Few watch brands with military tool-watch roots have attained the iconic heights of Panerai, and yet the Florentine-Swiss maison has never really been known as a go-to maker of that most popular of horological “tools,” the chronograph. At Watches & Wonders this past week, Panerai aimed to change that perception with the release of an entirely new series of stylish chronograph wristwatches from its expansive Luminor collection.
The truth is, Panerai has been making chronograph-equipped timepieces since at least 1943, the year that it completed its Mare Nostrum prototype for the company’s longtime client, the Italian Navy. While that model never made it past the prototype stage, its spirit lives on in the new Luminor Chrono collection, which kicks off with three references, all in stainless steel cases. These include the PAM01109, with a matte black dial and black alligator leather strap; PAM01218, with a matte white dial and black alligator strap; and PAM01110, with blue satiné-soleil dial and a new brushed-and-polished steel bracelet (the latter, another feature not widely associated with Panerai in the past). All three feature a multi-level “sandwich”-style dial and the patented crown-protecting bridge device that is a hallmark of Luminor models, but the Chrono models include a few significant additions.
Among these additions are the chronograph pushers, positioned unconventionally on the left side of the cushion-shaped, 44-mm-diameter case and thus creating balance with the dominant crown-protector on the right side; a bicompax dial arrangement with light blue details to identify the chronograph functions (specifically, the tip of the central seconds counter and the hand of the 30-minute totalizer at 3 o’clock, parallel to the small seconds subdial at 9 o’clock); and a “base 100” tachymeter scale on the flange, a feature that enables calculation of speeds based on time and distance.
Ensconced inside the 100-meter water resistant case (behind a solid, 12-sided screwed caseback) is a new automatic movement, Panerai Caliber P.9200, with 41 jewels, a 28,800-vph frequency, and a 42-hour power reserve. It’s not clear how much of the P.9200 is made in-house — most Panerai manufacture calibers have at least a three-day power reserve, and all of its previous chronograph models have incorporated outsourced base movements — but it is equipped with modern technical elements like a Glucydur balance wheel and an Incabloc shock protector. The steel bracelet on the PAM01110 is particularly notable, with a slim, ergonomic design and curved, bridge-shaped links inspired by Panerai’s safety-lock system. In keeping with current trends, all the models’ straps and bracelets use an interchangeability system that allows wearers to easily switch from strap to bracelet and vice versa. Available as of July 2021, prices for the Luminor Chronos range from $9,200 (on straps) to $10,000 (on bracelet).