About face: Panerai’s new military-styled dials will make you green with envy
But the dials aren’t just trendy, they’re also a link to the company’s adventurous naval past.
For brands that forgo design diversity in favour of being instantly recognisable, the smallest variation in its staple offerings will be celebrated with surprising ardour by fans. Panerai is such a brand, and this is a strategy that it won’t be shelving any time soon because the Neuchatel-based watchmaker has just released four Radiomir watches with a new dial colour and in collector circles, this is legitimately exciting news. They’re now green, by the way.
Panerai watches come, more often than not (and certainly more often than others), with black dials, though it has dabbled with brown, white and more recently, blue colour ways. But the fact that green was chosen for this year’s novelties is significant for two reasons: Green is 2019’s colour du jour and it is also a link – though arguably a tenuous one – to its military roots.
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The brand has recapitulated this military history for decades but here’s a quick recap: Panerai started making watches for the Royal Italian Navy in the 1900s, and growing demand for these precise and robust timepieces spurred Panerai into creating and patenting a superior lume, called the Radiomir. In 1936, to prepare for World War II, the Navy requested a watch suitable for its frogman commandos so, with the help of Rolex’s water-resistant Oyster cases, the first Radiomir watches were born.
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Today, Panerai needs no outside assistance in building watches tough enough for underwater missions. The new quartet, which comprise the Radiomir 45mm, Radiomir GMT 45mm, Radiomir GMT Power Reserve 45mm and Radiomir 48mm, are all water-resistant to 100m, powered by manufacture movements and presented in a satin-finished green cherry wood box. Each watch also comes with an additional canvas strap, in beige for steel models and black for ceramic ones. The case design follows the Radiomir watches from the 1940s, which one can consider a transitional reference between the original wire-lugged Radiomir and the more solid-looking Luminor.
This isn’t the first time Panerai has given us green-faced watches. In 2017, a similar shade was used in a trio that consisted of a Radiomir 1940 3 Days Acciaio, Radiomir 8 Days Titanio and Luminor 1950 Chrono Monopulsante 8 Days GMT Titanio. It’s just that this year’s models are not limited edition, are available exclusively at Panerai boutiques, and are specifically called Edizione Verde Militare, or military green edition.
The Radiomir 45mm (PAM00995) has the honour of being fitted with Panerai’s thinnest automatic movement, the P.4000 with micro-rotor and three days of power reserve. With just hours, minutes and small seconds and 9 o’clock, it’s easy to admire the sandwich dial construction the brand is known for. Beige Super-LumiNova fills the numerals and hands, matching the contrast stitching of Panerai’s Ponte Vecchio calf leather strap.
The Radiomir GMT 45mm (PAM00998) follows the same case dimensions and material (steel) but adds a useful GMT function that can be read from a GMT hand and a 24-hour subdial at 9 o’clock – which is also where you’ll find the day/night indicator and small seconds. This thoughtfully designed reference is powered by the self-winding Calibre P.4001, which also comes with a three-day power reserve. This piece comes with an Assolutamente suede strap though, so we wouldn’t advise testing the watch’s water resistance without a strap change.
The third steel model takes it a small step further with the inclusion of a power reserve indicator at 5 o’clock and a date window at 3 o’clock. In spite of the increased busyness, the Radiomir GMT Power Reserve (PAM00999) remains pleasingly legible. The Calibre P.4002 is actually a modified descendent of the P.4001, except that it displays the power reserve on the dial rather than on the back of the movement. Like its steel brethren, it features a polished bezel and a domed sapphire crystal, and comes with the same strap as the Radiomir 45mm.
Polished steel lends enough elegance to these military inspired tickers for them to hold their own as dress watches but those wanting an unquestionably masculine option will appreciate the Panerai Radiomir 48mm (PAM00997). Its formidable case is crafted from sandblasted, matte black ceramic, and has a DLC-coated titanium clasp and black Ponte Vecchio leather strap to match. It also differs from the steel models by having the only manual-winding movement – the P.3000 – of the lot. It offers hours and minutes, with small seconds at 9 o’clock. It also runs at a slower 3Hz instead of 4Hz but maintains the same 72-hour power reserve.