Hands-On with the Panerai Luminor 1950 Titanium DLC Special Editions PAM617 “Logo” and PAM629 “California”

Panerai has given its signature Luminor 1950 a new twist with pair of Special Editions featuring DLC-coated titanium cases, the PAM617 and decidedly unorthodox PAM629.

The key elements of Panerai‘s aesthetic identity are well known, like the crown lock mechanism and Luminor dial. All Panerai watches revolve around that handful of features, put together in different iterations. That recently introduced Luminor 1950 Titanio DLC limited editions PAM00617 and PAM00629 do just that, combining typical elements in a novel manner. Though both are heavy on traditional Panerai design, both are decidedly modern, with the PAM629 “California” especially unconventional.

Panerai’s iterative approach to watch design, combining the same elements in different ways, is down to its unmistakeable identity. A Panerai can only be a few things, so those few things have to be repeated. The Luminor 1950 Titanio DLC Special Editions reflect that powerful but circumscribed identity.  Both editions share the exact same case: titanium coated with diamond-like carbon (DLC). Though large at 47mm in diameter – that’s the default for the Luminor 1950 – titanium is lightweight.

The case material is a first for Panerai; all its DLC-coated watches so far have been in steel (like the Luminor PAM785 set for instance), while its other watches with black cases are ceramic.  A coating that gives the case a dark grey, almost black, tone, DLC is typically used to reduce wear on machine tools like drill bits, DLC is hard and resistant to chemicals, though it can still flake off if the metal below is dented or deformed significantly.

Luminor 1950 Titanio DLC PAM617

The DLC titanium case has a uniform matte, blasted finish on its entirety, even on the crown lock mechanism. Engraved on the crown lock lever is “1950”, a reference to the year the Luminor was first introduced as a watch for Italian navy divers.

To mimic the look of the Plexiglas crystal of vintage Panerai watches, the Luminor 1950 has a domed sapphire crystal. The back is solid, with the hand-wound P.3000 movement hidden underneath.

It’s a large calibre with a three day power reserve, the same one found most of the other larger Panerai watches, including the Radiomir 1940 Marina Militare 3 Days Acciaio PAM587. Though neither elaborate nor pretty, the P.3000 is a solid, well-equipped movement with twin barrels and a free-sprung balance, features typical of precision chronometers.

The Luminor 1950 3 Days Titanio DLC PAM617 “Logo” is the less controversial of the pair. The dial is the typical Luminor 1950 style, with a small seconds at nine. Like many other Panerai watches, the dial is a sandwich construction, just like that found on vintage Panerai watches. That means the dial is made up of two pieces, an upper disc with cut-outs for the numerals sit over another disc covered with Super-Luminova. The “OP” logo at six o’clock is a modern touch, though unobtrusive.

On the other hand, the Luminor 1950 3 Days Titanio DLC PAM629 “California” is the subject of debate amongst traditionalists. That’s because the “California” dial, with both Roman and Arabic numerals, was historically never paired with a Luminor case. The “California” dial was only found on the wire-lug Radiomir watches.

Luminor 1950 Titanio DLC PAM629


Both the Luminor 1950 Titanium DLC PAM617 and PAM629 are limited to 300 pieces each. They share the same retail price of US$11,800 or S$16,800.

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