Panerai Submersible Bronzo Blu Abisso PAM01074 — A 42mm Crowd-Pleaser In Bronze
If you’re already a fan of the Luminor Submersible 1950 3 Days Automatic Bronzo PAM00671, but 47mm is just too big for you. Don’t fret, I might just have the perfect solution. You could consider the new Panerai Submersible Bronzo Blu Abisso PAM01074 — a bronze, 42mm people-pleaser with an annual production of 1,000 pieces per year. Is this “Piccolo Bronzo” a Paneristi-worthy watch, or is this simply a creation to try and lure in a new crowd? Get ready for a wild “ride” that will start with a visit to Panerai’s website.
To get an impression of Panerai’s bronze offerings, I first went to the official website. During my visit, I spotted four different bronze Submersible models. Three of them come in a 47mm case. The only exception being the brand’s latest creation, which has a 42mm case. I then had a look at the prices. The Panerai Submersible Bronzo Blu Abisso PAM01074 has a list price €15,500. The 47mm PAM00671, also in bronze, costs “just” €14,000. To put it bluntly, you pay more for the “Piccolo Bronzo” and get less — 5mm less, to be precise. But could this be a case of “less is more?” Let’s take a closer look and find out.
Taking a look inside
The PAM00671 is a limited edition of 1,000 pieces and uses the in-house P.9010 caliber — an automatic three-day movement with two barrels. The automatic P.900 caliber in the 42mm PAM01074 has a limited production of 1,000 units per year. It’s a smaller and thinner movement with the same three-day power reserve as the P.9010, but using only one barrel. The caliber P.9000 family is Panerai’s trusted workhorse. It has been around for many years and has seen action in many of the brand’s entry-level watches. It could also be found in Panerai’s first-ever bronze watch back in 2011, the Luminor Submersible 1950 3 Days Automatic Bronzo PAM00382.
The Caliber P.900 is also the go-to “heart” that beats inside the dressy Due models, visible through the sapphire crystal on the case back. It is based on a ValFleurier ebauche. ValFleurier being a Richemont-owned movement manufacturer. To finish off this factual first round of comparisons, on both blue dials you can read the hours, minutes, and seconds (on a small sub-dial), and can find the date at 3 o’clock.
Up close and personal
Now we have the basic facts and the in-house movement comparison out of the way, we can finally have a closer look at the PAM01074. First, the 42 × 14.37mm case fits my 18cm wrist perfectly and comfortably. Better than a 47 × 15.8mm for sure. But does a Panerai need to fit perfectly on the wrist? Isn’t being big, bold, brash, and even slightly obnoxious, also part of the appeal? Allow me to make a comparison. I love the way the 43mm IWC Big Pilot wears, but I prefer the look of the 46.2mm original on my wrist. Not only that, but it also feels better to wear. Mostly because of its looks and originality and not because of improved ergonomics.
Nautically in-tune colors and materials
Back to the “Piccolo Bronzo”. Which comes on a very suave, comfortable, and good-looking blue suede strap. And it is a truly nice strap — both in color and material. It matches the matte blue of the dial, which is nautically in tune with the rich and warm tone of the bronze case. But not just the case, but also a trapezoidal pin buckle, made from the same bimetallic alloy CuSn8 that contains 92 percent copper and 8 percent tin — you’re in for quite the amount of unique patina with this one! Any other stuff you get with this watch? Yes, a second rubber strap — also in blue — with a screwdriver tool that allows you to easily change the strap and remove the buckle. The box that the “Piccolo Bronzo” comes in, is made from environmentally conscious recycled plastic.
A true people-pleaser?
The new 42mm Submersible may be smaller than the original 47mm version, but its appearance stays intact. So you still get the trademark Safety Lock crown protection. Plus the signature studs and dots on the unidirectional rotating, graduated bezel. The beige Super-LumiNova on the deep blue dial doesn’t contrast too harshly with the cooler color. On top of that, it matches the warm hue of the bronze case and bezel.
But does the “Piccolo Bronzo” have the same undeniable charisma that its 47mm bronze family members have? Is it a true crowd-pleaser? Well, it probably won’t shock a long-time Panerai owner/fan — or even the Paneristi — like the Luminor Due once did. In this case, shaving off 5mm doesn’t affect its functionality. The watch retains a healthy 300m of water resistance, which is a plus for what is essentially a tool watch for serious divers. Panerai has chosen to stick to its roots with this one.
Would a die-hard Luminor 1950 owner want to own and wear a “Piccolo Bronzo”?
However, the 42mm PAM01074 also seems to be aimed at a new group of watch enthusiasts. Not in the very obvious way the Due is, but in a more historically respectful way. Would a die-hard Luminor 1950 owner want to own and wear a “Piccolo Bronzo”? Probably not. But I also think that if they were to strap one onto their wrist, they would not be in a rush to try to take it off again. For a new audience, the smaller case size is quite appealing, but this PAM01074 undoubtedly packs the quintessential Panerai panache.
Panerai’s mysterious price calculations
But there are a few other things that I feel the need to go back to. And that’s the 42mm Submersible line-up and its prices. When you look for 42mm Submersibles, you will find the steel PAM01223 with a white dial on a rubber strap and a price tag of €8,700. There’s also the steel PAM01209 Azzurro Dive, an online-only, limited edition of 500 pieces with a bright blue bezel for “just” €9,500. Now, allow me to remind you that the bronze Blu Abisso PAM01074 has a list price of €15,500. I think that’s a rather hefty premium for what is essentially just a difference in case material. In comparison, the price difference between a full bronze Tudor Fifty-Eight and a steel one, is just €800.
Please enlighten me
The price difference between steel and bronze, when it comes to 42mm Panerai Submersibles, is at least €6,000 and ranges up to €6.800. I find that very hard to make sense of. What’s Panerai’s “spiel” here? Is there something that special in the bronze alloy it uses? The answer to that particular question is “no”. There are more advanced, less patina-prone alloys with some aluminum in the mix. And then there’s the Omega Seamaster 300 in Bronze Gold with a retail price of €11,500 — for that price you get a more luxurious bronze alloy containing 37.5 percent gold.
I can make sense of the watch, I just can’t make sense of the price.
As we know, together with fellow Firenze-born brand Anonimo, Panerai is a pioneer when it comes to bronze watches. And heritage, it seems, comes with a price that’s difficult to calculate. But does an added emotional factor justify the price? I don’t think so. Are they betting on future price increases? The limited yearly production and limited availability label on the website kind of give me that impression. But then again, the steel PAM01223 also comes with that scarcity warning upfront. It’s aggressive pricing, but not in favor of the watch consumer. I can make sense of the watch, I just can’t make sense of the price. Can you? If so, please enlighten me.
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