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Panerai One Year, One Watch

2011 : PAM 382*


The word chosen to describe 2011 may require some explanation. It comes from the Japanese, and means ‘strange beast’. By extension, it describes a movie genre in which gigantic sea creatures have fun wreaking havoc on cities, to the delight of cinema audiences everywhere. But basically, I chose this word because it’s evocative of monsters, an unquiet earth, and destruction. Godzilla, King of Kaijus, is the acme of these sea monsters. Spawned by a nuclear disaster, he comes back to confront humankind – indirectly responsible for him coming into existence in the first place.

2011 was indeed a Kaiju year. It began with an earthquake that rocked Christchurch, New Zealand. Two months later, it was in Japan that the earth shook. The quake was followed by a tsunami that became inextricably linked with the name of Fukushima, the second-worst nuclear disaster in history. Godzilla himself may not have turned up, but things were quite bad enough without him. One other detail: this was the year in which Sylvester Stallone received Hollywood’s IGC Publicists’ Lifetime Achievement Award. You can see where all this is going. To illustrate 2011, the sources of inspiration would have to be a gigantic mutant sea monster, military operations… and if possible, some connection with Sly!

One Year, One Watch

Pam 385 © Panerai

And so I turned to Panerai; and more specifically, to a watch that took the world by surprise when it was first presented in Geneva: the Panerai PAM 382, commonly known as the Bronzo. What better testimony to this troubled year than this enormous diving watch, released in a metal whose colouring was anything but stable, gradually becoming covered with a green patina on being exposed to the Elements? Yes, the PAM 382 is definitely THE Kaiju watch, and a worthy representative of 2011.

Why Panerai?

The history of the Florence-based brand is tied up with both the sea and war. Initially a military secret, now a pillar of the Richemont Group, Panerai has known combat, oblivion, and glory. Since the end of the 1990s and the film Daylight, the piece has itself become something of a film star, too. Sly made the Bronzo famous, and it featured extensively in The Expendables. The brand is a good illustration of this 20-year period as a whole. It changed the face of watches by daring to put outsize timepieces on our wrists, as well as being the watch that kickstarted the trend for limited editions. Not only that: Panerai aroused such passion that its devotees started getting together as early as 2000, becoming the first ever watch community – the powerful Paneristi.

The Panerai Pam 382 – The First Kaiju

The Panerai PAM 382 Bronzo is a watch that’s made its mark on contemporary watchmaking. It was the first bronze Panerai, and single-handedly created a whole new category of watches. Following its incredible success, every brand rushed to bring out a model made from this heavy, easily-tarnished alloy. Indeed, with the Bronzo and its changing hues, Panerai took the idea of owners ‘wearing’ their watch to a whole new level. The piece is an ode to ageing, the travails of time, and even – for some – to ugliness. Just take a look at Laurent Piccioto’s weathered Bronzo to get an idea of the extent to which the PAM 382 has changed the way we treat our watches.

In 2011, Panerai was ahead of its time: the PAM 382 is a tribute to personalisation, individualism, and differentiation. As for me, I was a Paneristi from the very first – albeit in a ‘ships that pass in the night’ kind of way. It was there, waiting for me at the brand’s Geneva store. And I didn’t buy it – because I thought it was ‘too shiny’. I totally failed to ‘get it’, in every sense of the term – something I regret to this day.

The Take from The Devil’s Advocate

A sea monster, mutations, ugly is beautiful… that all sounds like my kind of thing. But above and beyond these diabolical considerations, what might I have against the PAM 382? Well, mainly its size, and above all its weight, making it a tiring watch to wear: not everybody is a Barney Ross or a Lee Christmas. But once the Kaiju’s been tamed, and the surface corrosion has begun, the Bronzo becomes a watch that really does arouse raw emotion. And that’s what I love about it.

*On the occasion of GMT Magazine and WorldTempus' 20th anniversary, we have embarked on the ambitious project of summarising the last 20 years in watchmaking in The Millennium Watch Book, a big, beautifully laid out coffee table book. This article is an extract. The Millennium Watch Book is available on www.the-watch-book.com, in French and English.

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Every Panerai watch is as unique as the story it tells. Since 1860 Panerai has produced high-precision instruments and watches, developed and created to meet the most rigorous military standards. Today the very essence of Panerai remains the creation of technological innovations and remarkable instruments, that draw inspiration from the epic exploits of past and, at the same time, explore new disruptive paths.

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