In the 1930s and 1940s, the Radiomir and Luminor names identified the luminescent material used by Officine Panerai to increase the night-time and underwater visibility of watch dials intended for use by Italian Navy commandos. Over the years, the two terms have come to identify the shape of the cases of Officine Panerai's two iconic watches, one case representing the evolution of the other. The Luminor case was in fact born out of the need to make the Radiomir case even more resistant and watertight. This is why the crown-protecting device was added, shielding the crown and making it more watertight, with the strap attachments made from the same block of steel as the case replacing the welded wire lugs.
The Luminor 1950 case represents another stage in the evolution of Officine Panerai cases. The round polished stainless steel case on the Luminor 1950 3 Days PAM 372 measures 47 mm in diameter —just like the vintage Panerais– and features a cusp-shaped case band, a direct development of the cushion-shape case which still characterizes Radiomir watches today. When looking at this watch, the first other Panerai that comes to mind is the PAM 127 Limited Edition 1950 "Fiddy". We personally like the more vintage look and feel of the PAM 372 without the seconds indicator, with the cusp-shaped polished case, the ecru superluminova and the use of a plexiglas instead of a domed sapphire crystal.
Other details that are the result of a constant quest to both reclaim the past and strive for innovation are the flat large display case back, the plexiglas, the engraving of the reference details between the lugs, the ecru superluminova with 'patina' look, the vintage looking straps but foremost, the black matte sandwich dial where Panerai decided to engrave the words 'Luminor Panerai' on the dial instead of printing them. The black matte sandwich dial features Arabic numerals and markers that get accentuated by the underlying superluminova disc with 'patina' look and the gilt hands. The dial is clean, simple and perfectly balanced. As it is the norm with Panerai, the superluminova is extremely bright under low light conditions.
The beating heart inside the PAM 372 is the in-house Officine Panerai manual-wound calibre P.3000. This manual-wound mechanical movement is fully designed and developed by Panerai at its Neuchâtel Manufacture. The calibre is fully visible via the display case back and is composed of 160 parts, 21 jewels, Glucydur balance, two barrels and it beats at a frequency of 21,600 vph. This calibre provides a power reserve of 3 days when fully wound —it takes more than a 100 turns to fully wind it and the crown feels extremely smooth while doing so. Another great thing about this calibre other than the fact that it is an in-house movement with a 3-day power reserve, is that you can set the time in two different crown positions. The first crown position allows for the wearer to adjust the time by moving the hour hand independently without losing minute synchronization while traveling between time zones and at the second crown position, the wearer can adjust both the hour and minute hands just like on any other watch. The movement is very nicely finished but all you can see are the two large bridges and the balance wheel.
To complete the vintage look on the PAM 372, Panerai decided to include two vintage looking straps with the watch. The strap fitted on the watch when you buy it is a very nice semi-glossy dark tobacco with beige contrast stitching and rough unfinished edges —as seen on these pictures. The second strap provided with the watch is gold tan also with beige contrast stitching in a more supple and malleable leather also with rough unfinished edges. The buckle fitted on this 26 mm strap —the strap does not taper at the buckle— is a personalized pre-vendome style buckle. The watch is also supplied with a screwdriver and an additional spare plexiglas —a very clever idea.
On the wrist, the watch wears very comfortably and somewhat smaller than its actual size. Perhaps the biggest challenge when wearing this watch is trying to properly fit it under the cuff of a shirt. Those watchlifestylers with wrists smaller than 6.5" inches might find it hard to wear this watch; however, if they decide to pull it off, you'll see that its wrist presence is just out of this world.
Once you strap this watch to your wrist, you will immediately feel transported to the old days of the Italian Navy commandos wearing their Panerais while guiding the 'maiale' —two man guided torpedoes a.k.a pig— during a new moon underwater attack.
Next time you are enjoying an afternoon chinotto or a Negroni while visiting the cradle of the renaissance, make sure one of these 372s is on your wrist.
Sticker Price $9,100 USD. For more info on Panerai click here.