Preparing for the upcoming SIHH 2014 industry event, the legendary Italian brand is about to begin yet another heavy artillery barrage of new model announcements. Among the first shells to blast the ground near you is their new Panerai Luminor 1950 Left-Handed 3 Days (PAM 557) model. Equipped with their in-house hand-wound caliber, the watch is designed for that strange sort of people that strum guitar with their lefts and wear their watches on their rights.
It is always difficult to write reviews regarding Panerai watches because the Italian watchmaker is very consistent when it comes to design of their timekeepers. In fact, it is so consistent that most watches from the same family usually differ from each other only with the size of their bodies and the number of hands on their dials.
This Panerai Luminor 1950 Left-Handed 3 Days (PAM 557), for example, looks like a typical member of the Luminor family. If not the reference number, which is stamped on the top side of the case, and the winding crown, which is now placed at the left side of the body, it would probably be easily mistaken with the 2011 Panerai Luminor 1950 3 Days (PAM 372) model.
Powered by the same in-house Caliber P.3000 hand-wound movement, it, too, measures almost intimidating 47 millimeters in width and, too, has the usual in this price range sapphire crystal swapped with for more historically correct 3.00 mm Plexiglas crystal (although the Plexiglas crystals are shatter-proof, there are extremely prone scratches, so Officine Panerai decided to equip each watch with a spare crystal).
The untreated leather strap, the signature “sandwich” dial, even the patented crown protection system are the same.
Is this bad? Well, in one word: no. I often see deeply frustrated people that saved their breakfast money literally for years only to find out that the object of their desire (be it a luxury watch, a guitar from an almost mythical brand like Fender or Gibson, or a truck-based mud-plugger) is retired and replaced with an item that has nothing in common with the thing they wanted except the brand: different movements, different dials, different pickups and even neck profiles, different all-wheel drive systems designed primarily to save weight and fuel, not to get you out of a particularly nasty pile of mud.
While the desire to reinvent their brands and become living icons like the late Steve Jobs (just a bit of pun intended) is understandable and, in some cases, must even be encouraged by shareholders and boards of directors, there are area when newer is not always better. There are areas that can profit from a slight rehash from time to time, but a revolution every year or two may actually kill a brand that pushes too much innovation on their loyal customers.
Well, guys that save their money for a Panerai are never frustrated (at least, not to such a degree). They always know that the reference number may be different, the movement may be new, but if it is a Luminor, it is a Luminor. No “revolutionary” octagonal bodies, no arrow-shaped hands, no new colors. These guys always get almost exactly what they wish. Gosh, how I envy them.
Photos: Officine Panerai
WWR preliminary verdict
Build quality: 5/5
Value for money: 4/5
Panerai Luminor 1950 Left-Handed 3 Days (PAM 557) watch specification
Price: $10,600 (MSRP)
Movement: Manual, Caliber P.3000, two spring barrels, in-house, Swiss Made
Number of jewels: 21
Movement frequency: 21,600 vph
Power reserve: 72 hours (3 days)
Movement decoration: Brushed plates
Functions: Hours, minutes
Case material: Stainless steel, satin-finished
Bezel material: Matches case
Crown material: Matches case
Case shape: Cushion
Bezel shape: Round
Case size: 47.00 mm
Case height: No data
Lug width: No data
Numerals: Arabic, luminous
Hour markers: Luminous
Water resistance: 100 meters
Strap: Natural untreated leather strap with a brushed steel buckle. PLUS a second rubber strap
Crystal: 3.00 mm Plexiglas crystal (comes with a spare Plexiglas crystal)
Case back: Sapphire