Shop Panerai: https://www.thewatchbox.com/watches/panerai/
Behold the essence of Panerai: the Panerai Radiomir Black Seal PAM 183. Its 45mm stainless steel case and contents read like a love letter to the "Paneristi" devotees of the brand.
In 1936, this case profile - then known as the "Panerai 3646" - amounted to a military secret. Originally built by Rolex and modified by Panerai for combat use, the "3646" was designed to ride into battle with the combat swimmers of the Italian Navy's "Decima Flottiglia MAS, the first amphibious elite forces.
While the watch wasn't dubbed the "Radiomir" at the time, Radiomir was the name of the radium-based paint that gave the dials their distinctive nighttime glow.
While Radiomir paint no longer graces the dial of modern Panerai watches like the PAM 183, the name endures within the contemporary model line that most closely parallels the look of the pioneering early watches. This Panerai Radiomir "Black Seal" is a tribute to those watches and the men who took them into harm's way.
Each feature of the PAM 183 recalls a significant episode of Panerai's naval history. The case and "onion" crown takes their cues from the immortal "3646" (itself a Rolex pocket watch with welded-on wire lugs!); the dial pays tribute to the 1950s-era 8 Day movements with their small seconds subdial at 9 o'clock; a discreet "OP" logo in stylized 1970's fashion graces the crown.
"Black Seal" is blazon on the dial, and its prominence glorifies the exploits of the Italian combat swimmers who were nicknamed "black seals" for their nocturnal camouflage gear.
The "sandwich" dial that defines the utilitarian character of this Radiomir PAM 183 is a Panerai classic. Originally launched in 1938 as the first major revision to the 1936 "Mark I," the sandwich dial consists of a fully-painted luminescent disc covered by a stenciled top layer featuring the indices and numerals of the dial.
The thick lume of the base layer shines through the apertures of the dial with ferocious intensity. Collectors who have heard stories of Panerai's celebrated low-light visibility will find that the Panerai Radiomir Black Seal PAM 183 lives up to the legend; it's a torch.
Inside the case, Panerai pays deference to its heritage by equipping the Panerai Radiomir Black Seal PAM 183 with a true pocket watch movement. From the first 1936 prototype to the last military deliveries in the early 1990s, Panerai's oversized utility watches employed customized pocket watch movements to provide accurate and durable timing. The PAM 183 upholds the tradition with a robust Unitas 6497 movement customized expressly for Panerai.
The COSC-certified chronometer movement is a true manual-wind throwback to the heyday of Panerai's combat contracts, but the refinement and finish are worlds removed from crude standard-issue units. Custom cotes de Geneve stripes, Panerai engraving, circular-grained drivetrain wheels, and fire-oxidized blue screw heads speak to a standard born of modern collectors' expectations.
Mechanically, the superior 56-hour power reserve, chronometer-grade components, and secure swan's neck balance regulator (resistant to shocks) ensure accurate timing and long-term durability.