SIHH 2012 marks Panerai's first use of 'Red Gold' or if you wish, Rose Gold 5N (relates to the % of copper in the gold alloy). I thought it would be a good idea to debate Panerai's use of precious metals. Good or bad move, do you like it or love it?
PAM 393 using 5N,
But first, a little history and summary.
The idea to use precious metals was already conceived in pre-V times in the mid 1990's. Discussions were held regarding gold and platinum watches and plans were set (also worthwhile to mention that titanium watches were also discussed and planned). Here is an excerpt from The 'Slytech Project' :
The above discusses production of a very limited series of 70 Slytech pieces in gold or platinum with special movements, that are to be the 'cutting edge' of the Slytech range.
While plans to produce precious-metal watches were only on paper, one special piece was produced on request of Sly - a PVD/Gold logo 201/A that was given as a gift to the Governator. Not realy 'solid gold'. but close to it....
Well, we all know the first SE in the Vendome era was the PAM 21 in 1997 which made use of a 47mm platinum case. Panerai would not return to use platinum until 3 years later with the PAM 65 and 77 in 2000. All commercial platinum models up to date were always done using the Radiomir case.
The use of Gold (WG) started in 1999. Both were 40mm, both SEs, one Luminor and one Radiomir. PAM 00045 Luminor in 100 pcs. housed a FP chrono and PAM 00046 Radiomir in 60 pcs. housed a GP GMT/Alarm.
While the use of WG was picking up and saw quite a few 40mm and 42mm Rads with special movements, the first use of RG/PG was in 2001 with the introduction of the PAM 103, 40mm Rad (Zenith 680) and 3 other diamond-set 40mm Rads (FP 1153), PAM 100,101 and 102 (while the pics may look as leaning towards YG, they were listed as PG). The concept at this point was very clear; Precious metal deserve a special movement and case size remains relatively small.
Enter PAM 140, aka 'the Ingot'. In 2002 Panerai surprised everyone with the introduction of the first YG Panerai and what an entrance. No more small cases with special movements. This cult watch was big (44mm Luminor case), heavy and housed a regular Valjoux 7750 OPIII. The 140 was produced for 5 years with a total of 1860 pcs (1870 if we consider the 10 pieces non CF dial made for the Greek AD, Kessaris, in 2003 (PAM 175). Worth mentioning is the WG brother, PAM 180, introduced in 2004.
Worthwhile to mention 'special watches' when discussing precious metal -
Smallest gold case made - PAMs 144 and 145, diamond set Rads in PG and WG, 38mm.
Largest gold case available - PAM 365 EOT Tourbillon at 50mm, available on request in WG or PG. Not sure if anyone was actually made yet,,,,
Largest gold cases made - RG - Radiomir 48mm, PAMs 325 and 330, Tourbillon GMT
YG - Luminor Sub 47mm, one piece made for Sly, PAM 269
WG -Radiomir 47mm Cali dial, PAM 376
Most expensive list price - While speculations over list of the PAM 365 EOT in PG/WG reaching $280K, the confirmed most expensive list price would be the PAM 77 Platinum Radiomir housing the famous GP 'Tourbillon/3 bridges' movement. List price was 200K Euros.
That concludes a short summary,,,,so what say you? are you a goldmember?
Cheers and best from the holyland,