The Panerai Lo Scienziato Luminor 1950 Tourbillon GMT PAM 578 Titanium
Here is the best example of the brand's "Laboratorio di Idee".
To all those people who keep on claiming that Panerai never ever launches anything new, I would like to respond to with one simple name; Panerai Lo Scienziato Luminor 1950 Tourbillon GMT PAM 578 Titanium. Despite the fact that the Italian-Swiss manufacturer is not too well-known for its few collections, (there are only four!) simply because its history is closely linked to a specific niche of watchmaking, you will all agree that the image that it portrays is crystal clear and spot-on and the brand has slowly but steadily become the point of reference for everything that is materials innovation. Last year, Panerai came up with their Carbotech - a newly-patented composite material - while this year they presented a second innovative novelty; the first 3D-printing technology applied to watchmaking.
Una titanium case crafted via a 3D printing process.
This technique is called DMLS, which stands for “Direct Metal Laser Sintering”, and it involves placing one 0.02mm-thick metal layer on top of each other using an optic fiber laser machine. Thanks to the DMLS technique one can create particularly complex geometrical patterns starting from a CAD drawing and also hollow structures that are as resistant as those obtained through traditional stamping technologies, while weighing less. At first sight, this type of technology might sound and look impossible to swallow if you are one of those fans that still have a romantic idea of traditional horlogerie or if you are one of those people who can only accept “grand-feu” decorations and the bulino engraving but it really is the ideal type of technology that you should use if you aim at creating light but complex geometrical patterns and millimeter perfect dimensional motifs. Panerai used the DMLS technique to craft the Luminor 1950 case.
Unlike the tourbillon, the dial, the indexes, the Arabic numbers and most of the mechanical parts have all been crafted in titanium. Thanks to the use of the DMLS technique combined with the titanium powder and the general extensive work of skillful skeletonisation, the total weight of this tourbillon doesn't exceed the 100 grams (98 grams to be more precise), an extremely low weight for such a big tourbillon watch. If you are used to the weight of a PAM 372 or a Panerai Luminor 1950 3 Days Acciaio PAM663, for example, you will be surprised by the lightness of the Panerai Lo Scienziato Luminor 1950 Tourbillon GMT PAM 578 Titanium when you wear it around your wrist, it is so light that it seems as if it weren't even there.
The external skeleton dial allows the user to view all the components of the P2005/T caliber that is the titanium-made version of the original P2005/S caliber but it is 35% lighter. The new caliber has maintained the original architecture composed of 277 components and the cage of the tourbillon that rotates around an axis that is perpendicular to the balance-wheel axis and that completes two loops per minute.
This is Panerai's personal interpretation of the single-axis-tourbillon that, according to the manufacturer's claims, slightly improves the precision rate of the traditional one-minute-tourbillon. Panerai have left the day and night indication at 3 o'clock on the dial that is linked to the blue counter of the second timezone and also a second counter located at 9 o'clock that measures the continuous seconds and the tourbillon rotation thanks to a small SuperLuminova-filled index, another trademark of Panerai's tourbillons.
Panerai could have inserted the P2005/T caliber inside every type of case, for instance inside a Luminor Marina's one, but they opted for the Luminor 1950 instead for a specific reason that, in my opinion, is not linked to the 3mm-difference on the diameter of the case. The brand enjoys playing with the contrast existing between history and innovation and the 1950 case and the technologically-advanced P2005/T caliber are, from a conceptual point of view, two completely opposite items that are nevertheless well-integrated with each other.
The Panerai Lo Scienziato Luminor 1950 Tourbillon GMT PAM 578 Titanium sits exactly where Panerai have decided to place it, namely in between extreme innovation and extreme tradition, the only negative note is the historical writing “Reg.T.M.” that has been engraved on the crown protection bridge. Panerai will only craft 150 pieces of their Lo Scienziato Luminor 1950 Tourbillon GMT PAM 578 Titanium and they will retail at 143,000 USD each. There is nothing else to discuss here; a unique technology and the choice of a tourbillon with no gray areas, the typical Luminor that perfectly suits the loyal (and rich) Panerai collector.
(Photo credit: Horbiter®'s proprietary photo-shooting)
Gaetano C. @Horbiter®