Review: Panerai PAM00959 Submersible 42mm

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This is the year of the Submesersible for Panerai. We covered the game changing marketing direction led by the limited edition PAM 00985 Submersible where buyers will get a once-in-a-lifetime travel and exploration experiences with world-famous explorer Mike Horn. Here we have our hands on the standard Submersible 42 and used it as a daily beater. We tell you what we find our after a week on the wrist.

This is the most basic of the Submersibles in the Panerai range. With a depth rating of 300m, it is a true dive watch, though not designed for saturation diving. We had the watch on loan for this review for a week, used it as a daily beater. Here is our honest take on the PAM00959.

Panerai PAM00959 Submersible 42mm

Two versions of the base Submersible 42 are offered. One as featured with the grey dial and blue ceramic bezel, and another in a black dial with black ceramic bezel (PAM00683) . We feature the former.

While the PAM00683 features the more traditional Panerai aesthetics in colour choice, the PAM00959 takes on a more bold persona with the glorious blue bezel.

The PAM 00959 (and the PAM00683) succeeds the Luminor Submersible 1950 3 Days Automatic PAM00682.

The case, dial and hands

The case is the traditional Panerai Luminor case basic design aesthetic, with the patented crown lock device. What sets the Submersible apart from the Luminor is the unidirectional rotating bezel, which the latter lacks, and makes the Submersible look more like a regular diving watch.

As a tool watch designed for diving, the entire case is made of 316L Stainless Steel and completely brushed finished, with no shiny parts.

The PAM00959 features a dial which is the epitome of clarity and legibility. The hour markers are huge dots filled with a generous amount of Superluminova for all but the 6 and 12 which are featured as single and double sticks. The 3 and 9 markers are absent, as the space is used for the date window, and the subsidiary seconds sub-dial.

The hands are huge javelin styled hands with massive infilling of lume material, and skeletonized. The seconds hand is the traditional, and very cute, mini-leaf, also generously filled with Superluminova.

The bezel is unidirectionally rotating and the 5 minute markers are raised steel inserts on the ceramic blue inlay over the steel bezel carrier. The edges of the bezel are corrugated for good grip. We simply love the magnificent blue of the ceramic over the soft, textured grey dial.

As a daily beater

Exterior finishing is excellent, and executed to a very high engineering standard with good attention to function and performance over mere aesthetics. However, this is a very good looking watch. Very handsome.

We used it as a daily beater, and the case is neither a scratch magnet, nor has suffered any cosmetic damage in the week it was on our wrists.

The timekeeping performance during the time we had the watch is outstanding, neither gaining nor losing time over the week. The context is that it sat on my wrist during the waking hours, and in a winder for the evening. This helps average out the difference in rate in positions, but the performance overall is excellent.

The movement

The case back is engraved with notations as to the brand, intent of the watch “Automatic Divers Professional”, origin and that it is depth rated to 300m. The case back is screwed on, and the movement is not visible. The movement within is the Panerai OP XXXIV, which is an automatic caliber with 23 jewels and 72 hours of power reserve on a full wound beating at a frequency is 28,800 bph.

We note that the former Submersible PAM00682 was equipped with the in-house, three-day automatic P.9010 movement, but the new replacement come with the OP XXXIV caliber. The base OP XXXIV movement is made by ValFleurier, which is owned by the Richemont Group and also makes movements for IWC, Montblanc and Piaget.

The competitive landscape

As the most basic model from the Submersible line, it comes in at a rather hefty retail price of S$14,000. Especially so as the segment of 300m diving watches is one which is heavily populated with competion, including some real giants of the industry.

The most obvious and direct competitor in terms of features is probably the Rolex Submariner, which is a non-starter as it disqualifies itself for being almost impossible to buy at the retail price of S$10,030 for the non-date version, and S$11,440 for the version with date. But for all intents and purposes, the Submariner is the benchmark to measure all 300m diving watches by.

The venerable Rolex Submariner, shown here is the no-date version, which retails for S$10,030. Availability of the Oystersteel Rolex models is nigh impossible. So don’t ask.

The Rolex is also in steel – in Rolexspeak – Oystersteel and comes with a unidirectional ceramic bezel and is slightly smaller at 40mm, but for the price, you get the excellent Rolex bracelet.

Perhaps another close competitor is the Omega Seamaster Professional Diver 300m, which is remarkably well priced at S$ 6,750 for the version with a rubber strap.

Omega Seamaster is particularly well priced for a dive chronometer.

The Omega comes with a stunning ceramic dial with a wave motif, and the case is also 42mm. In addition, the Omega is designed for saturation diving and features a manually operated helium escape valve. Several colour options are available, and our favourite is the blue version which we reviewed in the link.

Another good option is the Breitling SuperOcean Automatic 42. The SuperOcean model line was revised this year, and our hands-on review is forthcoming soon. The Breitling retails for (only) S$ 5,120. And is rated to a deeper 500m. Movement is the Breitling caliber 17, which is an ETA 2824-2.

Concluding thoughts

We think the appeal of the PAM00959 must be the handsome good looks which we absolutely love. And the magnificent textured dial combined with the very seductive ceramic blue bezel makes it almost a must-buy for the Paneristi.

In its natural element, the Submersible has an affinity for water and great for diving.

We loved the aesthetics almost as much as the sturdiness and technical abilities of the PAM00959. It remains a highly competent tool watch, and a great diving tool, though we suspect almost all its owners will never dive with it. As we noted in the Daily Beater section, it performed admirably, and we think it is par for the course for use as a tool watch.



  1. Nice review! I’m not a Paneristi, but I really like this watch. But if I bought everything you reviewed….