When one thinks of Panerai, they think of Italian frogmen from the 1940’s, with their bold, time-only diving tool watches strapped securely to their wrists. However, just because Panerai is so well known for utilitarian dive watches doesn’t mean the Italian-founded watch brand can’t make a very solid chronograph. Recently, Panerai extended their range of chronographs to include the Panerai Luminor Chrono collection, boasting a fresh automatic movement and a suite of dial colours.
The first chronograph to feature the Panerai name on its dial was a massive, 52mm prototype that was produced for the Italian Navy in 1943. Known as the Mare Nostrum, it never went into production (Panerai themselves purchased the prototype at Christie’s in 2005), but it offered a template for future two-register chronographs to be made in the decades that followed it.
Now, sitting within the enormously popular Luminor collection, Panerai is offering a contemporary chronograph collection that has something for everyone. The collection is comprised of four references, three of which are cased in steel with a single model available in Panerai’s proprietary Goldtech.
The collection features cases that measure 44mm in diameter, with a sizable lug-to-lug measurement of 53.8mm and a thickness of 15.6mm in steel and 15.1mm in Goldtech. Now, these aren’t exactly petite numbers, but then again, you’re unlikely to walk into a Panerai boutique if you’re after a 34mm timepiece.
The cases also feature the iconic Panerai crown protector on the right-hand side of the case, which secures the Goldtech model to 50m of water resistance and the steel references to 100m of water resistance. In a thoughtful design nod, Panerai has situated the chronograph pushers on the left-hand side of the case, in a break from the norm that adds balance to the overall visual impression.
The dial of the Goldtech reference is an enchantingly deep blue colour, which works in concert with the coloured metal case an absolute treat. Blue and gold almost always look great together, and that’s certainly the case here. The trio of steel models arrive with your choice of either a black or white dial on a leather strap, or if you want a steel bracelet instead, there’s another stunning blue dial option.
All four of the dials feature the same twin subdial layout, perhaps in reference to the original Mare Nostrum, with a tachymeter scale that makes its way around the circumference of the dial. The subdials step down ever so slightly from the rest of the dial, in line with the cut-out, sandwich-style hour markers filled with lashings of luminous paint.
Powering the new collection is the P.9200 movement, which is freshly developed and a slight departure from the fly-back chronograph offerings that Panerai has focused its efforts on in recent years. As a result, the P.9200 movement is likely to feature more consistently in Panerai chronograph offerings in the near future. It features a highly reliable Glucydur balance wheel, ticks away at 28,800vph and offers 42 hours of power reserve.
As mentioned earlier, the collection will typically arrive on a luxurious alligator leather strap, secured with a boldly shaped pin buckle. The reference in steel with a blue dial arrives on a matching steel bracelet, featuring links inspired by the Luminor crown protector, and offering a slightly more hard-wearing option.
All considered the Panerai Luminor Chrono collection is compelling, not just as a new member of the Luminor family, but as a stand-alone luxury chronograph. It’s got a whole heap of wrist presence, attractive finishing to the case, dial and movement, and an enticing symmetry thanks to the pushers opposite the crown.
Sure, it’s unlikely to slip under the cuff of a formal shirt, but that’s probably not how you’re going to wear the Luminor Chrono if you add one to the collection. The entire new range is available from Panerai boutiques in both Melbourne and Sydney, where you’re able to see the watches in the metal for yourself.
The two Panerai Luminor Chrono references in steel with leather straps have an RRP of $13,200. The steel reference with a steel bracelet has an RRP of $14,400. Finally, the Panerai Luminor Chrono in Goldtech has an RRP of $39,300.