Officine Panerai is a brand with a storied history of military utilization dating all the way back to the 1940’s. It is this military association that caught the imagination of so many collectors and enthusiasts alike; though Panerai watches were not actually commercially available to the public until 1993.
The iconic Panerai case shape and dial was born out of a functional need of the Italian Navy to provide a robust, waterproof, and easily read watch to their divers. This pure “tool watch” practicality is what has continued to make Panerai a perennial favorite.
The Panerai Luminor Marina GMT, reference PAM00088, is a watch that closely follows this purpose-built functionality while adding some characteristic style as well. The 44mm Luminor case is forged out of a single block of 316L stainless steel, then polished to a mirror finish. This forging process creates a seamless and strong foundation for the watch with no welds or screw holes.
Utilizing a solid one-piece case eliminates many of the fault-points to ensure a waterproof watch all the way down to 300 meters. What you can’t eliminate is the crown- you do need to be able to set the watch, right? To ensure the crown is sealed tight, Panerai developed one of their most recognizable elements, a patented crown guard system that locks the crown in place sealing off the most notorious vulnerability from the elements.
PAM88 – Luminor Marina GMT
As the name suggests, this watch also features a GMT, or second time zone, complication with an independently adjustable 24-hour hand. Whether you are a business traveler or just have family across the country, being able to track a second time zone is one of the most useful complications a watch can have. What makes all of this work inside the case of the PAM88, is a proprietary version of the venerable Valjoux 7750 automatic movement that is simplified, without the chronograph module. Panerai refers to this COSC chronometer-certified movement as the OP VIII.
While this is not an in-house caliber designed and manufactured by Panerai, it is a robust and reliable movement that has been in use for over 40 years and, is in a configuration not available from any other brand.
Like most Panerai watches, the dial is clean and easy to read. Even with the additional 24-hour ring encircling the matte black dial, Panerai manages to make it legible at a glance. At three o’clock there is a date indication with quick-change function and cyclops magnifier carved into the underside of the 3.5mm thick, domed and anti-reflective, sapphire crystal.
This design leaves the top of the watch smooth and unaffected by the magnifier. The hands are polished to match the case then filled with superluminova. Along with the luminous-painted indexes, this is where the Luminor name is really apparent. Panerai watches glow very bright in the dark and the PAM88 is no exception.
Wearing The PAM88
On the wrist, you wouldn’t expect a 44mm wide and 16mm thick watch to be comfortable but, it is. Panerai has done a good job to design short lugs that allow the shiny square-scale alligator strap to fall naturally. The strap is also tapered in thickness making it supportive but very flexible where it needs to be. It is then secured with a signed, butterfly deployant clasp.
Panerai’s design of the Luminor case, like previously mentioned, places the Luminor GMT squarely in the tool watch category. Yet, with a clean layout, precise proportions and fine finishing, you can definitely wear this watch in a variety of situations. This model is especially versatile due to the polished case that dresses it up a bit.
Vintage military watches are some of the most sought after pieces by collectors. The next level below those rare watches, are the contemporary pieces whose DNA is directly descended from those tried and true, purpose built, government issue watches. The Panerai Luminor GMT is no exception.
Check out our other On The Wrist Reviews.