Panerai Submersible Elux LAB-ID

Tool watches were created for maximum utility in the most adverse of conditions, specifically to be legible in low light and murky conditions. In the past, illumination on the dial meant a radioactive material such as radium or tritium was used to excite phosphorescent paint to give off light in the darkness, effectively making these self-powered. However, these substances are inherently toxic and in the late 80s to mid 90s saw the watch industry move to a material known as SuperLuminova to illuminate watch dials. This however, comes with a tradeoff, in that the watch has to be charged by an external light source (the sun, or a bright torch for example) before it begins to self-illuminate. So what if a watch could self-illuminate without the need for external light sources or toxic materials? The new Panerai Submersible Elux LAB-ID is the watch that answers that conundrum, all through the use of mechanical watchmaking principles.

The Elux name is not a foreign name to Panerai – in the mid 1960s, Panerai supplied Elux panels to the Italian Navy, which were lighting panels in a manner of different shapes, sizes and materials that were powered electrically. Made to be durable, shock and vibration resistant, as well as energy efficient, they were primarily used in command centres, internal signalling boards and helipads on Italian naval ships. 

LAB-ID pieces from Panerai have also been some of the most bonkers (for lack of a better word) pieces in the watch world, being an incubator that pushes the boundaries of the watch industry. Some of the most notable pieces include a Luminor model that featured a 50 year warranty thanks to its lubrication free construction, as well as the eLAB-ID PAM1225 which was constructed out of 99% recycled materials, and was very open in naming its partners to achieve its goals.

The new Panerai Submersible LAB-ID Elux is the product of eight years of research and development that starts off with a 49mm diameter, 500m Submersible case made out of Ti-Ceramitech, a ceramized titanium case which features a ceramic coating layer on top of titanium. It’s blue hue is achieved through Plasma Electrolytic Oxidation, which also provides the case with its distinctive toughness in comparison to traditional ceramic, as well as being 44% lighter than stainless steel. Its black dial features the signature Panerai bar-and-dot dial for legibility, and is accompanied by a unidirectional rotating bezel to calculate immersion time. 

The most curious part of the watch is of course its functionality, which is where the watch is ingeniously engineered. On the left hand side of the watch is the Elux pusher, with a pusher-guard – lift the pusher-guard and press the button to activate the lighting system, which illuminates not only the hour markers, but the hands and the bezel pip as well. This proved to be a challenge for the Panerai team, and the method of illuminating the hands is patent protected, and illuminating the bezel pip has a patent pending, demonstrating the difficulty in electronically illuminating moving elements, whilst maintaining water resistance.

This illumination is achieved through the movement containing 6 barrels within its construction – 4 dedicated to powering the lighting system, and 2 barrels for traditional watch mechanics. These 4 barrels then power a micro-generator with coils, magnets and a stator through a high-speed rotor (rotating at 80 revolutions per second that develops the change in magnetic field to generate the electric current for the lighting system. This guarantees lighting for up to 30 minutes, which is also indicated by the linear power reserve aperture on the dial (labelled “Power Light). The remaining 2 barrels power the P.9010/EL movement, providing power for 3 days. The watch is further accented by SuperLuminova X2 on the indices and hands to further highlight luminescent vibrancy.

The Panerai Submersible LAB-ID Elux is limited to 150 pieces, with an availability of 50 pieces over 3 years. It is a watch that, in a time of change in the watch world, is a piece that still demonstrates the ingenuity and sheer madness of the laboratories within the industry. Only the most curious would consider a piece like this, however, it is this curiosity that drives Panerai to push the boundaries of what is possible in the world of mechanical watchmaking.

Technical Specifications: Panerai PAM01800

Movement: Automatic mechanical, P.9010/EL caliber,
13 3/4 lignes, 10.80mm thick, 55 jewels, Glucydur® balance- wheel stop, 28,800 vibrations/hour, Incabloc® anti-shock device, 6 barrels: 4 dedicated to lighting, 2 dedicated to time indication, 363 components.

Functions: Hours, Minutes, Small Seconds, Power Light function, Linear Power light reserve indicator, calculation of immersion time, stop-seconds for precise time setting.

Power Reserve: 3 days for time indication. 30 minutes for on demand Power Light Function.

Case: Diameter 49mm, Blue Ti-CeramitechTM case.
Blue Ti-CeramitechTM bezel. Screw Ti-CeramitechTM case-back. Sapphire crystal. Patented pusher protection system.

Strap: Blue rubber bracelet, STD, 26/22 Trapezoidal Titanium pin buckle.

Water resistance: 50 bar (~500 meters).