The limited edition “Luminor 1950 Marina Militare”
When Panerai presented it in Geneva last April, the limited edition “Luminor 1950 Marina Militare” was the talk of the SIHH. Aficionados of the brand had eyes for nothing else. A re-issue of a unique piece delivered to the Italian Military Marines in the 1950s, again its dial carries the illustrious appellation “Marina Militare” so coveted by collectors the world over. The first examples of this very exclusive limited edition for the French market have just reached Paris, and we couldn’t miss the opportunity to share this event with you.
Panerai Marina Millitare PAM00217 under the magnifying glass
A little history
During the 1950s, Officine Panerai delivered a “left-handed” version of their highly confidential instrument watch to the Italian Military Marines. A unique piece that is now part of the Panerai museum collection.
Panerai Marina Militare left-handed - A unique piece (circa 1950) - Officine Panerai Museum
In 2002, Panerai presented a Luminor model that, line for line, mirrored the form and dimensions of a model from the 1950s. Called «Luminor 1950», it would be sold in a limited edition of 1950 pieces, with the reference PAM00127. At the time, the product’s 47mm diameter was a talking point, but the retail price of 7,200 euros and its unusual dimensions made it difficult to sell. It’s worth remembering that in 2002, we had not yet reached the moment of the ”XXL” phenomenon in watch making, a revolution due largely to the success of the Panerai Luminor 44mm. This emblematic watch in the new wave of watch making not only changed attitudes by increasing the diameter of our watches from 40 to 44mm in the space of a few months, it also made the wrist watch a fashion product. Three years after its appearance, the Luminor 1950 model now rates among the most sought-after for collectors and lovers of the brand.
PAM00127 - A sought-after collectors’ item
a sought-after appellation
The “Marina Militare” appellation is not awarded lightly, Angelo Bonati (CEO Panerai) told us recently. The Italian Military Marine remains extremely vigilant about the use of its name, and the Panerai directors have only obtained this authorisation (for just 1000 pieces), thanks to privileged relations that have linked the brand to the Military Italian Marine since 1914 (see the Panerai Saga).
Since 1997 (when the Vendôme Group bought Officine Panerai), the brand has only used the “Marina Militare” appellation twice: in 1998 (PAM00036) and in 2000 (PAM00082).
PAM00036 Titanium 44mm (200 pieces) 1998
PAM00082 Amerigo Vespucci 44mm (300 pieces) 2000
What makes the special limited editions of “Marina Militare” so sought-after by Panerai collectors around the world should lead to similar success for the PAM00217 (artist’s name for the Luminor Marina Militare 2005 version).
Technology and Savoir-faire
Patented winding crown protection and the sandwich dial
If there is one distinguishing sign that singles out the Panerai watch at a distance, it is the famous patented winding crown protection, known as the “déclic” release mechanism, which has ensured the watch’s water resistance since 1942 when it was invented by Panerai Officine. Placed on the left on the PAM00217 (the reference number chosen by Panerai in the wink of an eye when they reversed the position of the winding crown on the new model, and then gave it the reverse reference number of its older sister, the PAM00127) it also carries the mark REG. T.M. (Registered Trade Mark), which helps to give the new Panerai an even more typical ”military issue” image.
Taken from the brand’s more recent models, the “sandwich” dial ensures perfect legibility in all conditions of use. The very high concentration of « Super Luminova » (a luminous material which had replaced the original RADIOMIR) on a disk placed under the main dial (stencil technique) affords the exceptional night-time visibility envied by many of its competitors.
The extreme simplicity of the PAM00217’s functions means the re-issue conforms completely to military instruments delivered to the Italian Navy during the 1940s and 50s. Equipped with the Panerai Caliber OP XI (hand-wound mechanism), it guarantees its owner a power reserve of 56 hours and an excellent chronometric reliability (Chronometric Certificate C.O.S.C.). The only change to the original technical specifications that Panerai has made is to replace the steel case-back of the military versions with sapphire, to great effect, so that mechanism lovers can admire to their heart’s content the Geneva ribbing, rubies and blue-tinted screws. Magnificent!
On the wrist
47 mm in diameter, a brand and a name steeped in history: Everything contributes to marking out the owner of the very rare PAM00217 as a very privileged holder of a most unusual watch. From the first glance, everyone will understand that with the “Marina Militare” on their wrist, the owner of a time piece such as this has immediately and simultaneously taken on the roles of guardian of a cult object in the eyes of enthusiasts, and discoverer of a new fashion icon in the eyes of the uninitiated. The extreme sobriety of the lines of the Luminor 1950 Marina Militare suggest a trend-setting “contemporary minimalist” design, so fashionable today.
Originally designed as a left-handed watch, you realise when you use it that the PAM00217 adapts perfectly to right-handed use. The winding crown protection on the left affords freer movement of the wrist for right-handed people. Paradoxically, due to its size, the watch is more difficult to wear on the right wrist by a left-handed person. Make sense of that if you will! Then there’s the angle “I’m not like everyone else, I’m wearing a left-handed watch” already rather rare, “and I wear it like a right-handed person” has a something exclusive about it that adds a little more spice to our watch’s attraction.
The balance of volume between bracelet, watch and clasp is perfectly respected, and our watch (originally destined for the most virile of wrists) lends itself to being worn by the slenderest of wrists… all this being nothing more or less than a question of habit and fashion.
Sold with two bracelets (one in black alligator with over stitching in white, and one in burgundy leather) the PAM00217 is delivered with a splendid Panerai tongued buckle called « pre-Vendôme » by purists (name that is given to tongued buckle put on all Panerai Officine models before 1997).
Movement: hand-wound mechanical, Panerai OP XI calibre with swan’s neck regulator, 16½ lignes, 17 jewels, Côtes de Genève decoration. Glucydur balance with Nivarox spring, 21,600 alternations/hour. Incabloc anti-shock device. Power reserve 56 hours. Chronometer Certificate (C.O.S.C.).
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds.
Case: diameter 47mm, brushed steel.
Bezel: polished steel.
Back: see-through sapphire crystal.
Device protecting the crown: (registered Trade Mark) polished steel.
Dial: black with luminous Arabic numerals and hour markers. It consists of two superimposed discs: the top one is perforated with the numerals and hour markers while the lower one is covered with a thin layer of Super Luminova. Small seconds dial at 3 o’clock.
Crystal: sapphire, formed of corundum, 2 mm thick. Anti-reflective coating.
Water resistance: 100 metres.
Strap: PANERAI personalised alligator strap and large size brushed steel buckle. Supplied with a steel screwdriver and a second interchangeable strap.
Out of all the present Panerai range, the PAM00217 is without any doubt “the” Panerai to own for fans of the brand, and a magnificent design object for others. A modern technical heresy, in that it goes back to fifty-year old technical specifications, it is an impressive and absolute success in terms of balanced materials. The Luminor 1950 Marina Militare is an unclassifiable watch, a timepiece of irrational charm, that despite its price (7,900 euros) we know will offer not the least watch making complication, not even a simple date indicator, added to which it will have to be wound every two days! And yet it is precisely for these reasons that we fall for it in spite of everything. Maybe that’s irrational, but isn’t it said that passion has reasons that reason knows nothing of!
“Marina Militare” marking
Immediate collectors’ item
Our Rating: *****
We would like to thank the Panerai France teams and the jeweller Heurgon in Paris for their invaluable assistance in enabling us to share our passion with you.
Thierry Castagna / La Cote des Montres™ Photos Luc Virginius