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Panerai Luminor Submersible 42mm PAM00683, PAM00959 & PAM00959 Watches Hands-On

Panerai Luminor Submersible 42mm PAM00683, PAM00959 & PAM00959 Watches Hands-On Hands-On

Let’s get one thing straight: These are far from the most interesting Panerai watches we saw in their SIHH booth this year. On top of some extremely cool high-complication pieces, the brand also launched a new customer experience concept with its ambassadors — each with a unique and highly limited watch to match. But this is a story that longtime fans and Panerai newcomers, alike, have been waiting for, as well as one that hints that the future of Panerai might not rest on the shoulders of dinner plate-sized military watches, no matter how faithful to the source material they might be. This, of course, is the story of the iconic Submersible and the shrink ray, which yields (*spoiler alert*) one of the best-sized and most distinctive dive watches of this show, or any other.

Three new Panerai Submersibles join the line this year: PAM 683 (black ceramic bezel), PAM 959 (gray dial and blue ceramic bezel), and PAM 960 (Carbotech case), bringing the total number of 42mm Subs to five, with the original 682 with the stainless steel bezel and 684 in rose gold being the other two. From the standpoint of a die-hard purist, these smaller references are about as far from the brand’s founding principles as the Due, but I cannot underscore how important a more diversified size and design range is, should the brand continue to evolve.

Panerai Luminor Submersible 42mm PAM00683, PAM00959 & PAM00959 Watches Hands-On Hands-On

Panerai Luminor Submersible 42mm PAM00683, PAM00959 & PAM00959 Watches Hands-On Hands-On

Despite the persistent criticism of smaller references spelling the misdirection and subsequent doom of the brand, long waiting lists at retailers for the 682 throughout 2016 and 2017 suggested an entirely different counter-narrative — that there was not only strong demand for the smaller Submersible, but also that those queuing up for this model were not just Panerai converts, but members of the old ‘Wristi guard, as well. And justifiably so; this is a watch that can be appreciated by all.

Panerai Luminor Submersible 42mm PAM00683, PAM00959 & PAM00959 Watches Hands-On Hands-On

From a design standpoint in the trio, the 683 evokes the most classic look and feel of a handsome modern dive watch, but should also feel the most familiar in the Panerai design lexicon. It simply looks like a 1389 that was hit with a shrink ray. This has long been one of my favorite dive watches (Panerai, or otherwise). Not only is it big and burly, but the polished elements set into the black dial and raised minute demarcations on the bezel are both complemented perfectly by a ceramic bezel. The end result is modern, masculine, and undeniably awesome. But at 47mm, it’s also borderline unwearable for most.

Panerai Luminor Submersible 42mm PAM00683, PAM00959 & PAM00959 Watches Hands-On Hands-On

The 42mm Luminor case rectifies this. It still measures a few hairs over 50mm lug-to-lug, but it sits low against the wrist, further restrained in its perceived size due to all the brushed surfaces on the case itself. A closer examination reveals a few other subtle differences between the 683 and the 682, like the re-ordering of the dial wordmarks, which now read “Panerai, Submersible, Automatic,” along with the new addition of the water resistance indicator at 6 o’clock. This is due, in part, to a restructuring of Panerai’s main collections, which now consist of Radiomir, Luminor, Luminor Due, and Submersible. Gone are the “1940” and “1950” designations, which were apparently found to be quite confusing, according to CEO Jean-Marc Pontroue.

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Panerai Luminor Submersible 42mm PAM00683, PAM00959 & PAM00959 Watches Hands-On Hands-On

Panerai Luminor Submersible 42mm PAM00683, PAM00959 & PAM00959 Watches Hands-On Hands-On

Joining the 683 is my personal favorite of the trio: the 959, which borrows the bright blue ceramic bezel and mottled “sharkskin” gray dial introduced on the Guillaume Nery PAM 982 Dive Chronograph back in December, but in a super-wearable case and bright color scheme that I really think a lot of dive-watch fans (new and old, alike) are going to love. It’s also really great to see Panerai embrace some more youthful color-blocking in this new model — here’s to a lot more of this in the future.

Panerai Luminor Submersible 42mm PAM00683, PAM00959 & PAM00959 Watches Hands-On Hands-On

Panerai Luminor Submersible 42mm PAM00683, PAM00959 & PAM00959 Watches Hands-On Hands-On

On the flip side of the color spectrum lies the new black-on-black 42mm PAM 960 Carbotech, the smaller companion to the 47mm PAM 1616. Like the new 2019 Marina Militare Carbotech watches, the 960 reference also uses Panerai’s new Submersible dial, which substitutes the traditional applied silver markers and cut out hands for thick cylindrical blocks of Super-LumiNova and a brand new handset that adds two thin strips of the material around each of the cutouts for greater low-light legibility.

Panerai Luminor Submersible 42mm PAM00683, PAM00959 & PAM00959 Watches Hands-On Hands-On

Panerai Luminor Submersible 42mm PAM00683, PAM00959 & PAM00959 Watches Hands-On Hands-On

Like the stainless steel companions, the Carbotech reference wears nicely, and is perhaps even more comfortable, due to the case’s remarkably lightweight. And if you’re new to the Carbotech as a technology, it’s essentially Panerai’s carbon fiber case, crafted from many layered sheets of carbon, yielding a cool striping effect when viewed from the side. Furthermore, every case and bezel is entirely unique, given the layering and machining process — kinda neat if you’re into that sorta thing.

Panerai Luminor Submersible 42mm PAM00683, PAM00959 & PAM00959 Watches Hands-On Hands-On

One key difference between the three new 42mm models and the older 682 is what’s inside. While the older reference carried a P.9010 three-day movement, these new Submersibles house the caliber OP XXXIV, a Richemont Group-developed automatic movement tailored specifically for Panerai with a date and three-day power reserve. It’s a relatively simple movement, comprising nearly 30 fewer components and lacking the zero-reset and independently adjustable hour hand found in other 9000 series automatic movements.

Panerai Luminor Submersible 42mm PAM00683, PAM00959 & PAM00959 Watches Hands-On Hands-On

Panerai Luminor Submersible 42mm PAM00683, PAM00959 & PAM00959 Watches Hands-On Hands-On

If you’ve been keeping a close eye on Panerai’s more recent offerings, you might have already noticed a lot more of this movement recently, especially in Panerai watches under $10k, like the Luminor Due series. Prices for the new 42mm Submersible watches start at $9,800 for stainless steel, then jump to $18,400 for Carbotech — a considerable premium for a considerably more complex case to manufacture. See more at panerai.com.

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  • Craig A Clark

    Panerai seem to cop a fair amount of flack on here, but I like these, really like them in fact. My tastes have changed over the last five yours to favour slightly smaller watches, and I think the 42mm size is a great addition to their various models.

  • Max Attack

    i tried to 42mm on at NYC boutique it wears quite well on my wrist of only 6.75 inches.

  • LetoAtreides69

    Is it bad that I actually really like these?

    • Berndt Norten

      Repent!

  • Independent_George

    Tim Mosso believes these are significant watches because they are the first new releases under the new CEO and it foreshadows a return to Panerai’s unabashedly masculine sport-watch roots.

  • Tbone

    I’ve long loved the rugged look of the submersible but couldn’t feel comfortable wearing something that large so these 42mm models are welcome options. I really like to colors and look forward to seeing them in person. The price seems a bit high though. I think I paid $2,300 for my PAM111 many years ago so $10k seems steep. Still….I might consider it.

  • Michael James

    I just tried on the 42mm standard black model recently and found it very appealing overall. It doesn’t seem worth almost $10K though. I would be much more intrigued at about $7K. I like the Blue bezel a lot but would prefer to see it paired with either a blue or black face.

  • ??????

    Great looking watches but the new caliper developed by Richemont sounds … fishy!!!! It looks like a Merc with a fiat 500 engine and spares at merc’s price at merc’s authorized service centers ONLY!!!

  • AC

    First off, I have to say looking at these in photos is one thing, but seeing them in real life is another thing entirely. I saw the 683 at an authorized dealer, while I was there to have an older Panerai polished, and I fell in love with it instantaneously. The price is high, yes, but I thought on it for days and could not get this watch out of my head. So the 683 became my third Panerai.

    As far as the 959 and 960 go…they’re cool, I guess, but I’m sure I’d get tired of looking at them in a matter of months. That’s just far too much blue for them to age well, not to mention I personally think it cheapens the look.

    As for the complaints about the movement and price, I think those are good excuses for people who really like it, but don’t want (or can’t afford) to pay the price of admission.

    1. Panerai is owned by Richemont and Richemont makes the caliber “in-house”, and then it’s modified specifically for Panerai. You won’t find this movement in a Baume & Mercier (not a dig, I own them too), so talking about it like it’s an ETA is just silly.

    Do people complaining about the movement think this watch is going to have trouble keeping time? Do they doubt its water resistance or durability? I sincerely doubt it. I know I don’t.

    I for one, don’t have a problem with a simplified movement – especially in a tool watch such as this. I own a Panerai GMT Power Reserve, and that thing is so complicated that I thought it was broken when I first received it. Simpler suits me just fine for a dive/tool watch. If one of those movements is going to give me problems down the road, I’d bet money it’ll be the GMT Power Reserve.

    2. I have never, in 20+ years of watch collecting, had someone – watch aficionado or otherwise – talk about the movement in a watch I’m wearing. Not once. Assuming it keeps time and is durable, I would venture to say that almost no one cares – not in real life anyway. Only on the internet or at trade shows.

    3. To compare this watch to a Submariner, something I’ve seen repeatedly on forums and other review sites, is an apples vs. oranges debate. This watch looks badass and modern, yet somehow it still screams classic Panerai. A Submariner is surely the classic, quintessential dive watch, which I also love, but they’re everywhere and it’s a design coped by everyone. Take a gander at Invicta’s Submariner and tell me if you still feel special wearing your 116610. 95% of the population probably wouldn’t know if your Submariner is a Rolex or an Invicta until they see the Rolex logo.

    My thoughts – If you can drop $10k on a watch, chances are you can afford to buy both a Panerai and a Rolex. If not, and you think a Submariner will make you happy, then have at it. For me, choosing one over the other is like deciding to eat steak or chicken for the rest of my life. I don’t have to and wouldn’t want to.

    As for resale, if you can afford the 683 and/or a Rolex, you’re probably not dumb enough to really believe you’re making a “wise investment” by purchasing either one. If you do believe that, you’ve probably not tried to sell a used Rolex yet. Spoiler alert: you will almost always lose money…just like you would selling a used Panerai.

  • AC

    LOL – The 683’s are selling at my AD as fast as they can get them…and I live in Kansas City, MO, where everyone wears a Rolex or a Breitling, and almost no one has heard of Panerai.

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