Ever since I lifted the recycled “Eco Titanium” case and matching recycled nylon strap of the PAM985 off the table at SIHH two years ago, I knew it was only a matter of time before Panerai took the eco-minded challenge to the next level. Well, that day is here with the new Submersible eLAB-ID PAM 1225 — an impressive new concept watch that’s built using nearly 99% recycled materials (by weight), potentially opening the door for a broader future of fully circular, sustainable watchmaking practices. That means not just the case and strap are recycled, as we’ve seen before, but critical movement components, the precious metal for the rotor, the dial, the hands, the sapphire crystal, and even the paint used to deliver Panerai’s signature low-light luminosity are now all produced by re-using either post-consumer or industrial raw material waste. It’s the highest percentage of recycled materials used to produce a watch to date — but the real kicker here is that Panerai is open-sourcing the entire supply chain used to develop the watch, in hopes that more brands will use it as a blueprint for launching their own socially responsible projects.

Though it might be a pretty compelling maneuver for the traditionally secretive Swiss watch industry, the open-source concept isn’t really a new one, per se. If you’ll remember, Elon Musk famously made all of Tesla’s patents open-source back in 2014, in the name of advancing electric vehicle technology and better preserving the future of sustainable transport. In a way, what we’re seeing with Panerai could be argued as a parallel — the brand under the Richemont group umbrella has gotten more serious about dramatically decreasing its environmental impact while supporting local and international non-profits. Panerai does seem to have a pretty good grasp on the big picture, though, and achieving a meaningfully sustainable impact in the future will only be the result of global buy-in. So while many genuinely altruistic efforts in the watch industry tend to exist in their own short-lived little bubbles, the ripple effect that this watch hopes to establish across the industry is very noble, indeed.

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Brand: Panerai
Model: Submersible eLAB-ID (ref. PAM1225)
Dimensions: 44mm
Water Resistance: 300 meters
Case Material: Brushed EcoTitanium, unidirectional EcoTitanium bezel, screwed EcoTitanium caseback, EcoTitanium sandwich dial
Crystal/Lens: Recycled sapphire
Movement: Panerai P.900e (P.900 base, reproduced using recycled materials)
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds
Power Reserve: 3 Days
Strap/Bracelet: Recycled Grigio Roccia fabric with trapezoidal EcoTitanium buckle
Price & Availability: $60,000 USD (Speculated)

In addition to being a nearly 100% recycled object, there are a few other firsts and near-firsts for PAM1225. Perhaps most obviously, it is the first non-precious metal Submersible in a 44mm case. (Don’t forget that the Goldtech PAM1070 was technically the first ever 44mm Submersible.) Great news for those who found the 47mm Submersibles too large, and the 42mm variants too small, as it hints at a more readily available “Goldilocks” Submersible in the future. PAM1225 also houses Panerai’s first-ever Silicon hairspring, a recycled component manufactured in collaboration with French maker Sil’tronix Silicon Technologies (ST) and Switzerland-based Sigatec. Because of this, the movement designation for the PAM1225 is actually that of the P.900e, rather than the in-house manufacture P.9000 series. If you’ll remember, the base calibre for the P.900 movement was developed as a Richemont group join venture — and with the “e” designation, it’s now comprised chiefly (by weight) of parts like the movement bridges and rotor all made from recycled materials. It seems highly unlikely that this’ll be the last time we see silicon and recycled elements in Panerai’s calibres — in-house or not.

But there’s a catch. (Isn’t there always?) It’s very expensive to be the first to pioneer new supply chains and new means of manufacture — and especially in the luxury goods industry. And though some of those production costs are ultimately passed on to early adopters of these products, what perhaps makes this project doubly altruistic is that Panerai, through revealing its production suppliers, is gambling its initial investment to benefit other brands with the ultimate aim of producing a more sustainable future for the watch industry (thereby benefitting Panerai) as a whole. A rising tide should float all boats, right? At the time of this writing, a firm price has not been established for the PAM1225, but it is speculated to be somewhere in the range of $60,000. Eye-wateringly expensive for sure, but as a super-exclusive luxury object and a true industry first, it doesn’t seem unlikely that Panerai will have trouble finding buyers for this edition. And before you get too bent out of shape about the price or the mission, let’s not forget that in the span of just a few short years, we’ve seen pretty dramatic reductions in pricing and availability of more luxury products using recycled materials. And while Panerai does have the halo concept watch, let’s not forget that the brand just introduced a new line of Luminor watches built using recycled “E-Steel” stainless steel cases for under $9,000. At the end of the day, if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem, right?
That said, PAM1225 is still technically only a concept and is not slated to be available for purchase until 2022, but in the meantime, you can learn more about it at panerai.com.

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