During the 26th Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH 2016,) the Italian brand has presented several new collections. Among them was this gorgeous (but in a modest way) Panerai Radiomir 1940 3Days GMT Acciaio (ref. PAM 627) that features their brand new Caliber P.4001 movement with a micro-rotor design. Although the watchmaker didn’t dare to step too far away from the time-proven design that the Radiomir collection is known for, the PAM 627 still looks fresh and attractive thanks to the waffle-style dial finish that they, unfortunately, use only on a limited number of models.
When it comes to generating “impressions”, Panerai (perhaps, together with Breitling and also Rolex) is the most predictable one. Like an old bluesman who has finally found his the note and keeps using it time and again looking condescendingly at a young aspiring guitarist shredding all over the fingerboard trying to make an impression on listeners, Panerai is content with just two or three of their iconic designs that never fail to generate a hell of a cash flow that most players in the field can only dream about.
Their watches almost always look impeccably beautiful in their own rugged kind of way, with only a few references standing out of the crowd when the brand wants to stray a step or two off the beaten path and do a brief improvisation over the same flawless progression that, being as repetitive as it is, sometimes leaves you with a dry mouth.
This particular example is a nice illustration of their behavior. While this new PAM 627 includes all the usual elements you expect from Panerai like the cushion-shaped case, easily recognizable font for Arabic numerals and their sword-shaped hour and minute hands, the dial still looks interesting thanks to its unusual texture. And if the front side is not enough to justify the model’s hefty price, there is a lot to look at through the sapphire case back cover: the movement, while Spartan in its finish, is a real treat for an experienced connoisseur.
The Case & Strap
The case… Well, there is not much to say about the case. Crafted from 316L stainless steel alloy, it measures 45 millimeters in diameter: massive even by today’s standards, but not excessively so: just enough to make a statement, you know.
The lug-to-lug dimensions of this thing are another story though. If your wrist measures less than seven inches in girth, you may be in trouble since the timepiece may occupy the whole width of your wrist and then some. Of course, some people like it when their watch has a sort of dominating presence on their hands, so I can’t say that size is the problem here. It is all very personal, you know.
As far as the shape goes, it is the standard “cushion” that Panerais are usually associated with. Looking at its elegant curves and impeccably polished surface, you will immediately understand why the Italian brand puts such an impressive price tag on their timepieces: there is simply no way for you to find a cushion-shaped timekeeper that would be able to look as graceful, yet smart as this one.
As for the crown, it is a bit short for my tastes, but it still provides a good enough grip to manipulate the hands.
The standard calfskin Monte Carlo strap features contrasting beige stitching. It is perhaps one of the best things you could get in this price range, so this is also a big “plus” if you still contemplate buying this timekeeper.
While Panerai is known for the sandwich-style dial consisting of two plates with a thick layer of Superluminova spread generously between them, they sometimes experiment with other styles and textures, including carbon fiber.
This one, for example, features their “Paris hobnail” chocolate bar-style pattern with all luminous elements simply painted on the highly textured face.
As usual, the dial features three luminous Arabic numerals, a small date window, and a 24-hour second time-zone indicator that is combined with a small seconds display at 9 o’clock. If that wasn’t enough, there is another GMT pointer with the familiar arrow-shaped head that displays current home time on the main chapter ring. To increase the readability, Panerai has covered all five hands with the aforementioned Superluminova luminous compound.
Unfortunately, the sub-dial at 9 hours as well as the plaque at 12 o’clock make the dial look a bit unbalanced as the calendar and smaller “Automatic” inscription at 6 o’clock are simply too small to be adequate “supporting actors”, but, well, I think I can live with that.
The beige-colored mix may not be as strikingly contrast as white, however, against the black background of the textured dial, it serves its main function almost as perfectly and, when it comes to sheer esthetics, looks ten thousand times better giving the watch an even more expensive appearance.
With so many details, the dial may not look as impressive as that of the last year’s Radiomir Ceramic PAM643 with its clearly seen parallels with tactical timekeepers that are still popular among enthusiasts, but, if you, like me, are a bit tired with their trademark design, it may be a welcome change.
All things considered, I give this high-contrast, easy to read dial five points out of possible five when it comes to legibility in all situations that I can imagine.
The mechanism that powers this specimen is the new self-winding Caliber P.4001. It is based on the Caliber P.4000 that features an off-centered micro-rotor design and utilizes a two-barrel design to store enough energy to work for the whole two days.
Compared to the base unit, this one is a bit more complex featuring a second time-zone functionality and a power reserve indicator (the latter is placed on the three-quarter plate of the mechanism and is visible only through the sapphire back, some people may find the design not very convenient.) The extra functions increased the total parts count to 278 although the number of jewels remains the same 31.
From the point of view of design, the mechanism somehow reminds me micro-rotor calibers made by Glashutte Original, but, of course, features a more Spartan finish, which is limited to fine machine-brushing on the plate and balance bridge, and a nicer, but still engraved by a skilled hand of a robot, oscillating weight that carries nothing more, but the brand’s logo. Although the finish is a lot more modest than most luxury watchmakers try to impress you with, I would say that it still matches the timekeeper’s laconic styling in the best way possible.
As it is often the case in this class of mechanisms, the Caliber P.4001 features a so-called “hacking seconds” function, which means that the small-seconds hand will jump to the “zero” position as soon as you pull the crown to set the correct time. Another useful feature is the ability to adjust the local time in one-hour increments without affecting the minute hand.
The Pricing & Availability
There is still no official info regarding the international availability of the new collection. As for the price, the MSRP is reported to be as high as $11,700. While a bit steep considering current turmoil in financial markets, it is not unusual for Panerai that has a reputation for being an expensive brand. Also, given the easily recognizable styling that is almost impossible to compare to any similarly priced models from other brands that are currently available on the market, the tag on this thing seems to be completely justified.
Build quality: 5/5
Value for money: 4.5/5
Panerai Radiomir 1940 3Days GMT Acciaio (ref. PAM 627) specification
Price: $11,700 (MSRP)
Movement: Automatic, Caliber P.4001, in-house, 278 parts, micro-rotor, two barrels, Swiss Made
Number of jewels: 31
Movement frequency: 28,800 vph
Power reserve: 72 hours
Movement decoration: Brushed three-quarter plate and balance bridge, polished screw heads, branded oscillating weight
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, GMT, power reserve
Case: Stainless steel
Bezel shape: Round
Size: 45.00 mm
Lug width: 24/22 mm
Dial: Black, Paris hobnails pattern
Numerals: Arabic, luminous
Hour markers: Luminous
Hands: Polished, luminous
Water resistance: 100 meters
Strap: Calf Monte Carlo Black leather strap