One of the more interesting pieces for 2013 from Officine Panerai is this Luminor Submersible Ceramic aka the PAM 508. This particular Panerai is notable in that it is the first time the Luminor Submersible watch has been executed in ceramic. Following my initial unveiling of the 508 watch two weeks ago, I will now explore the piece, its ceramic case, and other salient details, including some high-res closeup, below.
Production of Panerai Ceramic
Upon closer inspection of the 47mm black ceramic case we see that it has a fine sandblasted finish, resulting in the uniform matte appearance of the case. The material, which is synthesized from zirconium oxide powder (Zr02); to achieve the color, a pigment highly resistant to heat is added during the production process.
A ratio of ~80% zirconia powder and 20% binding powder are warmed and mixed slightly, then forced under extremely high pressure into the mold that takes the form of the component being produced. While still soft, components are further shaped and refined by turning, milling and drilling. Then, over a period of about three days, the components are heated to 1500C and then allowed to cool down; at this stage components consist of 100% zirconia ceramic (binder has been removed via a chemical process) and has a hardness of 1200HV, about about 5x that of stainless steel. The hard ceramic is then workable, via diamond grinding, to its final shape and sandblasted to a matte finish. In addition to its hardness, the ceramic has additional desirable qualities such as light weight, excellent resistance to scratches and corrosion.
As for the various dial elements – lettering, date window and Superluminova-coated hour markers, graduated bezel scale, and hands – we see that they are executed in a single ecru color. This provides for a nice and consistent contrast against the ceramic case.
Speaking of the bezel — it is likewise crafted in black ceramic and has the graduated scale for calculating dive time immersion as is standard for the Submersible line.
Caseback and Movement
Turning to the back of the watch, we see a continuance of the black theme. The case back is crafted of titanium and coated in black. It features the torpedo engraved in the middle. Underneath it all lies the in-house hand-wound Panerai P.9000 caliber.
The P.9000 features a double barrel configuration and a bi-directional winding rotor, working in tandem to a power reserve of three days (72 hours). Also of note is the convenient system for adjusting the hour hand forward or backward in steps of one hour, at the same time also changing the date.
The strap pairing fits the watch very nicely. It is crafted of black leather, with a distressed finish. It has a trapezoidal black-titanium pin buckle (not shown).
All said and done, the watch is distinguished by its matte black ceramic case; in my view the choice is an excellent diversion in materials while at the same time maintaining the purity of the Luminor Submersible line. Though typically not a material for dive watches, I expect this piece to be a hit with Paneristi and sell out quickly. As part of the Panerai “Special Edition” series, production is limited — in this case to 1,000 pieces. List price on the PAM 508 price 12,900 EUR (sorry but I don’t have an official USD price at the moment).