I’ve never been a Paneristi. I had a couple of Panerai watches (PAM113 and PAM000) and did visit some Paneristi events (like P-Day), but in the end I didn’t feel Paneristi enough to really be connected. However, the fact that there is a community called Paneristi does show that there is a lot of love for the brand. The Paneristi community celebrates its 15th anniversary this year and Panerai decided to produce a limited edition Luminor Marina Base (PAM634) to celebrate this anniversary, limited to 500 pieces only.
However, today, I am sharing my thoughts on the Officine Panerai Luminor 1950 PAM557 Destro 3-Days that was introduced in 2014. Panerai gave me the watch on loan for a couple of weeks to give it a try.
Panerai Luminor 1950 PAM557 Destro 3-Days
The Panerai Luminor 1950 Destro 3-Days or PAM557 in short, is something special in my opinion. With its left-side crown, plexi crystal, hand-wound movement and vintage looking calf strap it pays tribute to the history of Panerai.
Destro refers to the fact that this watch was meant to be worn on the right (“destro” in Italian) wrist where the left-hand wrist was used for other diving equipment (depth-gauge for example). But I guess if you are into Panerai watches already, this doesn’t need further explanation.
The dial of the watch looks awesome with its faux-patina and gilt hands, matching perfectly with the color of the Luminor Panerai writing on the dial and the hour markers. The dial has this ‘sandwich’ construction that is so typical for these Panerai timepieces. Of course, the big Arabic numerals, stick hour markers and hands lume pretty well in low-light condition.
One of the things I like best about this watch, is that – although the whole vintage aura is a bit sought-after, but nicely done – it gives me the feeling I am wearing something ‘pure’ due to all the elements that Panerai meticulously took care of. It makes me wonder some time how those board meetings take place at the Panerai HQ when designers come up with new proposals. “Add a bit of this, remove some of that”, tweaking until they hit the soft spot because truth is, the parameters (or framework) in which the Panerai designers work is somewhat limited. But this goes for many iconic watch models out there. Although the Paneristi community is certainly giving their share of criticism at times, there is little the brand can do wrong in the end. Whether you have a Panerai Luminor Base with Unitas-based movement or one of their more expensive pieces with in-house developed movement, you will be treated the same by Paneristi or fellow Panerai wearers. There is an incredible love for the brand out there. Perhaps it is the same with the Porsche 911, an icon when it comes to cars and although their 996 model has its share of ‘haters’, you are still one of the gang when you drive one.
However, not sure whether you could draw the parallel between the Panerai PAM557 and the Porsche 911 996 model. On the contrary, the design of the PAM557 is splendid in my opinion. Especially for those who would like to have or wear a vintage Panerai but are not willing to take the risk (financially or with regards to damaging it), this PAM557 is a great choice.
The PAM557 is delivered – as written above – on a calf strap, that looks as it has been worn or at least made from a piece of leather that has been used before. The strap is very comfortable to wear and comes on this Pre-Vendome buckle. Pre-Vendome refers to the period before 1997, when Panerai wasn’t part of the Vendome (now Richemont) Group and using these particularly shaped buckles for their watches. They started to use them again a couple of years ago and look stunning.
The PAM557 uses an in-house Panerai movement, caliber P.3000. A movement that has a 72 hour (or 3-days) power reserve, due to the use of two spring barrels. The cal P.3000 movement is nice to observe through the sapphire crystal caseback and is definitely a step ‘forward’ compared to the Unitas-based movements Panerai used when I owned a couple of Panerai watches myself.
What I couldn’t find out, is why Panerai didn’t decide to use their P.5000 movement, which we saw in this PAM510 and had a power reserve of 8-days. That watch actually had a friendlier price tag as well, so perhaps I am overlooking a few things here. The P.3000 is a nicer looking movement in my opinion, with its larger balance wheel (compared to the P.5000) but there must be another reason.
All these developments also come at a price of course. The PAM557 I am reviewing today has a list price of € 8200 Euro, which is much more than the approx. € 3000 Euro I paid 10 years ago for a Luminor Base (which are now € 6100 Euro, but with in-house movement). You will definitely get a different watch than 10 years ago, mainly due to the in-house developed movement. In the line of competitors with in-house movements, the PAM557 price doesn’t worry me much. You will get an awesome Panerai timepiece for that money, with in-house movement and with a bunch of elements that could make you think you are wearing a 50 year old timepiece, but with better and improved materials and constructions due to the use of modern technology. The fact that the polished parts of the stainless steel case and the plexi crystal definitely will get some scratches due to wear only adds character to this timepiece.
The only minor for me – but that is strictly personal – is that the 47mm is something that won’t get unnoticed. I have fairly big wrists so with regards to aesthetics there was surely no problem, but it is also the ‘presence’ on the wrist of that 47mm that you have to deal with. If you don’t have any issues with wearing large watches, up to 47mm, make sure to put this Panerai PAM557 on your short list.
More information can be found on the official Panerai website.