Only 100 pieces of the boutique-only watch, a true haute horology piece within the sporty brand’s stable, will be made
When Panerai debuted its first Bronzo watch, the Luminor Submersible Bronzo PAM 382, back in 2001, it was something of a sensation. No high-end luxury brand had produced a watch with a case made of bronze, a material that patinates, turning a blotchy greenish colour with age. It was a hit. The bronze case was seen as authentic, unique, and above all, useful. Bronze has a unique ability to withstand salt water and has long been used in shipbuilding and marine navigational equipment. Since that first launch, Panerai’s Bronzo limited editions have become coveted by collectors, and other brands have followed suit with their own bronze editions.
Panerai is focusing on the Radiomir collection this year, so it’s no surprise that the new Bronzo is in that group. The Radiomir Tourbillon Bronzo PAM01284 is the seventh Bronzo edition, celebrating the opening of its new 2,250 sq. ft. Madison Avenue boutique, now Panerai’s largest store. The watch, like previous Bronzo editions, pays tribute to Panerai’s naval history—the company began as a supplier of watches for the Italian Royal Navy beginning in the 1940s and wasn’t even available to the public until the 1990s. The PAM01284 is 45mm—a big watch, but typical for Panerai—housing a tourbillon/GMT movement. The bronze case has a lot of vintage appeal because of the way it ages. Each piece develops a unique patina as it adapts to the wearer’s individual surroundings, acquiring a greenish hue, which looks good with the military green coating on the bridges and dial plate. The indexes also match the theme: They are coated in a beige Super-LumiNova that illuminates in green in the dark. The openworked titanium bridges create a 3-D dial architecture using extra depth. Hour markers are mounted to the outer chapter ring, giving them the appearance of floating above the dial. It comes on a vintage calf leather strap in brown.
The movement, calibre P.2015/T, is hand-wound so there is no rotor to block the view of the movement on the open caseback, and the tourbillon has a 30-second rotation instead of the conventional one minute. Uniquely, the carriage rotates perpendicular to the balance wheel, hence the large case. It also has a GMT function, indicated by a central arrowed hand, and the 24-hour counter is placed at the 3 o’clock position with a night or day indicator. There are two barrels for a four-day power reserve. It is limited to 100 pieces, and priced at a hefty US$166,500, one of the few six-figure offerings from Panerai.
Although there are no markings on the watch to indicate that the new Bronzo celebrates the June opening of Panerai’s new superstore flagship, the event is certainly worthy of the special edition. Spread out over two levels on Madison Avenue, the can’t-miss store is fronted by an LED screen displaying images that convey the brand’s connection to the marine realm. Just inside the door is a larger-than-life luminous green wall clock, a larger version than those present in other Panerai boutiques around the world. The store also has a dedicated zone for women, centred on the Luminor Due collection, which has watches as small as 35 mm, compared to the giant Luminors and Radiomirs in Panerai’s catalogue. There is also an immersive timeline spanning nearly 30 feet along an original exposed brick wall that highlights milestones in Panerai’s history.
And for those taking a break while their partner shops, there’s a coffee bar on the upper level. This being an Italian brand, it might be reason enough on its own to visit the store.
This story was first published on Robb Report USA