Hands-On Panerai Submersible PAM00959 Review
This year for Panerai is all about the Submersible. The Radiomir and Luminor lines represent the heritage branch of the brand with a more subtle look and elegance. The Submersible family, however, goes back to the core of Panerai; diving.
These watches are more sporty, bulky and colorful than the aforementioned Radiomir and Luminor collections. Still making a sporty watch, especially if we are talking about a Panerai, does not necessarily mean +46mm monstrosities on the wrist. I know some of you guys dig those watches and I have nothing against Panerai at all. On the contrary, I used to own a Marina Militare a long time ago. Still, those sizes only look good for a very small percentage of the population. Not like the new 42mm Panerai Submersible PAM00959. A beautiful watch that has Panerai DNA yet in a contemporary size. Funny how contemporary mean small for the Florence-born brand.
The Submersible collection this year was on the two spectrums of the size chart. On the one hand, out of the 12 new models 9 are 47mm and only 3, including this PAM00959 we have here, are smaller with a 42mm diameter. That’s ok, Panerai is not known for making ultra-thin dress watches. They leave that to their Richemont sister brand; Piaget. However, it’s great that the designers finally realized that there is actually a demand for smaller brands even if +44mm is (was) your DNA for years. 2019 is not the first year that we see shrinking PAMs coming out in Geneva but I, for one, am very happy to see this trend. Other than the PAM00959 the two other models this year in this size are the Submersible 42mm PAM00683 and the Submersible Carbotech 42mm PAM00960. Today however we are going to take a closer look at bluest of them all, the PAM00959.
The title of the paragraph refers to the case of course. In the past Submersibles were large, often perhaps too large as they represented the hard-core tool watch section of the brand. Panerai calls these models “Survival Instruments” and this is a fitting name. They were huge, bulky, made to last and to survive. The new PAM00959 is not even a bit less sturdy as those forerunners but in a much more delicate case. As the name suggests it’s 42mm wide, made of 316L grade stainless steel and, as you’d expect from a tool watch, has a brushed finish. The shape of the case, like with any Submersible, is more rectangular. It still has the typical Panerai shape with a bit more edges than you’d have on a Radiomir or Luminor model. The rotating ceramic blue bezel is a stunner, the most beautiful feature of the watch in my opinion.
The bezel is, of course, unidirectional, and the blue inlay is ceramic. While that is the main feature of the front there are many cool details on the case back. Flip the watch over and the first thing to catch your attention is the engraving in the middle that you can find on Submersible watches. You have the model name of course all around the screw-in case back. The water resistance is 300 meters as you can see but the back also tells us what Panerai intends to market the PAM00959; Automatic Divers Professional. The back, just like the rest of the watch, is simple. Not much is going on there. Although not part of the back, but rather the whole watch, the patented crown guard something – almost – every Panerai has is, of course, part of this watch too.
While I love the overall look of the Panerai Submersible PAM00959 I’m still not sure what to think of the dial. I mean, I like the textured surface. It reminds me of tumbled leather in a cool grey tone, something that the brand calls shark grey. Though upon closer inspection it looks a bit odd to me. Again, from other angles, the dial looks fine. I guess I just need time to adapt to the look. Still, I love the contrast of the steel, the grey dial, and the blue ceramic bezel. The dial layout is simple; small date aperture at 3, small seconds subdial at 9 and that’s it. Standard Panerai look. The index dots and hour marker are luminous just like the Panerai-style sword-shape hands. The white hands offer great visibility on the dial. The tone isn’t too dark, so it is super easy to read the time.
We still have to talk about what’s inside the Panerai Submersible PAM00959. It is not an ETA anymore. Panerai slowly left that time behind them. The heart and soul of the PAM00959 is the brand’s in-house caliber, OP XXXIV. As you can read it from the dial and the back, it is an automatic analog, time only movement with a date and sub-second function. The OP XXXIV caliber has 23 jewels and 72 hours of power reserve on a full wound. The frequency is 28,800vph. The base of the caliber is ValFleurier ebauche. If you are not familiar with the name, ValFleurier is a movement manufacturer that belongs to the Richemont group. As such, they supply movements to brands such as Montblanc, IWC, Piaget and in our case, Panerai. These base movements then Panerai modifies in-house and make such calibers as the OP XXXIV. Standard industry procedure.
As one would expect from a true diver the Panerai Submersible PAM00959 comes on a dark blue rubber (caoutchouc) strap with the iconic trapezoidal Panerai buckle. The strap complements the watch nicely and works well with the bezel. All in all, the PAM00959 is not only a comfortable watch to wear but also one that looks great and a tad bit different from other Submersible models. I love the smaller size, that perfect tone of blue and the simplicity many of us prefer in a Panerai. The retail price is €9,500 (including tax) in Germany, however, this is pretty much the same amount for the rest of the EU. Whether it’s a high price for the watch or not, everyone has to decide for themselves. The PAM00959 is not an everyday watch for sure. But it’s also not what Panerais are known for.
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