For the first time, Panerai has teamed up with Phillips to release a brand new watch. The Luminor LAB-ID PAM1700, boasts a 70-year-long warranty and a souped-up lume treatment and will hit the block on December 12 at the “Racing Pulse” auction in New York. It’s number one out of 70 pieces that will be available to clients at a later date and comes equipped with Panerai’s double-barrel P.3001C caliber, a hand-wound movement with 203 components and a three-day power reserve. It comes from the company’s Laboratorio di Idee, a specially devoted R&D leg that works on developing new technologies and concept pieces.
The PAM1700 is a follow up to 2017’s LAB-ID PAM700 that was developed using silicon on the escapement, which eliminates the need for lubrication, thereby cutting out the need for frequent servicing by replacing the oil used in traditionally made timepieces. Panerai was so assured of the technology that it offered an unprecedented 50-year warranty. Just three years later, the company is offering an additional 20 years in an effort to express its confidence in its silicon developments.
“For this new generation Luminor LAB-ID, we did not change the movement but tweaked small things to make it more reliable and be able to offer the unprecedented warranty,” Panerai CEO Jean-Marc Pontroué told Robb Report. “This warranty assures that the customer will have a fully functioning watch for the 70 year period and Panerai will stand behind that to offer free service and repair throughout that time.” Of course, it’s likely that no owner of the PAM1700 will still be alive to test the warranty’s time limit, but perhaps its next-generation owner can prove that Panerai can back its word. Pontroué says the series-produced timepiece is meant to prove that the LAB-ID is not solely a laboratory for one-off concept watches, but actually a hub for investing in new innovations and integrating them into product for the long-haul. He hopes that its discoveries will ultimately “advance the watch industry as a whole.”
But not everyone in the watchmaking community is convinced of silicon’s prowess. Niche watchmakers like F.P. Journe and Roger Smith steadfastly remain committed to using standard metals for the escapement. “Watches made 200 years ago are still in working order today,” Journe told Robb Report earlier this year. “It’s for this reason that I only use solid materials that have proven their worth, rather than modern materials that will probably be unable to be repaired in a few decades.” Both Journe and Smith have been working on new ways to re-engineer their escapements to eliminate oil, while still using traditional parts. But Pontroué says Panerai’s research stands behind silicon as the oil-free savior. “The long term resistance of silicon is not a subject of concern based on our experience and tests in this watch, but it’s something we are prepared to address if the need arises,” he says. The P.3001C uses dry lubricated mainspring barrels and self-lubricating plates and bridges, in addition to its oil-free silicon escapement.
The new PAM1700, however, is about more than a promise of longevity. Another advancement is its next-generation SuperLuminova Grade X1: brighter than standard SuperLuminova, which is used to illuminate the dial in the dark, it’s said to be extremely durable. On the new piece, unconventionally, the lume is also outside the case on the crown. “It is without a doubt the best SuperLuminova class in our current collection, showing brighter and for longer than previous versions,” says Pontroué. “This new substance was specifically developed to last on the wrist exposed to the elements without any loss of vibrance or visibility in low-light conditions despite an additional protective coating treatment.” The X1 lume treatment was 15 months in development and can be found on the inner bezel, logo, bridge, lever and strap stitching, in addition to the crown.
At 49 mm, it’s a large watch hoping to deliver a big impact. The case is made from black matte Carbotech, a high-tech carbon fiber-based material Panerai spent two years developing for the PAM700, that’s made of a low-friction composite that integrates a Tantalum-based ceramic. It’s 14 percent lighter than titanium and 36 percent lighter than steel, according to the brand. The case, movement, dial and buckle on the nylon strap have all been signed.
“This watch is the showcase of Panerai’s technological achievements and innovation,” says Pontroué.