Contact [email protected] for pricing and availability; Either I have it, or I can get it! Grand Seiko vs. Officine Panerai is the theme of this weekend’s VERSUS luxury watch comparison. After establishing mainstream rivalries including Rolex versus Omega, Grand Seiko vs. Rolex, and Omega versus Breitling, we’re bringing back a familiar face – Japan’s Grand Seiko – for a bout with Versus debutante Panerai. This week, the Panerai Luminor 1950 Chronomonopulsante GMT 8-Days PAM 317 rolls into the ring with the Grand Seiko Black Ceramic Onbashira Limited Edition SBGC017. Which black ceramic GMT chronograph will prevail? First, consider the contenders.
Grand Seiko waited until 2016 to launch a full-ceramic watch. Truth be told, the Grand Seiko Spring Drive Black Ceram “Avant Garde” series watches weren’t “full” ceramic; each of these Spring Drive complications is comprised of a titanium inner case to which black ceramic cladding is secured by screws. Like their counterparts at Rolex, Grand Seiko watchmakers and engineers reasoned that a hybrid case could not fracture straight-through the way that a full ceramic case can; each piece of ceramic cladding is fixed in place by a screw and can be removed individually if damaged.
The 46.4mm Grand Seiko Black Ceramic SBGC017 Onbashira Festival limited edition takes the celebration of brand technology can Japanese culture to the next level; each example features a forest green dial embossed with an interlocking pattern of trees in honor of the Onbashira festival, a traditional Japanese Shinto ceremony of cutting and transporting logs for use in local shrines; the festival occurs close to the Lake Suwa-area workshops of Grand Seiko.
Each Grand Seiko Black Ceramic Chronograph GMT features a 3-day automatic Grand Seiko Spring Drive movement that combines mechanical watch allure with quartz precision. The GMT chronograph combination is joined by a date window, and the watch features both column wheel function selector and a vertical clutch for engagement. A hand-selected quartz oscillator allows this special-series Spring Drive watch caliber to run +/- 10 seconds per month.
Officine Panerai launched the PAM 317 in 2008. It was among the most complicated Panerai Luminor models ever made and one of the first ceramic Panerai watches of any description. The 44mm “Luminor 1950” case features matte black ceramic (zirconium dioxide) with a surface hardness of over 1,200 vickers and 100-meter water resistance. An oversized and domed sapphire recreates the look of a vintage Italian Panerai’s Plexiglas crystal. And unlike the Grand Seiko Black Ceramic, this Panerai Luminor 1950 features a fully luminescent “sandwich” dial.
The first examples of the Luminor 1950 Chrono Monopulsante GMT 8-Days featured the 8-day manual wind manufacture caliber P 2004 with PVD blackened bridges and plates; manufacturing defects followed. Today’s L-series (2009) Panerai PAM 317 features the grey smoked sapphire that succeeded the PVD movement; conventional rhodium-plating is used under the grey sapphire casebback.
The Panerai in-house caliber P 2004 was designed for Panerai by Richemont’s Val Fleurier movement specialists. The P. 2004 offers a GMT function with AM/PM dial, zero-reset hacking seconds, and a column wheel monopusher chronograph with vertical clutch engagement. Like a Rolex caliber or an Omega 8500/8900 series movement, the Panerai P. 2004 features a full balance bridge with a free sprung balance.