Buying Watches - Panerai Luminor
The day you decide to buy your first luxury timepiece, you may already have in mind what brand to go for and, since you're about to spend a lot of money, you want to make the best choice. This article, which introduces a whole new column on Horbiter®, brings my and our collective experience as young collectors to those people who are approaching their first purchase and don't know yet what to choose. I will start today by talking about Panerai for this is a brand that I do like very much indeed, makes actually the most of my personal collection and I know about it quite a bit, even if this column will of course cover all the most important brands in the next future.
Panerai is a brand which, even if it has grown up a lot over the last years (a bit too much for such an exclusive brand in my opinion), is to be considered a niche brand when compared to other luxury ones in the benchmark, as it produces not too many timepieces a year. When you are about to buy your first Panerai you might ask yourself: "Am I going to wear it or not?" It is a recurring question over the last years, for a luxury timepiece is regarded as a true investment and more and more enthusiasts over time are about to replace traditional investments with them.
If you're going to buy a Panerai and wrap it around your wrist every single day, you will be driven just by your emotional choice. If you do think you'd rather keep it into a drawer and just wind it up someday and have stuck your eyes on a Luminor, here are my personal suggestions. The Panerai Luminor is the most widely known Panerai out there, very few are aware the Radiomir has been the very first Panerai ever.
Surfing through their official website you will see a wide range of versions within two collections: the Luminor and the Luminor 1950. The first is the most modern collection of the brand and represents Panerai's starting point when the brand was revamped in the 90s under the Vendome Group's insignia; the latter is the most recent even if its design is reminiscent of the first Luminor's case, the brand created during the transition between Radiomir and Luminor, when their original crown protector was patented.
I personally prefer the historical Luminor 1950 line-up to be honest, but I have to admit the Luminor collection is more eagerly wanted by customers (it does represent, though, the entry level collection). Panerai is renewing all its collections by gradually replacing sourced calibers with in-house manufactured ones, in an attempt to move upmarket and face the reduced supply of movements by ETA, which will supply exclusively the brands of the Swatch Group.
Today's Luminor collection includes some models that are about to be phased out, powered by manual wind upgraded ETA calibers along with a whole new range powered by manufactured caliber P5000 with 8 days of power reserve. The “old” collection could be a good choice, especially the Luminor Logo, with reference PAM000 and PAM005. It's about to be discontinued and its price tag moving up. Its classic design, the simple yet reliable mechanical movement and the historical OP logo on the dial, are all features that get true Panerai collectors crazy.
I bought a Luminor Marina Logo a couple of years ago at 3,600€ and today its retail price is not less than 4,400€, that means a 20% increase over the old one. It is quite sure that, once discontinued, it will easily break the 5000€ line and beyond. Scrolling the P5000 collection, you end up with the Luminor Marina 8 days steel PAM00590.
This is not any Luminor Marina 8 days, but rather a special model, unveiled at the last SIHH which features, right at three o'clock, the lettering “8 days Brevettato.” (Patented). It is a historical Panerai's hallmark and reminds a 150 pieces limited edition model Panerai has made in 2005, reference PAM00203, powered by a reconditioned Angelus historical caliber.
You might be interested to know that a PAM00203 was auctioned off at Sotheby's last may 14th at an astounding 75000CHF (here is our related post). Among the PAM00590's features, two are the details that clearly stand out: its dial is not a “sandwich” one, with the luminous indexes just applied and featuring a yellowish color that reminds the patina you may find on a Luminor with T-Dial (T for Tritium).
If you bought a Luminor Marina “T-Dial” back in the 90s or you inherited one, keep it in a safe place as it is valued at 10,000€ plus. Going back to the PAM590, its case back is solid, with engraved two Italian navy soldiers abroad a SLC (“Siluro a Lenta Corsa” else said "Slow Speed Torpedo), the torpedo they used during WWII while placing bombs on an enemy's ship.
As far as I know it is available exclusively at the US boutiques of the brand at nearly 8,000$, and it is very hard to find, unless you visit all the Panerai boutiques worldwide. I found just one on Chrono 24, priced at 8,000€, and though I think it is quite high priced, it is already highly sought after and will be soon a hit at an international auction.
(Photo credit: Google; courtesy of Sotheby's and PANERAI; Horbiter®'s proprietary photo-shooting)
Gaetano C. @Horbiter®