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Panerai Submersible Mike Horn Edition PAM00984 Watch Review

Panerai Submersible Mike Horn Edition PAM00984 Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Making a classic design modern, while preserving its core identity, is a serious creative challenge, and one that is regularly attempted in the automotive world, as well as in the wristwatch world. These two industries (as well as a number of other “tools” ranging from cameras to bicycles) are tasked with having to create something that is fresh and novel, while at the same time ensuring that existing fans and the general public can readily recognize the new creation as being an obvious family member to the original. Italian/Swiss watchmaker Panerai is perhaps at the epicenter of this fascinating design struggle as it attempts to push itself into the future while never letting go of a past that continues to define the brand. That said, let’s take a look at the 2019 Panerai Submersible Mike Horn Edition PAM00984 watch that is Panerai’s latest attempt to add some new design language to the often linear brand.

It was SIHH 2019 where the aBlogtoWatch team first learned about these refreshed Panerai Submersible watches that seemed to come in a confusing range of options. What was not confusing to us is that still fresh Panerai CEO Jean-Marc Pontrue was doing his very best to add new life into one of Richemont’s most important wrist watchmakers. Our enthusiasm toward these fresh Panerai watches — the first of which are connected to Panerai brand ambassador and “extreme explorer” Mike Horn — was muted at first. It wasn’t that we didn’t like them but we approach new designs with a grain of salt. After wearing the Panerai PAM984 (PAM00984), I can say that the new design (while not perfect) is growing on me, and I can easily say I want to see more moves in this direction from Panerai.

Panerai Submersible Mike Horn Edition PAM00984 Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Let’s get to the heart of what is actually really new in the Panerai Submersible Mike Horn. While these new elements might not be a big deal at some brands, for Panerai they are because the brand is notoriously subsumed in the notion that they aren’t able to invent new design language. Those familiar with most Panerai watches will see the new bezel, dial, and handset as being fresh. Not just fresh, but actually modern. I think that is what Panerai was attempting to do with this new generation Panerai Submersible. It recognized that the Submersible line was probably the most logical to add a more modern variant around (they have been experimenting in this direction for a few years), and then they wanted to see how they could make a contemporary design for the Submersible that still very much looks like it belongs in the Panerai Submersible family. In this respect, Panerai has certainly succeeded.

Panerai Submersible Mike Horn Edition PAM00984 Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

There will be some people who claim that Panerai could have gone further if they really wanted to connect their core look and feel with “today.” That is certainly true, but even with just a new bezel, dial, and hands, brand devotees are unclear what to make of the Submersible Mike Horn out of the gate. In all fairness, new watch designs (like new car designs) are rarely embraced with immediacy. What I can say is that, while design elements will no doubt be tweaked, the design language in the Panerai Submersible Mike Horn is of a high quality and, in my opinion, will make newcomers to the Panerai brand just as happy as Panerai collector traditionalists.

Panerai Submersible Mike Horn Edition PAM00984 Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Before going into detail about the watch itself, I want to talk about the price – which strikes many of us as high at north of $20,000. I asked maybe 10 wristwatch lovers (who didn’t already know), what they thought the price of the PAM984 was. None of them were able to guess the price within about 35% of the retail cost… and this is for the non-limited edition model. Panerai also is making a limited edition of 19 pieces of the PAM00985 Submersible Mike Horn Edition watch that is exactly double the price at $41,000 USD (though that model comes with a pretty spectacular trip, if I recall correctly). When looked at in that light perhaps the price of this non limited edition Mike Horn watch seems like a bargain?

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Panerai Submersible Mike Horn Edition PAM00984 Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

I’m not going to try to explain the price because I simply don’t know enough about how it is calculated. I know that Panerai and other brands have had to deal with the fact that sustainable materials have premium prices associated with them (such as the Eco-Titanium case material and the recycled plastic-based strap). There is also the pretty nice looking recycled plastic presentation box which I remember Panerai showing us at SIHH. These are all nice things, but they probably don’t account for why this watch needs to cost that much. To be fair, Panerai has priced a few of the Submersible watches with more novel materials in this price range — so it isn’t as though the PAM984 is priced in some special way. What I think is happening at Panerai is actually more big-picture: In order to combat the fact that fewer wristwatches are going to be made moving forward, brands need to focus on getting more profit per each watch sale.

Panerai Submersible Mike Horn Edition PAM00984 Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Consumers actually can’t have it both ways. They cannot (as I argue) enjoy exclusivity in a luxury product and also want those products to enjoy pricing that depends on an economy of scale. I’m not defending any particular price practices, but I am making an educated guess about the bigger picture. Panerai is among the brands (there are many) that found themselves in a position where they may have been producing more watches than there are end-consumer wrists for. My guess is that Panerai is making a wise move in reducing overall production while, at the same time, trying to maintain business objectives. If I am correct, the future of Panerai (and some other brands, if they follow this pattern) will increase rather than decreased their average price points in the near future. That isn’t to say that brands will not still have exciting entry-level options, but as consumer demand for actual exclusivity (and fewer gray market discounts) increases, brands need to respect the market and make sure that retail prices are relatively consistent.

My goal isn’t to defend what many consumers see as high prices, but rather to explain (in my opinion) what is happening behind the scenes when it appears that a timepiece is more expensive than the sum of its parts. Luxury pricing is rarely about the sum of parts, and I think consumers would rather have price consistency and more authentic exclusivity than a rock-bottom price. We will see how my predictions unfold over the next few years. Returning to the Panerai Submersible Mike Horn… it is a lovely timepiece if you can afford it.

Panerai Submersible Mike Horn Edition PAM00984 Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Panerai points to the recycled Eco-Titanium case as being a major part of the watch’s high cost. According to them he process required to recycle and reforge titanium is expensive. This is inline with many other “sustainable” materials in that they are still comparatively more expensive to “virgin” materials. In any event, Eco-Titanium is still titanium, and that makes up the finely machined grade 5 titanium Submersible case that here is 47mm wide (without the crown), and water resistant to 300 meters given that this is a diver’s style Submersible collection watch. Panerai is among the few brands where a clearly large watch still looks good on the wrist, and for all its size the Submersible PAM984 is predictable comfortable and also light in weight given the titanium case material. The case is about 15mm thick with a roughly 56mm lug-to-lug distance. Over the dial is an AR-coated domed sapphire crystal that is actually a bit less domed than other Panerai watches I’ve worn. The less doming helps reduce glare which in turn improves dial legibility.

Panerai Submersible Mike Horn Edition PAM00984 Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Speaking of the sapphire crystal, for this modern take on the Submersible, Panerai decided to move the dial text to the sapphire crystal. As such, Panerai uses a metallization technique to apply the Panerai logo and other dial text to the reverse of the sapphire crystal. The result is text which appears to float over the dial and has a neat metallic look to it. In fairness, Panerai did not originate this technique but they use it rather well. Some people might first feel irritated by the crystal text because it can at times look like a dial obstruction over the hands, but overall I think it helps add character to the Submersible Mike Horn timepiece design.

Panerai Submersible Mike Horn Edition PAM00984 Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

The matte-black sandwich-style dial with its green-colored Super-LumiNova is legible and attractive. The design of the hands, as well as the subsidiary seconds dial, is really where you see the modern elements. In fact, it is the new handset that is really where much of the focus is, given that these are the newest-feeling part of the watch from a Panerai brand DNA perspective. The hands are semi-skeletonized but in a way that doesn’t bother me. I am normally against skeletonized hands on the majority of watches because I think what they add in potential aesthetics is taken away in the decrease in dial legibility that results. In this instance, the hands do not remove from legibility in any appreciable way, and they add needed character. The hands rely on a sort of lume-painted outline, which is a nice touch. The dial also includes a date window at 3 o’clock — and I wonder how the dial would look if the date numerals were also in matching green-hued luminant.

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  • Pete L

    Cool fresh look but the modern subtle upgrades will mostly appeal to Paneristi collectors and this is priced a wee bit too high to tempt newbies I would think.

    There have been some other new submersibles that do a similar job for a lot less money though (no fee to Mr Horn I assume) and I would look towards those such as the shark textured dials or the BMG version.

    I do hope that the new direction works for Panerai as they make great watches. It seems like the fashion swing away from larger watches (still fine by me) has impacted Panerai hard. Shame that the market is so led by fashion trends and if its not a Rolex or Patek (Nautilus obviously as the Instagram party doesn’t care about their other watches) then it wont make the grade.

  • It’s funny that they skeletonize the hands when they don’t obstruct anything — yet they print the logo right on the crystal, which obstructs the part of the hands that is actually visible!

  • Larry Holmack

    Nice size….and actually nice looking. Not thrilled about the strap…but…you can always find something nicer from a custom strap maker…because if you can drop $20 grand on the watch…you can easily afford another grand. I do think the 56 mm’s from lug to lug is going to scare a lot of guys with smaller wrists away.

  • Hi Ariel! Of course you’re absolutely right on the Eco Titanium having a lower negative impact on the environment.Honestly, it’s all about bragging rights say…at any GTG meeting where you can spin the story and tell watch collectors something like this. “Hey People! Did you know my Panerai Mike Horn Edition PAM00984 is made of Eco Titanium which has actually prevented 100 000 tons of C02 emission into the atmosphere? My choice of titanium watch consumed 4 times less the conventional energy used to extract and refine Ti from raw Ti ore called ilmenite”.Then you see a a couple of confused looks in the crowd but you pause for a while and go on “Yeah ilmenite, the same stuff you find in lunar rocks collected and brought back to earth by the Apollo astronauts.See people?I am doing my part to reduce?greenhouse effect? and global warming!”

    • PeteNice

      Actual Paneristi don’t need the BS story.

  • Sheez Gagoo

    Lol. Panerai is washing itself green. Does anyone remember their African hunter edition? I do. What a joke.

    • Tempvs Mortvvs

      Sshh! They’ve repented of their wicked ways…?

  • AlbieC

    Agree! Not a $20K watch… brand + materials + components/movement + finishing = maybe $6-9K. And even I wouldn’t be interested in that price (not to my taste), let alone $20K.

    If production of an item has to decrease to come down to match market interest, you’ll only further kill demand if you raise the price. Exclusivity alone is not enough. The item has to feel/seem to the buyer as valuable/precious as its price, or else any buyer is just buying the item for speculation, not a sustainable business model. Does/can a Rolesor Datejust catch the eye and feel like it’s worth the price of a small car… yes I think it can. Does/can a Nautilus (not my cup of tea design) with a beautifully finished Geneva Seal movement that passes even microscopic inspection feel like it’s as precious as a new minivan… yes I think it can… Does this Panerai? No.

  • Pete Yo

    at 47mm it can double as a belt buckle

  • Jared

    that guy must have some massive wrists to make a 47mm watch look that small

  • PowNation

    This is an experimentation watch for Panerai. The applied logo and text on backside of sapphire crystal. The recycled material strap. The eco-titanium case. And the massive price. Four elements that will sink this watch to forgettable depths.

  • Luciano

    Like the watch (I own a PAM233), don’t like the price (at all!)

  • Harley D boy

    is this the future of luxury brands ? , just bringing out more and more expensive watches 🙁

  • PeteNice

    The comment about consumers wanting the prestige of a limited brand and the pricing of mass market is accurate. Some need to take an economics class.

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