April 13, 2021
by Zach Pina
Perhaps the biggest Watches & Wonders news out of the Panerai camp this year was the nearly 100% recycled e-LAB ID Submersible — an open-sourced halo watch whose aim was to prove that the future of circular manufacturing in a more wholly sustainable watch industry wasn’t far away. But at $60,000, it’s an expensive concept piece that’s well out of reach for all but the most well-heeled and eco-conscious of Paneristi. For all the rest of us, Panerai also debuted a line of more traditional Luminor watches built around recycled “E-Steel” stainless steel cases — and you’ll be pleased to learn that the price points for all three of these new manufacture calibre-equipped references come in at under $9,000.
If we’re talking design codes, the new E-Steel references follow a very tried-and-true footprint: the 44mm 1950-style case whose sandwich dial is characterized by a running seconds indicator just inside the 9 o’clock hour marker, 300 meters of water resistance, and a P.9010 in-house-manufactured automatic movement. Oh, and the brand signature: that infamous crown protector, whose locking lever now bears the same “E-Steel” logo as the wordmark at 6 o’clock. I personally don’t mind the designation, though maybe it would have been best left on just the case itself since that’s the component actually made from recycled steel? Early chatter on social media also decried its resemblance to the Internet Explorer logo (for what it’s worth, I’d actually thought it looked more like my Volvo’s “Drive-E” eco-mode symbol), but regardless of your stance on what the “e” actually looks like, I think most dyed-in-the-wool Panerai fans prefer as little information on their dials as possible, and nothing short of the PAM 721’s period-correct minimalism will ever be enough.
Model: Luminor Marina E-Steel PAM1356 (Verde Smeraldo), PAM1358 (Grigio Roccia), PAM1157 (Blue Profondo)
Water Resistance: 300 meters
Case Material: Recycled “E-Steel”
Movement: Panerai P.9010 (hours, minutes, date, small seconds)
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds
Power Reserve: 3 Days
Strap/Bracelet: Recycled PET nylon with pin buckle
Price & Availability: $8,700 USD, available Fall 2021
There are already plenty of variations on this theme currently in the Panerai catalog — perhaps the most vanilla of which would be the PAM 1312, which replaced the classic and discontinued PAM 312. This trio offers a similar expression, albeit with a roughly 10% price markup and a slightly more colorful, dynamic presentation in dials inspired by three of Italy’s surrounding seas. Coming in green (PAM1356), gray (PAM1358), or blue (PAM1157), there’s also a rubber-coated crown that’s been color-matched to each dial. It’s at once a functional and neat pop of color and one that does provide an added bit of grip on the Luminor’s traditionally thin crown that could otherwise use a more tactile surface. But having seen old rubber-coated bezels and crowns from Blancpain, IWC, and many others from decades past, I’d have maybe preferred a solid stainless steel crown here — even if Panerai elects to replace such crowns during every service interval.
Crown preference aside, I’d argue the green dial is the clear winner here, as it’s not often we get a proper green sunburst from Panerai (a brand that happens to do sunburst exceptionally well), unless, of course, you’re shelling out bucks-deluxe for the Platinumtech. Green has traditionally been a color relegated to the brand’s more military-inspired “Verde” collection, which bore matte, olive drab green dials that, while extremely cool, were nowhere near as dynamic as a moody green in just the right light.
The team at Panerai seemed quite excited about the new E-Steel Luminor collection, and rightfully so. I have a feeling that we’re likely looking at a hint of the entry-level Luminor collection for years to come, which may not always carry the ‘E-Steel’ designation on the dial, but given Panerai’s trajectory toward sustainability, it seems all but a foregone conclusion at this point. All three of these references are expected to hit Panerai retailers and its e-commerce boutique this Fall, each with the starting price of $8,700. Learn more about the collection and Panerai’s own sustainability initiatives at panerai.com.