I'm going to call this Part 3, since Gush just posted some of his observations.
Just returned from lunch with some Panerai people. I asked them, how is the brand defined by the new collection. The answer was very simple: "Identity and Technology". They know their greatest strength is their history. If you think about it, how many watch brands could be identified if no logo was present on the dial? Not many.
I think we all believe that the current watches are contemporary and fit with today's taste. But, we forget that many of these watches were originally developed in the 1940's. It goes to show how timeless the design was that even a watch developed 70 years ago is as contemporary today, as it likely was in 1943.
As I mentioned, another theme I am coming away with this year is the emphasis on movements and movement finishing. We're seeing some new models featuring the Minerva movement, including the 398 and 399. As we saw previously on the PAM309 and PAM322, the detail and level of finishing on this movement is beautiful.
Another stunning movement is found on the PAM395, 8-days red gold Radiomir ("GMT Rosso"). Here, by skeletonizing the p2002 movement transforms the watch. I almost would want to wear this watch back-side up to show off the mechanicals.
Another beauty, although a pricey one, is the enhanced tourbillon movement found in the ceramica PAM396. Here, by using a new PVD method they are able to again coat the movement and also add additional enhancements of gold accents. Lovely.
I did ask what's different about this coating vs. the one used on the 317. They didn't have any details but seemed confident that this process would not pose any issues for them in production. (maybe we'll see the 317 move to this style?)
Lastly, we see the engine found on the PAM438 "Tuttonero" GMT ceramica w/bracelet. Based on the p9001, this also feature movement coating and also some gold engraving that really make it stand out.
So, new models aside, I think for you movement freaks out there, there's definitely something to be excited about with the 2012 collection.