Smaller-sized men’s watches may once again be fashionable, but Panerai’s new 47mm Submersible Bronzo (£13,900) clearly proves that the brand credited with kick-starting the large case craze more than 20 years ago is not about to forget its roots.
As the name implies, this hefty dive model is hewn from bronze, a material first seen on a production watch back in 1988 when the Gérald Genta dial name introduced its Gefica for hunters because, among other things, dull bronze doesn’t reflect sunlight. But only recently has bronze become more commonplace in the watch world, with brands such as Anonimo, Oris, U-Boat, Tudor and Ferdinand Berthoud all including it in their ranges.
Panerai first experimented with the alloy in 1985, but it wasn’t until 2011 that it launched its first bronze watch – the green-dial Luminor Submersible 1950. Since then it has used bronze for the cases of several limited editions, partly because the material has long been associated with boat fittings and therefore sits well with the brand’s historical links with the sea as a supplier of wartime watches for Italian navy frogmen.
The new Submersible Bronzo is, however, Panerai’s first non-limited bronze-cased model, although it can only be bought from Panerai boutiques, Mr Porter or China’s Panerai WeChat e-commerce platform. Containing 161g of bronze that is intended to gently patinate with age to create a unique appearance, the watch combines the distinctive crown-protection system patented by the brand in 1955 with more modern technology, such as a ceramic bezel and the P.9010 in-house-manufactured automatic movement.