Panerai at its best has always been about how memorable design arises from adherence to practical considerations. The Radiomir and Luminor designs didn’t come out of a desire to make a fashionable watch, or one that appeals to specific tastes or trends; they came out of very specific requirements and the aesthetics (such as they are) arose out of the abandonment of aesthetics per se. It’s true that Panerai’s identity has become much more complex since the pre-Richemont days (and certainly since the era when it first began making instruments for the Italian Royal Navy). And it’s certainly true that design can become increasingly detached from its connection to original practical considerations without suffering as design.
Still, though, it’s great to be able to take a Panerai out and just bang around with it without being precious. On a certain level Panerai’s maritime equipment designs weren’t just about abandoning aesthetics per se; they were instead, as is true of so many tools, about accepting a completely different set of priorities. The nice thing about doing that, though, is that under the right circumstances, you get something that really embodies, authentically, the nature of the world it lives in and how it interacts with it, and for all that Panerai has become heavily aestheticized in recent years, it’s refreshing to take a watch like PAM 615 out from under the weight of connoisseurship, and see its features for the utilitarian interface between man and ocean that they were originally meant to be.
The Panerai PAM 615 1950 3 Days Chrono Flyback Automatic Titanio: case, titanium, 47mm, water resistance 300 meters. Bezel, matte black ceramic, one way with graduated scale. Movement, Panerai P9100, 13 3/4 lignes (29.89mm) x 8.15mm thick, running in 37 jewels; 3 day power reserve. Flyback chronograph with central seconds and minutes totalizers. Price as shown, $17,700. More info at Panerai.com.
Thanks to Panerai, and the Corinthian and Eastern Yacht Clubs for accomodations. Panerai supports Sailing Heals, which provides rejuvenating sailing experiences for cancer patients and their caregivers; find out more here.
Photos by Cory Silken where credited.