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News: PAM521, for 80 grand you get nothin’

Le 24 December 2014
Malik
Malik "Pifpaf" Bahri
L'auteur.
PAM521 By Martin Wilmsen

During the last SIHH, the Officine presented the magnificent PAM521 to a selected panel (Purist, Risti.com, etc.). It is based on a prototype intended for customers from the 30’s (French Navy, for instance)… The specificity of this Radiomir 3646 is a thick crystal, in fact a clear case-back adapted for a different purpose.

  • Let me tell you, as one can see on the greats photos by Martin Wilmsen from paneristi.com, and as it is always true for vintage pieces, it is beautiful, to die for.

vintage 3646 from Paneristi.com

So, this PAM521 revisits the idea of a clear case-back whose rim serves as a bezel. So far, everything’s all right. However, the design is a little less sexy than its ancestor, because, on the one hand, “Officine Panerai” is not engraved on the bezel anymore, and on the other hand, the dial looks wider because of smaller numerals…. But this is splitting hairs, the activity which arouses the Risti guys…

However, in terms of price, if the hairs are safe, collectors get bum reamed: 53.000 USD for the rose gold version, 80.000 for the platinum (obviously, the Officine based their price on platinum’s, five years ago….).
Which more or less equals 40.000€/48.000CHF for rose gold, 60.000€/72.000CHF for Platinum. A hit so brutal that it makes Mike Tyson look like a pussy .

PAM521 Martin WilsemPAM521

Akin to the super-limited series and the stainless steel version with P.3000 yet to be released, this Panerai is powered by a Minerva (you know, the Mont-Blanc-ETA’s Fine-Watchmaking  make-believe), which features finishes good enough for a 10-15k watch. However, in a 50k€/70k$ piece, it’s a joke.

The Officine calls this Minerva “OPXXVII” (it sounds better than “Ope27”). It is a big pocket-watch movement, 16.5 lignes and 18 jewels, set at 18000a/h for a 55 hour power reserve.
In short, caliber intended for real men, the kind of guy whose style sits between a hogger’s and a T72B Soviet tank pilot’s (see the awesome Russian Tank-biathlon contest). The finishes look rather manly too, somewhere between a machine-tool and a masonry work…

PAM521

Contrary to a basic P.3000, plain but neat, the Minerva is intended as a “Fine Watchmaking” mechanism. But that doesn’t work, one could compare it to the super-vulgar Rihanna pretending to be the next Chanel muse… (Bloody Hell ! My ear-mic tells me that this could very well become a reality. Get a rifle, organic seeds, go hide yourself is the countryside, it’s the fuckin’ End of the World…).

A la truelle .com

The result is an incredibly sluggish-looking design, a little like a Frederique Constant.

The best example of this jest is the balance wheel assembly’s bridge openwork: Its relevance is inherently questionable. And it’d better be well done. But on this movement, the job was obviously done with a 3-axis CNC, as there are no interior angles. Same thing with the plain bevellings.

  • Obviously , I would have been more lenient with this watch had it been reasonably priced. But as it costs as much as a Philippe Dufour Simplicité, or a Lange Zeitwerk, I cannot but judge it based on the same criteria.