It might seem like it, but Panerai was not the first company to make a bronze watch when they launched the Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 Bronzo PAM 382 in 2011. Instead, that honour goes to legendary watch designer Gerald Genta, who created the Gefica Safari in 1984 for a trio of hunters.
That said, the Panerai Bronzo PAM 382 was the OG that started the new Bronze Age in watchmaking, and launched a craze that saw many other brands jumping on board to make timepieces that looked like they might have been built for seafarers centuries ago.
In spite of the many contenders that have followed, however, the Bronzo continues to hold its own, as it proves once again with its fifth and latest iteration, the Submersible Bronzo Blu Abisso PAM 1074. For the first time, the Bronzo has been made in a much more wearable case size of 42mm instead of 47mm, following the presumed success of the 42mm Submersible models launched in recent years.
Not to worry, hardcore Panerai fans: Looks-wise, PAM 1074 is still far removed from Luminor Due territory (just to clarify, we aren’t opposed to the Luminor Due, but we know many old-school Paneristi aren’t fans of the brand’s slimmer, dressier timepieces). At 42mm in diameter and a thickness of 14.37mm, the new Bronzo still looks like what it is — a dive watch designed to be able to descend 300m in open water. The main difference is that more people can now wear this timepiece without stressing out about dreaded wrist overhang. (Whether you get to put your name down for this 1,000-pieces-a-year model is another story.)
Powered by Panerai’s automatic P.900 movement (incidentally, the same movement used in the Luminor Due timepieces), the PAM 1074 has the distinctive qualities that make the Bronzo so popular. Most of all, Panerai’s reddish bronze, which is made using a phosphor bronze that is mostly copper with some tin. The material looks like the dictionary description of what bronze was meant to be, as compared to some of the wishy-washy, cooler-toned bronzes you get with some brands. It is perfectly complemented by the rugged Submersible case with unidirectional rotating bezel and crown guard, and a matte, deep blue dial accented with indexes and dots filled with beige lume.
For those who do manage to get their hands on one, the fun part will be watching the patination process. In 2019, Bronzo PAM 968 owner Rodrigo Becerra shared with us that he “used this watch for everything — travelling, swimming or going to the gym”. After owning and actively using the watch for six months, he noted that the case had “changed with a certain uniformity; it’s not patchy like with some other bronze watches”.
A final point he shared, though, highlights what makes bronze watches so special for its owners: “It’s mine and nobody else will have the same watch. Bronze is a living metal that ages and changes with you. It will change according to my lifestyle – whether I travel a lot, or go to the gym a lot. It’s similar with scratches. There’s a little ding here on the case where I dropped it, and I haven’t been able to remove it, but it’s all mine.”
The Submersible Bronzo Blu Abisso comes on a blue suede leather strap and is sold with a second rubber strap. It retails for S$22,700.