Panerai Introduces the Radiomir Paneristi 45mm PAM02020

20 years later and the world has changed...

As it did for several anniversaries before – but against a vastly different landscape in the past – Panerai has just announced the Radiomir Paneristi 45mm PAM02020 for the 20th anniversary of its collector forum.

The PAM 2020 is a hand-wind, 45 mm Radiomir with a steel case finished with an faux-patina treatment, and an inappropriately large anniversary logo on the front (and an even larger one on the back).

Initial thoughts

This is the sixth Paneristi edition. Six editions ago, Paneristi was arguably the most fanatical watch forum dedicated to the hottest brand in the world. The first Paneristi edition, the PAM 195 of 2003, sold out in an instant, and despite all of them having the owner’s name engraved on the back, sold for many multiples of the original retail price on the secondary market. But times have changed.

Although Panerai describes the new Paneristi Radiomir as “the result of an intense creative process involving close collaboration between… Panerai’s technical and creative team… and the Paneristi”, it is neither intense nor creative.

The emblem on the dial might be engraved like it is on vintage Panerai, but it looks unattractive. And “Venti”, which is Italian for “twenty”, between the lugs regrettably brings to mind the extra-large Starbucks coffee.

The dial colour and finish does look good, however, and the faux-aged case (identical to that on the Radiomir PAM 992) is also appealing. And for €6,500 this is reasonably priced, though not compelling given the unfortunate dial.


Although not a remake of a specific vintage watch, the PAM 2020 is a combination of many details taken from vintage Panerai, all of which go well together – save for the anniversary logo. The dial is a sandwich type, with the upper disc having cut outs for the hour markers that reveal the luminous paint on the lower disc. And the logo under 12 o’clock is engraved.

The case is blasted and then polished to create an interesting, finely dimpled texture meant to replicate the look of a vintage watch case. And inside is the P.6000 movement that is no frills and has a three-day power reserve.

Key Facts and Prices

Panerai Radiomir Paneristi 45mm
Ref. PAM02020

Diameter: 45 mm
Height: 14.15 mm
Material: Steel with patina treatment
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 100 m

Movement: P.6000
Functions: Hours and minutes
Winding: Hand wind
Frequency: 21,600 beats per hour (3 Hz)
Power reserve: 72 hours

Strap: Beige suede with pin buckle

Limited edition: 1,020 pieces
Availability: Only at Panerai boutiques
Price: US$6,500; or 9,500 Singapore dollars

For more information, visit


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Paulin Introduces the Neo

Colourful, playful, and affordable.

Founded in 2013 by the Paulin sisters, descendants of Scottish sculptor George Henry Paulin who is most famous for his war memorials across the United Kingdom, Paulin was conceived as a locally-designed watch brand focused on minimalist and monochromatic watches.

And now the Glasgow-based brand introduces the Neo, a watch with 1970s flavour that the brand’s first to feature a colourful dial, either in blue, yellow, and white. More notably, the Neo is the result of a collaboration with fellow Scottish watchmaker Anordain, best known for its accessibly-priced enamel dials.

Initial thoughts

Put simply, the Neo is a solid offering with playful colours and in-house typography in an amiable, 38 mm package.

It was realised in an unusual three-way collaboration between Paulin, local jeweller Helen Swan, and anOrdain (which was founded by the husband of one of the Paulin sisters).

Paulin and Anordain have both been successful in creating original, affordable watches, but their respective offerings differ in style and price. Paulin has kept to simple, coloured dials for its watches, while Anordain made a name for itself with vitreous enamel dials.

The Anordain Model 2 with a purple enamel dial

As a result, the collaboration between the two is interesting, since it bridges two brands that are similar yet different. The Neo injects the fun and colour of anOrdain into the more affordable Paulin timepiece. The dial of the Neo is anodised aluminium, and not enamel, but entirely suitable for the price of just £395, or a little over US$500.

Priced similarly to comparable offerings from the likes of Seiko (which supplies the movement inside), the Neo is fairly priced, especially considering the unique character and small-scale production.

The highlights

Having started with fairly basic quartz watches, Paulin has since expanded its offerings to include wall clocks and mechanical timepieces. And it even introduced its own font, Wim, giving its line-up a more distinct character, and also makes the dial of the Neo.

Producing the dials is a collaborative effort between Anordain and Helen Swan, a jeweller similarly based in Glasgow. Made of aluminium, the dials are anodised in Ms Swan’s studio – a process of passing current through a solution to stimulate electrolysis, creating a surface layer of oxide on the metal that gives it colour.

The anodised dials are then sent to Anordain for printing of the lively hour numerals and geometric markers that really add colour to the watch (no pun intended). And the hands are unabashedly blocky, squared off for the hours and rounded for the minutes.

And the basics

The rest of the watch is a simple affair. The stamped case is mostly brushed, giving it a casual, fuss-free look. At 11.6 mm high, the case is fairly thick for a small watch, though the thin case band will help reduce its perceived height. Part of the case height is due to the highly-domed acrylic-glass crystal, which has a curve that is quite distinct and retro in style.

Underneath the see-through back is the cal. NH35A, which is essentially an unbranded Seiko cal. 4R35. Popular within “microbrands” making affordable watches, the cal. NH35A is a workhorse movement that isn’t much to look at, but it is robust and cost efficient.

Key Facts and Price

Paulin Neo
Ref. Neo-A (white)
Ref. Neo-B (yellow)
Ref. Neo-C (blue)

Diameter: 38 mm
Height: 11.6 mm
Material: Steel
Crystal: Hesalite
Water resistance: 50 m

Movement: Seiko NH35A
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, and date
Winding: Automatic
Frequency: 21,600 beats per hour (3 Hz)
Power reserve: 41 hours

Strap: Leather strap or steel mesh bracelet

Availability: Direct from Paulin
Price: £395

For more, visit

Correction October 20, 2020: The font is Wim, and not Geo as stated in an earlier version of the article.

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Seiko Announces the Design-Your-Own-Seiko-5 Contest

The Custom Watch Beatmaker.

Much loved for its extreme affordability, the Seiko 5 was revamped last year with the Seiko 5 Sports. Since then, there have been numerous iterations of the diver “lite” Seiko 5 Sports, as well as a variety limited editions such as the Street Fighter V quintet inspired by the video game of the same name.

And now anyone could be the designer of the next Seiko 5. Seiko has just announced Seiko 5 Sports Custom Watch Beatmaker, a design contest open to the public. It’s an online platform to mix and match the key elements of the watch, and the design receiving the largest number of votes will be realised as an actual production watch.

Initial thoughts

As if in response to the long-existing and substantial community of “modders” who modify Seiko watches, the contest presents choices for five external parts of the watch, namely the bezel insert, case, dial, hands, and strap, allowing users to iterate amongst all of them.

But the choices for each of the five elements are all drawn from existing models of the Seiko 5 Sports, so there really isn’t that much of a diversity in design. The resulting watches will essentially be a shuffling of familiar elements, which is not that exciting, especially given the numerous and interesting after-market modifications available.

That said, it is significant that Seiko is allowing watch enthusiasts to take part in the design process – up to an extent – bringing about hope that there will be more enthusiast-led designs in the future.

Seiko soundtrack

As you navigate the mix-and-match engine, there’s a soundtrack to accompany the creative process. Seiko invited eight artists to compose 32 tracks, one of them is randomly paired with each watch designed. The site also includes a list of all creations, where users can vote for their favourite by tapping the “heart” icon. The design with the most votes will be put into production some time next year.

The contest starts today and ends in late January 2021. Anyone can enter on


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Editorial: Plato, Eratosthenes, and the Impossibility of Being Objective

Answering the big questions in watch collecting.

I recently had a wide-ranging conversation with a fellow collector during which the following question was raised: is it possible for one watch to be objectively better than another? While pondering this question, I was reminded of Euthyphro, a Socratic dialogue written by Plato. 

The “TL;DR” version is this: Plato asks Euthyphro if he can provide a definition of piety. Euthyphro responds with a clear-cut example of piety, but Plato is unsatisfied. He responds that an example is not enough; he wants the underlying rules that define piety, those by which Euthyphro chose his example.

So it is with watches. We can all point to examples of great watches, and to some extent we can defend these examples with some kind of justification. But it’s very difficult, if not impossible, to articulate a set of criteria that can be applied universally – a necessary precondition of truly objective comparison.

But as an exercise, I think it’s worth exploring in what ways, specifically, watch collecting defies objective analysis so that we can understand the limitations of this way of thinking. 

Defining objectivity

Objectivity is, according to the Cambridge Dictionary, “the quality of being able to make a decision or judgment in a fair way that is not influenced by personal feelings or beliefs”.

Objectively, there’s not much more to a watch than its size, shape, colour, materials, and functions. A lot of the criteria collectors use to make value judgements about watches – such as brand prestige, rarity, provenance, beauty, and originality – are subjective or extrinsic. These characteristics are hard to judge objectively because they exist only as concepts in our minds, and differ based on individual perceptions and experiences. 

The prestige of a brand, for example, is nothing more than a set of beliefs held by an individual or group. These beliefs, and thus the prestige of the brand, will vary depending on one’s own memories and experiences with the brand. Furthermore, a brand’s prestige often ebbs and flows over time in the individual and collective consciousness (anyone remember Ebel?). Accordingly, the very nature of prestige and many other extrinsic characteristics defy objective comparison. 

For similar reasons, we don’t have an objective definition for what constitutes an “in-house movement” even after years of collector debate. On its face, it seems like the kind of thing that would be easy to define. But when you really start digging into it, you have to start making subjective judgements about where to draw the line.

The sieve of Eratosthenes

I approached the question of whether an objective standard for beauty might exist by thinking about prime numbers. Prime numbers exist, sprinkled among composite numbers, and their properties can be 1) derived through observation, and 2) put into algorithms like the sieve of Eratosthenes to find all other prime numbers. 

I bring this up because if an objective standard of beauty were to exist, I believe we would be able to 1) derive its properties by studying beautiful watches (if we’ve made any), and 2) use these properties to identify and design other objectively beautiful watches. 

The Urwerk UR-111C – objectively beautiful?

Whether an objective standard exists or not, I believe there are three possible realities, which I’ve summarised in this table:

Personally, I’m doubtful that an objective standard of beauty exists. If it did, I think we would have discovered it by now. After all, we discovered the properties of prime numbers over 2,300 years ago. I also find some watches beautiful, which by a simple process of elimination means that I must accept, even if grudgingly, that beauty exists only in the eye of the beholder. Of course, I remain openminded to the possibility that an objective standard does exist, and is just waiting to be discovered. 

Trade-offs and “better”

Surely, if there’s one aspect of watchmaking that lends itself to objective assessment, it’s the movement. After all, watch movements are machines that operate based on quantifiable scientific principles, and we can conclusively measure things like rate and isochronism. These characteristics exist independently from individual subjectivity.

But even here, we will struggle to come up with a set of universal rules for determining whether one watch, or watch movement, is better than another. The problem stems from the fact that every watch movement is the result of dozens of trade-offs and compromises. And with each compromise, the definition of “better” becomes harder to pin down. 

For example, one key trade-off watchmakers always have to face is balancing the power reserve with the power of the oscillator. Increasing one will decrease the other, and ideally you want both to be as high as possible. Is one of these trade-offs better? And if so, for whom? This is just one of many such trade-offs that exist in the design and construction of movements.

These conundrums cause collectors to sort themselves into different camps depending on their individual philosophies and preferences. Some prefer watches that favour a long power reserve for the sake of convenience (as long as timekeeping is kept to a reasonable standard), while others prefer movements that allocate more energy to the regulating organ, even if the difference is only discernible with a timing machine. 

Perhaps it’s not a matter of one being better than the other, and it’s simply a matter of horses for courses. Either way, a clear-cut universal definition of “better” remains elusive, even in the most likely corner.

What is a watch, if not a timekeeper?

If you’re into mechanical watches in 2020, you’ve probably accepted the premise that modern watchmaking is about more than just accuracy.

Not so long ago, watches were often the timekeepers-of-record not just for daily life, but also for major sporting events and scientific exploration. With reputations, and sometimes even lives, on the line, chronometric precision and reliability truly mattered. As David S. Landes so eloquently put it in his excellent book on the history of measuring time, Revolution in Time, “… it has always been the rule that the quality of [a watch] is a function of [its] precision.”

Artefacts from a simpler time: the observatory-certified chronographs that once timed the Tour de France

But as we all know, quartz technology came along and made the sprung-balance completely obsolete. Today, Olympians and astronauts require greater precision than is possible from a mechanical timekeeper.

As a result, the mechanical watch was gradually reimagined as a luxury good and elevated from its status as a lowly appliance. This emergent freedom gave watchmakers creative license to express the wide-ranging visions of horology that characterise the luxury watch industry of today.

This evolution is material to the question of objectivity; should quantifiable performance standards apply to a machine that exists primarily as art? Personally, I believe that any fine watch must, out of respect for horological tradition, be built and adjusted to keep good time. But even I must recognise this for what it is – a subjective judgement.

The Ferdinand Berthoud FB-RE.FC, a theatre of chronometric drama

The freedom of subjectivity

I also think it’s worth questioning whether an objective standard is even desirable. For a moment, imagine a world where we could truly say that one watch is objectively better than another. In such a world, would there be room for connoisseurship? I don’t think there would be.

Subjectivity allows space for passionate opinions and debate, and is part of what accounts for the growth of the collector community over the past 30 years. In my view, the process of learning to make and refine subjective judgements is part of what makes this pastime so enjoyable. 

I’ve always thought of myself as an objective and analytical person when it comes to watches. But while writing this article, I realised that a lot of the quasi-objective criteria that I use to judge watches are, in fact, almost entirely subjective. Recognition of this fact can help make each of us more empathetic towards the beliefs and tastes of other collectors. It’s helped me open my mind to new perspectives and made me a little less dismissive of certain watches that I’ve always believed were a waste of my time.

Acceptance of the subjectivity inherent in watch collecting does not mean conceding that all watches are equally good. On the contrary, subjectivity is what creates room for us to argue that some watches are better than others. The more we learn and refine our sensibilities, the more articulately we are able to justify our preferences, however subjective they may be, for certain watches over others. 


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Long reputed to be a watch collector, Thaksin Shinawatra is profiled in this weekend's Financial Times, sporting a "top-of-the-range Patek Philippe watch". A casual sampling of public photos reveals an impressive variety of watches on  the exiled former Prime Minister of Thailand.

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