Introducing The New Panerai Submersible Elux LAB-ID PAM01800 Watch

Panerai's newest watch uses electrical power to light the way.


We see quite a few new watches released annually here at WristReview, and while we can’t cover them all, we do our best to bring you the highlights. There are undoubtedly loads of watches which innovate in one small way or another, it’s usually building on the success of something (or someone) else. That’s the modus operandi for watchmaking, actually, but it works. Panerai has a long history of making instruments for professionals, military professionals to be precise. They’ve been making things for the Italian armed forces for decades, way longer than they’ve been selling to civilians like you and me, so their rich heritage is the perfect base for a new innovation.

Panerai’s new Submersible Elux LAB-ID PAM01800 watch results from 8 years of research and development at the brand’s factory in Neuchâtel, Switzerland. The watch builds on the successful heritage of their diving watches while taking things to the next level. The case measures 49mm across and is made of the brand’s newest material, Ti-Ceramitech. The product of 7 years of research by Panerai’s materials science team, Ti-Ceramitech is a titanium blend that uses Plasma Electrolytic Oxidation to produce a ceramic-like outer layer using electric currents. Check this link for a peer-reviewed study of the process; it’s quite fascinating. The watch’s water resistance is 500m.

The cool material isn’t the main focus of the new watch, though. It’s the dial and hands—well, sort of. The dial is quite simple, with classic blue-and-white-on-black, which Panerai does a lot with its Submersible range. The hands are, however, oddly thick, and there’s a cutout on the dial marked “Power Light.” These are deliberate glimpses into what’s happening here: electrical lighting in a mechanical diving watch.

Stacked from 16 images. Method=B (R=8,S=10)

Now, this isn’t the first time that a brand has illuminated an otherwise mechanical watch using an electrical light source, but it might well be the cleverest way of doing it. This isn’t one LED lighting up the dial or one of those impractical wind-up battery torches; no, the generator for the watch’s power is located within the movement.

The in-house calibre P.9010/EL is 10.9mm thick, yet it sports a three-day power reserve, a 4Hz beat rate, and six barrels, with a total component count of 363. Two of those barrels are used for the watch’s timekeeping while the other four are used for the Power Light.

Flicking up the patented safety guard at eight O’clock on the case and pressing the pusher activates the 8.0mm x 2.3mm microgenerator; a stator rotates at 80 revolutions per second and generates an electrical signal. This is sent to the light sources behind the dial markers, inside the hands and, cleverly, within the bezel pip. Panerai isn’t telling us how they managed to conduct electricity to the bezel without ruining the watch’s water resistance, but they say it functions just like any other unidirectional bezel would. The microgenerator provides up to 30 minutes of electrical light, long enough for most sporting-type dives. There’s also SuperLumiNova X2 on the hands, markers and bezel, the latest and brightest generation of glow-in-the-dark paint.

I hope we can get our hands on one of these soon. It seems like Panerai is showing no signs of slowing down its innovation. Perhaps the craziest part of this is that this isn’t the first time Panerai’s made an Elux (elettroluminescenza) watch. Their first crack at it was back in 1966, and it was used on instruments used by the Italian Navy, which is why there isn’t a huge amount of awareness about this system if it’s still in use in some way. This new watch is currently limited to 150 examples worldwide, with 50 being made annually. It’ll sell for $96,300 or £76,800 with VAT included.