When it comes to Panerai watches, there would only be two outcomes: either you love it, or loathe it. However, with the new 1940 Chronographs from Panerai, it may be able to change the perspective of certain critics towards this watchmaker.
Or at least that was what I thought. The folks here at Deployant had different opinions on Panerai watches, as usual. But upon seeing the new 1940 Chronographs (reference 518, 519, and 520), we do actually agree that it looks pretty good. Well, it was not really surprising. This trio looks really stunning, and they are a little different from the usual Panerai offerings. In terms of the design, at least.
One of the main criticisms of the brand would be the looks of the watch. Many collectors tend to agree that a number of Panerai watches look too similar, albeit there are some really subtle differences between them. That is the reason why many of them have difficulties differentiating between certain Panerai watches (although many Paneristis may beg to differ). Well, seems like these 1940 Chronographs may be able to challenge this.
While the trio of chronographs retained the usual Panerai DNA, they are vastly different from the usual offerings. For a start, they do not look like the usual Panerai chronographs (or the usual Panerai watches, for the record). This is probably the first time Panerai chose to incorporate a vintage touch into their chronograph pieces. And they have done it well, apparently. While it looks really classical, it remains relevant in the 21st century. Furthermore, it looks and feels like a very masculine and solid timepiece, which is what a Panerai should be. This is possibly thanks to the relatively large 45mm 1940 Radiomir case (but it feels really comfortable on my 6 3/4 inch wrist, and it is attributed to the shorter lugs). The 1940 Chronographs have, in a nutshell, managed to strike a good equilibrium between retaining certain Panerai DNA and deviating from their comfort zone.
Now, moving on to the technical bits. The 1940 Chronographs are powered by Panerai’s Calibre OP XXV, which is based on Minerva’s Calibre 13-22. This movement features a column wheel chronograph, with a swan neck regulator, and a horizontal coupling. It is a nice decision by Panerai, to incorporate a classic movement to a watch that has got a classical theme. It is also very beautiful too; in fact, it is one of the nicest movements on a Panerai watch. They have certainly got things right on this aspect.
Other than similarities in terms of the movement and case used, there are certainly differences to differentiate between the three variants.
For the PAM 518, the watch is cased in platinum. It features a white dial, which “patina-ed” indices. Among the 1940 Chronographs, this is the “cleanest” in terms of the dial layout. It is pleasant to look at, but it does not excites me (at least) because it is a lacks in contrast. Due to its case material, it is also the heaviest and the most expensive 1940 Chronograph available. It is limited to 50 pieces though.
Next up, we have the PAM 519. This variant comes with a red gold case, and it features a brown “California”-styled dial. Unlike the other two, this dial has got greater details. We think this watch is rather cool, and the dial gave the watch a more vintage feel. This version is, however, limited to 100 pieces.
Lastly, it would be the PAM 520. This is the equilibrium between the 518 and the 519, as it mixes design elements from both watches (the dotted dial from the 518, and the Tachymeter scale from the 519). This is, in my opinion, the best looking 1940 Chronograph. The contrast between the black dial, the “patina-ed” indices and Tachymeter scale, as well as the white gold case is excellent. The different design elements compliments each other very well. This version is also only limited to 100 pieces.
The 1940 Chronograph is, in our opinion, one of the best attempts from Panerai. They have got something wonderful here, and it has won the hearts of many critics. Our only qualm here would be the price. It would have been better if it was priced slightly lower (I wouldn’t mind Panerai making a Stainless Steel version of the 1940 Chronograph). That would be perfect.