When Perezcope publishes an article about a modern Panerai watch, Richemont people usually run for cover, while hardcore Paneristis empty entire clips at me. A good example is the PAM 721, the remake of so-called “Kampfschwimmer” watches, supplied by Panerai in slave labour to Nazi forces during WW2. For this model, Richemont received a full broadside of critizism, and rightfully so. But that was yesterday and Perezcope always looks ahead.
For the modern Panerai company, this year’s SIHH 2019 was all about the “Submersible”, the only contemporary Panerai model that is not merely a copy of the watches made by Rolex for Panerai in the last century.
From a design perspective, the “Submersible” is a mix between the iconic Rolex 6152/1 with patented Panerai crown-protecting device and the GPF 2/56 (GPF = Guido Panerai e Figlio, designed in 1956) which featured a rotating bezel. The GPF 2/56 was the first watch completely designed and produced inhouse by G. Panerai e Figlio.
Now, this alone wouldn’t rock my boat but the innovative concept the modern Panerai company presented in form of the PAM00961 does. This watch reignited my interest for modern Panerai watches for several reasons.
One of the reasons is of course the iconic “Marina Militare” inscription on the dial. The name Marina Militare (Military Navy) was only adopted after WW2 in 1946, when the Kingdom of Italy became a Republic. Before, the official name of the Italian Navy was “Regia Marina” (Royal Navy).
The first Rolex-made Panerai watches with Marina Militare inscription were delivered to the Italian Navy in the 1960s, when Panerai switched from highly radioactive radium to a harmless (innocuo), tritium-based luminous compound named “Luminor”.
PAM00961 – Submersible Marina Militare Carbotech
So, what’s so special about the PAM00961? I think it’s the whole package and here’s why. First of all, the PAM00961 is a special edition limited to 33 pieces.
Why 33 pieces? Check the picture below which I took during my 2017 visit of the ComSubIn Naval Base in the old Varignano Fortress. How many frames do you count?
That’s right, 33! This number is an homage to the 33 gold medals of military valour that were awarded to members of the glorious Decima MAS and its successor organisations. Big names like Teseo Tesei, Luigi Durand de la Penne, Gino Birindelli, Junio Valerio Borghese, Mario Arillo, Emilio Bianchi, Luigi Ferraro, Giorgio Giobbe, Todaro Salvatore and Licio Visintini are honoured on that wall. Many of the medals were awarded posthumous, meaning the divers were killed in action.
The original Decima MAS before Sept. 1943 invented modern underwater war fare and was quite successful at it. Each member of the secret unit was equipped with a Rolex-made Panerai watch.
With the PAM00961, the modern Panerai builds a bridge to the very origins of Panerai, something that I truly appreciate.
But there is more. The PAM00961 is not just a watch, it’s a package that includes a mind blowing and unique experience. The watch comes with a two-days training session with the ComSubIn Navy Divers (Gruppo Operativo Subacquei) & Navy Special Forces (Gruppo Operativo Incursori) at the Varignano Naval Base in Le Grazie near La Spezia.
ComSubIn is short for Comando Ragruppamento Subacquei ed Incursori Teseo Tesei.
Basically, if you buy the watch you will soon be riding with these guys..
… and diving with these fellas. How cool is that?
The PAM00961 package has its price: EUR 39,900.00.
Direct link: PAM00961 (Panerai.com)
The colour of lume and strap is directly derived from parts of the uniforms of the ComSubIn forces.
Imagine how cool this watch would look on this guy’s wrist.
The case of the PAM00961 is made of Carbotech, a composit material based on carbon fibre. Thanks to this material, the watch weighs almost nothing. In addition, the carbon gives the watch a camouflage look that gels very well with the military theme.
The camouflage-style carbon dial of this watch is also quite interesting. As you can see, the lume is not just painted as usual. The applied hour markers appear to be blocks made of luminous material. Think of it as some sort of inverted sandwich dial. I really like this design.
One can argue whether the green military colour was really necessary or not. I quite like it. Apparently, it is the exact same colour ComSubIn uses for some of their applications.
Another interesting detail of the PAM00961 is the caseback bearing the ComSubIn coat of arms with crocodile and motto of the unit. “E Fluctibus in Hostem” which is latin for “From the sea we assault the enemy”. Never before was a modern Panerai watch so tightly linked to ComSubIn as the PAM00961.
In May 2017, I had the chance to visit the ComSubIn Naval Base with Piero Lapiana, president of the Italian Club Panerai. At the end of the tour, I received the ComSubIn coat of arms, which you can see in the picture below.
The next picture was taken during my visit in the very courtyard of the Varignano fortress. You can see the ComSubIn coat of arms in the back.
The picture below from Google Maps shows the whole ComSubIn complex. The massive Varignano Fortress is located on the right-hand side. The navy ship inside the bay is used for training purposes. On the left-hand side you can see the heli port of the base.
The special forces of the Italian Navy moved into the Varignano fortress after the Paris Peace Treaty restrictions were rewoked in 1951 and the road was clear to rebuild the underwater units.
Remember this picture? This was shot next to the navy ship mentioned above. You can also see the Varignano Fortress in the background.
Coming back to the PAM00961, the watch comes with a rubber strap in the same green colour as the lume.
On the Panerai website, the PAM00961 is also show with a second strap that looks a bit like the old tropic straps.
To conclude, here’s a fantastic lume shot in the dark. Note the different colour for the minute hand and the pearl on the rotating bezel.
The concept of paying tribute to the very beginnings of Panerai with a watch that is not merely a copy but an amazing evolution of the original design really works for me. I think the modern Panerai company did well with this model and I hope to see more concepts like this in the future. What about a special edition dedicated to the Egyptian Navy?
For the sake of completeness, it needs to be mentioned that Panerai also presented a regular production Submersible Marina Militare Carbotech. This watch comes with a black rubber strap and white lume. The caseback doesn’t bear the ComSubIn coat of arms. Price is EUR 19,900.00.
Direct link: PAM00979 (Panerai.com)
Thank you for your interest.
The Panerai Time Machine
The modern “Submersible” is a mix between the iconic Rolex 6152/1 with crown-protecting device and the GPF 2/56 (GPF = Guido Panerai e Figlio, designed in 1956) with rotating bezel. Original Panerai watches were literally shaped by historical events. The infographic below shows all vintage Panerai watches in their historical context. Please click the graphic to download the highres version.
This timeline is available as a high quality print in two sizes:
- 120 x 68 cm (47 x 26 inch): EUR 85.00 (plus shipping)
- 150 x 85 cm (59 x 33 inch): EUR 120.00 (plus shipping)
Printed with HD Inkjet on heavy synthetic paper and laminated.
Limited edition: 50 pieces, numbered and signed by Maria Teresa Panerai in Giuseppe Panerai’s very own laboratory at the historical site of the Villino Panerai (Panerai Villa) in Florence: Sold out
More information: The history of Panerai watches at a glance
Finally, an excellent article on the Militare piece, after reading all the haters pour scorn on this piece.
Now that you have written the definitive article, the watch can be appreciated for what it is, and in the correct context.
Thank you again