Panerai Luminor 1950 3 Days Acciaio 663 - SIHH 2016
If the indexes on your Radiomir's dial had been made of radium, your timepiece would be worth a lot of money and its black dial would slowly transform itself into something that is similar to the light chocolate brown dial of the Panerai Luminor 1950 3 Days Acciaio 663. Panerai has come up with one of the dials that best represents the birth of an icon, the glorious era between the 40s and the 50s when the Italian manufacturer was the official provider of the timepieces worn by Italian Navy's frogmen.
This story might sound a bit controversial since, oftentimes, people tend to mistake the substance (Radiomir or Luminor) for the case with the case istelf with or without the crown protections. Radiomir was used to craft the first timepieces created for the Italian Navy and also for the famous first 6154 series that was called “Egiziano Piccolo” (Little Egyptian) which was specifically ordered by the Egyptian Navy for its exceptional glowing quality when used in muddy waters. The invention of the Luminor substance has somehow lessened this effect and it is not certain whether Radiomir were ever used on timepieces with crown protectors also. Despite all, it is certain that the “Egiziano Piccolo” is one of the most coveted Panerai timepieces ever created (in 2012 it was sold at Christie's for more than 300k€).
This story is also the main idea behind Panerai's decision to launch two limited series; one with a Radiomir 1940 case and the other one with a Luminor 1950 case. To summarize: the Panerai Luminor 1950 3 Days Acciaio 663 is based on the Pam 372, the Luminor that falls between the Radiomir and the Luminor Marina. The dial is hazelnut brown in colour and it features yellow indexes made of grade A SuperLuminova, one of the many existing SuperLuminova types that also features the lowest decay index.
It is pretty interesting to see how Panerai is more and more openly talking about the techniques used to craft their watches, a marketing move that, only a few years ago, would definitely be generally unheard of because of no interest and also because unable perhaps to boost sales. Today, technical features are back in fashion and are slowly becoming vital in an industry where manufacturers need to come up with timepieces sporting unique features. While browsing the brand's website I also found out that all their Submersible watches are ISO 6425 certified as it is clearly indicated on the collection's online landing page.
The main difference between this timepiece and the 372 is something that might be overlooked at first sight; the dial is of the sandwich type, whereas the indexes of the Panerai Luminor 1950 3 Days Acciaio 663 are cut and filled with glowing material. This detail makes this timepiece ideally similar to the "Egiziano Piccolo" and the final result is a dial that looks as if it were one thing with glass; a plexiglass that is very thick and is so curved that it is virtually impossible to take a picture of it without incurring the glare effect. It is definitely the most bizarre dial that I have ever seen on a Panerai and I am sure that it is just the beginning of a new era.
The see-through case shows a sapphire glass that is mounted on a P3000 caliber. Panerai has slightly modified the caliber by inserting four movement plates (including that on the balance wheel) thus making the caliber aesthetically more appealing; it is an in-house-built caliber that runs at 3Hz and that provides up to three days of power reserve and a good precision rate (if I compare it to the same movement that my Radiomir California is equipped with). For those of you who like hand wound timepieces like this one, you will be glad to know that the Panerai Luminor 1950 3 Days Acciaio 663 sports a special function that allows you to adjust the hours hand separately from the minutes one when you are travelling eastbound or westbound.
The AISI316L-made case measures 47mm and is coupled with a brown “Ponte Vecchio” strap featuring ecru stitching and the OP logo. The strap is thick and a bit hard on the wrist but it has been specifically designed to give this timepiece a vintage look the more you wear it. Like its similar Radiomir version, the Panerai Luminor 1950 3 Days Acciaio 663 will be crafted in 1000 pieces only and each of them is sold in a wooden box with an additional plexiglass and it retails at 9.900 euro, just a small step behind the psychological 10K-euro-threshold.
(Photo credit: courtesy of Panerai; Horbiter's proprietary photo-shooting by Entropik)