Panerai’s recent direction of embracing new materials in their watchmaking is certainly a direction I can get on board with. After-all, using the latest technology to enhance the performance of their watches for tough use does not in any way negate the DNA of the brand, since it was Italian Navy divers that the early Panerai watches were made for. Their modern counterparts would certainly have improved their equipment today, so why not Panerai with their watches coming in new-fangled materials?
So what’s the new material on offer this year as part of the digital edition of Watches & Wonders by the brand? Well it is called Fibratech, and it is featured on the new PAM01119 and the new PAM 1663.
Both watches are essentially the same mechanically. Both have the automatic P.9010 Calibre with 3 days of power reserve. Yet, while the PAM 1663 is a nice watch that has a blue dial with a graded effect, the PAM01119 takes the same basic technical ingredients and kicks things up a notch a’la the PAM01117 (that you can read about here), and comes with the TRON like lume (SuperLuminova X1) that decorates the dial rehaut, the device protecting the crown and other bits.
It’s nice to see Panerai embracing its initial raison d’etre of being readable underwater by Italian Navy divers with the brightest lume, and extending the light show that has thus far been limited only to the dial, now to the rest of the case. It certainly makes its “LUMINOR” name mean something more, placing the brand now, head and shoulders over most other brands in this particular aspect.
However, unlike the PAM01117, which comes in a case of sintered titanium, the new PAM01119 and its sibling the PAM1663 comes in brand new material that sees its first use ever in watchmaking – Fibratech.
Just what is Fibratech then?That dark, uneven texture that is on the watch comes about due to the use of mineral fibres that are made of a fusion of basalt rock and minerals additive. From the press release, “These fibres are bound with high-end polymers to become thin layers which are superimposed in a precise orientation and then consolidated through a pressure and temperature controlled process.”
That certainly sounds alot like how carbon fibre is made, and should account for its use in the aerospace and automotive industries, since it is 60% lighter than steel, resilient and highly resistant to corrosion.
There is not a-lot of information about Fibratech or indeed the company that makes it, and so I am unable to verify any of these claims for now. I think that Panerai will probably release more information on this new composite soon, with its remarkable physical and mechanical properties, and how it is apparently eco-sustainable.That being said, it’s interesting that basalt rock and minerals can be a basis for a composite since we’ve heard of it more in the context of it being the material that is extruded from volcanoes.The Fibratech cased PAM01119 is a limited edition of 270 units, just like its lume show sibling the PAM01117 with both having the ultra long 70 year warranty, since both are part of the 70th Anniversary of the Luminor. The other Fibratech cased watch, the PAM01663 is not a limited edition and will be part of the regular collection.
Looking forward to having a closer look at these watches when the lock-down is over, and perhaps to get more technical information from Panerai regarding Fibratech in the meantime.