On May 18, Officine Panerai will open “Panerai: Dive Into Time,” an exhibition showcasing the company’s history, in its birthplace city of Florence, Italy. The exhibition will also mark the debut of the new Panerai Radiomir 1940 Minute Repeater Carillon Tourbillon GMT, the most complicated Panerai watch ever made.
The Panerai Radiomir 1940 Minute Repeater Carillon Tourbillon GMT – 49mm (Ref. PAM00600) is distinguished by its rare “double” minute repeater mechanism, which can be set to chime either the local time or that of a second time zone. As with many special-edition Panerai watch models, the inspiration for this complication comes from the brand’s history with nautical navigation — namely the tradition on historical sailing vessels of using a ship’s bell to mark the passage of time. The ringing of such a bell played such essential everyday roles as rousing the crew in the morning, summoning the sailors for meals, indicating the end of a watchman’s shift, and warning of dangers such as the approach of another ship when visibility was restricted by fog. The tones of this watch’s chimes recall those of the ship’s bells of old.
The watch’s exceptional new movement is Caliber P.2005/MR, a hand-wound, skeletonized caliber outfitted with a high-end minute repeater mechanism as well as Panerai’s hallmark tourbillon regulator. It is the product of four years of research and development at the company’s manufacture in Neuchâtel, Switzerland and made entirely in-house.
The chiming mechanism is activated by a push-piece at 8 o’clock (above) and carried out by three hammers striking three gongs that are fixed to the movement and the case. Panerai chose three hammers, rather than the traditional two, to allow a combination of three different sounds, producing a more melodious, bell-like carillon. As in a more traditional repeater, the first gong, identifying the hour, is the lowest, while the last, indicating the individual minutes, is highest. However, this watch adds a second, intermediate-note gong sounding triple chimes that correspond to ten-minute intervals instead of the traditional fifteen.
For example: if the time on the watch is 10:28, activating the chimes on a traditional repeater would produce 10 chimes for the hour, a different chime for the quarter-hour and 13 individual chimes for the minutes. On this watch, the sequence would consist of 10 chimes for the hour, followed by two triple-chimes for the two ten-minute intervals, 10:10 and 10:20) followed by eight single chimes for the remaining eight minutes. This system of tens reduces the number of chimes and is intended to make the audible time indication both easier to understand and quicker to discern.
The cushion-shaped, rose-gold Radiomir 1940 case, measuring 49 mm in diameter, is formed from two separate pieces soldered together in a structure that optimizes the empty spaces inside the case to enhance the sound propagation of the repeater chimes.
What makes Panerai’s Minute Repeater Carillon stand out even more from its chiming horological brethren is the fact that the repeater function can be activated both for local time and for a second time zone — the latter indicated on the dial by a central arrow hand and AM/PM indicator on the counter at 3 o’clock. To avoid accidental activation of the chiming mechanism, Panerai’s watchmakers saw to it that the 8 o’clock push-piece can only be engaged when the winding crown is rotated to a certain degree, as indicated by a black insert on the side of the grooved crown (seen below): when this dot can be seen from the front, the carillon cannot be activated. In this position, with a single press on the push-piece in the crown’s center, the wearer can select the local time or the second time zone for chiming; the red HT/LT (Home Time/Local Time) indicator at 8 o’clock displays which option is chosen.
Caliber P.2005/MR also features another hallmark of Panerai’s most exclusive haute horlogerie timepieces, a patented tourbillon regulator system — visible from the front and back of the watch thanks to the skeletonization of the movement — in which the rotation of the tourbillon differs from that of the traditional type. In a classical tourbillon, the balance cage rotates continuously on itself, canceling out any variations caused by gravity and possible shocks. In Panerai’s mechanism, the cage rotates on an axis that is perpendicular, not parallel, to that of the balance. Additionally, the cage in Panerai’s system rotates every 30 seconds, rather than once per minute as in most other tourbillon movements. This rapid rotation is visible in the small seconds counter at 9 o’clock. According to Panerai, the greater speed and particular arrangement of the mechanism enable the regulator to compensate for rate changes more effectively, thus ensuring ensuring ideal timekeeping accuracy.
In addition to aiding in the watch’s acoustics, the skeletonized movement enables the owner to admire its many details. The watch has no dial per se: all the traditional dial elements are directly mounted on the movement or on the flange, on which is engraved with the words “RADIOMIR 1940 PANERAI” and “MINUTE REPEATER CARILLON.” Through the sapphire exhibition caseback, one can glimpse the tiny hammers of the minute repeaters; the two spring barrels, which store a power reserve of at least four days (96 hours); and the movement-mounted power reserve indicator. Caliber P.2005/MR is composed of a remarkable 633 components, including 59 jewels, and has a frequency of 28,800 vph. The bar markers and hour numerals are coated with Super-LumiNova. The case is water-resistant to 30 meters. The strap is stitched alligator leather.
As a designated Special Edition, the Panerai Radiomir 1940 Minute Repeater Carillon Tourbillon GMT is specifically made to order for clients. The brand has stated that it will also offer options for personalization, which would includes not only the choice of strap, hands and other special features, but also possibly a choice of case materials other than rose gold. The price will be $400,000, depending on alterations.
The “Panerai: Dive Into Time” exhibition runs from May 18 to May 21, 2016, in the crypt of the former Basilica of San Pancrazio, a historic underground vault in the heart of Florence that also houses the city’s Marino Marini Museum. It will feature previously unseen pieces from various periods of Panerai’s history, including the Panerai family’s early innovations in the fields of optics and mechanics, watches created for the Royal Italian Navy from the 1930s to the 1950s, a panorama of Panerai watches from the modern Richemont-owned era, and more, plus a world preview of select new models.