We first heard the announcement that Panerai had created a minute repeater with a bit of skepticism – Panerai, after all, is still for many at its core a technical dive watch manufacturer, and not a maker of complications, much less high complications, much less the most demanding of all high complications to really pull off. However, the initial specs from Panerai were impressive: a two-time-zone, decimal repeater wristwatch capable of chiming either home time, or local time, on demand; something that as far as I know has never been done before. Last month I finally had a chance to see and hear it live, at the Panerai boutique in Florence, and I think the watch makes an extremely interesting case for approaching Panerai’s work in complicated watchmaking, if not with uncritical enthusiasm, then certainly with an open mind.
Let’s take a look at what it does, and how it does what it does.
A few definitions are probably in order: first of all, “decimal repeater.” Generally speaking, the term today is used to mean a repeater that chimes the hours on a low-tuned gong; then, the number of 10 minute intervals past the hour on both the lower and higher gongs (in the same way a conventional repeater would chime the quarter hours past the hour) and then, the number of minutes past the most recent ten minute interval. The term simply refers to the fact that the chimes reflect a decimal representation of the time (7:58, for instance, chimes seven times on the hour, five times on the 10 minute interval, and eight times on the minutes). This is a somewhat more intuitive way to represent the time sonically than chiming the quarters; however, minute repeaters chime the quarter hours because they evolved from quarter repeaters.
The first decimal repeater in modern watchmaking was created by Kari Voutilainen and they remain quite rare; the Seiko Credor Minute Repeater is another example of the type. Decimal time, by the way, is the division of a day into ten hours; of the hours into 100 minutes each, and so on; there was an attempt to introduce it in France just after the Revolution but it was not a success. I’m not aware of any repeaters made during that period that chimed decimal time according to the Republican scheme (though of course they may be out there). It should be pointed out by the way that the Panerai Watches Australia Prices Replica repeater actually has three gongs, not two, and that the ten minutes interval is indicated by a triple strike on the middle-tuned of the three (the justification for the term “carillon” in the name).
The other quite exciting feature of this watch, of course, is that it can chime both home time, and local time, on demand. You can switch between the two using a push piece set into the crown, which gives the watch rather the look of a monopusher chronograph – for a reason, as we’ll see. Pushing the crown in, in addition to switching the chime, also changes the indicator on the dial that shows whether home or local time will ring. Now, the reason this repeater looks a bit like a monopusher chronograph is that, in order to coordinate the various safety mechanisms, and to switch back and forth between home and local time, Panerai Watches Malaysia Price Replica uses the mechanism every watch maker thinks of first when several functions need to work both together, and in sequence: a column wheel.
How does the movement, caliber P2005/MR, manage the trick of switching between home and local time for the repeater? Well, although the problem is a challenging one, it can be simplified a bit when you remember that for a watch that shows only whole hour offsets from GMT (in other words, virtually all GMT watches) the two chiming sequences will be exactly alike except for the hours struck. This means you don’t need duplicate sets of hour, 10-minute, and minute cams; you just need two sets of hour striking mechanisms. Still, this is by no means a simple thing to build into a watch (especially one where a lot of room is already taken up by a tourbillon and two mainspring barrels, plus the repeater works). In the caliber P2005/MR, the two hour striking mechanisms are built one on top of the other: two sets of racks, which wind two sets of spring barrels, as well as two sets of hour cams. Depending on the position of the column wheel, either the upper or lower set is used – chiming either home or local hours.
Between the setting pusher, pusher for activating the repeater, and the crown, there is a better than chance of accidental damage by an owner, and so there are several built in security systems to protect the watch from damage while the chiming system is in operation. First, the Home/Local time indicator is blocked when the chimes are working; when you press the pusher at 8:00 that activates the repeater, you also shift a lever that disengages the pusher in the crown. This prevents you from changing from home to local time, or vice versa, when the chimes are in operation. Pulling the crown out to set the time also causes a blocking lever to descend that prevents you from pushing in the pusher that activates the repeater, so you can’t accidentally set the chimes going in hand-setting mode. By the same token, pushing in the button that activates the chimes also blocks the crown from being pulled out, so you can’t try to set the time when the chimes are ringing. And finally, there’s a locking mechanism in the crown – to press the pusher that switches between home and local time, you have to turn the crown so that a dot is uppermost, which unlocks the switching pusher.
As we mentioned in our launch coverage as well, caliber P2005/MR also has the offset angle tourbillon found in the base caliber P2005 (if you can call one of the most technically interesting and underrated tourbillon movements in the world a “base caliber”).
The acid test of any repeater, of course, is not just how the technical specs add up, however impressive; it’s how the watch sounds. Here I can say, having heard the watch do its thing in Florence, that it really delivers. Despite all the bells and whistles on the technical side, sonically this is a very pure-sounding and indeed, very traditional repeater in many respects. At 49 mm in diameter, it’s the size of a small pocket watch, with quite a lot of resonating space inside. The red-gold case is quite traditional in construction as well, made of two halves soldered together in the case middle. All other things being equal, bigger is usually better when it comes to repeaters as there is more energy delivered to the gongs, which in turn have more to work with in terms of volume and surfaces to enrich and amplify the sound. There is generally a bit of extraneous noise from the regulating mechanism in a repeater; in the caliber P2005/MR this is kept to a minimum through the use of a centrifugal/fly regulator.
In the event that you still count yourself one of the faithful, you may add the PAM01389 for your own collection for the purchase price of $11,000. Just don’t forget, cool men do not look back in the explosion.Special variant watches which are only sold in theaters or produced in limited numbers are a good way for watch brands to acquire fans and watch lovers excited. Exclusivity is frequently a big deciding factor in regards to a watch purchase, and there’s no better method of creating exclusivity than by releasing a watch in restricted numbers and notably in a colorway or layout that collectors yearn for. Few watch manufacturers are as adept at this match as Panerai is, having had a series of hits with previous special edition watches. There’s the legendary Luminor 1950 PAM 127 “Fiddy” from 2002; and more lately, the Radiomir 1940 Marina Militare or PAM 587 from 2014. Now, there are three more to add on that list with all the new Panerai PAM 735 Radiomir 8 Days Titanio, the PAM 736 Radiomir 1940 3 Day Acciaio, and the PAM 737 Luminor 1950 Chrono Monopulsante GMT Titanio.To be sure, these are not brand new watches with fresh movements. Instead, they are various versions of current versions. However, what makes them notable is their profound green dials. This isn’t the first time that Panerai got collectors excited using a simple color change. This past year, they did the same with four special edition watches which came with metallic blue dials. Now, let us get into these new watches.We begin with this PAM 735 Panerai Radiomir 8 Days Titanio, which relies on the PAM 346. This comes from the traditional 45mm-wide Radiomir cushion situation with identifying cable lugs, and as its title clearly states, it’s made out of titanium.
The inescapable question, of course, in the minds of many Panerai Watches Egyptian Navy Replica fans, is this: what business does Panerai have making a minute repeater? What is a company with a history as a Florentine nautical and military instrument maker, doing making a complication so strongly associated with the Franco-Swiss haute horlogerie tradition? I think the answer is the watch itself – if Panerai is going to do a repeater at all, it ought to be one as different from the general run of repeaters out there as possible.
Whether this watch will be a commercial success or not depends on whether or not Panerai will be able to continue to expand its audience through the incorporation of its design heritage into a technically and aesthetically more diverse range of timepieces. That it hopes to do so is shown by the introduction, also in Florence, a city of both arts and sciences, of the relatively thin (and notoriously, only 30 m water resistant) Luminor Due watches, in which the Luminor case design and crown-locking mechanism are apotheosized as pure design elements, rather than as technical features per se. It’s a calculated risk, but nothing ventured, nothing gained, and as long as expansion of the company’s identity isn’t perceived as diluting it at the same time, it’s one worth taking (and one that it took some resolution to take, especially now, when so many luxury brands are in a risk-averse posture).
In the meantime, however, Panerai’s produced one of the most technically interesting minute repeaters in the world: an offset angle tourbillon, carillon, decimal repeater that chimes either home or local time on demand and sounds great doing it. It’s an intrinsically interesting watch, and I hope, an indication that Panerai will continue to take interesting chances now and in years to come.
The Radiomir 1940 Minute Repeater Carillon Tourbillon GMT: case, 49 mm, 18k red gold, water resistance 3 bar. Movement, Panerai caliber P.2005/MR; time, GMT, power reserve on the back, decimal repeater on three gongs with three hammers, selectable repetition of the time for either home or local time. 16 1/4 lignes in diameter, 10.35 mm thick, 28,800 vph running in 59 jewels. Four day power reserve, twin barrels. Visit Panerai online here.