About Time: Comparing Panerai’s Latest Luminor Chronographs

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About Time: Comparing Panerai’s Latest Luminor Chronographs

Words by Mr Chris Hall

17 November 2021

Think of a Panerai watch and chances are you’ll picture something that descends pretty directly from its hulking wartime commando watches. The voluptuous cushion case with its sturdy crown-lock mechanism and the black dial with bold, “sandwich cut” luminous markings. It’s true enough that the template within which Panerai’s Milan-based designers work is famously narrow, but it has nevertheless proven to be intriguingly adaptable. Recent years have given us dress watches, hardcore tactical watches in innovative materials and even an astonishing minute repeater.

In our latest About Time film, we examine a less-heralded side of Panerai, though one it’s embracing with verve this year: the chronograph.

To be fair, chronographs are far from new to the brand, but they have tended to be specialist affairs. There are a number of action-ready examples found in the high-tech Submersible dive watch collection, for instance –watches that would be at home in the jungle, say, or in the thick of an America’s Cup race (Panerai is the timekeeper for the Luna Rossa team), but perhaps not quite the thing for a business breakfast, or for what you might call the elegant sporting life.

With the newly launched Luminor Chrono collection, however, Panerai makes a decisive move into the more conventional world of the all-purpose luxury sports chronograph. The Luminor Chrono is a self-winding, two-register model in the classic mould, with stopwatch timing for seconds and minutes, and a tachymeter scale encircling the dial, as found on historic military and automotive chronographs.

It’s a chronograph for all seasons,built for performance and accuracy, but with plenty of character and an appropriately nautical feel. Critical to its versatility is the handsome new bracelet Panerai has devised: a plush but sturdy design with link details inspired by the shape of the crown-lock mechanism on the side of the 44mm case.

The Luminor Chrono collection can take you in more rarefied directions, too. The other watch we examine in the film is the Luminor Chrono Monopulsante GMT Blu Notte, which adds both functionality and exoticism to the essential tool-like features of the chronograph. There’s much to enjoy in the rich contrasts of the matte black case, the glossy, midnight-blue dial and the edgy complexity of the indications. The power reserve of a whopping eight days, displayed via a linear read-out, is a hallmark of Panerai’s high watchmaking, as is the modern workmanship of the powerhouse hand-wound calibre that drives it all.

One of the more esoteric aspects of Panerai chronographs is the position of the pushers on the left-hand side of the case, rather than the right–a consequence of that iconic crown protector bridge occupying space on the right flank. It’s a reflection of the fact that, in whatever it does, Panerai tends to do things a little differently – in fact, it takes pride in it.

Head over to our YouTube channel to see the rest of our About Time series, where we profile the latest watches from Cartier, Vacheron Constantin, IWC SCHAFFHAUSEN, NOMOS Glashütte and more.

With the times