Panerai has once again reached into its past to inspire two new Special Edition timepieces, launch this week at SIHH 2017. Both versions of the Panerai Radiomir 3 Days Acciaio – 47mm recall a rare Panerai watch from the late 1930s, an era during which the company was a supplier to the Royal Italian Navy.
The historical Panerai Radiomir watches that inspired this contemporary model had an unusual 12-sided bezel engraved with the words “OFFICINE PANERAI – BREVETTATO.” This inscription referred to the patented luminous substance used on the dial (called Radiomir, which gave the model its name), and it suggests that the watches were used not for military operations, as were most Panerai watches at the time, but for presenting to the authorities of the Royal Italian Navy, which was evaluating new instruments for underwater missions. The new Radiomir 3 Days Acciaio models reproduce the fundamental characteristics of these vintage watches.
The 12-sided bezel is in brushed steel, with smoothed, polished angles and the same engraving as the historic models, in period-appropriate lettering. Both the bezel and the caseback are screwed onto the cushion-shaped Radiomir case middle, creating in profile a symmetrical, three-part construction that recalls the original. The stainless steel case measures an ample 47 mm in diameter, the same size as those of vintage Panerai watches, and is water-resistant to 30 meters. The wire loop strap attachments, another nod to history, are removable, making strap replacement easy. The strap itself is made of untreated brown leather, with ecru-colored contrast stitching, and fastens to the wrist with a large single-pronged steel buckle.
The dial — executed in Panerai’s hallmark “sandwich” style — is simple and minimalist, with large Arabic numerals and stick indices. Two dials are available, both calling back to the vintage model’s history: the black dial on the PAM00685 model replicates the actual dial color of the original, while the shaded brown dial on the PAM00687 — a completely new color in the Panerai portfolio — is a visual reference to the lightening effect that the the luminous, radium-based Radimoir substance had on those original black dials. essentially, the black model resembles a “new” 1930s watch and the brown dial, a “vintage” one.
The caseback has a wide sapphire window that showcases the movement, Panerai’s in-house, hand-wound P.3000. The movement’s large diameter — 161⁄2 lignes – is typical of the calibers used in the historical models. Among its notable features are big, brushed-finish bridges covering the majority of the wheelwork; a similarly large 13.2-mm-diameter balance wheel; and two spring barrels, which provide the three-day power reserve referenced in the model’s name. The P.3000 movement is also equipped with a device that allows the wearer to quickly change the time by moving the hour hand backward or forward in one-hour jumps without interfering with the movement of the minute hand or the running of the watch.
Both Radiomir 3 Days Acciaio models come in special wooden boxes, along with an additional Plexiglas crystal, a certificate personalized with the watch’s serial number, and a rare, vintage publication, describing the military equipment of the Royal Italian Navy’s special forces, in which Panerai watches and instruments appear. Both watches are priced at $9,800.