Panerai’s Blacked-Out Luminor Is One of Its Best Releases This Year

Featuring a pared-down dial, a titanium case and a super-long power reserve.

I’ve got to hand it to Panerai: they’ve done a remarkable job of translating their Luminor design language into a multitude of different watches with unique personalities. Want a classic, vintage-inspired diver? Panerai makes that. Want a technical-looking diver with science-y materials? they makes that. Want a complication-stuffed, horlogical masterpiece? Or a slim dress watch? They makes both of those, too. The brand’s latest take on the Luminor feels like it’s caught somewhere in the middle of all these tropes, and for that, it’s a winner.

The (deep breath) Panerai Luminor California 8 Days DLC PAM00779 succeeds in many ways. It bases itself on the 44mm Luminor case design (which is definitely not small), but it’s wearable and restrained as far as Panerai watches go. It’s made from titanium, and the use of DLC coating gives an otherwise vintage-style watch a bit of a modern edge. The Luminor also features a “California” dial, characterized by a combination of Roman and Arabic numerals. This was a hallmark on some early Panerai military divers, and the watchmaker was wise to leave off any branding, keeping the dial simple, authentic and purpose-driven.

The movement inside is Panerai’s in-house P.5000, a hand-winder with a massive eight-day power reserve. It’s a relatively simple movement, free of any complications, but it’s a well-engineered movement that’s not only superlative in its power reserve but is actually useful, too. Oh, and the whole package is rated water-resistant to 300 meters.

The overall result is a watch that’s emblematic of much of what Panerai has come to represent in its modern era: high-end, but utilitarian, old-school but with a modern sensibility. When the watch goes on sale, it’ll retail for around $9,250 (7,900 euro).

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