The new Panerai Radiomir PAM 338 hand-wound watch that has just been presented at SIHH 2010 convention of Swiss watchmakers, offers you a combination of the easily recognizable vintage-styled design of the famous Italian watchmaking brand with the new mechanical movement, which is crafted exclusively at Panerai’s own production facilities in Switzerland: a real treat for those tired of numerous “modified” movements based on dirt-cheap ETA ebauches.
Equipped with the same Caliber P.999 manufacture manual-wind movement and packed in the identically-shaped 42mm case, the Panerai Radiomir PAM338 is a sibling of the Radiomir PAM 337 timepiece. Beating at just 21,600 vibrations per hour, the movement may feel a bit archaic, but this was probably done by choice since the mechanism is supposed to power less expensive members of the Italian brand’s ‘historic’ line.
Visually, the mechanism reminds me of an earlier Piaget Caliber 838P (see picture below) and, having done some basic googling, I can see that I am not the only one who has suspicions regarding the movement’s ‘in-houseness’ so to speak. But, of course, both Panerai and Piaget are owned by the same Richemont SA holding company, so I assume that there could have been some sort of technology transfer between two brands: while Piaget has a very impressive record when it comes to designing great mechanisms, Panerai is still new to the game, so they clearly needed some help to get the whole train going. Still, if visual similarity is just a similarity, I would like to offer the Italian watchmaker my apologies in advance.
Returning to the exterior design similarities between the 337 and this 338, I would say that the only noticeable difference between the two is that while the PAM337 comes in a polished steel body, the PAM338 has its prominent case made of brushed titanium, which is nicely contrasted by a polished stainless steel bezel.
This combination of materials and types of finish makes the watch not only to feel, but also to look a lot lighter.
However, the timekeeper’s dressy look was somehow sabotaged by the hour, minute and seconds hands that are made of gold and treated with the traditional greenish Superluminova luminous substance.
To my taste, these materials just do not mix together. You either make the watch in gold, or stick to titanium and steel. Of course, you can also use white gold (or even platinum) if you are so eager to make the watch more “precious.”
Just don’t mix them, dammit!
However, if you like “two-tone” watches and the gold elements don’t sting your eye, this member of the Radiomir family may be a nice choice: the traditionally high price of the timekeepers (this one is tagged with $8500 MSRP, but the final price will depend on where in the world you happen to live in) is finally justified with a simple and high-quality P.999 caliber.
See also: Panerai Radiomir PAM 336 in 42mm body
Photos: Officine Panerai
Panerai Radiomir 42mm P.999 PAM 338 watch specification
Price range: $8,500 (MSRP)
Movement: Panerai P.999 Calibre, hand-wound, 144 parts, 27.06 mm in diameter, 3.40 mm thick, in-house, Swiss Made
Cadence of balance: 21,600 vph
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds
Power reserve: 60 hours
Case material: Brushed titanium
Bezel material: Polished stainless steel
Case shape: Cushion
Transparent case back: Yes, sapphire crystal
Case size: 42.00 mm
Case height: No data
Hands: Stainless steel
Strap: Black Alligator leather strap with contrast stitching and pin buckle in steel
Crystal: Sapphire, corundum, 1.5 mm thick, antireflective coating
Water resistance: 100 meters