these and much more resistant to external solicitations, as well as being hypoallergenic and not subject to corrosion.
While the watch’s case material might be futuristic, every other design detail of the watch is faithfully inspired by the brand’s history.
The Luminor 1950 47mm case was developed by Panerai in the late 1940s to be worn on the wrists of commandos of the Italian Navy. It is fitted with a divers bezel with its markers consisting of small studs, inspired by the legendary Egiziano that was made for the Egyptian Navy in 1956. The bezel rotates only anticlockwise and enables dive-time to be calculated: a useful function for a professional divers instrument which has been WR tested to 30 bar, the equivalent of 300 meters.
The dial of the new Luminor Submersible 1950 Carbotech™ is black with applied hour markers, the date window is at three o'clock and the sub-seconds counter marked by Panerai blue details is at nine o'clock. The screwdown caseback, which helps to ensure the watch’s water-resistance, is made of Titanium with a black DLC treatment. It is engraved with elements characteristic of the Panerai brand: “Florence 1860”, the city and year of birth of Panerai watchmaking, and the image of a Slow Speed Torpedo (SLC), the notorious "pig" on which in the 1940s the commandos of the Italian Navy sailed through the depths of the sea on their missions while wearing instruments made by Panerai.
At the mechanical heart of the Luminor Submersible 1950 Carbotech™ is the P.9000 automatic caliber, developed in-house by the Officine Panerai manufacture in Neuchâtel. The movement, 13¾ lignes in diameter, has two spring barrels giving a power reserve of three days, and the oscillating weight rotates in both directions. To ensure accuracy when setting the time, the movement has the device which stops the balance wheel while the hour hand moves forward or backward in increments of one hour, without interfering with the progress of the minute hand. The oscillation frequency of the balance is 28,800 vibrations per hour.
The new Luminor Submersible 1950 Carbotech™ is fitted with a black rubber strap, personalized for the first time by the OP logo in Panerai blue.