The Panerai Mare Nostrum is a kind of an oddity in the PAM collection. Born from the requirements for a wartime naval timepiece, it is a huge watch. The original version in 1942 measured some 52mm. And the latest Mare Nostrum is true to the original, also 52mm diameter, but in a titanium case instead of steel.
Panerai Mare Nostrum history
The term Mare Nostrum, Latin for Our Sea is the term used by the Romans to refer to the Mediterranean Sea, in particular the naval battles fought in the waters. And during the Second World War, Panerai developed its first chronographs for timing torpedos used in these sorties. The original Mare Nostrum chronographs carried the Angelus Caliber 215 column wheel movement. These were introduced from 1942. But the Allied invasion of Italy in the early Autumn of 1943 halted the development funding for these watches. And the watch never went into production. The few prototypes that were issued remain highly collectable today. One such example was sold by Christie’s Geneva in November 2005 for CHF 132,000. The buyer was Panerai who acquired the watch for its Museum. This piece also served as the basis for the 2010 re-issue of the Mare Nostrum.
Designated PAM300, the 2010 re-issue was a faithful reproduction of the originals, and was limited to 99 pieces at €25,000. The watches carried a Minerva made movement which is based on the Angelus used in the first prototypes. These immediately achieved cult status, and these watches are also highly sought after.
In the SIHH 2015, yet another re-issue was announced. This is the subject of the current review, PAM603 is also a period faithful reproduction, almost identitical to PAM300, but in a brushed titanium case.
The Panerai Mare Nostrum Titanio
As mentioned, the new 2015 version is almost identical to the 2010 re-issue, which itself is nearly identical to the early prototype acquired by Panerai in the Christie’s auction.
The dial massive two tier chocolate hue with gold hands. Hour markers and the brand markings are engraved on the dial and filled with Super-Luminova. The way the Super-Luminova is done is such that it seemed to have acquired a patina, even when new, and combined with the brown dial and gold hands gives the watch a distinctly vintage feel.
The movement is hand-wound mechanical, and made exclusively for Panerai by Minerva (Caliber 13-22) and designated as Panerai OP XXV. Measuring 12¾ lignes, 22 jewels, Glucydur® balance, 18,000 alternations/hour. Incabloc® anti-shock device. Swan’s neck regulator. Power reserve 55 hours. Côtes de Genève decoration on the bridges.
On the wrist, the watch feels massive, taking major wrist presence, the massively thick calf leather strap making it look even more imposing. While not particularly comfortable, due to its massive size, it must be said that it does not feel or look out of place when worn, other than the wrist presence we already mentioned. The chronograph activation is smooth, and precise, and a light touch is all that is required to start, stop and reset the chronograph.
Panerai collectors will be rushing to book a piece for their collection, but even at a rather high retail price of S$58,200, we think it will fly off the shelves. This re-issue is limited to 150 pieces,
Post note: Pre-Vendome Panerai Mare Nostrum
A pre-Vendôme Panerai Mare Nostrum also exists, which is inspired by the originals, but issued in a smaller case of 42mm in steel, fitted with an ETA 2801-2 with a Dubois Depraz chronograph module. These are also collectable as production was small, less than 500 were made. These featured a tachymeter engraved on the bezel.
Between 1993-96, Sylvester Stallone collaborated with Panerai to make what is known as the Slytech models: 500 Submersibles, and a Luminor Marina with a white dial known as Daylight. A further 500 pieces on the Mare Nostrum model was also planned, as the watches were individually numbered xxx/500, but apparently only 100 were ever produced. 50 pieces were identical to the regular Mare Nostrum but with Slytech engraved on the dial, and another 50 pieces were made with a smooth bezel.
A later Vendôme series of the Mare Nostrum was made from 1997 following the acquisition of Panerai by Vendôme. These were almost identical to the pre-Vendôme Mare Nostrums but were available 3 dial colors; reference PAM006 with a blue dial, PAM007 with a white dial and PAM008 with a black dial. A total of 398 pieces were made.
Panerai have certainly done us small-wristed malcontents a big favour in loudly signaling the incipient ebb tide in wristwatch dimensions.