Hands-On with the Panerai Luminor Due Automatic 45mm PAM674 & PAM675

A look at Panerai's new extra-thin watch that is totally atypical but sensible.

Unveiled two weeks ago as part of nearly a dozen new releases, the Luminor Due is an surprising and unusual watch for Panerai. In fact it’s contrary Panerai’s Italian-navy-diver DNA, so to speak, yet the Luminor Due makes sense, both as a product and as a strategy.

The Luminor Due is Panerai’s version of an extra-thin watch, in essence a slimmed down Luminor 1950. The traditional Luminor outline remains, looking almost identical from the front, crown-lock and all, but with a slim profile.

Panerai Luminor Due Steel Automatic 45mm PAM674 - 6

Due means “two” in Italian, and the Luminor Due is meant to be just that – the second generation Luminor. Its reduced size makes it more wearable, less like an piece of navy equipment and more like an ordinary watch. Consequently it will appeal easily to a much wider audience, a necessity for Panerai as the brand reaches maturity, growing beyond the hardcore Paneristi fanbase.

Two versions of the Due are available, a 42mm hand-wind and a 45mm automatic that’s the subject of this story.

Panerai Luminor Due Steel Automatic 45mm PAM674 - 5

Panerai Luminor Due Steel Automatic 45mm PAM674 - 1

Though the Due dial is a sandwich construction – the traditional Panerai staple – it’s finished in a pale grey with a sunburst brushing, giving it a more polished feel. A military watch this is surely not.

Panerai Luminor Due Steel Automatic 45mm PAM674 - 3

Panerai Luminor Due Steel Automatic 45mm PAM674 - 2

The Luminor Due sits close to the wrist, with a low centre of gravity. But though it is slim, the case is still comfortingly large, with the hand-wind being 42mm and the automatic 45mm (pictured here). Though the 42mm hand-wind is a large watch by most standards, when placed next to the 45mm it does looks reduced.

Panerai Luminor Due Red Gold Automatic 45mm PAM675 - 2

Panerai Luminor Due Red Gold Automatic 45mm PAM675 - 3

The larger automatic is the more appealing version of the Luminor Due, because it approximates the chunky feel of a traditional Panerai while being slim. But the Luminor Due automatic costs over a third more than the hand-wind, a stiff premium.

There is some justification in the movement construction, which has twin barrels, a three-day power reserve, and an adjustable mass balance – this more than just a basic automatic. In fact, it also has an unusual, unseen feature: the winding mechanism for instance features a grande sonnerie style winding click.

Nonetheless, the functional benefit to the consumer of an automatic vs. a hand-wind is difficult to grasp vis-a-vis the 30 percent premium.

Panerai Luminor Due Steel Automatic 45mm PAM674 - 4

Though both the steel and red gold version of the Luminor Due 45mm due the same calibre, the movement in the gold version is finished more elaborately with open-worked bridges and a solid gold rotor.

Panerai Luminor Due Red Gold Automatic 45mm PAM675 - 4

Panerai Luminor Due Red Gold Automatic 45mm PAM675 - 5

While the Due might be contrary to the brand’s historical persona, traditionalists will still have the unadulterated Panerai watches to choose from with watches like the Luminor PAM372. The Due is an option for those who want something different.

The Luminor Due 3 Days Automatic 45mm in stainless steel PAM00674 is priced at €10,400 (about US$11,800). The red gold version, PAM000675, is €24,900 (around US$28,200). The steel model will hit stores midyear, while the red gold model be available September 2016.

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Patek Philippe 2499 Becomes Most Expensive Watch Ever Sold in Asia

A Patek Philippe 2499 third series in pink gold sells for a record-setting US$2.54m at Phillips in Hong Kong, while Eric Clapton's Patek 5004 fetches over US$800,000.

Phillips just set two price records for wristwatches sold at auction in Asia during its recently concluded second Hong Kong watch auction. Of the HK$150m (or US$19.4m) raised during the sale, a full quarter – over US$5m – came from two watches.

A Patek Philippe ref. 2499 third series in pink gold sold for HK$19.7m (or US$2.54m) after a drawn out tussle between two telephone bidders – one speaking Mandarin and the winner, French – becoming the most expensive watch sold at auction in Asia.

One of just six pink gold third series 2499s, the rarest variant of the model, this particular specimen might also be a one-off thanks to its flat dial. The same watch sold at auction 12 years ago for SFr965,000, proving that quality is timeless.

The other major watch of the afternoon came just five lots later when the Patek Philippe ref. 2523/1 World Time in pink gold sold for HK$19.5m (or US$2.51m) – the most ever paid for this reference.

One of just three known to exist – the last one sold 18 years ago and other is in the Patek Philippe Museum – this ref. 2523/1 is in pristine condition and has an uncommon guilloche dial centre.

Though many modern complicated timepieces garnered lukewarm results, another highlight of the sale was Eric Clapton’s Patek Philippe ref. 5004P with a one of a kind blue dial. It sold for HK$6.28m (about US$808,236), showing that high prices are possible for truly notable watches.

Patek Philippe Ref. 5004P Eric Clapton 1

Also outstanding was the Rolex ref. 8382 in pink gold with a bright blue enamel dial, a departure from the typical sports Rolex watches that dominate auctions. Striking but simple looking, this rare bird sold for HK$1.9m (about US$245,000).

Phillips The Hong Kong Watch Auction Two Highlights 4

Despite some slow segments with consecutive lots passed, the sale nonetheless validates Phillips’ strategy of heavily publicised auctions with exceptionally valuable, star watches – resulting in post-sale headlines that write themselves. The number of such headline grabbing timepieces, however, is by definition limited, so the team at Phillips have their work cut out for them.

Full results of the sale can be found here.

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