Panerai isn’t for everyone, but if I was going to buy one, it would be this Panerai PAM 64C Submersible 1000m, the original “La Bomba” watch.
This thing is huge, chunky, and tough: Everything people love and hate Panerai for. It has all the essential styling elements, including the famous crown guard, plus serious cred in being waterproof to 1 kilometer. It’s even a limited edition, albeit one the company cut off at the knees by making a regular-production piece.
Let’s back up. Panerai produced watches for the Italian military for most of the previous century, focusing on functionality and ignoring any consumer ambitions. All this changed when Sylvester Stallone, of all people, spotted a Panerai watch in Rome in 1995 and commissioned a small run of personalized watches for friends and associates.
Panerai rocketed up in popularity, becoming the standard-bearer for the “huge watch” phenomenon currently gripping the industry. Today, as part of Richemont Group, which also includes Jaeger-LeCoultre and IWC, Panerai has become one of the most successful brands of luxury watches.
It would be hard to find a watch that speaks to the brand’s core than this “La Bomba”. The first 1000m Submersible product from Panerai, this 2000 special edition spawned the current deep-diver product range. It’s sturdy and chunky and features a Lepine movement with sub-seconds at 9:00 and date at 3:00. And did I mention that it’s huge?
Unfortunately for those who bought one of the 500-piece limited-edition PAM 64C watches, Panerai put the same design into mass-production the following year. This drastically limited the resale value of the original run, but makes these watches available to all at reasonable prices.
The “Panerai Op. III” movement is actually a Chronometer-grade Valjoux 7750-P1 with the chronograph components removed or disabled. It is decorated with “PANERAI” repeated on the rotor and bridges, though this isn’t visible with a solid case back. The case is respectable, but the crystal is amazing, withstanding more pressure than anyone could seriously expect to encounter.
This particular example comes with the original box and papers, and is in fairly good condition for a “wearer”. It is reasonably priced at $6,400 and presented well at PuristSPro. If you want a big, chunky Panerai that takes no prisoners and makes no excuses, the original “La Bomba” is it!