Panerai LAB-ID Luminor 1950 Carbotech 3 Days PAM700 - The unstoppable pioneering spirit of Panerai
At this year's Geneva SIHH, Panerai presented the Panerai LAB-ID Luminor 1950 Carbotech 3 Days PAM700 one of its revolutionary models, not only for what the case is concerned but, most of all, for its mechanic properties; no lubrication and a warranty that will last 50 years. A timepiece that was designed for 50 lucky future owners, who are in a position to spend the required 50,000 euro to get their hands on this watch. The case is inspired to the the line of the Luminor 1950 model measuring 49mm, it is waterproof up to a depth of 100 metres and is made of Carbotech®; a material, whose base is carbon fibre and that Panerai patented in 2015 with outstanding declared pros, like, for instance, lightness, resistance to external factors, corrosion and hypoallergenic properties.
It is quite important to note down how a Carbotech® case is crafted; it is a process that requires the forging of thin and long carbon sheets that are coupled and offset. Through a high-pressure process these sheets are then linked to each other through a polymer called Polyether ether ketone or “PEEK” that makes the final composite stronger and more resistant than any traditional carbon fibre composite. The look is non-homogeneous and black due to the cut that takes place after the polymerization process that makes every single case unique and different from the others. The case of the Panerai LAB-ID Luminor 1950 Carbotech 3 Days PAM700 is coupled with a traditional strap made of black leather with contrasting blue stitching (the only accessory that is actually traditional is the strap itself).
The semi-skeletonized movement features a power reserve on the back side, it only sports 4 rubies and it represents the biggest novelty; it presents a tantalum-based ceramic with a high percentage of carbon in it. The same material is also used on the main bridges and the plate, thus reducing friction on the axes to a minimum and eliminating the rubies and the usual lubrication. Lubrication was also eliminated on the escapement thanks to the use of silicon used on the main components and also thanks to the DLC coating on the wheel and on the movement's four rubies.
The DLC coating exploits two chemical properties; the typical hardness of diamonds and graphite's scrollability. These are two natural links deriving from carbon with almost opposite properties; if you alter these two links within the DLC coating, you can obtain films that are more resistant to wear or have different tribologic properties. Tribology, for those who are not familiar with it, is the type of science that studies attrition, lubrication and wear of contact surfaces and in relative motion too. The DLC material is applied using the PACVD technology that guarantees that it perfectly sticks to the substrate. The characteristics of the DLC material change according to its applying; it could improve items' resistance by making them sterile, non-allergic and scratch-proof or, like on this occasion, it can eliminate the use of oils and lubricating greases thus reducing friction among the different components.
In the barrels (that are also skeletonized), different layers of carbons are used. The last layer features a DLC finishing. All these innovations might make the already famous characteristics of the movement with its bridge standing on two points, the big-sized balance wheel (13,2mm in diameter) and the device that blocks it and reset the seconds, sound quite ordinary. Even the dial of the Panerai LAB-ID Luminor 1950 Carbotech 3 Days PAM700 has been improved on different levels; the sandwich-like crafting typical of Panerai, the design and the classic colour. For the first time in the world of watch-making, the dial has been coated with nano-tubes made of carbon that enhance the features of this material by absorbing the highest possible amount of light and by reflecting a small amount of it, thus making the contrast with the indices' and hands' blue SuperLuminova® quite strong and intriguing and a style that reminds us of “TRON Legacy”.
Because of the characteristics of this coating, it is not possible either to print or engrave anything on the dial, for this very reason, the logo of the collection and the model are printed on the sapphire glass with its double anti-glare treatment. Usually, manufacturers recommend overhauls to take place every 4 or 5 years and, in my own experience as a watch fan, I have always abided by this time-frame but I have also noticed that, thanks to the high-level characteristics of the last generation oils and the perfect waterproofing of the cases, overhauls could have been easily postponed. Currently, the price of this timepiece is quite high (50,000 euro) and it is definitely due to an exceptional technology being used and it covers potential breakages for the next 50 years (it would be interesting to take a look at the warranty conditions and if, for example, it is compulsory to have the watch serviced at regular intervals). If you consider what type of technology is being used, this watch could be easily passed on from father to son and then on to grandson too with no need for any overhaul intervention being performed. If used on a larger scale, this type of technology could dramatically slash down the overall price but the real duration of the treatments should be verified nevertheless and it is also recommended to have the seals checked on a regular basis. All in all, this is a very original proposal by Panerai, who has placed yet another milestone on the pathway of watch-making.
(Photo credit: Horbiter's proprietary photo-shooting by Entropik)
Denis Fabbro @Horbiter