Size matters

I know that a lot of people don’t “get” Panerai. The company has taken some self-inflicted flak through the odd marketing faux-pas and a sometimes crazy pricing strategy, and I’ve heard a few people write the brand off on the basis that all of their models are “ugly”. Well, I’m no fanboy (hmmm… maybe I am, just a little) but I do think I’ve been very fortunate to have owned the much vaunted Luminor 233, and to still possess its equally sublime Radiomir cousin, the 268. These watches are wonderful, both in terms of the majesty of the three-barrelled, 8 day in-house movements and the very obvious build quality. What I’ve learned, though, is that for my relatively slim wrists the Radiomir range gives me a more comfortable fit.

The 268 is a 45mm watch, and whilst this is mitigated by the Radiomir lug design its still a relatively hefty beast. This, and some of the recent threads I’ve read over on TZ-UK regarding the smaller 42mm designs, prompted me to think seriously about adding a 337 or 338 to my collection, and a decision was made pretty swiftly when a member there posted a heads-up relating to some exceedingly rare discounts on new pieces that were available for a very limited time. The following day I’d paid for a brand new 337, and today it arrived in a rather hefty package that I barely had a chance to open before leaving the office and heading home. Obviously, the watch is now on my wrist, and very, very pleased I am too.

The 337 is part of Panerai’s “Historic” range. Inside is the calibre P999/1 – a hand-wound mechanical movement beating at 21,600 alternations/hour, executed entirely by Panerai and measuring 12 lignes and 3 mm thick. It has 19 jewels, a Glucydur balance, Incabloc anti-shock device, a power reserve of 60 hours and 144 individual components. It really is rather pretty…

The fantastically clear dial is has subsidiary seconds at 9, and aside from that features what I think is Panerai’s wonderful sandwich construction. The lume on both dial and hands is inordinately bright, and the impression of the whole in terms of fit and finish is one of quality and heft.

The thing I’m really pleased about is the size. My wrist is about 6.75″ and the 42mm case wears absolutely perfectly. Because it’s also relatively slim it fits under a shirt cuff without any problem at all, and will therefore serve perfectly as both a dressy and casual watch. (I know a lot of people feel that 42mm is too small for a Panerai, but to be honest that kind of judgement can only be made on the basis of wrist size; I’m sure those with 8-9″ wrists may well prefer the larger cases, but it’s horses for courses in my view.)

Anyway, that’s enough rambling, so here’s a few photos that hopefully convey what a beautiful watch this is. And those of you that haven’t yet tried a Panerai – don’t write them off without giving them a chance. The two ranges (Luminor and Radiomir) and so different that there’s really little comparison, and the quality and finish may just surprise you!

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