If you're a die-hard fan of Panerai, a new bronze-cased Submersible Bronzo with deep ocean-blue dial might topple your boat, but some innovation finally worth talking about is to be seen in its stealth-bomber-black LAB-ID Luminor 1950, introduced at this year’s Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie in Geneva. This “revolutionary” timepiece combines traditional watch-making with hi-tech materials, demonstrating the true ability of the company’s research and development centre, Panerai Laboratorio di Idee.
The 49mm case and bridge device, with its signature locking lever protecting the winding crown, are made of Carbotech, a material the company launched a few years ago. Because of the many fine layers of carbon fibre required to make each case, the lucky owners will also be guaranteed that each will have a unique appearance. One would hope so, with this being a limited edition of 50 at €50 000 each (about R720 000).
The innovation doesn’t end there: Panerai claims to have changed the rules of maintenance by using carbon composites for almost all the components. The result: a watch that is not only impressively lightweight and scratch-resistant, but one that has also eliminated the need for liquid lubrication. In most models there are about 60 points of lubrication — some on the jewels and some on the movements — the main reason that you have to service a mechanical watch so often (every two to five years).
However, in Panerai’s latest model the plates, bridges, barrels, escapement, and anti-shock device all use self-lubricating and dry-lubricating materials — any liquid lubrication is unnecessary. The company is so confident in its latest innovations that it is offering a 50-year guarantee on the LAB-ID.
Another innovative feature is the seductive dark “disco” dial, with its luminous blue numerals and logos. And at the heart of the watch is the in-house P.3001 movement, this time called the P.3001/C (C for carbon), with a three-day power reserve presented in a semi-skeletonised version, without additional lubrication, and with only four jewels. The movement can be admired through the large porthole protected by a sapphire crystal, set in the back of the watch, with the power reserve indicator in full view.
Due to the extra-special qualities and strength of Carbotech, the watch is also water-resistance to 10 bar (a depth of 100m). It comes with a black leather strap with contrasting sewing in the same blue as the luminous details of the dial.