When I first laid eyes on a Panerai, long before my passion for watches kicked into high gear, I was honestly dubious. That being said, a base model Luminor on the supplied rubber diver’s strap is perhaps not the most glowing first impression I could get from the brand. Jump forward 5 years, and you’d be hard pressed to find someone with a stronger obsession with a watch brand than mine towards Panerai.
Of course, as with any brand, Panerai takes its fair share of criticism; of which I would normally outline here. However, I have never been able to hold a conversation with someone being critical of Panerai for more that 10 seconds, at which point I force myself to exit the situation before I make fun of their TAG Heuer Formula 1.
It is understandable, of course, that some people take issue with the 45mm size, and the stock ETA movements in the lower-end models, but you must look further up the Panerai pyramid to find out why so many people have such a strong affinity with the brand.
An example of this is the PAM 00183, a Radiomir with the classic polished pillow-shaped case. Something about the simplicity of the time only face, along with the super thin lugs, makes this watch so versatile aesthetically. It has an OP XI ETA-based movement, which has been adapted by Panerai. It is one of the best-modified examples of the ETA-6497/2 hand wound movement, as well as one the most reasonably priced.
Of course, sporting the guts of an ETA movement will still put some people off, even though the way Panerai have modified this movement make it accurate, as well as a pleasure to look at through the Sapphire case back.
For those people who (not entirely unlike myself) would prefer a true, in-house made movement, once again, you need only look further up the Panerai food chain.
The Luminor GMT 10-day houses one of Panerai’s finest movements. The 3 spring barrel system allows for an impressive 10 day power reserve. Add to that the GMT complication and a burgundy leather strap; it is one of the most utilitarian, yet still dressy watches in the Panerai lineup.
Panerai have managed to be one of the few makers of large watches who still hold favour with watch collectors with a taste for more classic and smaller watches. Timepieces like the Radiomir Chronograph (pictured above) keep the brand in good stead amongst most watch lovers. And even as a fanatic of the brand, I can admit there are certainly well founded reasons to steer clear of Panerai. Even so, it is definitely a brand that will grow on you.