Earlier this year, at Geneva’s Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH), Panerai announced the addition of a fourth pillar to its familiar range of watches. Known as the Submersible line, the dive watch collection has long belonged to the brand’s Luminor 1950 range. Now, it’s a discrete line of its own, with an ethos that emphasizes material experimentation and experiences.
While many of the wristwatches under the Submersible label incorporate newfangled alloys, such as Carbotech, a lightweight, carbon fiber material, and innovative metals such as EcoTitanium (a.k.a recycled titanium), Panerai’s latest addition to the line places one of the world’s most primitive metals front and center.
Weighing 161 grams (a little over a third of a pound), the Panerai Submersible Bronzo bucks the lightweight trend so popular among contemporary watchmakers in favor of a timepiece with an unmistakable heft. But weight is hardly the only thing the elegant dive watch has going for it.
“In terms of a material, bronze is one of the most unique ones available in watchmaking— its ability to change and evolve over time, based on who the owner is and how he lives his life, makes it a truly, if perhaps the only, authentically personalized watch in existence,” says Panerai CEO Jean-Marc Pontroué, referring to the one-of-a-kind patina that forms on the surface of each bronze timepiece. “Historically, bronze was a material commonly used on boats for sailing equipment but also timing and navigational equipment, which speaks to Panerai’s long history with the sea and creating watches for the Italian Royal Navy.”
Nicknamed “The Original,” the Submersible Bronzo was introduced in 2011. This year’s 47 mm brushed bronze edition, which retails for $16,500, is marked by a new design featuring a brown ceramic unidirectional rotating bezel and a brown dial with luminous hour markers. The automatic in-house movement is water resistant to 300 meters and has a power reserve of 72 hours.
In the U.S., five pieces will be made available on Panerai’s e-commerce site every quarter; the rest will be sold in the brand’s boutiques.
“This is a piece that has, from its launch, become one of the most collectible and coveted watches in the industry, only available to Panerai’s very top global clients,” Pontroué says. “This is the first time that the general public will have the opportunity to purchase this piece.”
(While supplies last, that is.)