Watch Reviews On The Wrist Review: PAM88

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.

Panerai Luminor GMT PAM88

Panerai Design

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.

Detail of the Crown guard on Panerai

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.

Panerai On the wrist

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.

Bright lume on the Panerai PAM88

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.

Wearing the PAM88

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.

About Seth Tilli
Seth Tilli is a life-long watch collector from Philadelphia, PA and has been involved in the watch industry for the past 10 years. His passion was truly ignited when he received his first mechanical watch for his 25th birthday, an Oris TT2 F1. Since then his collection has grown with pieces from Zenith, Rolex, Hublot, Panerai, and Omega, just to name a few. A true watch idiot savant (WIS) to the core, Seth is also the founder of the Philadelphia chapter of watch enthusiast group Red Bar Crew.

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  • Brian Sue

    What is the difference between PAM88 and PAM01088??

  • Hi Brian, the PAM 1088 is the updated version of the PAM 88. The 1088 received a new caliber with a 50 hour power reserve and 25 jewels. There are now also traditional screws rather than a spring bar with quick change, the strap is also different and features a tang buckle from a deployant on the PAM 88. The minute markers are also a grey instead of white, which is a subtle change on the dial. Hope this helped differentiate between the two! Thanks for checking our review!

  • Phillip Chouzenoux

    Interesting, owning varies watches I have become fascinated with Panerai although I am purchasing more-so there hand-wind minimalistic models. Very nice article.

  • Thanks for checking our our review Phillip! Panerai is a very interesting brand, and while they have great minimalistic models, their more complicated pieces are just as fascinating! Check out this article over on WatchBox with 8 Things to Know About Panerai:

  • A jeweller

    Their new in house movement is great but has a serious flaw which can’t be overlooked. The date wheel has their own in house invention which takes from 9 – 12 o clock to change. It uses a series of small pins which lock into the hour wheel to change the date wheel. At no fault of the owner these tiny pins can bend from normal use, but generally if the owner tries to change the date during those hours. From there the pins and or hour wheel need to be replaced but it is futile that this problem will happen again. Their date wheel has two pins per day compared everyone else that has one so it can’t be interchanged with another to resolve this issue.
    Besides that the watch is a work of art and beautifully crafted. It seems to only be a problem with their own in-house design.