A striking 49mm Carbotech watch from Panerai was not only its key piece at the SIHH 2017 but also, as their press presentation emphasised, a sign of the brand’s future direction – the use of new materials and investing in new developments.
Meet the Panerai LAB-ID PAM 700. A limited edition of fifty pieces for fifty thousand, and with a fifty year guarantee.
Let’s start with the outside, which is a Luminor 1950 case in their trademarked Carbotech, but in a nutshell this almost ‘grained’ looking material is made by compressing thin sheets of carbon fibre and a polymer together at high pressure to create a strong durable material.
Onto the dial, which is of note. Panerai say that it’s made of ‘carbon nanotubes’ that basically attract and absorb light, making the dial darker and non reflective, setting off the blue hands and hour markers. The text and numbers cannot be printed on the dial, but have to be on the crystal, which also has a double layer of anti-reflective coating.
Inside is the manual-wind Calibre P.3001/C (three days of power reserve) has four main innovations – dry lubricated barrels; the two mainspring barrels have a multi-layer coating including DLC as the final layer; silicon escapement with DLC; main bridge and mainplates are a composite material including Tantalum-based ceramic and self-lubricated. As you will notice, there are only four jewels and these are also DLCd with no oil. The anti shock device is lubricant-free. All of which adds up to the key feature of the PAM 700 – the lack of need for lubrication and the fifty year guarantee.
Onto more practical matters, to wear it sits lightly because of the use of Carbotech, and as it is not a thick watch, it actually feels more 46mm – 48mm than 49mm, which was unexpected. It’s comfortable and I particularly like the suitably sporty strap that it comes on.
It must be kept in mind that achieving a watch that requires no (or minimal) lubrication is something of a goal for watch brands, Jaeger-LeCoultre’s six patent Master Compressor Extreme Lab with the Calibre 988C being one modern example. It’s a costly and time consuming business, but Panerai have taken the plunge and firmly staked their claim on wanting to be at the forefront of making lubrication-free watches a commercially viable possibility. Yes this watch is expensive, but it isn’t the most expensive watch that Panerai have produced to date, and you know that you are paying for the R&D that went into it.
With the challenges that Panerai faces every year in terms of trying to create new releases that do not vary too far from its core appeal but yet still provide some very real differences, this bold statement watch is intriguing, and I look forward to seeing what new innovations they will focus on in the years ahead.