Panerai Radiomir Eilean


Panerai Radiomir Eilean moneyshot

I’m not a huge fan of huge watches. Panerais in particular. The Swiss-masquerading-as-Italian brand’s willingness to stray from dive watch design does nothing to flick my BIC. Panerai’s anything goes product development strategy reached its nadir with the Submersible EcoPangaea™ Tourbillon GMT. (Imagine Rolex making a Submariner Tourbillon GMT.) All that said, the Panerai Radiomir Eilean floats my boat . . .

For the record, there are two main reasons not to buy this 45mm watch. First, it’s eight grand.

You can pick up a 41mm OMEGA Seamaster 300 Master Co-Axial Chronometer on a sexy AF steel bracelet for $6800. (Or less). The OMEGA lacks andatura spavalda, but the diver offers top notch horology, classic good looks and brick shit house construction. And it doesn’t come with a Nazi past.

Reason two: the Panerai Radiomir Eilean sports a brown scamosciato strap.

As elegant as it is, the suede strap says “dive watch” like a Sherman tank says “track day.” It’s yet another example of the inauthenticity which has infected Panerai since 1997, when The Richemont Group added the brand to their portfolio.

It seems a shame to Scotchguard the strap, but the Eilean is named after an ocean-going yacht. “Eilean” is Scottish for “small island.” It’s pronounced like the nomenclature describing our extraterrestrial overlords. Yeah, about that yacht . . .

The eponymous Eilean gained worldwide fame/notoriety as the setting for Duran Duran’s Rio music video – a production that kicks-off with vaginal close-ups and doesn’t get a lot better from there.

[Hopeless pedants (guilty as charged) note that the song specifically references the Rio Grande – the river running between Mexico and the United States. The song’s naughty, not nautical.]

Panerai Radiomir Eilean caseback

Panerai’s presser says nothing about the sailboat’s New wave past. It focuses on the fact that a famous Scottish boatbuilder constructed the Eilean in 1936 – the same year Panerai launched the Radiomir. The yacht was launched in 1937. But the watch is too cute to quibble.

The Panerai Radiomir Eilean is a sandwich-dialed minimalist marvel. Its wire lugs take us back to a simpler, more mustard gassy time, when World War I soldiers started wearing ladies’ wristwatches. When case screw alignment wasn’t a thing, apparently. Anyway, all hands on deck!

Panerai Radiomir Eilean side view

The Radiomir Eilean’s hands rotate atop horizontal panels modeled after its inspiration’s top deck. Like the previous gen Aqua Terra, the stripes run vertically. Right answer! Everyone knows horizontal stripes make you look fat. The dragon engraving on the watch’s hull mimics the design on the boat’s hull. So there is that.

Panerai’s in-house P.6000 caliber movement blesses the Eilean with a three-day power reserve. Its 10ATM water resistance is sufficient for surface swimming and shallow snorkeling but aw hell no for diving. The activity that once defined the Panerai brand.

Panerai Radiomir Eilean lume

Never mind. I love the way the Panerai Radiomir Eilean looks! Its patinated steel steals my heart. As a lumatic, I’m all about the horological night light’s lighthouse-like [non-radioactive] glow. For me, this is the Panerai that best captures the “less is more” spirit of modern Italian design.

It’s not a limited edition watch. Panerai’s making 449 Eileans per year for an unspecified number of years (449 being the Eilean’s sail number). The Panerai Radiomir Eilean isn’t particularly brand faithful or practical for aquatic activities. And it is expensive. But the watch is beautifully proportioned and stylish.

In short, I’d have one. Duran Duran warned me that “these moments of madness are sure to pass,” but why would they start now?


  1. Is the embroidery yarn serging on the band supposed to evoke rustic shipmaking or what? I don’t get it. It looks more like catgut on a birch bark canoe. Other than that and the debossed name on the side of the case, it’s pretty tasteful if you like the big ones.

  2. Panerai is cool (or was who knows with prices now) to buy on the secondary market, for pennies (with previous owners well deserved tears dried on them) on the overspent dollar.

    Cool if you are into the pretend Italian make every possibly silly watch thing, that Robbie points out. To each their own. Panerai has some cool stuff, especially if you like random things like case back power reserves on dive watches. Not a lot of alternatives options there.

    But this thing especially? 45mm, no display caseback, a suede f’in strap. Put it on the list of watches that if i saw you wearing, I’d want to make your acquaintance. Just to find out what sort of mind it takes to buy a 45mm Panerai on a suede strap.

    Also Nazi past, again and really, Robbie? That’d be a rather long list to get righteous about and for people to be tempted point out your attempts at strutting your (non-vogue topic anymore, also) virtue signaling.

    • I’ve heard that the counterfeits are way too good, so any used Panerai is a crapshoot. Then again, when the fake is indistinguishable, does authenticity even matter?

  3. “And it doesn’t come with a Nazi past.”

    The Nazis wore and bought a lot of watches. The reality is that whatever Nazi past Panerai had it is now under completely different ownership as just another brand in the portfolio of South African fashion watch company Richemont.

    Panerai is not even the Richemont brand with the closest Nazi ties. Adolph Lange & Söhne and IWC Schaffhausen officially participated in the Nazi air force watch program, Hitler bought is best buds Langes, and IWC still strongly leverages the Nazi air force designs for its pilot watches.

    If there is a reason to avoid Richemont it is that Richemont was founded and is still run and controlled by a family that built its wealth on apartheid by working closely with the pro-apartheid National Party.

    Another reason to avoid Richemont is that it is a cheesy branding company with little respect for watchmaking.

    The cushion shape Panerai’s (a Rolex case design) without the ugly crown lock are some of the least offensive Panerais (although still wildly overpriced). However, aside from the goofy co-branding this watch has a really ugly strap and a really ugly dial that looks like some idiot painted is hardwood floors instead of staining them.

    If someone is looking for Italian minimalism Unimatic is a much better choice.

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