Panerai Luminor Base 8 Days Acciaio PAM561 Watch Review

Panerai Luminor Base 8 Days Acciaio PAM561 Watch Review

Panerai Luminor Base 8 Days Acciaio PAM561 Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

From a strictly military perspective, wearing a white dial dive watch on a mission would possibly cause your fellow commando soldiers to smack you in the back of the head. But what the Panerai Luminor Base 8 Days Acciaio PAM561 lacks in historical accuracy and stealth capabilities it makes up for by being one of the more affordable, in-house-movement-equipped and refreshing-looking alternatives in a sea of boring black and blue dial watches.

Panerai Luminor Base 8 Days Acciaio PAM561 Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Panerai may be a brand of only a handful of – admittedly very similar – collections, yet it still is one among few that have an almost unearthly power in bringing their first-time customer back for another model... and then another, and another, and so on. As such, I don't think that the Panerai Luminor Base 8 Days Acciaio PAM561 is a typical "first Panerai" – for that, check out our Cost of Entry article on the most affordable Panerai you can buy.

I picked the PAM561 specifically because I wanted to review a Panerai that isn't an obvious choice but something one might actually end up considering after looking at the current production line-up of the brand. Clad in a 44mm-wide Luminor case, it is a simple, legible, and among Panerai watches, competitively priced offering that also packs a more unusual hand-wound, in-house-made movement with an 8-day power reserve.

Panerai Luminor Base 8 Days Acciaio PAM561 Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Aesthetics & Wearability

Being the simple watch that it is, there isn't much pizzazz to get distracted by. But that just means that the fewer number of consequently more prominent elements have to work together all the better – and, with one notable gripe notwithstanding, they do.

To this day, I remain positively baffled by how ingenious this Luminor case design is, especially in 44mm where proportions with the dial elements I find more spot on than the 47mm. The larger case is proportionate but often too large to work well with the dial, in my opinion.

Panerai Luminor Base 8 Days Acciaio PAM561 Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

The perfectly round bezel looks both elegant and masculine, while the cushion-shaped case with its tall profile (unlike the sloped 1950 variant) and straight lugs operates in brilliant harmony with it. The PAM561 has a fully polished case which is not as impressive as exteriors with alternating finishings can be: it really is a polished mass of steel without any sharp angles, complex corners and edges, or particularly fascinating details anywhere. It is your bog-standard Luminor case that is attractive as a whole and at a glance, but not for its selfishly complicated intricacies.

Panerai Luminor Base 8 Days Acciaio PAM561 Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Of the two minor details I would still point out that go beyond mere proportions, first is how the four corners of the middle case are curved downwards, which takes the edges of the corners away and makes them better complement the round dial and bezel. The second is the profile of the crown guard - not something many would look at. Its bottom side is completely flat to keep it as high above the wrist as possible (though at times, it does dig into the skin), while its top part is angled upwards, towards the wearer. This, you don't necessarily realize even when looking at the watch at a slight angle, but it does add more sophistication to this over-60-year-old military design.

Panerai Luminor Base 8 Days Acciaio PAM561 Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Speaking of this component, oddly enough, Panerai decided to add a fully satin-finished crown guard on the completely polished case. This isn't something that would stand out immediately at first look, but once spotted wasn't something that I could quite get used to over the few weeks with the Panerai Luminor Base 8 Days Acciaio PAM561. This aesthetic element is sort of like an exaggerated take on alternating finishing. I will say that, from afar, I found it possibly adds a more quality look than what the PAM561 would have had with a polished crown guard to go with the reflective case. It isn't a maker or breaker of the aesthetics but rather something that I think is a bit odd at first, but ultimately, justified.

Panerai Luminor Base 8 Days Acciaio PAM561 Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Panerai Luminor Base 8 Days Acciaio PAM561 Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Typical Panerai treats include the reassuringly snappy crown guard lever – that I liked to fiddle with whenever I had a brief moment to spare in a queue or on public transport. It is something I find myself reaching for and disappointedly not finding after strapping on other watches. Also appreciated was the 24mm lug width that opens up a virtually infinite supply of strap options.

Panerai will sell you calf and buffalo leather straps from CHF 220 going up to CHF 360 for alligator ones. But frankly, at this point, there is such a vast selection of aftermarket straps that you'd be highly encouraged to shop around there (and support those guys, as well).

Panerai Luminor Base 8 Days Acciaio PAM561 Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Panerai Luminor Base 8 Days Acciaio PAM561 Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

The black "Calf Monte Carlo" leather strap that the Panerai Luminor Base 8 Days Acciaio PAM561 is supplied with is of decent quality, but nothing notable that would really add or take away from its overall appearance and impression. If anything, this black-on-black option I think is a bit safe and boring, especially as this white dial version is all about more vivid colors and pushing regular, safe aesthetics to the side a bit. Apart from looks, wearability is as great as it always is with a Panerai, as the watch is held firm and secure thanks to the ample width, thickness, and rigidity of the strap and its massive, Panerai-marked pin buckle.

Panerai Luminor Base 8 Days Acciaio PAM561 Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Dial & Legibility (& My Only Gripe)

The dial is more unusual not just in its color but also in its markings, with Arabic numerals all around (unlike your more typical Panerai dials that only have numerals for 12, 3, 6, and 9 with baton markers everywhere else) plus an additional and, again, rarer 60-minute track on the periphery. The numerals are not lumed, only the hands and the pips on the periphery of the dial are. All of these are painted on the dial's surface as the Panerai Luminor Base 8 Days Acciaio PAM561 has a solid dial rather than the famed Panerai sandwich dial.

Panerai Luminor Base 8 Days Acciaio PAM561 Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Sandwich dials are fun and all, but your first Panerai more than likely had that already, and the PAM561 is more like your second or third in the line, as I mentioned above, where you do want something new in the subtleties that render one Panerai different from another. The prominent "8 DAYS" marking above six o'clock refers to the P.5000 in-house caliber – but before we move on to that, just one more word (and my only gripe with the PAM561) on legibility.

Panerai Luminor Base 8 Days Acciaio PAM561 Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

The black numerals and the black painted hands with their off-white (but not faux vintage!) center contrast beautifully against the sharp white dial – the lume pips and the center of the hands turn noticeably green even when it's bright outside, the famously excellent Panerai lume is so strong. Stay inside for longer, though, and as the lume discharges (and doesn't receive much charge from ambient lights), these elements go back to being white.

Panerai Luminor Base 8 Days Acciaio PAM561 Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Everlastingly good color contrast aside, however, the only two hands on the PAM561 are just way too short. I noticed this in official images but even during the excitement of unpacking a freshly received review unit, they soon stood out for me as too short – and, frankly, I don't see why this was necessary. The minute hand falls way short of the track it's by definition supposed to reach, and the hour hand sometimes just looks "lost" in the sea of white, coming in way too short to be even remotely close to the outer edge of the dial (it barely reaches halfway across).

Panerai Luminor Base 8 Days Acciaio PAM561 Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Perhaps longer and heavier hands would have put additional strain on the movement, but if anything, an 8-day power reserve movement should have enough torque to move these thin and light hands around. I personally will go so far as to say I would have traded a day or two of power reserve for longer hands.

What do you think?
  • Thumbs up (35)
  • Interesting (25)
  • I want it! (12)
  • I love it! (11)
  • Classy (4)
  • ??????

    The color and the pattern of the strap don’t match the watch IMO. They are fine separately, but just don’t work together.

    • David Bredan

      Fair point. I should note that the brown strap is mine and is not a Panerai strap – I did enjoy the contrast between it and the watch but I also put the black Panerai one back on to show how it’s shipped. With the limitless possible strap variations the look of the watch really can be changed completely – to each their own.

      • ??????

        I haven’t seen one in flesh, but I tend to think it’d look best on a clearer strap (less contrast): https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/53ce9b3bf4a1f95e54bfdd0dc89ec97279d2619dbf1fff8ffcd222da5bb7997b.jpg

        • David Bredan

          That’s a sensible and tasteful combination for sure, though a bit dull compared to what I’d pair it with (good thing there are so many possibilities)

          • SuperStraper makes a lot of bespoke straps for Panerai customers.

          • SuperStrapper

            Funny you mention that, I was discussing this recently and after doing an audit (I keep terrible records) panerai owners are my most common customers, but a very close second are speedmaster owners. I have made more speedmaster straps than should be considered reasonable (3 in queue currently, have not made a Panerai strap this year).

  • Word Merchant

    Completely agree re the hands but I’d go further: this Watch is a mess.

  • IG

    Even more pointless than the usual Panerai.

  • Luciano

    The hand sizing is only an issue with this dial, due the smaller arabic numerals and the minute tracking. The PAM560 is not only closer to the standard Panerai look, but also much better integrated from a design point of view. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/d7b01dd802115a449b78f5a6fe91fb3bb2ba1ea751e4b4a67796d9b82d943651.jpg

    • Good point – but heaven forbid Panerai should design new hands to go with a new dial. Just think how many more thousands that would have added to the (already not so cheap) price. Cheers.

      • Luciano

        Yes. That would be too much work. 😉

  • Alex Tan

    I would love to know the accuracy of these 8 Days P5000 in-house movement. Read varied reviews on this movements so I am curious to find out from people who own this hand wound movement. Much appreciated.

  • IanE

    Well, I like the rear-view.

    • I can’t even go that far.

      • IanE

        Well, I always was a rear-view man!

  • The good – not just another Panerai with a black sandwich dial. I appreciate that there is a full set of hour makers and minute/second markers too. Nice long power reserve too.

    The bad – everything else.

    As David noted the crown guard finish is incongruent with the rest of the case.

    Plus it is a wrist torture device even though this is one of the more reasonably sized Panerais.

    It is unpleasant to wind and it takes a LOT of winding – not a good combination. At least you only have to endure that once a week.

    The hands are too short and the movement is boring looking. I appreciate a nice German 3/4 plate movement as much as the next guy, but this movement is waste of an exhibition back. If this is supposed to be a somewhat tactical/military inspired watch, then a solid case back with this “industrial looking” movement would have been better.

    I’m not a fan of the crown guard, so a “1940” case – modern lugs but without the crown protection system ™ – would be my case choice for any Panerai.

    Pricing, well it is the normal aggressive nonsense from this brand. And it doesn’t even have a seconds hand for cripes sake.

    To each his own, but a 24 mm strap starts to be so wide that they are often uncomfortable on my average sized wrist. A nice 20 or 22 works better for me.

    • ProJ

      Agree with everything you said except the wrist torture comment. Even at 44mm and on my small 6.75 inch wrist, the Luminor case wears very comfortably.

      • I concur. My 45mm Radiomir (classic wire lugs) wears very well, as does my 44mm Anonimo (same case essentially as the Luminor) and my wrist is also 6.75.

    • ??????

      Agree on the movement: just boring. Funny – I even prefer the simpler Unitas-based calibers by Panerai, they look more fun.

  • Raymond Wilkie

    With all due respect, how is this fun ? Too be honest , it’s really quite boring. That crown guard is just a digger, completely unnecessary even if it does have a reassuring snap. Open back to what ? most of its covered, why bother?. No second hand ? Just lazy. The dial, well its a Panerai so boring is the name of the game. This watch is saying absolutely nothing to me at all.

    Resounding Clunk™

    • JCRV

      I’m just wondering, but have you ever wore one? I’ve had watches where the crown ‘bit’ my hand, but the crown guard of my Panerai has never caused me discomfort, possibly because it’s rounded of.
      I own an 8 days base model and the lack of the second hand is actually the reason I got it. I liked the look of the Panerai cushion shape with the crown guard, but not the off-center second hand. To me, this looks more ‘quiet’. To each his own…
      I do agree I would have liked to see more of the movement, even if this is to recall ‘old movements in which the mechanism was contained between two plates concealing most of the wheels and allowing only a few details to be seen’.

      • Raymond Wilkie

        Hands up, no , i have never worn one. The one thing i can’t comment on in here is the wearability of the piece i am talking about. I like to wear my watch very loose where it almost rests on the start of my hand ( which are massive ) . I hate a watch tight up against my wrist allowing for no movement at all

    • IG

      How much on the Clunkiness Scale™ ?

      • Raymond Wilkie

        8/10

  • BNABOD

    so in summary: big, uncomfortable, pain in the a$$ to wind, brushed parts you had left over slapped on a shiny case, movement finished by robots and as attractive as a 80s Fiat. One more pricey. ok I will go for that one please.

  • Phil leavell

    I’m a bigger fan of the radiomir 1940 . The 561 is very pretty so lit up

  • ProJ

    I overall like how this watch looks, nonetheless I would never buy it. I don’t quite get the idea of a sports/tool watch that not only lacks an automatic movement, but also lacks a seconds hand!!?

    I do like this traditional Luminor case design (a lot, even better than the 1950 case) and I do like the lack of date (never been a fan of PAM’s date apertures.)

    Make it auto, add a seconds hand and it would’ve been a great watch.

  • Lincolnshire Poacher

    Like all Panerai, its a moderately attractive dial, until you realize its not 38-40mm.
    They have their fans, and they’ll keep buying. Well they’ve got to, it’s like the art dealer who keeps buying from an artist to keep the price inflated on all the stock, that they have of artist. (Last comment was a joke).

    • Phil leavell

      on some people this sizes looks normal. my rist 9″…230cm?? so under38 look like lady watch. Have a seiko srb017 which I love but is so small it looks funny on me. had 2 get NATO stap the 1 on it would not close

  • A_watches

    Archieluxury III, the “pontiff”, “AC3” announced the death of panerai a few months back in a BREAKING NEWS youtube vid “the hong kong market for panerai has crashed, you couldn’t give them away..”, but like a zombie that keeps getting back up, one more shitty watch!

  • Beefalope

    I don’t hate it.

  • otaking241

    Hardcore Paneristi don’t think much of the numeral-dialed models but I’ve always had a soft spot for them–I’ve had both a 164 and a 359 and loved them both dearly. It’s nice to have a white option with the new 8-day movement, and for one of the cheapest watches in their line I think you’re getting a lot of bang for your buck. No the movement isn’t decorated like a Patek but you are getting a genuine manufacture movement with 8-day power reserve and Panerai’s fit and finish are definitely near the top of the heap in any price level.

    Whether the Panerai look works for you aesthetically or not is a matter of personal taste but I think this is a solid entry in the lineup, and I’m glad to see they’re not letting the OG Luminor series languish even as they continue to diversify.

  • Larry Holmack

    I guess it’s okay looking. Just not a fan of their watches.

  • Bill Grist

    Yawn or Gag either way you have to stretch your pharynx to swallow this load of fun

  • Yanko

    If there is a company that makes me tired and sleepy – it is PANERAI.

  • You can still see some of the going train, I hope Panerai ups their game and exposes even less of the movement. It’s a mystery after all. But you need the useless exhibition back to still see even less in this example. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c303f7106b6c90d6fbd0cddd0f0d83cecbdbf7ffbc69f37219249225a6958fce.jpg

    • BNABOD

      Put a battery behind it and no one will see it. Actually…yes…brilliant idea

    • commentator bob

      For what Panerai charges it really needs to have manufacture movements, but I prefer the look of the Unitas and Unitas clone movements in a number of watches, including ~$1,000 manufacture Tissots and ~$100 (in Chinese clone format) Stuhrlings. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/7d17d11e66d14641e09d0cfed845466873b75d805c3db967bd19866200346446.jpg

      • commentator bob

        Worth mentioning: The Unitas Tissots are COSC certified while this is not. The tiny baby balance wheel Panerai uses to get the 8 day power reserve probably makes the movement very difficult to regulate.

        • Smaller (lower inertia actually) balance wheels mean higher frequency. And high frequency means higher power consumption. So while it may be counter-intuitive, a small balance wheel is the power eater. This Panerai is a 3 Hz (21,600 bph) movement while most ETA 6497 movements are slower at 2.5 Hz (18,000 bph). In contrast most “modern” movements are 4 Hz (28,800). The relatively low frequency and the 2 mainspring barrels are what allow this movement to run for over a week. Cheers.

          • commentator bob

            There is no relationship between balance wheel size and frequency. Any size balance wheel can be set at any frequency. With this watch Panerai has used both a small balance wheel and a low frequency. Both make the watch use less energy but also make it less accurate.

            “This energy reduction is obtained in mentioned examples above all through a reduction of the oscillation system plus a reduction of the frequency. These smaller oscillation systems require less energy and leave more space for barrel(s). Admittedly, these are however essentially lighter and therefore prone to dysfunction against external perturbation for example motion.”

            http://www.synhor.ch/die-hohe-gangreserve-oder-der-trend-zur-kleinen-unruh/?lang=en

            The article above states, under a picture of the Panerai movement, that:

            “Looking at the pictures of these stated movements you can easily note that balance wheels of past ladies watches have found their way into large movements.”

          • I specifically mentioned inertia in my comment as polar inertia is what determines the “natural” frequency of an oscillating object. Your generalized comment is untrue when all other things are equal: “There is no relationship between balance wheel size and frequency. Any size balance wheel can be set at any frequency.”

      • Shinytoys

        I have a Parnis Homage (knock off) that has a seagull movement. I bought it in Hong Kong with the idea of warming up to the design. It may be helping a little bit…

    • Shinytoys

      The rear of the watch is cringe worthy. It’s makes a person wonder who approved that design and allowed it to leave the factory that way…

      • That is a “photoshopped” image of course – meant to only point out the illogical end that Panerai could go to given their current ethos.

  • Mark1884

    I have tried to like this brand, but just cannot. I hate the crown guard mechanism sticking out of the side. Does anyone really think that looks good or is cool?? The sandwich dials don’t do anything for me.
    This latest Panerai is the best looking of the bunch to me. Maybe because it is less traditional Panerai looking than most others. I really like the dial layout and full arabic numerals. This one is an easy read. Although, a white dial is not my favorite. I would dump the exhibition case back, and I would prefer an automatic movement.
    The lack of a second hand does seem strange, but I could live with it. Maybe bump up the hand size.
    Still not a Panerai person, but this one is better.

  • Sheez Gagoo

    Panerai is a mystery to me. Years ago, I had to build a prototype for them including gas tubes. The case was well built but like all Panerais very simple and with a lack of details. The movement was a simple Unitas 6497 and the dial had no depth. Well, I thought it`s a former military watch, no need to be complicated. But why the hell is it $7000? Who pays this? It`s max. a $1000 watch. I like simplicity, altough it was way to big. Then I saw a documentary about the Volkswagen emission scandal and the former CEO and his lakais had one. Panerai is a poser brand. There is not a single interesting horological detail in them. They are hollow like a cheap chocolate easter egg. At least they seem to have a boring inhouse (inhouse Richemont) movement. As I heard from unreliable sources, Panerais doesn`t sell at all. They stay like lead in the shops and grey market prices are limbo.

    • I seem to recall that they got a “bump” after Stallone was seen wearing them and later became an ambassador for them. But at this point they seem to be past their 15 minutes of fame – except for the loyal Paneristi out there. I guess those fanboys keep the crazy prices up there. But the whole thing makes you wonder.

      • Sheez Gagoo

        True. Sylvester Stallone (and in particular his mother) seem to have a very doubtable taste. He was also seen wearing this monstrosity from Montegrappa. Even the name sounds like some cheap booze from an Italian gas station.

        • Yeah the Monte-Crappa with skulls and rivers of fire (or some such nonsense) was his preferred (or at least hawked) watch after the Pans.

    • commentator bob

      I would wager that a number of people care nothing about Panerai and just want a cushion case sport watch from a luxury brand. Rolex originally made the cases for Panerai, along with its own cushion shaped sport watches, so it could legitimately offer a modern cushion shaped sport watch without being a Panerai knock-off. The Tudor brand would make the most sense since it sells the vintage Rolex inspired models. A cushion shape Tudor would put Panerai out of business.

  • JF Schnell

    I like Panerai. There are watches that I would buy for sure. One that I wouldn’t buy is this one in the article. I don’t like watches with only two hands and that’s it. It needs to have more to offer. A watch needs a little bit of something else that even though not used often it looks wonderful. This is not the case

  • Shinytoys

    The review explains a lot to me as far as why these watches seem to lack any particular style and grace. The white face adds a bit of spark to them, and I recently saw the Pan with a black face and colored design lines which also breathed life the product. Still, I would think a product from Italy would have a bit more zing too it. I’m still on the fence with this company.

  • commentator bob

    Another site did an analysis of the compromises required for theses long power reserve watches, including smaller balance wheels and lower frequencies (both which hurt time keeping reliability). A notable quote in reference to this Panerai movement:

    “Looking at the pictures of these stated movements you can easily note that balance wheels of past ladies watches have found their way into large movements.”

    http://www.synhor.ch/die-ho

  • Pete L

    I am a Panerai fan but whilst many hardcore paneristi think base is best I have never liked watches without running seconds (and prefer a date too if I’m honest). Panerai do cater for these options however so not really a gripe – although prices escalate quickly! (The new 1499 is a favourite but a lot more money)
    With regard to the hands being too short I can see what you mean but I think Panerai have kept the traditional hand set proportions of the other Luminor models. They look fine on my 312 with the longer sandwich dial indices.

  • Ulysses31

    I just can’t tell them apart anymore. I guess I must be a Panaracist.

  • Frank

    If I don’t already have a 114, then this one would be up for consideration. But I don’t seem to have issue with the hands being too short. And besides the new in-house movement, this one has a “new” case, bezel, crystal and a fat “6” and “9” fonts compared to the old one.

    Thanks for the review.