When Panerai unveiled the Radiomir Quaranta in GoldTech(PAM1026) at Watches and Wonders 2023, the brand was simultaneously lauded and criticized for the dramatic downsizing of one of its most historic models. While the criticism was surprisingly mild, the success of smaller-sized watches cannot be ignored. The debut of the new Radiomir Quaranta in precious metal was also foreshadowing for what we all knew was coming – a full collection of midsized Panerai watches – and Panerai did not make us wait long for them, either. The new Radiomir Quaranta collection is here with watches in polished steel, proprietary Goldtech, and limited boutique-exclusive yellow gold.
The new Radiomir Quaranta collection — named quaranta which simply means “forty” in Italian — is exactly what the name implies, a 40mm version of the historic and beloved Radiomir model. The case features a fully polished bezel, wire lugs, mid-case, and a circular-brushed caseback. The gentle curves make the Quaranta watches visually at home on the wrist. The slender 10.15mm thickness has a major role in this effect. The overall case shape of the Radiomir, especially in this size, feels similar to that of a flat round stone smoothed by thousands of years in the ocean. These sloping cases bend reflections and distort light. In combination with the thin wire lugs, the Radiomir Quaranta case sits even thinner than its height implies. An unobtrusive conical screw-down winding crown is found at 3 o’clock and is not noticeable on the wrist. Those who wear their watches closer to their hand may experience some rubbing or irritation. However, I quickly found myself forgetting the watch was even on my wrist. The flush profile sits comfortably on my 6.4-inch wrist and easily slides under the cuff of my sweater All the watches are mounted on semi-matte padded alligator leather straps with branded pin buckles. The straps are surprisingly supple upon handling.
One of the secrets to the elegantly thin case is the automatic mechanical P.900 calibre that is a mere 4.2mm-thick on its own. The P.900 is, essentially, the Baumatic movement from Baume & Mercier, which is one of the luxury group Richemont’s three-hand “in-house” movements. This is in quotes because it is very closely based on the Cartier caliber 1847 MC (another Richemont company), which is produced by ValFleurier. There is nothing inherently wrong with this movement. It is tried and true, used in a variety of Richemont companies and even some non-Richemont brands. This means parts will be more common, servicing costs (potentially) lower, and capable watchmakers significantly more prevalent. The term “in-house” is loosely used by each brand, although they are mostly all a part of the Richemont group. Nevertheless, the single-barreled automatic movement provides three days of power reserve and beats at 28,800 vibrations per hour, providing adequate timekeeping. The three-day power reserve is a bit disappointing, but it is still sufficiently “weekend proof,” and I prefer a thinner case over a longer power reserve. The entire Quaranta collection is powered by the P.900 (at the time of release), and all feature the same centrally mounted hour and minutes hands, a 9 o’clock sub-seconds dial, and a 3 o’clock date.
The precious metal Radiomir Quaranta models come fitted with a sapphire caseback to view the nicely finished movement, while the steel models are fitted with a solid steel caseback. Despite the solid caseback, the steel models are only rated to an abysmal 30 meters of water resistance at this time, while the precious metal options are rated to 50 meters. However, the brand clearly states this depth rating will be increased to 50 meters of water resistance soon. The same statement was made at Watches & Wonders about the PAM1026 in GoldTech, and it has already been updated (less than a month at the time of publishing). However, the sample in the photos was produced prior to this change going into effect and is marked with a lower rating. While 50 meters is far more water resistance than most wearers would need — especially those keeping the leather strap on — I would like to see these with a minimum of 100 meters of water resistance. The Radiomir is a military dive watch, after all.
On the flip side, a domed crystal made from corundum (white sapphire) covers each dial. Four different dial colors dramatically change the character and wearability of the watch. The wide dial aperture alters the on-wrist appearance with lighter-colored dials appearing larger than the darker options. The steel-cased models come in four dial colors; black (PAM1294), blue (PAM1293), white (PAM1292), and green (PAM1386). Each is “sun-brushed” to result in a dynamic flash of color that changes in the light. The black, white, and green dials in steel, and the white dial in GoldTech all feature tan luminous material as part of the sandwich dial construction and handset. While I am normally against the use of “fake patina” it works excellently with these dial colors. The blue dial in steel and the green dial in yellow gold (PAM1437) sport white luminous material. All Quaranta variants feature an elegant gold handset that can be found across the Panerai catalog.
Panerai is certainly providing us with a lot of options with the new collection. As a small-wristed fan of the Radiomir line, these releases excite me. They make the brand’s most historic model available to those who have been overwhelmed by the size for decades without diluting or tarnishing its history. The watch market is slowly shifting back to smaller-sized watches, but Panerai isn’t fully committing to this change, and I hope it doesn’t. By expanding its options, the brand has allowed more customers to enjoy these watches without losing those who love them for their unapologetically robust nature. The new Radiomir is not a small watch by traditional means, but it is by Panerai’s definition, and that’s exactly what its customers love. Three Radiomir Quaranta watches in steel are non-limited and are priced at $6,000 USD. The Radiomir Quaranta PAM1026 in Goldtech is non-limited and is priced at $18,200 USD. The Radiomir Quaranta PAM1386 in steel with a green dial is limited to 500 pieces and only available through the brand’s e-commerce platforms at a price of $6,000 USD. Lastly, the Radiomir Quaranta PAM1437 in yellow gold with a green dial is a boutique-exclusive model limited to 500 pieces for $18,200 USD. Learn more about the new watches and the brand at Panerai’s website.