Panerai 1940 3 Days Acciaio – 47mm

The Panerai 1940 3 Days Acciaio – 47mm is available in two dial colours, black (PAM00790) and ivory (PAM00791). While this model shares a family likeness with other Panerai watches, it possesses a wholly different character courtesy of its Art Deco dial design. If you think you know Panerai, think again!

This detailed review of the Panerai 1940 3 Days Acciaio – 47mm includes live images, specification details and pricing.

Panerai 1940 3 Days Acciaio - 47mm

Over the years I have spoken to many watch designers. Often, they will conceive watches knowing that only a few will ever make it to market. The goal they all share in common is to conceive an ‘iconic design’.

The term ‘iconic’ is liberally applied, sometimes without justification. However, there are some timepieces which are deserving of this epithet. The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso, the Patek Philippe Nautilus and the Rolex Submariner are just a few of the watches that spring to mind.

When looking at an iconically designed watch, glimpsing a mere portion of its dial or case immediately reveals its identity. In some instances, the name of an iconic model has supplanted the maker’s nomen, reaffirming its legendary status.

Panerai makes two iconic collections, the Radiomir and the Luminor. The latter watch is known for its sandwich dial construction and very distinctive crown protection device. Likewise, the Radiomir will forever be associated with highly luminescent indexes and wire strap attachments.

A potential problem with being known for an iconic design is that a brand can sometimes become ‘typecast’. While some would-be buyers are drawn to this aspect, e.g. the legendary Paneristi, there will be some prospective purchasers who wrongly assume that a watch marque has nothing else to offer.

Having owned several Panerai watches over the years, I thought I knew everything the brand had to offer.

The company’s first timepiece, a prototype watch for the Royal Italian Navy, was made in 1936. It was the forerunner of the ‘Radiomir’, a name which referenced the extraordinary luminescent treatment of the indexes. The wire strap attachments, the cushion-shaped steel case, 47mm case diameter and hand-wound movement have since featured on numerous iterations of this maritime watch.

Recently, I discovered a new timepiece from the Swiss-Italian watch company, the Panerai 1940 3 Days Acciaio – 47mm. This watch is clearly a Panerai, yet there are elements which make it quite different from its forebears. Indeed, those readers who believe they know Panerai, should think again!

The dial

The Panerai 1940 3 Days Acciaio – 47mm is available in two dial colours, black (PAM00790) and, my favourite, ivory (PAM00791). While the military history of Panerai has led to the company’s watches having a characteristically masculine persona, this latest timepiece has a softer, gentler temperament.

Panerai 1940 3 Days Acciaio - 47mm

Perhaps the most notable aspect of the dial on the Panerai 1940 3 Days Acciaio – 47mm are the Arabic numerals used to denote the hours. The font employed is decidedly Art Deco. Interestingly, the Art Deco period started in the 1920s and continued into the 1930s, i.e. a time pre-dating the brand’s 1940 case design, a detail which I will return to later.

In my opinion, the Art Deco period was the most elegant design era. Grace was omnipresent. Geometric and angular forms, chrome and other shiny metals, as well as the breathtaking stylised architecture of this era continue to proffer much eye-appeal. I believe that Panerai has been very shrewd returning to this period.

While Panerai has used stylised numerals, the company has upheld its reputation for peerless legibility. Likewise, the ‘spear-shaped’ hands are exquisite but remain highly adept when it comes to articulating the time.

The periphery of the dial is framed with a chemin de fer. It augments readability as well as enriching the aesthetic appearance of the dial. Positioned adjacent the hour track are two concentric circlets. These heighten the visual allure of the dial and help to delineate the hour track.

The case

The Panerai 1940 3 Days Acciaio – 47mm is a horological leviathan. Its sheer bulk will dissuade some prospective purchasers from considering selection. However, as a ‘Special Edition’ Panerai, where demand invariably outstrips supply, I don’t think there will be a shortage of homes for this generously proportioned model.

Panerai 1940 3 Days Acciaio - 47mm

In 1940, Panerai eschewed its wire strap attachments and conical winding crown, evolving the design of the Radiomir primarily for practical reasons. The lugs became an intrinsic part of the case, improving water resistance. The winding crown assumed a truncated cylindrical shape, while the 1940 case retained its cushion-shape but with more pronounced edges. The Swiss-Italian firm has chosen to adopt the 1940 case for the Panerai 1940 3 Days Acciaio – 47mm PAM 791.

Panerai 1940 3 Days Acciaio - 47mm

On the face of it, some traditionalists may question the pairing of the 1940 case with a dial inspired by an earlier period. However, in my opinion the gorgeous appearance of the watch justifies Panerai’s decision. Moreover, there is no dissonance between the dial and case with all components singing sweetly in concert.

Many of the ‘Special Edition’ Panerai models are equipped with a vintage-style Plexiglas ® crystal and this watch proves no exception. While Panerai is clearly trying to uphold traditions, setting aside the ubiquitous sapphire crystal, I would prefer the latter material owing to its notable robustness. Nevertheless, I concede that there are many vintage-loving Paneristi who will not share my point of view.

While Panerai has respected history in some areas, it has set aside tradition with a caseback fitted with a pane of sapphire crystal. Personally, I applaud the luxury watch firm for taking this decision as I never tire of admiring a finely executed movement.

The movement

My first Panerai was a PAM 091, equipped with a solid caseback. The movement, the Calibre OP III was based on the Valjoux 7750-P1.

However, in 2007, the Maison unveiled its first in-house calibres: the P.2003, P.2004 and P.2005. One year later, Panerai launched the P.9000 and P.2006 in-house calibres. It has continued developing and producing new calibres of varying complexity ever since.

Panerai 1940 3 Days Acciaio - 47mm

The P.3000 Manufacture Calibre fitted to the Panerai 1940 3 Days Acciaio – 47mm was unveiled in 2011. This hand-wound movement features two spring barrels, delivering a prodigious power reserve of three days. The movement has a frequency of 21,600 VpH (3Hz) and contains 21 jewels.

A large bridge dominates the dorsal view of the movement. The primary benefit of using a large bridge is stability. This benefit extends to the balance bridge which is secured at two points.

Panerai 1940 3 Days Acciaio - 47mm

While the aforementioned large bridge dominates the rear view of the movement, horological voyeurs need not worry as there remains much to see. The bridges feature a ‘brushed’ finish and the mainplate is adorned with perlage. The jewel sinks are polished and the bevelled edges of the bridge gleam resplendently. Furthermore, there is a delightful view of the balance wheel in flight as well as tantalising glimpses of the gear train.

Closing remarks

The Panerai 1940 3 Days Acciaio – 47mm delivers something new. With this watch, the Swiss-Italian brand has married some of its historical design language with Art Deco style elements. The Arabic numerals denoting each hour brim with 1920s period styling. Even the chemin de fer and centrally positioned circlets evince an air of nostalgia. Despite blending seemingly disparate aesthetic elements, everything coalesces beautifully. Unlike most Panerai watches which can appear a tad utilitarian, this timepiece is almost glamorous by comparison.

However, while the Panerai 1940 3 Days Acciaio – 47mm is extraordinarily handsome, practicality has not been sacrificed on the alter of style. The dial is eminently legible.

Panerai has repeatedly shown it has the capacity to make impressive movements. This mechanical virtuosity is manifest with the impressive 3-day power reserve and the becoming appearance of the movement bridges. There is much to like about the P.3000 Manufacture Calibre.

Officine Panerai has conceived an interesting timepiece. While Panerai 1940 3 Days Acciaio – 47mm shares some of its DNA with the legendary Radiomir model, it encompasses new aesthetic influences. It is by setting aside the styling of its iconic models that Panerai has created something new and fresh. Indeed, this model shows that the Swiss-Italian marque is willing to venture off-piste and embrace fresh ideas.

Further reading

Technical specifications

  • Model: Panerai 1940 3 Days Acciaio – 47mm
  • Reference: black dial (PAM00790) and ivory dial (PAM00791)
  • Case: 316L stainless steel; diameter 47mm; Plexiglas ®
    to front and sapphire crystal for caseback; water resistant to 10 ATM (100 metres)
  • Functions: Hours; minutes.
  • Movement: P.3000 Calibre; hand-wound movement; frequency 21,600 VpH (3Hz); 21 jewels; power reserve = 72 hours
  • Strap: Brown / beige leather strap paired with steel pin buckle
  • Price: £7,700 (RRP as at 4.1.2019)

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