Introducing Panerai’s Bronzo Blue Abisso and Luminor Marina eSteelBy Wei Koh
Panerai Submersible Bronzo Blu Abisso
How is it that Panerai became the first brand to create a commercially available bronze sports watch? Its CEO, Jean-Marc Pontroué says, “My predecessor, the legendary Angelo Bonati, was an avid sailor. One day he was on the deck of our boat Eilean and he observed that many of the fittings were made with bronze.” Indeed, bronze is one of the world’s most ancient materials, but also one of its most significant. By learning to mix tin with copper, mankind created the world’s first widespread metal alloy during the 4th century BC, which represented a major technological leap forward. Bronze was used in everything from ceremonial vessels to jewelry, but was perhaps most widely used in weaponry. The famous shields, helmets, cuirasses and greaves that the 300 Spartans wore defending the hot gates of Thermopylae against what Herodotus claimed was a force of 2.6 million Persians, were all made of bronze. Bronze is often used on maritime vessels because of its high corrosion resistance.
And so in 2011, Panerai unveiled the famous “Bronzo” (PAM 382), a 47mm in diameter beast made on the Submersible platform with a distinct green dial. That soon became one of the most collectible modern sports watches around. Images of this 1,000-piece limited edition watch soon began appearing online. Notably, Laurent Picciotto, the owner of Paris’s Chronopassion demonstrated how you could let the material oxidize and develop a wild-looking green deposit by exposing it to salt water. This layer of oxide has no adverse effect on the case and can be removed with a vinegar solution. Most owners allowed their Bronzo cases to naturally patinate, gaining dark spots and an appealing pattern that gave each watch a unique appearance. Panerai followed up on the Bronzo with the PAM507 in 2013, this time with the addition of a power reserve indicator, also in the 47mm format with a green dial and in 1,000 pieces. In 2017, a third Bronzo (PAM 671) was released, this time with a stunning blue dial and also in a run of 1,000 pieces.
In 2019, Panerai released a fourth Bronzo (PAM 968) with an appealing brown dial. This watch had the further refinement of a brown ceramic bezel insert, as well as a slightly slimmer case profile, thanks to the use of the 6mm high caliber P.9010. Also, for the first time Panerai announced that due to demand, this would not be a limited edition but limited in production. This is a tactic that many savvy brands have adopted in recent years — such as Omega with its Silver Snoopy Award 50th Anniversary watch — and I, for one, applaud it. Because this means that a lot more people will be able to get their hands on this watch and don’t feel excluded. A check on the secondary market also shows that this strategy hasn’t hurt the resale prices of the Bronzo in the slightest.
Cut to present day. A full decade after its launch, I don’t think anyone would argue that the Bronzo has achieved iconic status. But it is also irrefutably massive. Responding to the demand for a downsized Bronzo, this year, Jean-Marc Pontroué and Panerai introduced a fantastic new Bronzo that utilizes the 42mm Submersible platform. If you haven’t tried on a 42mm Submersible yet, you should. While I am a Panerai purist in that I love a 44mm Luminor Marina, I have to admit that the 42mm Submersible has rapidly become one of my favorite Panerais. It still has an amazing wrist presence, offers enhanced wearability, is extremely balanced, and the design looks just as good in these more comfortable dimensions. One of my favorite recent Panerai pieces is the 42mm Submersible Carbotech, so the creation of a 42mm Bronzo makes every bit of sense to me.
The new PAM 1074 Bronzo Blu Abisso uses a blue dial with beige-colored luminous indices, as well as a 4.2mm thick caliber P.900, which allows for a watch that is 14.37mm thick. The bezel of this watch is the old school, full bronze style. Between this new reference and the PAM 968, Pontroué explains that Panerai will limit the number of Bronzos made to no more than 1,000 a year, which should still make them relatively rare.
Panerai Luminor Marina eSteel
The idea of sustainability — to minimize ecological impact and consume less — is very much on the mind of Jean-Marc Pontroué and the most dynamic leaders in the luxury watch world. He has responded with the creation of only the second luxury watch to be made using recycled steel. He joins Karl-Friedrich Scheufele, co-president of Chopard, whose Alpine Eagle family uses recycled Lucent Steel, and Cyrille Vigneron, the president of Cartier, who has created the industry’s first solar-powered luxury watch, as one of the pioneers in this green initiative. For this, he deserves major applause.
Accordingly, Panerai has also just launched their Luminor Marina eSteel watches. Both the case and dials of these timepieces are crafted from a recycled-based steel alloy. Pontroué explains, “The idea actually came from [professional explorer and adventurer] Mike Horn. He wanted to present me a piece of his boat Pangaea. This was a piece that had to be replaced, but it was what he considered to be one of the most critical elements of the boat and it had served him faithfully on his most recent conquest. So, I brought this piece to the manufacture and asked them if they could make a watch case from it. But got me started thinking about how we all need to reduce our consumption, so eSteel is Panerai’s first big step to reduce the need for virgin material extraction and its associated high environmental impact.”
Exactly 54.8 percent of each 44mm Luminor Marina eSteel watch will be composed of recycled-based materials. That breaks down to 89 grams of a total 152.4 grams. Pontroué says, “We use this to describe how much of the watch comes from recycled material, as it is very easy to visualize.” With the same properties as traditional 316 stainless steel, eSteel provides the same level of corrosion resistance. The dial is given a smoked gradient effect that goes from dark to light, and is offered in three colors: blue, gray and green — the last being reserved for Panerai’s boutiques and ecommerce.
Pontroué says, “Luxury is about uplifting people and giving them pleasure, but we as the creators of luxury watches must achieve this while also impacting the world in which we must all live together in a positive way.”
Bronzo Blu Abisso (PAM 1074)
Movement: Self-winding mechanical caliber P.900; 3-day power reserve
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds and date; unidirectional bezel for calculation of the immersion time
Case: 42mm; bronze; water resistant to 300m
Strap: Vintage blue suede with ecru stitching and bronze trapezoidal pin buckle; additional rubber strap in blue
Availability: Limited production to 1,000 units per year
Luminor Marina eSteel (PAM 1157, PAM 1358, PAM 1356)
Movement: Self-winding mechanical caliber P.9010; 3-day power reserve
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds and date
Case: 44mm; brushed eSteel; water resistant to 300m
Strap: Recycled PET strap in blue, gray or green
Availability: Limited production of 1,000 units per year