Earlier this month I had the honor to attend the very exclusive Officine Panerai Dive Into Time VIP event in Beverly Hills. I had the pleasure to talk and dine with Giovanni Carestia (President of Panerai North America), Alessandro Ficarelli (Product Development Director), and several others from the Panerai team. And as if that was not awesome enough, we also had the chance to view and play with some newly released Panerai models. Needless to say, it was one heck of a night and one worth sharing with the rest of the watch community.
Quick disclaimer… the lighting at the event was unfortunately quite horrible for taking photos of watches, but I tried my best to capture the beauty of these PAMs. Please enjoy the report and the photos!
So which Panerai did I bring to this exclusive event? It had to be a special watch so I decided to go with the PAM 498 ("Fu" or Fortune edition) which is a limited edition model. I dressed it up with the bright green OEM gator strap and I had to wear a matching tie of course!
The night started with a few cocktails and hors d’oeuvres in the patio of The Restaurant at Mr. C. It was here that I first met Giovanni, Alessandro, the Panerai team, and the rest of the guests. I shared with Giovanni the story of how Officine Panerai changed my life in terms of watch collecting. As many of you may know, the watch that started this entire watch craze for me was the PAM 164 that I purchased in the summer of 2007. Nothing was the same after that purchase… my obsession for watches took off faster than a space shuttle and my passion for horology has remained strong and consistent ever since. For this reason alone, the brand Panerai will always hold a special place in my heart.
After that, we were brought inside into the private dining area of The Restaurant where Giovanni and Alessandro shared a few words with everyone before we started to enjoy the various recently released Panerai models that were available for us to play with that night. They had several cases scattered around and a table at the front to showcase their most expensive creation, the Radiomir 1940 Minute Repeater Carillon Tourbillon GMT (PAM 600). It should be no surprise that that is the watch I went for first... It is not every day that one has the opportunity to handle a $400K watch. Simply stated, this watch is a beast! Both in size (49mm) and technologically. The skeleton dial and exposed tourbillon is perfectly executed. The manual wind P.2005/MR caliber has 633 components and an impressive list of complications (which include local and home time minute repeater for hours, 10 minutes, and minutes)... just do not expect to be able to know the date from the watch or take this baby for a swim ;-).
I also checked out several of the newer models from their Luminor 1950 and Luminor Due collection. Admittedly, I was quite shocked and confused when Panerai announced the Luminor Due collection. For me, the whole appeal of a Luminor is how sporty, bold, and substantial it is... so making it thinner seems to take away from these qualities. But as explained by Giovanni, the Luminor Due is for people looking for a more formal watch (thin) that does not fit your traditional formal watch standard. For people that want to wear their Luminors under a shirt and suit, the Luminor Due will obviously fit better than your regular Luminor. What I did not expect from this line was how "classy" and refined these models look, which is the result of the fantastic sunburst dial and the fact that they are that much thinner. Contrary to my initial assessment, after seeing the Luminor Due collection in the flesh, I actually think it might be a successful line.
After playing with some of the watches, it was time for the 4-course dinner. I guess I was starving since I totally forgot to take any photos of the food, which is quite uncommon. But I did manage to take a photo of the menu. Of course the food had to be Italian! I ended up with the branzino which was cooked to perfection.
And just when we all thought that we had seen all they had, out came these three limited edition models that just blew everyone's mind away. The winner that night was definitely the PAM 690. Something about that blue sunburst dial, dome sapphire crystal, gold hands, and small seconds subdial that just really works.
The other two limited editions that caught my attention were the PAM 662 and PAM 663. Being a Luminor guy, my favorite of the two is the PAM 663. It is basically a PAM 372 with a beautiful tropical dial... if only that dome crystal was sapphire and not plexi. I know most people find the plexi more appealing, but my watch OCD demands that my crystals be sapphire :-).
My favorite watch of the night was probably the PAM 690, followed very closely by the 663. I had a fantastic evening in great company. Special thanks to Officine Panerai and Panerai Central for hosting this wonderful event.