The Panerai Submersible Chrono Guillaume Néry Edition watch hands-on
Officine Panerai or, it would be better to say, just Panerai, has started the new year with an entirely new vision, based on new collections, advanced materials, and a greater engegement with its fan base. Someone might argue that the “Laboratorio di Idee” had already invested a lot in innovation over the years; they introduced new materials and composites like Carbotech and BMG-Tech®, for example, or patented ultra-light manufacturing techniques when they first launched the glorious Lo Scienziato. The truth is that the Italian brand is still very much linked to its roots and historical collections.
All the watches listed above originally belonged to the “Luminor 1950” product family, thus proving they clearly represented a nod to the timepiece designed for and supplied to the Italian Royal Navy. Once appointed as CEO of Panerai, Jean-Marc Pontrouè has, first of all, simplified the offering and divided the historical collection, that has a massive following of die-hard fans (aka the “Paneristi”), from the modern take on the original Luminor, the Submersible. The latter is not yet at its full potential in my opinion and aims at attracting customers that never considered a Panerai watch as a buying option.
Although a BMG-Tech®'s case design is not so different from a PAM 422's, the time had come to push the boundaries of the Submersible further and better highlight Panerai's expertise in mastering new materials. Moreover, the brand has signed new partnerships that involve professional divers. This strategy is in line with Pontrouè's approach to product innovation and brand's experience, something he successfully managed at Roger Dubuis in recent years. Among the first outcomes, I would highlight, for example, the agreement the brand signed with Luna Rossa, challenger to the 36th America's Cup.
The 2019 Panerai Submersible Chrono Guillaume Néry Edition 47mm or PAM 982 if you prefer, is a perfect example of this new campaign. For those who are not familiar with the brand, the Submersible Chrono Flyback is not a new watch, and the new PAM 982 is rather a re-styled timepiece named after the famous diver Guillaume Néry, former holder of four world records of apnea. Panerai's designers restyled dial and bezel by replacing the black ceramic inlay on the rotating bezel with a matte blue ring and coupled it to a “shark-gray” dial, whose pattern mimics a shark's skin's design.
The applied indexes are new too: every Submersible now features only applied indexes, in replacement of the Arabic numerals you may find on the 2015 Submersible Chrono Flyback. Proof positive the marketing team has further (and better, in my opinion) categorized the new Submersible. With that said, I reckon the end result is a timepiece that is more colorful and attractive than the too subtle and somehow understated PAM 615.
Let's talk about in-house caliber 9100 for a while: it is a pretty refined automatic movement. It's much easier to find a flyback chronograph encased within an aviator watch's case than into a diver's watch's, but there's no doubt this combination makes this Submersible more interesting from a technical point of view than a standard divers' watch. A timing instrument for a professional diver must be rugged and robust, mechanical refinement is usually not on top of a development team's requirements list.
Three days of power reserve, two barrels and quick jump start of the central chronograph hand, at the single push of a button, make for exceptional value to a watch that was not conceived as a diver's watch. The Panerai Submersible Chrono Guillaume Néry Edition 47mm retails at € 18,900, which means € 2,300 more than a PAM615's. We are close to € 20,000, where you can buy this stunning Limited Edition Submersible or, why not, start thinking of getting your hands-on a Panerai Submersible in gold.
(Photo credit: Horbiter®'s proprietary photo-shooting by Peter Tung)
Gaetano C @Horbiter®