Another year, another new material ushered into the world of high horology by Officine Panerai, the Florentine maestros of rugged, sporty luxury. After bringing us such avant-garde alloys as Carbotech and Goldtech in recent years, Panerai introduces in its new Luminor Marine Fibratech – 44MM model a new high-tech composite material made of mineral fibers from volcanic basalt.
Used here for the first time in the watch industry, Fibratech is constructed from “natural and sustainable eco-fibers,” and 60 percent lighter than steel yet highly resilient and corrosion-resistant. Panerai says the material’s unidirectional mineral fibers are produced by the fusion of basalt rock, then bound with polymers to become thin layers which are superimposed in a precise orientation and finally consolidated through a pressure and temperature controlled process. Used in the aerospace industry, Fibratech has a homogenous matte gray appearance that differs slightly in each finished piece depending on the cut of the material. That means that each 44-mm barrel-shaped case of this new timepiece is subtly unique from all others. Fibratech makes up the case middle, including the patented crown protecting bridge, while Carbotech is used for the crown itself, the crown-locking lever, and the bezel.
The Luminor Marina Fibratech – 44MM (PAM01663), one of a handful of special editions released this year in commemoration of the Luminor model’s 70th anniversary, features all of the familiar aesthetic hallmarks — the aforementioned crown guard device that sets the Luminor series apart from its predecessor, the Radiomir; the “sandwich” style dial, here in an ultra-modern blue-to-black gradation; the stencil-type hour numerals with green-glowing white Super-LumiNova; and the 9 o’clock small seconds subdial balanced out by the 3 o’clock date window. Covering the dial is a robust sapphire crystal made from corundum.
Behind a solid micro-sandblasted titanium caseback beats the movement, Panerai’s in-house Caliber P.9010, which is self-winding by means of a bidirectional rotor and stores a power reserve of 72 hours, or three days, in its two spring barrels. Like other Panerai manufacture movements, it is fitted with a device for stopping the balance wheel to more precisely synchronize the watch while setting it, as well as a system for quickly adjusting the hour hand forward or backward without interfering with the running of the seconds hand — a useful feature when changing time zones or in the event one needs to quickly adjust the date. Made up of 200 components, including 31 jewels, the movement measures a svelte 6 mm thick.
The Panerai Luminor Marina Fibratech comes on a blue strap made of Panerai Sportech, a proprietary woven material with a waterproof, rubberized texture, and fastens to the wrist with a trapezoidal titanium buckle with DLC coating. An additional rubber strap is also included. The watch will be priced at $16,000.