Is Panerai a fashion watch nowadays? It seems it is.
Sorry, I'm uncultured and just have partial picture, but let me tell you that those models have everything to do with this.
As an origin connected to bravery of frogman riding torpedoes, Panerai was about function not form, results not beauty.
With pocket watch mechanisms , huge and not the most precise, it indeed was enough to perform once readability and water tightness were the key. So, ugly and big beasts , for that time being, but it delivered.
And then, fast forward 50y, il resorgimento, and some guys started to look at this small company watches as a cool, different and appealing. It helped a lot that some of those guys were in the movies, in the fashion industry , and overnight an obscure brand got into the marketing stream. Not that simple, indeed, but let's see.
So, Panerai with its macho, manhood , mean and huge, simple and military look, and with the bonus of all history behind, was also so limited in numbers, so exclusive. "What is that watch that was in very first scene of Schwarzenegger movie?", people started wondering.
Needless to say that this low numbers helped to imprint the exclusivity to the brand, the SE culture as well and all marketing that followed. And it did work.
So collectors started to gather, prices started to rise either from factory as well from second hand market. And in a remarkable short period, thanks to the boost of major players behind the brand, Panerai has also ventured on serious ground, developing its own mechanisms. Either because market started to demand better reasons to buy a rather expensive watch , as well the today's almost forgotten issue of ETA determined to stop supplying third parties outside Swatch Group.
Anyway, so regular people started to appreciate that new look, seeing that it was indeed a good investment. And that was one of points that has helped this brand to become what it is nowadays.
But the trap question is : how to make more money for growing structure and eager shareholders and keep the roots the brand has supported itself so far? Low numbers and just few designs are not the best answers for that question.
People started to complain about so many SE , so many small details , but it seems consistent with the strategy so far .
Now, if we take a look at the pressure that marketing is certainly doing over engineering department, we would understand that new models -- it seems Panerai is still convinced that they can launch a watch with small details and call it new. That the buyers don't care too much of that because what matters is the form not the function. So, how come this brand has changed so much from the beginning?
Well, and indeed they may be right on the money .
Take a look on the latter examples : about the 318 many declared that do not care about the quality of engravings on mechanism, because the watch was beautiful, beautiful box presentation and , as a plus, it ticked !
The 339 was marketed extensively as a marvellous material, space age tech, with the so called MM dial and rarity of an SE so dear to the collectors. And even though the issues that followed, people even started looking to the bright side -- it would be more collectable. So, forget about engineering, what matters is marketing.
Is this bezel a cheap overlay prone to crack just to call it "ceramic" , few soft iron plates to call it amagnetic and so on? I don't know, but a lot of people said they don't care.
So, maybe it's all about fashion, isn't it? But how many variations for the same theme? That's a trap, IMHO.