Panerai returns once more to that which they call “Our Ocean.” . However, if you’re more on-point using the background of Panerai than that of the planet, you will know that Mare Nostrum has been the name of the company’s first chronograph, allegedly designed for deck officers in the Italian Navy.As you’d imagine, given the standing of mid-20th century Panerai, and the dreadful conditions of World War II, the first Mare Nostrum prototype proved to be a appropriate monstrum of a wristwatch. As such, the roots of this title “Mare Nostrum” could be traced back into the age of the Roman Empire, but you really need not look back that far in time to have a clue as to why it had been termed as such in the Italy of the early 1940s. Funnily enough, most sources say that the 1943 prototype of the Mare Nostrum never made it into production as a result of turmoils of this war — sounds just like a lazy explanation, since at what other time than through war could a watch designed specifically for the military be of any real use? Anyhow, Panerai also produced other apparatus under the title Mare Nostrum — so while they were not too excited about the watch, they had been keen on the title, it sounds. Other Panerai Mare Nostrum items included delay and timing apparatus for torpedoes and some other explosives used by the Italian military during WWII — just check out that striking looking Mare Nostrum chronograph boasting a Minerva quality and a few nifty anti-vibration devices.
Panerai has long offered watches with engraved hunter cases known as the Luminor Sealand, initially decorated by the gunmaker Purdey (its sister company in Richemont) and now by anonymous Italian craftsmen. Now it has extended the theme of an engraved case to the Radiomir with the PAM605, the most artisanal timepiece in its SIHH 2015 collection. The Radiomir Firenze has a 47 mm steel case entirely engraved, front and side, with a Florentine motif.
Found on the case front, four sides as well as the crown, the engraved decoration is in the Florentine style, with the Florentine lily (or fleur-de-lis) being the central theme. Engraving is usually done with lines or dots, in this case the motif is engraved with lines which are then filled with black lacquer for contrast.
On the other hand, traditional high-end engraving achieves contrast with varying the fineness of the engraved lines or dots, a technique evident in the early Panerai-Purdey Sealand watches. The same effect can be found on currency, which are printed with hand-engraved copper plates. Nonetheless, the case decoration of the Radiomir Firenze takes a week to complete.
Like most other hand-wound Panerai watches with a 47mm case, this is equipped with the P.3000. Panerai’s in-house equivalent of a pocket watch movement, the P.3000 has a three day power reserve.
Though not evident in the photos, the dial is finished with a fine sun ray brushed pattern and is a deep, dark grey. It has a sandwich construction with ivory Super-Luminova.
The Radiomir Firenze is a limited edition of just 99 pieces, evidence of Panerai’s shifting strategy as the brand matures and the overall watch market slows. Smaller runs like this will become more prominent, rather than the 1000 or 1500 piece editions that were standard issue in the past.
Sold only at Panerai’s store in Florence, the Radiomir Firenze PAM00604 costs €17,000 before taxes.