The Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 BMG-Tech 3 Days Automatic PAM692 watch hands-on
The year 2017 of the Luminor Submersible could kick off with the word “details”; the R&D centre in Neûchatel has worked on the current Luminor case to improve many things that only a very trained eye would spot or a chat with some brand’s inside person could give away. As an example, the 42mm case entered the new collection; an incredible new feature for Panerai’s professional diver’s watch, since the market is definitely evolving and not everybody can afford to wear a 47mm timepiece and, moreover, there are quite a lot of women who are also in love with Panerai, it is not only men who do. The claim “Laboratorio di Idee” (“A laboratory of ideas”) strengthens its meaning even further also thanks to the introduction of the incredible LAB-ID and the launch of the new Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 BMG-Tech 3 Days Automatic PAM692; quite a long name that describes yet another deposited patent by the brand with Florentine roots.
After debuting their own interpretation of the composite made up of carbon fiber in 2015 - Carbotech - the Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 BMG-Tech 3 Days Automatic PAM692 brings back the same experience on those models with a metal-made case. BMG stands for “Bulk Metallic Glass”: a glass-like alloy made up of zirconium, copper, aluminum, titanium, and nickel that is obtained through a process that involves a rapid injection of high-pressure and high-temperature material so that crystallization is averted, while creating an amorphous atomic structure that is virtually free from weaknesses that are typical of other metallic structures.
Bulk Metallic Glass is not one of Panerai’s inventions (although its use in watch-making is) and it is not a new thing in the world of metal engineering either. The first samples of Bulk Metallic Glass were cast using an alloy made up of gold and silicon and unveiled in 1960 by two scientists from the CalTech (the “California Institute of Technology”). The amorphous structure that is typical of BMG is similar to the one of liquids; it shows proved advantages on metals mainly when it comes to corrosion, sturdiness, shock-resistance and anti-magnetic-fields-properties. This is a metallic alloy that combines together a specific weight that is dramatically lower than steel’s and properties that tend to guarantee a look that stays virtually the same with the passing of time.
If you are interested in finding out more about the mechanical properties of BMG, I would suggest taking a look at this video. The video compares the mechanical properties of a cylindrical sample made of Bulk Metallic Glass and of a similar one made of stainless-steel; a marble is dropped from a certain height and almost immediately stops rolling when it hits a stainless-steel-made surface but the same marble keeps bouncing for a while when it hits the second surface.
Stainless-steel absorbs bumping energy, while BMG almost works as if it were a “mirror”, thus reducing the absorption of energy and preventing the material from deforming (this can be seen on the small dents and bumps that we can often find on our watch’s case due to many small shocks incurred on a daily basis). At this address, instead, you can find an interesting and very clear tutorial about BMG created by the Educational department of the famous TED video channel.
From an aesthetic point of view, the case of the Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 BMG-Tech 3 Days Automatic PAM692 presents a matted gray look that is similar to that of titanium; almost every part of this timepiece is made of BMG (including the case, the unidirectional rotating bezel, the crown and the crown-protecting bridge), the case-back, instead, is the only part crafted in titanium to guarantee fully hypo-allergenic properties. Panerai have given this timepiece a superb blue dial, the tone is polished and similar to that of the Pole 2 Pole but it is even more vivid on here.
The writing “BMG-Tech” and the small seconds hand in a lighter tone give some life to a watch that, in its “all black” version, seemed a bit too sober and serious. The standard Submersible watches have gained the same small blue hand too. Pity about the ever-present date window that breaks the symmetry of an otherwise perfect and flat dial, I will keep up with my “crusade” to have it removed (it happened on the historically inspired reference 424 that abandoned the window date in its second release).
The case measures 47mm and it is the only size the new Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 BMG-Tech 3 Days Automatic PAM692 is available in. The caliber moves from the P9000 that equipped the reference PAM305, the first Submersible watch equipped with an in-house built movement to the more evolved P9010. If compared to the P9000, the latter has a thickness that has been reduced to 6mm from the original 7,9mm. Those with an eye for detail will have noticed already that the scale of the first 15 submersion minutes is different from that of the PAM305. All in all, a great-looking timepiece (priced at 10200 dollars, or 9900 euro), that sports a beautiful blue dial and an alloy that features the properties of a carbon fiber composite with the look and feel of stainless steel. Great job indeed, Panerai.
(Photo credit: Horbiter®'s proprietary photo-shooting)