Not too long ago I did a review of this year’s Panerai Luminor Submersible Titanio (PAM 615 for the reference coders) and now I am back with this much talked about Panerai Luminor Submersible Carbotech (PAM 616). When they showed it to us in Geneva during the SIHH, I took note of a lot of ooohs and aaahs from colleagues around me that have a thing going on for Panerai watches. I am not a Paneristi, but I did understand what the fuzz was about.
PAM 616 Review
During the SIHH, I wrote the following about the Carbotech case material:
“In order to produce the Carbotech case, Panerai had to bind the long thin sheets of carbon fibres under high pressure and by temperatures. This binding was done using a high-end polymer called PEEK (Polyether Ether Ketone). The result is a very strong and durable watch case with unique characteristics and appearance.
Since the Luminor Submersible 1950 Carbotech is a tool watch in the end, the material of the case also ensures that it is resistant to corrosion and very light. Lighter and stronger than ceramics and titanium. However, most people will fall for the aesthetics of this watch and don’t use it in or near the water.”
So the PAM 616 is a very ‘technical watch’ and I have to admit, it also looks like one. Quite different from the stainless steel and titanium models that Panerai did. The Carbotech case has a very nice structure, and very different from other carbon cases I’ve seen so far from Hublot, AP and IWC for example. I do wonder a bit whether I’d still like it after some years, but perhaps – if Panerai sticks to only a few models with this Carbotech case – it will become more interesting to own one over time.
The case has a 47mm diameter case, which is by no means small, but it also didn’t bother me or turn me down at all. These 47mm Panerai watches are surprisingly wearable, as I also wrote in the PAM 615 review.
I didn’t get any comments on the material at first, only on the watch. Upon closer inspection, people asked me about the case material. The watch does have that matte military look, which I guess was the purpose rather than to have a stronger/better/lighter case. I never had any of my stainless steel or titanium cases severely damaged, so it is rather a matter of demonstrating what you – as a brand – can achieve than delivering a watch to the market that has a super strong case for those who need that.
The caseback is closed, so no view on the mechanical self-winding P.9000 caliber. It is made of titanium – probably to add some strength to the construction of the Carbotech case – and has been engraved with all the necessary information for the owner. The engraving of the 2 person sub is very nicely done. The word “Submersible” has been done in a bas relief, a very nice touch.
As you can see below, the patented crown locking system (with the lever that releases and locks the crown for operation) is also made of Carbotech.
Dial and Hands
I have been a bit tough on faux-patina in the past, but I have to say I’ve warmed up to it in the meanwhile. Panerai is a brand that masters the use of faux-patina to create that vintage look of a watch dial. With the vintage crowd, tritium dials and hands are very important obviously, Michael Stockton pays a lot of attention to that when discussing his #TBT watches. With modern Panerai watches, the use of faux-patina is just a matter of creating that vintage look to it, not trying to simulate a vintage watch. The Carbotech case makes sure you don’t think it is a vintage piece of course.
On the dial of the PAM 616, you will also see the faux-patina on the hour markers, Arabic numerals at 12 and 6 and the hands. The printing of the brand name and model name have been done in a matching color. The luminous pearl on the uni-directional carbotech bezel is also in the same color, of course, as well as the diving scale and minute markers on there.
Just like the PAM 615 I reviewed, the blue color has been used prominently here as well. It really adds a bit of punch to the watch in my opinion and perhaps also stressing the fact that it is a divers watch.
The large black hour and minute hands are skeletonized, preventing them from blocking the small seconds dial at 9 0’clock. At 3 o’clock you will find the date indicator, barely noticeable due to the black disc and faux-patina printed numerals. I am not really a fan of a date on a sports/tool watch, but this has been done very discretely and satisfies all those people who are favoring a bit of functionality over a totally puristic clean dial.
I have no image of the movement other than the press images you’ve probably seen everywhere already or can be viewed on the official Panerai website. It is a modern looking movement, a work-horse movement if you wish, this P.9000 calibre. It has a 72 hours power reserve – hence the “3 Days” mention in the official model name “Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 Carbotech 3-Days Automatic” and has the feature that the hour hand can be increased separately from the minute hand. The movement is 7.9mm thick, which is not your typical ultra-thin movement for a three-hands watch. The power reserve is achieved by using two barrels. Panerai has a special page on-line on this movement here.
The strap on this Carbotech is the same as the one on the PAM 615. So I’ve little to add here. Well, perhaps I can add that in the meanwhile, I bought a vintage Seiko 6159-7010 (also known as the Grandfather Tuna) from 1975 and replaced the original rubber strap (I am not keen on rubber straps in general) with a silicon strap of the current Tuna (SBDX013). Although the silicon strap is much softer than the Panerai strap, I do have to admit that the Panerai strap is really done well and super comfortable. Not overly soft, but I could definitely wear this watch for quite a while without fiddling around with the rubber strap all the time (which I normally do when it doesn’t fit or suit me well).
Verdict on the Panerai PAM 616
It is a watch that I actually requested from Panerai because it was the talk of the town in Geneva during the SIHH. It wasn’t necessarily because I was overly enthusiastic about its appearance to be honest. I personally buy a watch because I like the look of it in the first place, technical innovations do come in later as a reason to buy a watch (or not at all some times when a watch is really ugly). However, I have to adjust my opinion and say that I liked the technical ‘engineered’ look of the Carbotech case on this Panerai PAM 616. Further more, it is a comfortable watch despite the 47mm diameter. I couldn’t see myself wearing it on a daily basis due to its size, but then again, I rarely bump into people these days with just one watch anyway.
So, I like the technical look & feel of this timepiece as well as some of the little details like the use of the yellow-ish Super LumiNova and the blue accents on the dial and strap. I do feel that the price is quite steep for the three-hand watch (with date), but I sense that the Carbotech case is not a cheap case to produce, especially since it is not a mass-produced watch. It makes this watch special and perhaps in the long run a collector’s piece, so that might make up for the “current” price tag.
The price tag on this piece is 17.500 Euro, including VAT.
More information on www.panerai.com