Panerai Luminor Marina 44mm Guillaume Néry Edition
The Panerai Luminor Marina 44mm Guillaume Néry Edition is a new limited-edition timepiece paying tribute to the ‘constant weight freediving champion’. Moreover, the watch also celebrates 70 years of Luminor, the famous tritium based substance popularised by Panerai. However, perhaps the most interesting aspect of this model relates to its titanium case made using Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) technology, an alternative approach to conventional milling.
Panerai has recently unveiled the Panerai Luminor Marina 44mm Guillaume Néry Edition (PAM01122), a horological tribute to its brand ambassador, Frenchman Guillaume Néry. Monsieur Néry is a ‘constant weight freediving champion’ who, over the years, has set both national and world records. He has regularly dived to depths of 120m and one occasion submerged to a vertical extent of 139m.
Freediving is an inherently dangerous sport where drowning poses a significant risk. Moreover, the ocean exerts colossal pressure on the lungs during the descent. Finally, when returning to the surface, the freediver can suffer ‘shallow-water blackout’ and lose consciousness. Based on the various challenges facing Guillaume Néry, it is perhaps only fitting that Panerai acknowledges his achievements with a limited-edition model.
On the 11th January 1949, a patent was registered for Luminor, a tritium based substance. In addition, the name ‘Luminor’ was trademarked. This luminescent material, which is hydrogen isotope based, was safer than the radium based paste previously used on the firm’s Radiomir models. It also proved more visible in dim light. As a result, Panerai, inspired by this new luminescent treatment, released its now legendary model, the Luminor.
Image credit – McKenna
Today, Panerai uses Super-LumiNova, a material far safer than tritium. In 1950, Panerai completed its transition from Radiomir to Luminor. Some 70 years have since elapsed, hence Panerai has chosen to mark this milestone by producing 70 examples of the Luminor Marina 44mm Guillaume Néry Edition. Furthermore, this model is accompanied with a 70-year warranty (terms and conditions apply).
The model features a black dégradé dial which is anthracite grey near its centre and assumes a deep black shade adjacent the inner case walls. The stealthy tones extend to the bezel, crown and bridge lever which are treated with a black rubberised coating. Other notable details include a prominent convex sapphire crystal, a strap made from recycled PET, an additional rubber strap and a twelve-sided caseback embellished with Guillaume Néry branding and executed in sandblasted titanium with DLC coating.
However, the case is especially interesting. It is made of titanium, a lightweight material often used in motorsport and aerospace. It is also employed in the medical field where its hypoallergenic properties mitigate the risk of adverse skin reactions etc. There are different grades of titanium, but the most common varieties employed within the watch industry are Grade 2 and Grade 5. The latter grade is costlier, but stronger. Panerai does not specify which grade it has employed, but both specifications are lightweight and hypoallergenic.
Grade 5 titanium cases are particularly difficult to make using existing techniques for a variety of reasons, including the hardness of the material. Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machines mill the case using different tools applied from different angles. The number of angles which a machine can handle is often reflected in its name, 3-axis, 5-axis, etc. Unfortunately, when drilling Grade 5 titanium, the material generates much heat, this can cause harm to the part and even damage the machine. For this reason, milling speeds are reduced, albeit this heightens costs. Even when the milling speeds are carefully observed, the milling tools have a tendency to wear out more quickly. At all times, care needs to be exercised when machining titanium as there is a significant risk of fire. Therefore, although Grade 5 titanium offers several benefits, it is clearly costly to machine using conventional techniques. Indeed, it costs more to mill this alloy than steel, gold or Grade 2 titanium.
In terms of this limited-edition Panerai, the case is made using Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) technology, a form of 3D printing. The case is designed in 3D using a CAD system. Thereafter, this 3D image is effectively cut into 2D slices. Parts can be made in a variety of metals, however, in this instance, the case is titanium, therefore titanium powder is used. This powder is held in a container and is dosed onto the bed of a special 3D printer, forming a uniform base layer. A laser then draws a 2D cross-section of the case (effectively a slice) on to the powder. The floor of the bed/base drops slightly, allowing another layer of powder to be applied on top and the process is repeated again and again, ultimately creating the desired case.
Originally this technology was used for prototyping, but it is becoming increasingly popular for making final components in a variety of industries. It is interesting to see Panerai employ this know-how and I hope that in due course it shares more details about its particular approach, the composition of the material and its reasons for using the technology. One thing is for certain, Panerai is embracing new technology and looking at ingenious means of employing that know-how. I look forward to seeing more of this brand’s trailblazing ideas.
The brand’s press release (January 2021)
Drawing inspiration from its illustrious history and capitalizing on a wealth of technological know-how, Panerai reaffirms its inseparable connection to the sea by introducing an instrument inspired by its Ambassador and constant weight freediving champion: Luminor Marina 44mm − Guillaume Néry Edition (PAM01122).
Recognizing the critical importance of legible diving instruments, Panerai celebrates the 70th anniversary of the birth of Luminor, a patented tritium-based substance with luminescent properties, with an evocative limited edition model available in 70 pieces, and with a 70-year warranty*.
Available exclusively in Panerai boutiques around the world, the new Luminor Marina − 44mm Guillaume Néry Edition is a radical distillation of innovative aesthetic elements, like the rubberized coating applied to the bezel, crown and bridge lever; the accentuated convex glass and the dial with an evocative dégradé effect that emulates the shades produced as sunlight filters through the depths of the sea.
An expression of contemporary horology, the new model reflects the sophisticated approach to working with advanced materials cultivated by the Panerai Laboratorio di Idee, including DMLS (Direct Metal Laser Sintering) technology, which shapes titanium using a 3D printing process.
Caliber P.9010, a self-winding movement measuring only 6 mm thick and designed and developed entirely within the Panerai Manufacture in Neuchâtel, completes the new Luminor Marina 44mm − Guillaume Néry Edition. The movement is equipped with double barrels for a three-day power reserve and a quick time adjustment function that can move forward or backward in increments of one hour and is connected automatically to the date indicator.
Constantly in the search in innovative methodologies to maintain and improve the performance of its instruments, Panerai redefines the concept of a guarantee* by providing 70 years of coverage for the reference Luminor Marina 44mm − Guillaume Néry Edition.
Water-resistant up to 30 bar (about 300 meters deep), the Luminor Marina 44mm − Guillaume Néry Edition is equipped with a strap made from black recycled PET material with white stitching and a trapezoidal pin buckle. A white rubber technical strap, the very first to feature luminescent “Officine Panerai” personalization is included with each watch, along with a screwdriver to remove the buckle and a recycled plastic box engraved with the signature of Panerai ambassador Guillaume Néry. The caseback includes an engraving depicting the silhouette of the freediver and Ambassador Guillaume Néry.
Image credit – McKenna
*For further details on this warranty, please refer to the conditions as set forth in the limited international warranty that comes with the watch.