Panerai’s Due is just about the most surprising watch launch in the last year. Not because it’s odd or bizarre in any way – quite the opposite – but because it seemed that Panerai had thought better of the idea. To understand the dilemma Panerai faced you need to understand that authenticity is one of the cardinal virtues in watch land and for Panerai, authenticity means making watches that derive form and dimensions from the watches and instruments made for the Italian navy in the mid-20th century. Clearly that’s a slightly artificial construct, but it worked well, giving Panerai a clear and simple story to tell that watch aficionados loved as well as design template that was a model of purity.
Panerai’s success, following a mid-90’s revival that lead to the brand’s acquisition by Richemont, was phenomenal and helped drive the trend towards larger watches that dominated the next decade. Panerai even acquired a base of obsessives – Paneristi – that amplified the authenticity value of what Panerai were up to. Even now that the fashion has shifted to favour small watches again, the simplicity of a Radiomir or Luminor is hard to argue against.
However, tastes have changed and watch buyers are favouring smaller watches once again and that has meant that Panerai needed to act. But the direction of travel has been obvious for a few years and, until now, there was no sign that Panerai were going to respond, except by releasing more 50mm plus archive pieces.
With the launch of the Luminor Due Three Days, a slimmed down version of the Luminor 1950, Panerai are offering a watch that’s for ”those who want to enjoy the distinctive identity of a Panerai watch, while enjoying a different experience on the wrist.” I count myself firmly in that camp. The Luminor Due isn’t exactly petite, it’s still 42mm and 10.5mm high, but that’s easily wearable, particularly as it’s somewhat lighter as a consequence.
A little confusingly, there’s an automatic version that’s 45mm in diameter (3mm makes more difference than you might think), but still thinner (at 10.7mm) than regular models.
With these watches it seems that Panerai have decided that authenticity is a flexible enough concept to allow more normal dimensions. I don’t think they should have worried unduly, people tend to prefer their authenticity leavened with a little comfort and convenience after all.
Source: telegraph.co.uk Photo: telegraph.co.uk