Just like the PAM 338 that, too, was presented during this year’s SIHH 2010 show, the hand-wound Panerai Radiomir 8 Days (PAM 346) combines titanium alloy of its mildly oversized case with 18-karat rose gold of its three hands in something that some may feel like an ugly mix of difficult to match metals.
As usual, Panerai tried to make the watch as ‘true to its roots’ as possible offering the same cushion-shaped case with the same sandwich-style dial and the same indicators: visually, I can not detect any significant differences between the two models, besides the fact that the PAM 346 is shipped in a larger case 45 millimeters in width. The signature wire lugs, the characteristic winding crown and the signature luminous insert in the dial are still here. Trying to make it as easily recognizable “Panerai” as possible, the company, however, makes it featureless. The 346 doesn’t offer anything new even if you only compare it to other members of the Radiomir product range.
Well, at least there is something different inside. Look through the synthetic sapphire crystal that covers the back tells us that the watch is powered by a completely different movement. While the PAM 338 features an in-house (also, hand-wound) Caliber P.999 –Panerai’s first step towards becoming a real Manufacture– the Radiomir 8 Days PAM 346 comes equipped with much less exciting, but still deserving at least a second glance, P.2002/9 caliber. Too, featuring manual winding, this fairly simple mechanism demonstrates the so-called ‘extensive’ approach to the problem of increasing a timekeeper’s maximum power reserve featuring not one, not two, but whole THREE spring barrels thus increasing the power reserve to 192 hours or whole eight days.
As usual, this might be not considered practical for a watch equipped with a self-winding movement (after all, you can always place a timepiece that you don’t wear too often into a winding machine and forget about it,) but for an expensive piece that features a hand-wound caliber and maybe only gets to see the light on weekends, this sort of power reserve is priceless.
Well, that’s the reason behind the choice of the huge Caliber P.2002.9 engine that, at 6.60 mm high, is almost two times thicker than the elegant, but a lot less capable in terms of power storage Caliber P.999.
Well, if you think that my brief review of the PAM 346 emits too many negative vibes, you are probably right. Upon re-reading it, I think that it isn’t that bad, after all, in fulfilling its main goal: like a recent bunch of American muscle-cars that offer you a mix of ‘vintage’ styling combined with modern, huge V8 engines that offer you spade loads of power, this one gives you a nice blend of ‘that classic Panerai’ styling with a contemporary, if not a bit primitive, in-house movement that makes it tick. The only thing that disappoints me here is the outrageous price of $13,000, but that’s something that, too, must be expected from the Italian brand: after all, this is how they roll.
Photos: Officine Panerai
Panerai Radiomir 8 Days 45mm P2002 PAM 346 specification
Movement: Panerai P.2002/9 Calibre, hand-wound, 246 parts, 31.0 mm in diameter, 6.6 mm thick, 21 jewels, 28,800 vph, in-house, Swiss Made
Power reserve: 192 hours (8 days)
Case: Brushed titanium
Bezel: Polished titanium
Transparent back: Yes, sapphire crystal
Size: 45.00 mm
Dial: Dark brown
Hands: Gold, luminous
Strap: Brown alligator leather strap
Crystal: Sapphire, corundum, 1.9 mm thick, anti-reflective coating
Water resistance: 100 meters