Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 BMG-TECH 3-Days Automatic PAM 692 Watch Hands-On

Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 BMG-TECH 3-Days Automatic PAM 692 Watch Hands-On

Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 BMG-TECH 3-Days Automatic PAM 692 Watch Hands-On Hands-On

It may be the rare watch nerd (that happens to also be a materials science nerd) who will be able to fully appreciate why Panerai decided it was a good idea to note "BMG-TECH" on the dial of a Luminor Submersible as a way of telling you about the watch case materials. Panerai themselves refer to the value of the PAM 692 (debuted on aBlogtoWatch here) as being an "invisible innovation." In a sense that is a good thing when it comes to the appeal of bulk metallic glass. What is hidden in the Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 BMG-TECH 3-Days Automatic PAM 692 is a hint at what future materials will be increasingly used in watches.

Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 BMG-TECH 3-Days Automatic PAM 692 Watch Hands-On Hands-On
All images by David Bredan

Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 BMG-TECH 3-Days Automatic PAM 692 Watch Hands-On Hands-On

The popularity of ceramic, for example, demonstrates a real need for watchmakers to move beyond traditional metals. The decision to work with non-metallic case materials isn't just about being trendy and fashionable, but is often related to real value for the consumer. While we are on the topic of ceramic, indeed it was a material that allowed you to have a permanently white case. It also allowed for high levels of scratch resistance as well as resistance to various chemicals.

Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 BMG-TECH 3-Days Automatic PAM 692 Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 BMG-TECH 3-Days Automatic PAM 692 Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Panerai likes to experiment with new case materials regularly – so the fact that they would take a product and make it out of bulk metallic glass isn't particularly novel. With that said, if BMG-TECH proves cost-effective to produce and popular with customers, I think it has big potential. In short, bulk metallic glass is a metal alloy with an amorphous structure versus a crystalline structure. This allows for fewer surface imperfections in the base material, that translates into a number of benefits for the consumer.

Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 BMG-TECH 3-Days Automatic PAM 692 Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 BMG-TECH 3-Days Automatic PAM 692 Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Compared to traditional stainless steel, bulk metallic glass is 2-3 times stronger and more scratch resistant, lighter in weight, tougher in terms of rigidity, and also more corrosion resistant. I think the appeal to brands like Panerai (in addition to wishing to bring new value to their consumers) is to have materials that allow them to make better products more easily. I'm not an expert, but my understanding is that an alloy like bulk metallic glass can be machined to look attractive in either fewer steps or more simple steps given the fewer imperfections in the material. If this is true, watchmakers would prefer it because it would allow them to make ideal-polished cases more easily and if they need servicing, they can be polished more easily. It, of course, helps that consumers will enjoy the extra added durability.

Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 BMG-TECH 3-Days Automatic PAM 692 Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Unlike steel, bulk metallic glass has a lot more zirconium in it (which is why it has "glass" in the name), and it also happens to be non-ferrous (not magnetic). Panerai says that their particular bulk metallic glass alloy blend consists of zirconium, copper, aluminum, titanium, and nickel. What matters is that BMG-TECH looks a lot like steel, and can be decorated like steel – but it isn't steel. Other alternative materials to metals sadly don't look like metals – even if they are preferred by consumers and offer manufacturing benefits. Bulk metallic glass is essentially a metal alloy, so it can be polished like metal, and is tough like metal in that a fall on a hard surface would never shatter it (a possibility with ceramic). So the goal here is to find materials that offer the same aesthetic appeal as a metal, but that are easier to produce into finely-finished parts, and that offer consumers clear durability benefits.

Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 BMG-TECH 3-Days Automatic PAM 692 Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 BMG-TECH 3-Days Automatic PAM 692 Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Other brands use various types of alloys such as this for watch cases. I recall that Audemars Piguet sometimes use a material they call "Cermet" (ceramic metal) for bezels and perhaps as an entire case material. The benefit of cermet was similar to BMG-TECH in that it was tough like ceramic but had the visual appearance of metal. Cermet was a bit darker in shade, so it leads me to believe that bulk metallic glass might be a bit of a different formulation for this Panerai PAM 692. The caseback is titanium, which also happens to be the part of the case with the most detail. My instincts tell me that while bulk metallic glass is a compelling material, it is harder (and thus more expensive) to machine than most metals.

Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 BMG-TECH 3-Days Automatic PAM 692 Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 BMG-TECH 3-Days Automatic PAM 692 Watch Hands-On Hands-On

If bulk metallic glass indeed proves to be easy and wise to industrialize, then I think consumers will benefit from a material that is easier to care for and will look newer longer. Even though watch visual design and mechanical movement technology appear to evolve glacially, the watch industry has always been very accommodating to interesting materials and colors for their products. More so, they have readily adopted newer materials over older ones if they are more effective. Consider for example the move from acrylic crystals to ones made out of sapphire crystal (and what a big deal that was), or the move from aluminum to ceramic bezel inserts on certain timepieces. Each of these material adoptions occurred (for the watch industry) very quickly. Thus, innovations in case material technology – if economical on all ends – has a high likelihood of being adopted by the brands.

Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 BMG-TECH 3-Days Automatic PAM 692 Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Let's return to the Luminor Submersible 1950 BMG-TECH 3-Days Automatic PAM 692, that is otherwise an entirely competent, albeit unremarkable Panerai that you might never know had something different about it if someone didn't tell you in advance. David from our team took photographs of the watch, and I recall in the hectic circumstances of SIHH 2017 I didn't think twice about the watch after handling it. It isn't bad or anything, just not something that offers too much benefit over a standard Luminor Submersible for current owners.

Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 BMG-TECH 3-Days Automatic PAM 692 Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 BMG-TECH 3-Days Automatic PAM 692 Watch Hands-On Hands-On

All that being said, this is one of the most "big personality" yet elegant-looking retro-styled diving watches I've recently seen. Other than the hands, which I feel are a bit on the stubby side, this is a very attractive and useful base watch that is just different enough amongst Panerai products to feel non-generic. It also happens to be a real diver's watch, which makes it feel more authentically "Panerai" given the brand's core history and purpose for existing.

Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 BMG-TECH 3-Days Automatic PAM 692 Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 BMG-TECH 3-Days Automatic PAM 692 Watch Hands-On Hands-On

The bulk metallic glass case is 47mm wide – and yes it wears large (but comfortably). As far as we know the case dimensions are the same as any other Luminor Submersible 1950 model. Inside the 300m water resistant case is an in-house made Panerai P.9000 automatic movement with three days of power reserve. Stylistically, the dial is marked by shades of blue including a darker blue dial, with lighter-blue accents mixed with steel-colored elements.

Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 BMG-TECH 3-Days Automatic PAM 692 Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 BMG-TECH 3-Days Automatic PAM 692 Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Attached to the Luminor Submerisble 1950 BMG-TECH case is a simple black rubber diving-style strap. If one didn't know better, you'd almost think Panerai wanted to be discreet about why it was using this particular type of case material. The Panerai website itself does discuss bulk metallic glass in a technical way, but sort of fails to get to the point with their message on why consumers might choose the material. More so, the PAM 692 is not part of a limited edition, so it means Panerai is legitimately curious to see how the material does in the market and is open-minded to expanding production. Price for the Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 BMG-TECH 3-Days Automatic PAM 692, is a lofty $10,200 USD. panerai.com

What do you think?
  • I want it! (18)
  • Interesting (9)
  • Thumbs up (3)
  • Classy (3)
  • I love it! (2)
  • Pete Pete

    didn’t know that panerai is still selling watches. god, these are so out of fashion.

    • Kumaran Ramu

      lol

    • SuperStrapper

      Hard to imagine they didn’t consult with you!

      • Tea Hound

        Panerai actually asked me to run the design past Pete Pete but I completely forgot. Apologies all round.

    • IG

      What do Hollywood meatheads wear nowadays?

      • Tea Hound

        Harvey Weinstein.

  • Norbs K

    Never been a fan of Panerai, but somehow I always liked the LS line.
    It’s nice to see different materials used in the case manufacturing as well. Would love to get up close and personal with this bad boy. Never came across this so called metallic glass thingy.

    Given the price tag on this, which I think is acceptable, it’s a shame they only give you a shitty black rubber strap. They could have thrown in a nice bracelet made out of the same material. Or at least a nice leather nato one.

  • Sheez Gagoo

    Altough I’ve never been a fan of Panerai, I have to admit, this watch represents quite a good value for your hardly earned $. Zirkoguguscase and 3 day movement. Not bad.

  • 12333444333

    This is a great development for the brand and so much more credible and sustainable for a brand to market than some of the other tosh they’ve done of late. I’m baffled by the inconsistency!

  • Tim Archer

    Very interesting watch that I hope to see in person. It would look great in a tool box amongst ratchets and spanners but maybe too big for my wrist.

  • Ugly watch with an interesting case material. Good for Panerai for exploring new materials. Shame on them for churning out the same tired designs.

    • Larry Holmack

      I find the case material to be the most interesting part of the watch. Not a big fan of their design….just isn’t my style. But…it will be interesting to see how many other watch makers use BMG to make cases.

      • I fully agree – the case material is quite interesting (I read a bit more about it on Wikipedia) and it would be cool if more brands used it.

  • SuperStrapper

    Actually quite enjoy the case material. It does look like steel and if the upgraded stats are true then this should become a regular attraction. Shame there has never been a good looking Submersible.

    And of the update were to truly generate more value to the customer, wouldn’t the price stay the same despite the shift in materials? If they gain in popularity and use I assume they eventually will, but for now the ‘value’ portion of this conversation might be a little overstated.

  • Jason Mirabello

    so is it corrosion and rust resistant?

    • If it is a titanium based alloy, then yes. Ti based bulk metallic glass alloys have been used for years in implant work. You would have to know what the specific alloy composition is to determine how corrosion resistant.

    • Kuroji

      Containing no iron, it cannot rust. Other types of corrosion are certainly possible.

  • timo bitchko

    The movement is P9010, not P9000. it’s the new generation

  • Pete L

    Love it – innovation on the sly.
    Also a Blue dialled PAM that is not limited so might even have a chance of getting one! The last blue dialled lot were sold out before they hit the press.
    I believe this also includes the newer (and slimmer) movement so is a slight case size difference from the original titanium one? Personally don’t have a problem with these for size anyway and was very taken with the ceramic bezel sub with the old movement. Will have to try one when the new Panerai shop opens in London.

  • Spangles

    Materials like this, and as much or moreso those used in RM, are going to become cheap over time as they are sued more often. Watches made out of these materials will therefore decline in value even more than watches usually do.

    So, I guess only buy this if you love it.

    • SuperStrapper

      How is that different than steel.

      • Spangles

        Because steel isn’t a new material?

        Because steel doesn’t get a markup above…steel…for being steel.

        You didn’t really think before you replied. It’s okay, you look foolish, but only a little.

        • SuperStrapper

          It’s a shame you only know how to converse with petty insults, I assume it’s because you don’t actually have a defencable position. You’re incorrectly identified the foolish one.

          >steel isn’t a new material

          How is that important? This only attacks your own argument later down the road when these other materials ‘aren’t new’ anymore. Steel is ‘cheap’ now because of its ubiquitous use and development.

          >steel doesn’t get a mark up above steel for being steel

          Totally incorrect and makes no sense. Do you really think steel cased watches are priced on the raw cost of steel? The machining and finishing steel is obviously taken for granted on your end, and contemporary techniques for both have served nicely to drive costs down. But who cares about facts when you have a clever jab to make at someone online.

          You’re assuming that because a new material will eventually become more economical to obtain and utilise that the pioneering implementations of it will suffer because of that, as though it is some kind of rule. It’s just simply not the case and your assumption is largely founded in opinion and ignorance.

        • ConElPueblo

          That last sentence marks you out as someone who shouldn’t be allowed on the internet.

    • Ross Diljohn

      I agree. Does look nice though. It seems to me that many of these new materials are just marketing gimmicks that fade away or just never become generally used. I suppose patenting has something to with that. This material has me intrigued though far more than some of the others I have seen from some other companies. I would definitely like to learn some more about it.

  • Joe

    Groundhog day…

  • Marius

    Interesting material – anything that reduces scratches is all to the good. I’d be interested to know the weight saving is compared with steel. One of the advantages of a Panerai is that in a pinch it could be used to beat a man to death (in self defence of course).

  • Lurch

    A ladies watch.

  • Ariel, please invest in a circular polarizer.

    • Panerai, please invest in A/R.

    • SuperStrapper

      > all images by David Bredan

      • OK. Dear ABTW would you please invest in a circular polarizer?
        Better?

  • Mark1884

    Just another ugly Panerai.
    High speed pass.

  • Kuroji

    The main draw of these amorphous alloys for this type of application is that they can be readily die forged and have high surface hardness when cold. That means you can make complex shapes with much less machining time. It also implies that surface finishing will be more difficult. The non-ferrous alloys can’t rust, so that’s a plus too.
    Probably they are just milling it like an SS case, so we’re down to just the surface hardness.

  • BNABOD

    Yeah newish material merged with super old style, decent blue dial , 10 large. Ok but no thanks