The Panerai Radiomir Eilean PAM 1243 watch hands-on
Panerai keeps strengthening its 45mm-large Radiomir collection by introducing new, highly curated, limited-production watches. After taking the curtain off the Radiomir Venti, designed in partnership with the "Paneristi", the biggest fan-community so far, the brand's new offering shares the same technical layout with its PAM 2020 sibling while approaching different storytelling: there you have it, the Radiomir Eilean PAM 1243. Again, it confirms the brand's vision to foster foothold and traditional watchmaking and attract the die-hard fan community with a Panerai watch in its purest form.
With the 47-mm-spec product references being gradually discontinued, with no replacement (it seems), as they approach the end of their life cycle, the new 45 mm model confirms everything we have ever appreciated when it comes to a timepiece whose cushion case and wire lugs pay tribute to the early days of such a distinctive brand. Additionally, as soon as you pronounce the term "Eilean", you'll find yourself immersed in a universe that is synonymous with "classic yachting" and, case in point, the foundations of Panerai as a Florentine watchmaker. Officially revealed while cruising onboard Eilean, the PAM 1243 is an unusual take on the Radiomir theme combining various touchpoints in one go; the case comes with a "vintage patina" matte finish initially introduced on the Radiomir 8 Days PAM 992, then applied to the PAM 2020, too. The achieved matte finish, which I agree might not be anyone's cup of tea, helps further reduce this PAM's stance on your wrist, much more than you can tell by shaving off two millimetres out of the biggest and polished 47-mil case. Please prove me wrong, but I can confirm it feels, by the looks of the thing, more like a 42mm large Radiomir.
The designers added cues and decorations geared towards reinforcing the connection between yacht and brand - the case design, for instance - rather than the Italian pedigree via the hand-made strap. On the case side, you'll find engraved the name and logo "Eilean" alongside the shape of a dragon as reproduced on the Eilean's hull, whereas the solid case back is decorated with the inscriptions "Eilean" and "1936", top to bottom.
However, the talking point is the innovative "teak" pattern that beautifully complements a Radiomir's no-date layout and its clean, uncluttered yet bold design. I think I have gone through all the special or limited series Radiomir marketed over the years, and I admit a 47-mm Radiomir still is my favourite choice, but if I were asked to choose a smaller Radiomir, I'd pick the Radiomir Eilean, no doubt. It uniquely blends history, connecting with its heritage while adding Florentine craftsmanship (engravings and leather strap).
The package offers a leather strap whose stitching mimics Eilean's sails. Despite being much softer than an "Assolutamente ' strap, this one is hardly growing on me; I prefer standard leather straps and stitching, while this one adds a vaguely "country" touch clashing with case and dial's designs. Case in point, the dial is the talking point, and photos do not do justice. The teak finish offers ever-changing tones, from almost black to dark bronze, depending on the light. From a technical perspective, the Radiomir Eilean PAM 1243 houses the sturdy hand-wound P6000 calibre offering a three-day power reserve but less appeal and finish compared to my all-time favourite, the calibre P3000.
Panerai will sell 449 Radiomir Eilean PAM 1243 this year; however, it is not limited in time, and additional 449 pieces are expected in 2022. Therefore, the Panerai Radiomir Eilean PAM 1243 is a numbered-per-year model; 449 is Eilean's sailing number. To sum things up, here is the ultimate 45-mm Radiomir; the Eilean flavour and design add a wow factor that I hope Panerai will preserve since they make the brand so unique. The retail price stops at 7900 Euros, thus confirming how the price list keeps growing steadily; nonetheless, it is a class of its own and ranks already among the most desirable Radiomir ever among the brand's aficionados (and newcomers, too).
(Photo credit: Panerai for Horbiter®)
Gaetano C @Horbiter®