Good number of people like to save my writings - better to repost them here for a broader audience:
203/A For me. Just look at the pictures on the DZ book on p.246-247-248.
The 201/A dial is perfectly balanced and has a distinctive classy look with the polished case.
The 203/A has that 'military instrument' look & feel, which is what the 202/A lacks (almost too simple with too much text, making it look like an advertising wall clock).
They just reached plain perfection with the 5218-203/A PVD LM in 1994. The impossible to scratch (at least on mine) lead pencil grey PVD-coating, the varnish on the numerals, the perfectly placed small seconds sub-dial with leaf-shaped hand (let's not forget that the PAM 1 and 4 were the basis of Vendome/Richemont's success with the Panerai brand). The second batch of 50x 5218-202/A PVD MM were produced right after the 203/A, using the same PVD-coating and varnish on the dials. These and the 203/A have the large matriculation numbers, whereas the first (1993) batch of the 5218-202/A MM (10 P-watches and 90 normal watches) had the small 5218-201/A Luminor Logo style matriculation numbers. Small matriculation cases (Logo + MM) were produced in Italy in 1993, large matriculation cases (LM + MM) were produced in Switzerland in 1994.
The cases (and PVD-coating) of the 1996 5218-210 PVD Luminor Marina (2 watches) were done in Italy. These already had the 1 long screw strap/tube securing arrangement at the lugs and a revised slimmer crowngoard, later adopted by Cartier/Vendome/Richemont. Coating on these is almost back to black. The 5218-209 'Logo' Luminor (12 watches) that were produced at the same time, already had a polished revised crownguard. The OP6500 cases were (IMO) produced by the same company to the same specs, as it would otherwise have been impossible for Cartier to go to market so quickly.
Here are the pictures of these two 5218-210 PVD Luminor Marinas:
Did the 5218-210 cases have the same specs as the previous prevendome watches? Same lug thickness..Same hight of crystal (distance between top of the crystal and bezel??...Had the OP6500 cases not allready been made for the old panerai wich were used by cartier to launch the PreA series..and last but not least..Why is it that the luminor PreA's (without secondshand) have depth in the dial and luminor marina's not?? Aren't the dials used for the PreA series leftover dials that were produced by the old panerai?? I just don't understand why there is a difference in depth.... Maybe the luminor PreA dials were allready finished for the old panerai and used by cartier after the take over...Isn't it possible that the luminor marina dials were unfinished..(no tritium) wich were filled afterwards by cartier to the same hight of the dial (unlike the luminor PreA's)..and therefore creating this difference.........Don't you just love to talk about these things?? hahahah...and yes..I noticed the black hands second counter on the 210...Cheers guillermo
Q:Did the 5218-210 (and 209) have the same specs as the previous prevendome watches?
A: guess there are small differences between the 5218-209 + 5218-210 cases and their ancestors, other than the large differences (slimmer crownguard and threaded lug on the 1996 watches).
Q: Same height of crystal?
A: Don't know, didn't have a knife caliper with me when AB handed me that orange toy in Cogogne in autumn 2003 - most important was that I noticed that it had the 5218-210 reference on the caseback. FF doesn't mind to measure PVD-cases with a sharp tool, but I guess AB wouldn't have allowed me to touch the case with a knife caliper....
Q: Had the OP6500 cases not allready been made for the old panerai wich were used by cartier to launch the PreA series?
A: It's all in the DZ book p. 123, English version. Just read through the lines and footnotes. Cartier International already showed interest in purchasing the Panerai watch division in autumn 1996. Original plan for Panerai might have been that they were going to produce the watches and that Cartier was going to market them in some way, as Panerai had serious difficulties effectively promoting and managing watch sales and were desperately seeking a commercial or funding parter since late 1994. The Progetto Slytech was one of those disasters. The changes incorporated in the design of the 5218-209 and 5218-210 were most likely already suggested by Francesco Cologni. Look at the paragraph that mentions that Panerai was screwed by a firm which, out of a total of 500 watches on order (150 SS Luminors and 350 PVD Luminor Marinas, only produced 14 pieces (12+2 = 14) and this much later than scheduled: the completion of the supply was subsequently prevented by the sale of the watch division in March 2007. Not so difficult to guess were those OP6500 cases were sourced from...
Last but not least Q: Why is it that the luminor PreA's (without secondshand) have depth in the dial and luminor marina's not?? Aren't the dials used for the PreA series leftover dials that were produced by the old panerai?? I just don't understand why there is a difference in depth.... Maybe the luminor PreA dials were allready finished for the old panerai and used by cartier after the take over...Isn't it possible that the luminor marina dials were unfinished..(no tritium) wich were filled afterwards by cartier to the same hight of the dial (unlike the luminor PreA's)..and therefore creating this difference.........
A: Look at the pictures of both the 5218-209 (below) and 5218-210 (above). These still have the pre-V typography and no T-SWISS-T on the dials. Dials that were already produced had to be modified, as Cartier's intention was to produce the watches in Switzerland later on. On that PAM 55 with coffee-brown T-SWISS-T dial, you could easily see that they applied a very thin upper dial with the Vendome typography. The luminous markers could be kept that way, but appear less fat when you use this technique. Possible that these 500 dials were all produced by the time Cartier bought Panerai in March 2007 and that they are all modifications. Possible that only a small number of dials existed at that time, and that the remainder were newly manufactured according to Vendome's specifications...
Hope this was informative,