Many years ago, when I wrote my first article about a watch, the watch I wrote about was a Panerai. Over the past decade, Panerai has grown and iterated but the root of my appreciation, that instantly recognizable Italian diver aesthetic, has remained as their calling card. Despite the fact that I did, and still do, love the Panerai look, they almost always prove to be too big for my wrist. Last week, as I scanned a collection of large and larger new Panerai watches at SIHH, I was thrilled to see this comparatively miniature marvel, the new 42mm Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 3 Days Automatic watch in both steel and gold.

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Reference PAM00682, aka the Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 3 Days Automatic Acciaio 42mm, takes all of the burly appeal of the 47mm Submersible (such as the Bronzo PAM 671 we also recently saw at SIHH) and trims off a whopping 5mm. For me, and I think for many others who may be “benched” Panerai fans, that 5mm makes a world of difference. This is not the first 42mm Panerai, but it is the first 42mm Submersible, and it opens up the line to a wider (possibly underserved) audience. The Submersible is not Panerai’s bread and butter, but rather their more niche dive watch, making the choice to go 42mm even more interesting. Perhaps this is a test? A way of gauging the actual response for a smaller sporty Panerai?

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Available in steel (the aforementioned PAM00682) or rose gold (the PAM00684), the steel version has a brushed steel bezel while the Oro Rosso features a black ceramic insert. The usual Panerai Luminor crown guard is in place, water resistance is 300m for the steel and 100m for the rose gold, and either model comes fitted to a 22mm black Caoutchouc rubber strap.

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Safely housed inside its chunky case, we find Panerai’s P.9010 movement. This automatic 4Hz movement sports twin barrels to provide 72 hours of power reserve. Being a base Submersible, the P.9010 needs only offer hours, minutes, sub-seconds at nine, and a date display at three. The case back is of the display variety, allowing a view of the manufacture movement within.

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On my seven-inch wrist, the 42mm Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 3 Days Automatic feels great. It’s fun, special, and a dead-on translation of the form into a smaller footprint. The rubber strap is excellent and legibility is, obviously, very good. I especially enjoy the small pop of blue provided by the sub-seconds hand on the steel Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 3 Days Automatic PAM682. If gold is more your thing, it’s hard to beat the contrast of the gold case alongside the combo of the black dial and ceramic bezel. The lugs are drilled and use screws to mount the strap, so leather or a NATO should be of little difficulty.

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As niche as the Panerai Luminor Submersible may be, I can’t decide if these 42mm models are more niche (as they may upset the already satiated Submersible crowd) or less niche (as they connect the Submersible to a new, wider audience). In considering both sides of that argument, I came to the conclusion that I don’t really care. I just know that I really love this little Sub.

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Priced from US $8,700 in steel to $26,700 in rose gold, these prices will surprise no one familiar with modern Panerai. Panerai has priced the Submersible right alongside the steel Rolex Submariner, and it’s not hard to see why. Both are steel 300m dive watches with quality movements at an everyday size that should work for most wrists. I think ultimately this will come down to your general appreciation for the Panerai look. If you’re on board for the style but have always felt there wasn’t a Submersible for your wrist, this is the one.

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