Watches: Panerai Pocket Watch 3 Days Oro Bianco & Oro Rosso (+live pics)

By Thierry Ané on June 11, 2014

Ever since their development in the 16th century to the time of World War One, pocket watches were not only the most popular type of portable time-telling device, they were also an integral part of gentleman’s fashion and a status symbol. Priorities were different in the trenches, however, and digging a timepiece out of one’s pocket seemed an impractical way of reading the time: adding a strap to allow the watch to be worn on the wrist made more sense. From this point, the popularity of wristwatches never faded and pocket watches became an anachronistic object at odds with our daily lives.

However, the recent smartphone revolution set up a new deal as people no longer rely on watches to know the time: they would rather look at their portable electronic devices. Stripped from its primary function, the watch becomes once again a fashion accessory, something solely useful to express our values and vouch for your success. In this context, nothing prevented the comeback of pocket watches. Paradoxically enough, they appeared even more in sync with our new habits than wristwatches: after all, isn’t the gesture required for us to take them out of our pocket and read the time similar to the automatic reflex we caught while reaching for our smartphones for the same purpose?

This dandy’s relic from days long gone thus made a surprising comeback in the collections of the most renowned manufactures. Regarded as the ultimate timepiece for refined watch connoisseurs, pocket watches are no longer synonym with antiquated objects and outdated technologies: they have become the perfect platform for high-end brands to showcase their expertise and convey their values.

Last year, Officine Panerai offered its first take on the pocket watch with the Pocket Watch Tourbillon GMT. Crafted in matt black ceramic with a skeleton movement that reveals all its inner workings, this stealth first interpretation of the pocket watch reminded how contemporary and technical this brand can be. With the Pocket Watch 3 Days Oro Bianco (PAM 529) and Oro Rosso (PAM 447) unveiled this year, though, the Neuchâtel-based manufacture revealed another side of its immense know-how: an immense respect for tradition and for the brand’s history as well as a unique ability to bring refreshing interpretations of its most iconic designs.

These imposing 50 mm models feature the brand’s legendary Radiomir case in white gold or red gold. For these pocket watch versions, the classic wire loop strap attachments of the cushion-shaped case have been replaced by a single bow arched over the conical winding crown at 12 o’clock. This is where you secure the beautiful 40 cm long chain with nautical design crafted in the same gold as the case. Following the pocket watch tradition, the perfectly polished case also features a hunter’s case back: the large round cover that can be customized with the family’s crest or any other engravings can thus be opened to reveal the movement.

Inside these watches beats the manually-wound in-house P.3001/10 calibre. It offers 3 days of power reserve and features a sectorial power reserve indicator on the back with a SuperLuminova-coated hand for maximum legibility. This new version of the P.3001 movement received a great deal of decorative work including highly skeletonised bridges and barrels or chamfered polished edges. Overall, the spectacle you get when you pop the back open oozes Haute Horology and reminds us that this brand with Italian roots is now one of the most reputable Swiss manufactures.

The beauty of these watches is not limited to the back, though, as they both feature a handsome face in pure Panerai style with baton hour markers except for Arabic numerals at the cardinal points. The dial of the Oro Bianco model is anthracite with a sunray finish and that of the Oro Rosso pocket watch is brown with the same finish. They both use the brand’s legendary sandwich construction with two superimposed discs: the ecru SuperLuminova that covers the lower disc shines through the apertures of the upper disc corresponding to the hour markers. Immediately recognisable and highly legible these beautiful dials also stand out for their remarkable sense of depth. They also prove that the more successful and long-lasting designs are sometimes the simplest.

These exceptional timepieces are limited to 50 units in each colour of gold. They come in an exquisite mahogany box that also includes a special stand on which the watch can be placed when it is not worn, transforming it into a stunning table clock. The white gold PAM 529 will retail for US$ 75,700 and the sticker price for the PAM 447 in red gold is US$ 71,800.

The price can seem excessive at first but they are absolutely worth it. Literally first, as they use a significant amount of gold (as evidenced by their weight). Then of course, because they are beautifully crafted with a great movement and an outstanding finish (the polish of the case alone is worth the price tag!). With their purity of lines and timeless design, these pocket watches brilliantly epitomise Panerai’s values. There is no better way of feeling like a 21st century Beau Brummel than pulling one of these marvels from your pocket to read the time. It beats any smartphone anytime!

For a technical description of the timepieces and additional pictures:

Additional timepiece mentioned in this article: