Panerai Turns to the Archives for the Radiomir Guido Panerai & Figlio PAM01346

Reimagining the historical ref. 3646 with solid lugs for charity.

Panerai has just taken the covers off a reinterpretation of an intriguing and perhaps experimental variant of the Radiomir characterised by solid lugs. Christened the Radiomir Guido Panerai & Figlio PAM01346, this one-off watch has a platinum case houses an eight-day Angelus SF 240 movement from 1961. It’s set to be sold at Phillips’ Geneva watch auction on November 3 with all proceeds, including the buyer’s premium, going to UNESCO’s marine conservation body, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC-UNESCO).

Initial thoughts

It’s frequently true that when a brand decides to tweak its heritage, the result is rarely a standing ovation or zero criticism. The challenge usually arises from the conservative perspective of passionate purists who hold history as gospel, making it difficult to accept changes to a historical concept.

Indeed, the one-of-a-kind Radiomir PAM01346 is a prime example of this delicate balancing act. It takes inspiration from the solid-lug Radiomir ref. 3646 – occasionally known as a “transitional Radiomir” though it was more experimental than transitional – and while the PAM01346 may not replicate the original entirely, it truly stands out as a contemporary reinterpretation that captures many key elements of the original, including the meticulously restored, period-correct Angelus movement.

Regardless of one’s perspective, the PAM01346 is undeniably a homage to an obscure but significant model in Panerai’s history, despite it being slightly removed from the brand’s focus of producing diving instrument watches as the originals were prototypes or presentation watches.

The solid-lug ref. 3646

According to Panerai, the origin of the PAM01346 lies with Aurel Bacs and Alexandre Ghotbi, both senior figures in Phillips’ watch department. The duo presented the initial concept to Panerai in 2021 and played a pivotal role in every stage of its development.

The PAM01346 is not a replica of the original but a reinterpretation of the solid-lug ref. 3646 from the 1960s.  Originating in the 1960s during Panerai’s tenure as a supplier to the Italian Navy, the original solid-lug ref. 3646 marked a significant milestone and holds a pivotal position in the brand’s history. It is essentially a Radiomir ref. 3646 modified to have solid lugs instead of the wire lugs that define the Radiomir.

A notable aspect of the solid-lug ref. 3646 was its movement. At the time, Panerai made a significant decision to shift from the standard 16-ligne calibre to one with a longer power reserve, the manual-winding Angelus SF 240 made by Stolz Fréres in Le Locle,. This transition commenced with the GPF 2/56 of 1956, also known as the “Egiziano” because it was produced for the Egyptian navy.

The Egiziano introduced the Angelus SF 240 to the Panerai line-up. With an impressive eight-day power reserve, the movement necessitated less frequent winding compared to its predecessor. This shift purportedly contributed to an extended lifespan of the watch’s water-resistance capabilities since it required less frequent operation of the crown.

Another unconventional feature of the solid-lug ref. 3646 was the transparent case back,. According to Panerai, this served the purpose of showcasing the impressive new movement. The open back implies the originals were never really intended for actual military use, but instead made to promote the then-new Luminor and Angelus SF 240. The solid-lug ref. 3646s were bestowed upon high-ranking officers and recipients of military medals in the Italian navy.

Despite Panerai officially classifying the PAM01346 as a Radiomir, scholars often see the solid-lug ref. 3646 as the genesis of the Luminor line. The solid-lug ref. 3646 is sometimes known as a transitional model, but that is disputed, as it was produced using leftover Radiomir ref. 3646 components long after the initial introduction of Luminor models with solid lugs, such as ref. 6152 in 1953.

Revisiting a legacy

Taking its cues from the original ref. 3646, the PAM01346 features solid, welded lugs, a sandwich dial bearing “Marina Militare”, gold-plated hands, and a small seconds at nine o’clock. Panerai enthusiasts will note the crown lacks the “BREVET” engraving found on the original.

It boasts a vintage Angelus SF 240 movement that was originally delivered to G. Panerai & Figlio. This movement was discovered in Panerai’s archives and bears the 1961 engraving on the base plate.

The PAM01346 is equipped with two case backs, one a modern example with a sapphire crystal, while the second back has a window fashioned from Plexiglas. However, the latter is only available upon request.

The case is Platinumtech, a platinum alloy that is harder than conventional platinum. Notably, the buckle is white gold rather than platinum. The PAM01346 is accompanied by two straps, one a vintage-style strap that is extra long and non-tapered that’s made by Cuoierie Meccaniche Brelli, the historical supplier for Panerai straps in the second half of the 20th century. 

Key facts and price 

Panerai Radiomir Guido Panerai & Figlio
Ref. PAM01346

Diameter: 47 mm
Height: Unavailable
Material: Platinumtech
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 50 m

Movement: Angelus cal. SF240 from 1961
Functions: Hours, minutes, and seconds
Winding: Manual
Frequency: 18,000 beats per hour (2.5 Hz)
Power reserve: 8 days 

Strap: Calf leather strap with pin buckle

Limited edition: Unique piece
Availability: Lot 24 in the Phillips’ The Geneva Watch Auction: XVIII on November 3
Price: Estimate of CHF60,000-180,000

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