Since the 1930s, Officine Panerai has evolved from its dive-watch roots, to a fashion icon, to a manufacture. With the new Radiomir 1940 Minute Repeater Carillon Tourbillon GMT, announced today after two years of development at Panerai’s state-of-the-art manufacture in Neuchâtel, the company has proven it can build ultra-high-complication watches as well. The PAM00600 is the most complex watch they’ve ever made.
First of all, the name. A “carillon” is a musical instrument consisting of specially tuned bells, usually made from bronze, that can play melodies. This minute repeater has three gongs instead of the usual two found in most repeaters; when it chimes, a low tone marks hours, a high tone marks minutes, and a third tone provides a melodic “bridge” when chiming 10-minute intervals. Optimum tonality is achieved by the use of red gold for the case, which consists of two halves soldered together to maximize the open space for acoustics.
Perhaps the most striking thing about the PAM00600 is the fact that it is actually a dual repeater, meaning it can chime the hours and minutes for two different time zones. This is, after all, a GMT watch, with a second hour hand indicating home time, and a day/night indicator in the 3:00 subdial. The time zone chimed by the repeater is indicated by the apertures below the 9:00 subdial. A red disc displays either “HT” or “LT” (Home Time or Local Time), telling you which time you will hear when the repeater is activated. Instead of a traditional slide to arm the repeater, the PAM00600 has a pushbutton, located at the 8:00 position on the case, to activate the chimes. Switching between the two time zones is done by pressing the push-piece that is co-axial to the winding crown.
As if a dual time zone carillon repeater isn’t enough, this watch has a tourbillon — and not an ordinary one. The “whirlwind” mechanism, designed to cancel out the effects of gravity, rotates in a 30-second cycle, and its cage is actually mounted on an axis that is perpendicular to the plane of the balance, a Panerai-patented innovation. Panerai claims that the higher rotation rate and orientation of the tourbillon contribute to enhanced timekeeping regulation.
The skeletonized dial and clear case back, plus matte black bridges, show off Panerai’s typical workmanlike movement finishing and the functioning of the repeater. The case is large, even for Panerai, at 49mm. Unusually, is water resistant to 30 meters.
All told, the PAM00600 Radiomir 1940 Minute Repeater Carillon Tourbillon GMT serves as a flagship for a brand that has, in just a few decades, gone from a trendy watch for action stars to a legitimate builder of high complications. It will only be made to order (starting at $395,000), personalized for those fortunate (and wealthy) enough, with different options for straps, engravings and possibly case materials.