Inspired by the legendary Panerai Mare Nostrum, the first chronograph produced by the brand in the 1940s or 1950s for the Italian Navy, comes the new Panerai Mare Nostrum PAM 716 with a stainless steel case measuring 42 mm in diameter and powered by a non-in-house calibre. With a much smaller size than the original Mare Nostrum and the 2010 and 2015 reissues Mare Nostrum PAM00300 and the Mare Nostrum Titanium PAM00603 —both measuring 52 mm in diameter—, the new PAM 716 is the third modern iteration of the Mare Nostrum with the first one being released in 1993 by Panerai under reference number 5218-301/A with a 42 mm case.
With a photo plate from the 1950s and a prototype that surfaced in 2005 —see photo below— as the only proof of its existence, the Mare Nostrum is a very interesting watch amongst Paneristi and yet another timepiece where Panerai has failed to tell the true story behind it.
While the real history of the Mare Nostrum is one that we might never get to see unveiled during our time, this hands-on review of the new Panerai Mare Nostrum PAM 716 is as accurate and honest as it gets.
If you are an avid reader of WCL, you know we call a spade a spade, and before we even get to all the details about the PAM 716 we can already tell you that this new watch is nowhere near the 99-piece limited edition Panerai PAM 300 nor the 150-piece limited edition Panerai PAM 603 —see pictures below.
The Dial & Case
With a satin brushed case in stainless steel measuring 42 mm in diameter and a graduated bezel with a blue tachymetric scale, the Mare Nostrum PAM 716 is in reality a great looking watch but in the absolute wrong size. When wearing this watch, we really can't stop thinking about how Panerai continues to try to increase their market penetration by making their watches smaller —and more wearable by the average consumer— while moving away from the true essence and DNA of their brand.
Fitted with a matte blue dial with superluminova and white lettering, the bi-compax design of this chronograph doesn't follow the dial layout of the "original" Mare Nostrum prototype or the PAM 300, but the same dial layout of the reference 5218-301/A of the 'Pre-Vendôme' era.
With a simple and clean design with recessed registers, this bi-compax chronograph features running seconds at 3 o'clock and a 30-minute chronograph register at 9 o'clock. Pump pushers and a screw-down 'Mare Nostrum' signed crown, complete the design of this vintage inspired chronograph that is only 50 meters water resistant.
The beating heart inside the PAM 716 Mare Nostrum is not an in-house movement but the ETA 2801-2 based manual wound calibre OP XXXIII. This 17-jewel movement provides a power reserve of 42 hours and beats at a frequency of 28,800 vph. Evoking the earlier days of the modern Panerai and the 'Pre-Vendôme' era, the new Mare Nostrum is fitted with a solid case back with blue lettering and the 'OP' logo at the center.
The Strap & Box
Equipped with a highly polished 'Pre-Vendôme' style buckle with a pin that is too thin and prone to bending if one puts to much pressure on it, the watch is delivered on a dark blue alligator strap with lighter blue contrast stitching and an additional 'Ponte Vecchio' calf strap. Lastly, the watch is presented in a special edition box containing a scale version of the Luigi Durand de la Penne —Italian Navy Naval Diver in the Decima MAS during WWII— Destroyer.
On the Wrist & Pricing
On the wrist, the Panerai Mare Nostrum PAM 716 wears true to its 42 mm size and smaller than what we would've liked for a Mare Nostrum. While the watch is extremely nice, we would've hoped for a much larger case at least 45 mm in diameter or at 52 mm like the PAM 300. The watch is available in a unique edition of only 1,000 pieces.
Sticker Price $10,200 USD. For more info on Panerai click here.