Panerai is an often polarizing brand that has, in recent years, seen a massive spike in popularity and has become a somewhat household name in men's luxury wrist watches. Now, often included in the brands that your non-watchnerd friends are aware of, they hold rank in upscale jewellery boutiques alongside Breitling and Rolex. Personally, I have loved the Panerai Radiomir as long as I have loved watches, but both the price and the case size has often been too much for my reality. While SIHH saw quite a few new models from Panerai, none were as intriguing to me as the Luminor 1950 Regatta 3 Days Chrono Flyback Automatic Titanio (PAM00526).
That's a rather long name, so we'll stick with Regatta 3 Days. What we have here is a 47mm Luminor case constructed from titanium and encapsulating Panerai's in-house P.9100/R automatic chronograph movement with a flyback feature and central minutes (orange) and seconds (blue) hands. This information layout allows the Regatta 3 Days to stick with the familiar Panerai dial aesthetic while still offering an effective view of the elapsed time with a maximum measure of 12 hours. This layout is fantastically elegant and the use of color is just enough to set the PAM00526 apart from their other chronograph models.
The P.9100/R is no conventional chronograph movement, offering dual barrels supporting 72 hours of power reserve alongside a column wheel chronograph with a vertical clutch. Comprised of 328 pieces with 37 jewels, the P.9100/R even incorporates a KIF Parechoc anti-shock system. This movement is currently only used in the Regatta 3 Days and, along with the practical chronograph display, also features a flyback chronograph and a regatta countdown feature that is as cool as any I've ever seen.
Yacht racing requires a countdown period before the official start of a race to help keep the starting grid of boats as fairly placed as possible. Signals (provided by flags and horn sounds) keep the start of a sailing regatta structured as the boats fight the wind and current to remain aligned. Typically, a five minute countdown is used to keep the boats synchronized. On the Regatta 3 Days, the wearer can zero the chronograph and then press the four o'clock pusher to reverse the minute (orange) hand by one minute increments. Assuming a five minute countdown for your regatta (or microwave TV dinner, no judgement), you can set the chronograph back five minutes and then start the chronograph with the pusher at ten o'clock. The watch will now countdown as the hands progress back to zero. At zero the race starts and the chronograph will continue running and measure the duration of the race without any additional input from the user. Simple, effective, and presumably useful for things other than regatta timing, what's not to like?
The Panerai Luminor 1950 Regatta 3 Days Chrono Flyback Automatic Titanio is Panerai at its best. Excellent dial design, a thoroughly impressive movement and a feature set that is practical, legible and easy to use. Backed with 100m worth of water resistance and an anti-reflective sapphire crystal, the Regatta should be ready for your day at the races whether you're actively racing or simply spectating from the shoreline. The 47mm case is too large for both my wrist and my tastes, but I still really dig the Regatta 3 Days and cannot fault anyone who falls for this incredibly cool $12,000 chronograph.