The Royal Italian Navy knows a thing or two about the need for a dive watch — which is why they turned to Italian watchmaker Panerai on the eve of World War II to outfit them with a durable diver to withstand the rigors of use by armed services.
This partnership started with the Radiomir and eventually yielded the Panerai Luminor 1950, a timepiece that has helped cast the foundation for Panerai while also becoming highly-adored throughout the watch world and beyond for its unique look.
The Luminor 1950 utilized many of the Radiomir’s details that were built for long durations underwater: a 47mm cushion-shaped steel case, luminescent numerals and indices, lugs made from the same block of steel as the case and the use of overlapping plates for the dial (known as sandwich construction).
Where the Luminor 1950 took the next step was the development of the crown-protecting bridge and lever. This advancement made the timepiece an ultimate tool watch for heavy use in the field and on the sea. It also created the iconic Panerai Luminor look that is recognized worldwide today and played a major role in the larger watch trend of the ’90s and early ’00s.
Not everyone can strap a 47mm watch on their wrist and make it work though. Sometimes the moment calls for a slimmer, more elegant watch that fits under a shirt cuff and leans to the dress style. Which is why Panerai saw the need to create a more versatile version of its iconic Luminor case. The Luminor Due 3 Days Automatic Acciaio 38mm is at the center of the latest Luminor Due Collection. It sports a case that’s nearly 40 percent slimmer than the original and is the first watch Panerai has ever made that is smaller than 40mm.
To do this, Panerai needed to rework the iconic Luminor design technically. Coming in at 11.2mm thick, the PAM00903 features a mechanical automatic calibre that offers a three-day power reserve. It also includes a subsidiary seconds counter at the 9 o’clock position.
Despite being placed in a smaller package, it still feels and looks like its siblings in the Panerai Luminor collection. The signature cushion-shaped case with the crown-protecting bridge and lever are part of the Panerai DNA and included in the slimmer timepiece. The case is made from AISI 316L polished steel for a sophisticated design and feel on the wrist.
The ivory dial of this model is not built in the sandwich-style Panerai fashion but instead offers blue Arabic numerals with applied luminous dots. The pencil-shaped hour and minute hands bring an elongated elegance to the dial that pairs nicely with the blue leather strap and its saffiano finish.
This strap also features another new Panerai innovation: a quick release strap changing system. The intuitive design makes switching out the strap without tools fast and easy — placing slight pressure on the back of the strap near the attachment does the trick. And reattaching a strap is just as effortless, further enhancing the versatility of this smaller Panerai timepiece.
Shrinking down an icon is no easy feat, and Panerai has done well in this pursuit to create a more adaptable watch that can fit under any shirt cuff or suit sleeve. The Luminor Due 3 Days Automatic Acciaio 38mm has the classic Panerai tool watch appearance but functions as a stylish dress watch, basically giving every wrist the best of both worlds.