SIHH 2017 Personal Perspectives: Panerai – A Little Bit of Everything From LAB-ID to Bronzo (to Mare Nostrum Redux)

The ultra high-tech LAB-ID, plus new Submersibles as well as watches for the 2017 America's Cup.
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Panerai‘s line-up at SIHH 2017 was unusual in being largely contemporary in feel, instead of heavily relying on vintage styling as is the brand’s habit. The collection was headlined by the experimental LAB-ID Luminor 1950 Carbotech, but primarily focused on new Luminor Submersible models, including the latest Submersible Bronzo.

There were a handful of intriguing watches shown but not officially unveiled, including new Luminor Due variants and a Mare Nostrum chronograph based on the 42mm Pre-Vendome model, the PAM00719. But let’s get on with the watches that were introduced.

The LAB-ID Luminor 1950 Carbotech 3 Days PAM00700 is an intriguing beast packed with technical innovations, backed by a 50-year warranty.

Panerai LAB-ID Luminor 1950 Carbotech 3 Days PAM700-1

Most of the features of the watch are carbon-related, starting with the 49mm Carbotech case. Essentially a type of carbon fibre-reinforced polymer that’s produced by layering sheets of carbon to create a woodgrain appearance, Carbotech has been used by Panerai several times in the past.

Panerai LAB-ID Luminor 1950 Carbotech 3 Days PAM700-2

Add to that a carbon nanotube coating on the dial that gives it a deep, flat black colour. Constructed in the sandwich manner typical of Panerai, the dial sits over a plate painted with blue Super-Luminova below, illuminating the hour marker cut-outs from below.

Panerai LAB-ID Luminor 1950 Carbotech 3 Days PAM700-3

The movement inside is where it gets more interesting – though it has to be said many of the technical features are not entirely new as Breitling did similar (and arguably more in fact) with last year’s Chronoworks. Based on the hand-wound P.3000, the calibre P.3001/C inside the LAB-ID has the base plate and bridges made of ceramic, allowing all the pivots to sit inside them, since ceramic is almost friction-free.

Panerai LAB-ID Luminor 1950 Carbotech 3 Days PAM700-4

Panerai LAB-ID Luminor 1950 Carbotech 3 Days PAM700-5

Both the pallet fork and escape wheel are silicon, while the wheels of the gear train are coated in diamond-like carbon. Even the four jewels for the balance staff are coated in DLC. This allows all the moving parts to operate with almost zero friction, eliminating the need for lubrication.

For the same reason, the insides of the barrels are also DLC coated, so the usual grease needed to smoothen the movement of the mainspring is done away with.

The P.3001/C has a 72-hour, or three day, power reserve, the same as the standard P.3000 movement. But pulling the crown on the LAB-ID stops the balance and sends the seconds hand back to 12 o’clock, allowing for precise time setting. This zero-reset hacking seconds is not found on the basic P.3000 calibre.

The LAB-ID Luminor 1950 Carbotech 3 Days (PAM700) is a limited edition of 50 pieces, priced at €50,000.


A key segment of the new collection is half a dozen new Submersible watches, starting with the Luminor Submersible 1950 3 Days Automatic Bronzo PAM00671.

This is the third watch with a bronze case introduced by Panerai, following the PAM382 of 2011 and the PAM507 that came in 2013. Given the success of the last two, which now sell for hefty premiums over the original retail, the third Bronzo is unsurprising. While the first two Bronzo watches had green dials, the latest model has a dark blue dial.

Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 Bronzo PAM671-1

Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 Bronzo PAM671-4

The rest of the watch is largely identical to before, with a 47mm case made of a copper-tin alloy typically used for marine applications like propellors. Exposure to air causes surface oxidisation, creating a brownish-green patina over time, the defining characteristic of bronze watch cases.

And the movement inside is the P.9010, a self-winding movement with three day power reserve.

Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 Bronzo PAM671-3

Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 Bronzo PAM671-2

Limited to 1000 pieces, the Luminor Submersible 1950 3 Days Automatic Bronzo PAM671 will cost US$14,400 or S$20,600.


Powered by the same calibre P.9010 but with an arguably more interesting case material, the Luminor Submersible 1950 BMG- TECH 3 Days Automatic PAM00692 has a case made from bulk metallic glass, hence the “BMG” moniker.

Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 BMG-TECH PAM692-1

Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 BMG-TECH PAM692-3

Bulk metallic glass is essentially a metal alloy (here composed primarily of zirconium, along with copper, aluminium, titanium and nickel) that’s rapidly cooled during production, leaving the atoms of the alloy arranged irregularly, just like glass. In contrast, in ordinary metal alloys the atoms are arranged in an orderly, crystalline structure. The irregular atomic structure of metallic glasses, also known as amorphous metals, give them high wear and corrosion resistance, as well as superior toughness.

Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 BMG-TECH PAM692-2

In the metal the BMG-TECH Submersible resembles titanium, and feels similarly lightweight. The case is the standard 47mm size for the Submersible, and matched with a dark blue dial. It costs US$10,200 or S$14,600.


Two unusual Submersibles were also introduced, both being a 42mm in size. Both are equipped with the same P.9010 movement found in the 47mm watches above, but with significantly smaller cases; tiny, in fact, compared to the average Submersible. Like the extra-thin Luminor Due, these are more wearable and presumably help broaden Panerai’s appeal beyond its traditional audience.

Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 42mm

The fancier of the two is the Luminor Submersible 1950 3 Days Automatic Oro Rosso 42mm PAM00684 that has an 18k red gold case. The case is mirror polished on all surfaces, except for the crown lock bridge, though the shine of the case is moderated by the matte black ceramic bezel insert.

Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 Oro Rosso 42mm PAM684-1

Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 Oro Rosso 42mm PAM684-2

The colour and size of the red gold Submersible give it the feel of a ladies’ watch. It costs US$26,700 or S$38,100.

The other 42mm model is the Luminor Submersible 1950 3 Days Automatic Acciaio 42mm PAM00682, which is the same but in stainless steel with a steel bezel. This is priced at US$8700 or S$12,500.

Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 42mm PAM682


The rest of the SIHH offerings were dominated by watches produced for the 35th America’s Cup that will take place in Bermuda in June 2017. Panerai is the official partner of the yacht race as well as the official partner of two of the competing teams, defending champion Oracle Team USA and challenger SoftBank Team Japan. The result is five limited editions watches for the race and the teams.

The basic model is the official watch of the event, the Luminor Marina 1950 America’s Cup 3 Days Automatic PAM00727. Limited to 300 watches, this is powered by the P.9010 movement with blue and red accents that echo the logo of the America’s Cup.

Panerai Luminor Marina 1950 America’s Cup 3 Days Automatic Acciaio PAM727

The steel case is 44mm in diameter, with a solid back bearing the America’s Cup logo. The Luminor Marina 1950 America’s Cup 3 Days Automatic PAM727 costs US$8100 or S$11,600.


The next three watches were conceived for Oracle Team USA, which means the logo of the American software company adorns all the case backs.

The first is the Luminor 1950 ORACLE TEAM USA 3 Days Chrono Flyback Automatic Ceramica PAM00725, which has a 44mm, matte black ceramic case.

Instead of the usual tachymetric scale graduated for land speed, the Oracle Team USA chronograph has a nautical tachymetre calibrated for 1 nautical mile, allowing the user to calculate the speed of a vessel travelling over a nautical mile.

Panerai Luminor 1950 ORACLE Chrono Flyback Ceramica PAM725 2

Panerai Luminor 1950 ORACLE Chrono Flyback Ceramica PAM725 1

Inside is the P.9100, an automatic movement with a flyback chronograph and three days power reserve. The price tag on this is US$15,300 or S$21,950.


Another chronograph is the Luminor 1950 Regatta ORACLE TEAM USA 3 Days Chrono Flyback Automatic Titanio PAM00726. With a titanium case that’s 47mm in diameter, this is equipped with a Regatta countdown function controlled by the pusher at four o’clock.

Each press of the button moves the central red countdown hand backwards by one minute, allowing the user to set a countdown time for a yacht race. The pusher at 10 o’clock starts and stops the chronograph, while the button at eight o’clock resets everything. And like the ceramic chronograph above, this also has a nautical tachymetre around the dial, calibrated for a nautical mile to measure speed in knots.

Panerai Luminor 1950 Regatta ORACLE Chrono PAM726

Panerai Luminor 1950 Regatta ORACLE Chrono PAM726 back

Limited to 200 watches, the Luminor 1950 Regatta ORACLE TEAM USA 3 Days Chrono Flyback Automatic Titanio PAM726 costs US$17,900 or S$25,600.


The simplest of the America’s Cup watches is the Luminor Marina ORACLE TEAM USA 8 Days Acciaio PAM00724. Time-only and stainless steel, this has the basic 44mm Luminor case, with the P.5000 inside, a hand-wound movement with an eight-day power reserve.

Panerai Luminor Marina ORACLE TEAM USA 8 Days Acciaio PAM724

This is a 200-piece limited edition, priced at US$7100 or S$10,150.


And for those who prefer the logo of a Japanese software company, the Luminor Marina 1950 SOFTBANK TEAM JAPAN 3 Days Automatic Acciaio PAM00732 provides just that.

Panerai Luminor Marina 1950 SOFTBANK TEAM JAPAN PAM732

Identical to the PAM00727 that’s the official watch of the event, this is 44mm, steel, and equipped with the P.9010. Limited to 150 pieces, this is priced at US$8100 or S$11,600.


And the final two watches are remakes of vintage Radiomir watches first announced last year. The Radiomir 3 Days Acciaio PAM00685 and PAM00687 are based on 1930s ref. 3646 prototypes with 12-sided, screw-on bezels.

Panerai Radiomir 3 Days Acciaio PAM685 PAM687

The PAM00685 a traditional black dial, while the PAM00687 has a graduated caramel dial that mimics the look of faded “tropical” dials found on vintage Panerai watches. Both are powered by the P.3000 hand-wound movement.

Panerai Radiomir 3 Days Acciaio PAM687

Panerai Radiomir 3 Days Acciaio PAM685

Panerai Radiomir 3 Days Acciaio PAM685 PAM687 back

They are each limited to 1000 pieces and cost US$9800.


Update February 6, 2017: Singapore dollar prices added.

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SIHH 2017 Personal Perspectives: Montblanc – A Walk Through the New TimeWalker Collection

Montblanc revamps its line of sports watches, giving them more aggressive lines as well as contrasting red and black livery.
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Under dapper Italian Davide Cerrato, Montblanc‘s watch division, which also owns high-end movement maker Minerva, has gradually overhauled each of its collections, with SIHH 2017 seeing the debut of the new TimeWalker.

Conceived as a sports watch inspired by motor racing – a nod to Minerva’s history as a maker of sporting stopwatches – the TimeWalker collection is made up of five watches, starting with the top of the line TimeWalker Chronograph 1000 Limited Edition 18.

Activated by a large pusher at 12 o’clock in-between the lugs, the TimeWalker Chronograph 1000 features a stopwatch that can measure up to 1/1000th of a second, possible thanks to a second, dedicated balance wheel that oscillates at 360,000 beats per hour (bph) or 50Hz. Small and attached to twin hairsprings for better precision, the second balance wheel is partially visible through an aperture on the dial at seven o’clock.

Montblanc TimeWalker Chronograph 1000 Limited Edition 18-1

The 360,000bph frequency translates into 6000 beats per minute, or 100 beats per second. Additional gearing in the chronograph fear train that centres on a “thousandth wheel” further increases the resolution of the chronograph, with the thousandth wheel making 10 rotations a second, making possible the 1/1000th of a second measurement. This is displayed in the fan-shaped window at 12 o’clock.

Elapsed seconds and minutes are shown in the register at six o’clock, while the central seconds hand indicates 1/100th of a second, meaning the hand whizzes around the dial once every second.

Another window at three o’clock shows the chronograph power reserve. Having its own mainspring, the chronograph can run for 45 minutes, while the time display can go for 100 hours on full wind.

Montblanc TimeWalker Chronograph 1000 Limited Edition 18-2

Impressive as it is, the movement inside is not actually new. Based on a Minerva chronograph movement, the calibre MB M66.26 was first introduced in 2012 inside the TimeWriter II Chronographe Bi-Fréquence 1000. In fact, two years ago Montblanc simplified the movement by removing the 1/1000th of a second mechanism, creating a 1/100th of a second chronograph for much less money.

Montblanc TimeWalker Chronograph 1000 Limited Edition 18-3

The timekeeping balance at left and the smaller chronograph balance on the right

The new TimeWalker Chronograph 1000 is instead aggressively modern, with a diamond-like carbon (DLC) coated titanium case that’s 46.4mm in diameter and 17.34mm high. A knurled bezel and crown are both nods to vintage stopwatches.

Limited to 18 pieces, the TimeWalker Chronograph 1000 Limited Edition 18 (ref. 116828) is priced at €175,000 or S$239,000.


Also powered by a Minerva calibre, albeit a simpler one, is the TimeWalker Chronograph Rally Timer Counter Limited Edition 100. Styled like a vintage stopwatch, it’s a single-button chronograph with the chronograph pusher and crown co-axial at 12 o’clock. It is also a convertible timepiece that can go from being a wristwatch to a standing desk clock to a dashboard instrument.

Montblanc TimeWalker Chronograph Rally Timer Counter-1

Measuring 50mm in diameter and made of titanium, the extremely large case and stopwatch-inspired look make it seem more like an object than a pure wristwatch.

Montblanc TimeWalker Chronograph Rally Timer Counter-2

Montblanc TimeWalker Chronograph Rally Timer Counter-7

As a wristwatch the fold-out lugs attach to a leather strap secured by buttons, giving it a retro look. The strap is a bit thin for the size of the watch, which is still hefty despite being lightweight titanium. Removing the leather band and folding in the lugs turn it into a desk clock thanks to a pair of legs on the back.

Montblanc TimeWalker Chronograph Rally Timer Counter-3

Montblanc TimeWalker Chronograph Rally Timer Counter-4

And in its third iteration it can be screwed into a metal plate that attaches to a car’s dashboard.

Inside is the calibre MB M16.29, a hand-wound movement that’s beautifully finished in the best tradition of Minerva. In fact it’s the same calibre inside the 1858 Chronograph Tachymetre first introduced last year.

Montblanc TimeWalker Chronograph Rally Timer Counter-5

Montblanc TimeWalker Chronograph Rally Timer Counter-6

The TimeWalker Chronograph Rally Timer Counter Limited Edition 100 (ref. 116103) is a limited edition of 100 pieces and costs €37,000 or S$50,600.


The rest of the collection is significantly more affordable, led by the TimeWalker Chronograph UTC. A chronograph with two extra time zone displays, the TimeWalker Chronograph UTC has a 43mm steel case coated with DLC, and a Valjoux 7750-based movement inside.

Montblanc TimeWalker Chronograph UTC-1

Montblanc TimeWalker Chronograph UTC-2

The first time zone is indicated by the usual hour and minute hands, the second by the red arrow-tipped hand. And the this time zone can be set via the rotating black ceramic bezel.

Montblanc TimeWalker Chronograph UTC-3

The TimeWalker Chronograph UTC (ref. 116101) has a price tag of €4990 or S$7,600.


Similar but without the additional time zones, the TimeWalker Chronograph Automatic is a straightforward chronograph with date display. The case is 43mm and stainless steel with a black ceramic bezel.  Inside is the Sellita SW500, a clone of the Valjoux 7750.

This is available with a black or silver dial, with a contrast colour minute track.

Montblanc TimeWalker Chronograph Automatic 1

Montblanc TimeWalker Chronograph Automatic 2

Prices start at €3990 or S$6,100 for the version on a leather strap.


The entry-level model is the TimeWalker Date Automatic. Significantly smaller than its chronograph cousins at 41mm in diameter, the TimeWalker Date Automatic feels like a compact but sporty timepiece.

Also stainless steel with a black ceramic bezel, the dial is modelled on a stopwatch, with five minute markings going from “5” to “60” for the hours.

Montblanc TimeWalker Automatic Date 1

This is powered by the Sellita SW200, an automatic with a 38-hour power reserve that’s a clone of the ETA 2824.

Montblanc TimeWalker Automatic Date 2

The TimeWalker Date Automatic (ref. 116059) costs €2990 or S$4,600.


The other key additions to the line-up for 2017 were the 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter in bronze, as well as the 1858 Automatic and 1858 Dual Time in two-tone steel and bronze. All three were previewed before SIHH, and you can see them in the metal here.

Montblanc-1858-Chronograph-Tachymeter-Bronze-Limited-Edition-2a

Montblanc 1858 bronze back


 

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The Richest People in Swiss Watchmaking Revealed

Dominated by familiar names, the list of richest people in watchmaking is led by the Rupert, Hayek and Stern.
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Every year Swiss business magazine Bilanz publishes a list of the richest people residing in Switzerland, categorised into the industries in which the fortunes were made. The latest list was published in January 2017, based on figures for the previous year. Watchmaking features prominently on the list, albeit in small numbers given the size of the business relative to other industries.

Here are the people and families whose fortunes are derived from watchmaking, extracted from the Bilanz ranking, with the estimated net worths in Swiss francs. At time of publication SFr1 is equivalent to US$1.

1. Johann Rupert – SFr4.75 billion (Richemont, tobacco)
Originally a merchant banker turned tobacco tycoon, the South African is the controlling shareholder of luxury conglomerate Richemont, owner of brands like Cartier and IWC. His fortune fell from SFr5.5 billion in 2015 as a consequence of the declining value of Richemont shares in the wake of poor results.

2. Hayek family – SFr4.25 billion (Swatch Group)
The family that controls the Swatch Group – led by Nick Hayek, his sister Nayla and her son Marc – saw its fortune decline from SFr5.5 billion a year before, thanks to a sharp fall in the value of Swatch Group shares. While the group only just posted a poor set of financials for 2016, Nick Hayek expects 2017 to be better.

3. Stern family – SFr3.25 billion (Patek Philippe)
Possessing of a vast fortune thanks to its ownership of Patek Philippe, the Stern family controls a luxury watchmaking with an estimated SFr1.3 billion in sales (at wholesale prices and not retail value). The immense profitability of privately-held Patek Philippe, led by Thierry and his father Philippe, can be inferred from the SFr500m expansion of its Geneva manufacturing facility, financed entirely by the company’s coffers.

Thierry Stern

4. Bucherer family – SFr1.75 billion (Bucherer group, watch retail)
With estimated annual sales of SFr1.5 billion, Bucherer Group is Europe’s largest watch retailer, now led by third generation family member Jorg Bucherer. Still owned by the eponymous family, the group has 30 watch stores in Europe as well as over a dozen jewellery stores, in addition to assorted single brand boutiques.

5. Scheufele family – SFr1.75 billion (Chopard)
Originally jewellers from the German city of Pforzheim, the Scheufele family has owned Chopard since 1963. The Geneva based firm now sells some SFr570m worth of watches and jewellery a year, with family patriarch Karl still in charge, along with his children Karl-Friedrich and Caroline.

6. Borer family – SFr1.75 billion (Rolex)
Now led by the 89-year old Harry Borer, the Aegler-Borer family once owned Rolex Biel, the exclusive supplier to movements to Rolex Geneva, which controlled everything else to do with the luxury watch brand. In 2004 Rolex Geneva took over the Biel outfit, leaving the Borer family extremely wealthy.

7. Audemars and Piguet families – SFr950m (Audemars Piguet)
With estimated sales of SFr800m Audemars Piguet is one of the few luxury watchmakers still enjoying growth amidst the downturn, making the descendants of its founders wealthy indeed. With plans to control more of its distribution network, Audemars Piguet should become even more profitable in the coming years.

8. Schneider family – SFr750m (Breitling)
The family has owned Breitling since 1979 and while the watchmaker has grown slower than its rivals in recent years, it nonetheless has sales of some SFr370m a year. Recent news puts the company in play, but no suitor has emerged publicly yet.

9. Jean-Pierre Slavic – SFr325m (Waterproof watch crowns)
Slavic’s fortune comes from Boninchi SA, the main supplier of watch crowns to Rolex for most of the watchmaker’s history. He sold the company to Rolex in 2001 and is now best known for his car collection, which includes a Ferrari 250GTO.

10. Bernheim and Weil families – SFr275m (Raymond Weil)
Now run by a grandson of its eponymous founder, Raymond Weil turns over an estimated SFr210m annually, a figure that’s remained stable for several years.

11. Vartan Sirmakes – SFr225m (Franck Muller)
The Armenian co-founder of Franck Muller Watchland now owns almost all of the company, having bought out Franck Muller himself, who spends most of his time in Monaco and Thailand. The firm sells some SFr285m of watches and jewellery every year, primarily under the Franck Muller brand.

12. Jean-Claude Biver – SFr175m (Blancpain, Hublot)
The energetic 67-year old made his first fortune turning around Blancpain and selling it to the Swatch Group, then doing the same with Hublot, which was acquired by LVMH. Biver now runs the French luxury conglomerate’s watch division, while being chief executive of two of its constituent brands, TAG Heuer and Zenith.

Jean-Claude Biver


Source: Bilanz

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