ReviewThe Big Small Change In The Panerai Luminor Due
The smallest Panerai watch ever, the brand new Luminor Due 3 Days Automatic comes in a 38mm case and a splash of colour, but not without the signature elements that represent the stellar reputation of the Italian brand and its Swiss-made watches
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Panerai is arguably one of the most recognisable brands in the world. The reason for this is its strong design principles, and how the distinctive character of its timepieces has evolved, without changing too much too quickly. The most significant part of the brand’s visual identity is perhaps the signature cushion shape of the cases that are seen across their product lines, yet with identifiable distinctions. The brand has ensured that along with the strong identity they possess, their watches are also technically strong. “This year, we are proud to say that Panerai is now a 100-percent manufacture brand,” declared a brand spokesperson earlier this year. “From our base calibres to the haute horlogerie mechanisms, with several complications, all movements are developed in-house.” Housing these movements are the distinguished cases of the collections. The newest of them all is the Luminor Due, the thinnest of Panerai’s watches, which has been decades in the making.
A Distinguished Look
As a supplier to the Royal Italian Navy, Panerai created Radiomir, a radium-based powder to be used on the dials of their watches for added luminosity and hence greater visibility in low-light conditions. The first prototypes of watches featuring Panerai’s patented Radiomir were made just before World War II, but even today’s Radiomir watches have elements of those watches, including the cushion-shaped case with welded wire lugs. On the request of the Royal Navy, the Radiomir 1940 update had the lugs carved out of the same block of steel that was used for the cushion-shaped case, for better durability underwater, and a crown more tubular than conical. Panerai then patented a more luminous material in 1949—the tritium-based Luminor, which marked an evolution of the brand, with the launch of the Luminor 1950 collection. Featuring what is today the most distinctive-looking case from Panerai, the Luminor structure includes a signature crown protector, with a locking lever that has even inspired designs from various other watch brands over the years.
The Luminor Sequel
‘Due’ is literally Italian for ‘two’. The modification to the Luminor case in the Due is essentially its reduced thickness. First introduced in 2016, the Luminor Due represented a turning of the page for Panerai. Incorporating all the goodness of the architecture of the Luminor 1950, the new case is subtly redesigned, with a more streamlined structure. The clean lines are coupled with a slimmer profile, built for Officine Panerai’s thinnest automatic calibres. All of this is still within the cushion-shaped silhouette, predominant in most Panerai watches.
Scaling It Down
The Due has been successful in its appeal to even those who probably found Panerai’s watches a tad on the chunkier side. However, widening the pool of Panerai fans was taken to the next level this year, as the Florentine brand released the new Due in a size smaller than any Panerai has ever been. At 38mm, the new edition of the Luminor Due makes Panerai’s watches more versatile. Smaller sizes have even been a growing trend due to the market’s demands. “There has been a need for this size, especially from Asia,” the brand informed us. “We’re not necessarily catering to women or men in particular. It’s a size that perhaps appeals more to anybody with a smaller wrist.” With the thinness of the case, the watch certainly is extremely comfortable on the wrist.
Small Yet Mighty
The 38mm case comes in two steel versions. The ‘acciaio’—Italian for steel—used in them is a special alloy with high corrosion-resistant properties. With a polished finish on the case and bezel, these timepieces come with an ivory dial featuring blue Arabic numerals, and an anthracite sandwich-format dial respectively. The former comes with a blue leather strap with a saffiano finish, while the latter has a leather strap in mint green. The dial on both versions have a small seconds sub-dial at nine and a date window at three, along with adequate luminosity on the hour markers and hands for optimum readability even in the dark. Within each case—just 11.2mm thick—is an extremely accurate and reliable manufacture OP XXXIV automatic movement that offers a three-day power reserve.
With the colours seen in the Luminor Due watches, Panerai is looking quite different than it has in the past, but its iconic appeal is very much intact in this new edition, even though it’s more compact. And given its high-performance timekeeping, you can rest assured that big things certainly come in these smaller packages!