Panerai Luminor Marina 44MM LE – Hot or Not?


Panerai Luminor Marina limited edition

TTAW’s regular contributors haven’t come to blows over their contrary views of a given watch. At least not yet. That’s probably due to a lack of alcohol consumption and the fact that we all live at least a thousand miles from one another. This time out, German resident Saad Chaudhry takes violent exception to my love of the new Panerai Luminor Marina 44mm Limited Editions . . .

Saad Chaudhry – Not Hot!

Holy lightcycles, Batman! Good taste seems to be derezzing with the release of the new Panerai Luminor Marina 44mm Limited Editions in titanium, Carbotech, and Fibrotech. The familiar shape is now guaranteed to 70 years and the limited editions are glow in the dark.

Luminescent material on watches is nothing new, but this is the first time a major and influential brand has let the lume (and common sense) escape beyond the dial. There may be some people who, being less interesting than most, wear what little personality they do have on their sleeve, literally. I’m not them.

Panerai Luminor on its side

All Panerai are dinosaurs. No one rides torpedoes anymore. Even if you felt compelled to, you certainly wouldn’t want to announce it. Stealth is key, and while the dark tones of the case materials in this trilogy help, everything else is aglow.

And I mean everything – from the stitching on the strap to the patented crown guard. Even the flange around the dial glows. Why? None of this assists in time telling and if the case size and iconic shape didn’t announce you as a tasteless fool who forked over the price of a good Italian motorcycle for a not-so-good Swiss-Made Italian wristwatch, the juvenile luminescence certainly will.

Robert Farago – Hot!

Speaking of Batman, here’s a fun fact: a young man in Georgia changed his name to Stately Wayne Manor. I know you live in Germany – a country that invented a word for taking pleasure in other people’s pain – but that’s funny! You remember fun, right?

The Panerai Luminor Marina 44mm Limited Editions are a gas. They trade Panerai’s pseudo-military shock and awe for childlike surprise and delight. They’re the horological equivalent of the technicolor POW! and BOFF!! punctuating the fight scenes in the 60’s Batman TV series.

I agree with you Saad: Panerai are dopey watches. And I’m still dealing with the fact that the company collaborated with the Nazis. But to paraphrase Winston Churchill, if your watches are dopey, make them dopier. What could be more ridiculous than a $20k jumbo Tron dive watch? They’re wonderful.

Panerai Luminor

And just so you know, Panerai isn’t the first major watch brand to trip the light fantastic dancing to a lumed band. The glow-in-the-dark Bell & Ross BR 03-92 puts the Panerai in the shade. Literally. All 250 pieces sold out within hours. Why? Because it’s fun! I know you have a degree in industrial design, but c’mon man, why so serious? 

Saad Chaudhry – What?

I remember fun! When I lived in Berlin, fun was all I had. I can’t be sure if any of it was even legal. But that’s what’s bugging me about this watch. It’s too exhibitionist even for a Panerai. Yes, I know, the Italians love to have fun too, something they (and I) have had to stop having these days.

In fact, some of the most fun I ever had was in Italy. But I do live in Germany and fun is mostly verboten here. Even in Berlin, where austerity goes down well. Good taste doesn’t need to announce itself because sensibility doesn’t glow in the dark. Who are you buying the watch for, anyway? 

Panerai Luminor alight

Look, I’m no stranger to glowy stuff but all of that was in my twenties. Now as I try to find balance in my thirties, I find it hard to see the appeal of a watch that wants to party all night. Besides, if I wanted a reminder of Berlin nightlife with its glow sticks and neon body parts, I’d visit Berlin again.

Trust me, that’s more fun. Trying something new and different is good. Taking risks is the foundation of discovery. However, Panerai needs to do a lot better than an imitation of a nightclub to call itself hot. In this guise, it’s looking less like discovery and more like rave gravy.

Robert Farago – My flash ain’t nothin’ but trash?

“Too exhibitionist for a Panerai” is like saying “too well hung for porn.” Actually, make that “too red for Ferrari.” No wait. “Too yellow for Ferrari.” Yeah, that’s it.

Once upon two divorces ago, I owned a red Ferrari F355. But I  have nothing but respect for buyers who stunt and flex their Maranello magic in gialla. Their screaming yellow Italian sports car says “look at me!” and “I don’t give a flying f*ck what you think.”

Panerai good to glow

The Panerai Luminor Marina 44mm Limited Editions send the same twin track message.

Don’t turn up your nose at the Panerais’ obvious aesthetic excess, and the obliviousness of the people parading it. Your German friends have a name for this sort of [highly collectible] thing: kitsch. The Oxford English Dictionary :

Art, objects, or design considered to be in poor taste because of excessive garishness or sentimentality, but sometimes appreciated in an  ironic or knowing way.

If you can look at these watches through this lense, you’ll share my appreciation for the Panerais’ neon sign design. If not, remind me not to take you to Graceland during International Elvis Tribute Week, where the Panerai would seem rather tame. Tasteful even.


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