The Italian brand has just presented its new limited edition Panerai Luminor Marina 福 “Fu” (PAM 366) hand-wound watch for the Chinese market. Featuring the usual brutalist styling and their own in-house P.999 hand-wound movement, the new wristwatch seems to differ 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 details, his life was miserable. So, he worked really 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 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 generation, the country has finally found its way as the world’s assembly shop. Today, there are almost 500,000 of 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 tells 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 watch makers are no exception. Unfortunately, sometimes they try to exploit 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, Officine 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 seems to be a trifle exaggerated. With exactly 1500 destined to arrive to the Panerai boutiques in Shanghai and Beijing, the watch will probably be easy to buy, even considering the huge Chinese market for the luxury goods.
While one could expect the model to be equipped with their new in-house P.999 hand-wound caliber, the watch comes powered by the good old Caliber OP II movement, which is, although literally 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 watch makers and is sometimes found even in the most affordable watches selling for hundreds, not thousands euros.
From the visual standpoint, the watch 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) hand-wound watch specification:
Price range: €3300 (MSRP)
Movement: Caliber Panerai OP II (based on ETA 6497-2,) COSC-certified chronometer, Swiss Made
Winding: Manual (hand-wound)
Cadence of balance: 21,600 vph
Functions &: Complications: Hours, minutes, small second display at 9 o’clock
Power reserve: 41 hours
Case material: Stainless steel, AISI 316L
Bezel material: Stainless steel, AISI 316L
Case shape: Cushion
Case 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
Case back: Solid