Panerai and the sea are eternally linked. Our friends at Monochrome-Watches note that this strong bond has been embedded within the DNA of the company from the start. The Panerai Marina Militare was the first truly underwater watch that was made for the Italian military divers to time accurately their operations during the WWII. Panerai is known for big watches, minimal in character and unique in appearance. However, Panerai has produced a wide variety of naval instruments and other unique watches, and one of them is the Panerai Mare Nostrum. And here is a new edition, the PAM00603 or Mare Nostrum Titanio 52mm.
The term Mare Nostrum means “Our Sea,” and historically was used mainly during World War II. The victorious missions of the Royal Italian Navy meant that for a short time, a wide area of the Mediterranean Sea was controlled by the Italian fleet. In 1943 Panerai decided to create a chronograph for the deck officers of the Royal Italian Navy. The name “Mare Nostrum” had already been used by Guido Panerai in 1924 for what was probably the first Panerai chronograph, but all traces of this first model have been lost. However, a few prototypes of the 1943 chronograph are still existing, and these have enabled the rebirth of this new watch with great technical accuracy and similar aesthetic characteristics.
If you’re into Panerai, you’ll certainly know that this is not the first modern Mare Nostrum made by the Officine. Back in the Pre-Vendome times, Panerai released a “tiny” 42-mm edition (made in 1993) under the references PAM006 (blue dial), PAM007 (white dial) and PAM008 (black dial). Another edition was introduced at the 2010 SIHH, reference PAM300, and nearly identical to the original prototypes. Panerai made 99 of them and their only difference from the original is their movements. Where the original housed an Angelus 215 manual wind chronograph movement, the modern limited-edition PAM300 is powered by Panerai’s OP XXV movement, which is based on a Minerva movement with the same functions as the Angelus.
The new Panerai Mare Nostrum Titanio is a Special Edition that celebrates the birth of this very unusual chronograph, consisting of only 150 units. It faithfully reproduces the 1943 model, updating it to the highest standards. The first difference compared to the vintage watch is the material of which the large 52-mm case is made. The metal used for this tonneau-shaped case is brushed titanium, a material that combines excellent non-allergenic properties and enhanced lightness with the structural toughness needed to resist high pressure, external stresses and corrosion. The wide, flat, non-rotating bezel; the screwed case ack; and the winding crown engraved with the words “Mare Nostrum” are also made of brushed titanium.
The chronograph functions are controlled by two classic push-buttons, also made of brushed titanium, and the indications are given by the central seconds hand and by a subsidiary minutes counter at 3 o’clock. The continuous seconds hand rotates in a subsidiary dial at nine o’clock. Protected by a sapphire crystal with nonreflective treatment, the dial is made in two levels and, instead of the dark green of the vintage model, it is a sophisticated tobacco brown, which matches with the brown leather strap and its ecru stitching.
The Mare Nostrum’s tour-de-force, however, is in its heart: its caliber is based on a formerly great manufacture, Minerva. The chronograph is a hand-wound manufacture movement: the OP XXV caliber developed on a Minerva 13-22 base. It measures 123⁄4 lignes in diameter and has a balance wheel making 18,000 vibrations per hour, like the Angelus movement of the vintage prototype. We’re talking one of the most beautiful chronograph movements ever (it’s also shared by Montblanc) — all hand-finished, with top-of-the-range technical details such as a column wheel with vertical clutch and a swan’s neck regulator. Bridges are made of Maillechort, a nickel silver alloy that is particularly hard to work, and have a sophisticated finishing: côtes de Genève and polished, beveled angles. However, this superb movement is not visible because the watch comes with a plain caseback, engraved with the brand’s OP logo. You can admire it here, on the previous PAM300 edition.
The Panerai Mare Nostrum Titanio 52mm has the reference PAM00603 and it is water-resistant to a depth of about 30 meters. Of course, we don’t have to mention that on the wrist it is big — very big. The price for this exclusive watch is 37,000 euros.