The hand-wound limited-edition Panerai Luminor Marina 福 “Fu” (PAM 366) was offered exclusively for the Chinese market. Featuring the usual brutalist styling and their own in-house P.999 hand-wound movement, the limited edition differs from other iterations of the popular model only with the “福” hieroglyph on its matte-black dial.
I knew a guy once. He lived in a rather small 480 sq. ft. one-bedroom apartment with his wife and his divorced mother who also had rather complicated relationships with alcohol. Putting it mildly and not going into detail, his life was miserable. So, he worked hard to earn money and to move out of that small flat, and to have kids, and to live happily ever after. His efforts were successful and in a couple of years, he made a fairly impressive amount of money and built himself a house.
And what a house it was! Although a 2000 sq. ft. feet building would certainly be more than adequate for his needs, he constructed a much more impressive 4000 sq. ft. job with a designer kitchen, enormous master bedroom, and three smaller rooms for his future kids. This is how it goes: when you are thirsty, you just can’t stop drinking.
And that is how it goes with the Chinese, too. Living in poverty for generations, the country has finally found its way as the world’s assembly shop. Today, there are almost 500,000 millionaires in China, most of whom are 100 percent self-made folks who saw the ugly face of poverty. No wonder that now they spend like crazy.
Although statistics tell us that an average millionaire spends around 30 percent of his or her assets buying business jets, supercars, jewelry, fine wine, expensive “Swiss Made” watches, and other sorts of luxury stuff I can’t even imagine, there is a feeling that the Chinese wealthy people spend much, much more.
In 2008, Bentley sales skyrocketed 53 percent in China, while their global sales were 24 percent down. This July, BMW’s sales in China grew more than 80 percent year on year and even the ultra-luxury Rolls-Royces are selling like hot pancakes. No wonder that American and European luxury goods makers keep introducing new and new models for the Chinese market and the luxury watchmakers are no exception. Unfortunately, sometimes they try to exploit the relative naivety of the local customers that are eager to buy just about anything with a “limited edition” plaque on its body. Consider Lui Vuitton. Or, like in this particular case, Panerai.
While their new Panerai Luminor Marina 福 “Fu” model seems to be a good value for money (the Italian brand plans to sell the watch at a rather affordable price of just above ?3300,) its rareness is a trifle exaggerated. With exactly 1500 destined to arrive at the Panerai boutiques in Shanghai and Beijing, the Marina “Fu” will probably be easy to buy, even considering the huge Chinese market for luxury goods.
While one could expect the model to be equipped with their new in-house P.999 hand-wound caliber, the limited edition comes powered by the good old Caliber OP II, which is, although covered with “OP” lettering, is just a normal ETA 6497-2 movement: an accurate and reliable, but still a mass-produced job, which is widely used by a great number of other watchmakers and is sometimes found even in the most affordable watches selling for hundreds, not thousands of euros.
From the visual standpoint, this PAM 366 is also nothing to be salivating about, since it differs from a standard Luminor Marina design only with its traditional “6” Arabic numeral replaced with the Chinese “Fu” hieroglyph, which means “Blessing” or “Good fortune.”
By the way, what is the Chinese hieroglyph for “Banality?”
Photos: Officine Panerai
Panerai Luminor Marina 福 “Fu” (PAM 366) specification:
Price range: €3300 (MSRP)
Movement: Caliber Panerai OP II (based on ETA Unitas 6497-2,) COSC-certified chronometer, Swiss Made
Cadence of balance: 21,600 vph
Functions &: Complications: Hours, minutes, “small seconds” display at 9 o’clock
Power reserve: 41 hours
Case: Stainless steel, AISI 316L
Size: 44.00 mm
Case height: 15.50 mm
Water resistance: 100 meters
Strap: Black leather with beige stitching
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective, 3.50 mm thick