In recent years, Panerai has changed tack — steering a little away from the purely hard-edged, masculine image that has characterised the brand’s more recent history with models like the Panerai Luminor Due and this flyback chronograph replica, made to celebrate Panerai’s partnership with the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge, or PCYC.
For a brand that was born on the wrists of Italian frogmen, the journey topside to the decks of classic yachts, and all the glamour associated with that, is a short and natural evolution, as the calm, confident and slightly retro-inspired Luminor 1950 cased watch proves. With its rich ivory-coloured dial, crisp black text and nautical tachymeter scale, the PCYC Flyback is as welcome as a fresh sea breeze on a balmy summer’s day. The good looks don’t end there though, with dot and hash hour markers — a departure from Panerai’s characteristic Arabic numerals — in warm vintage tones keeping the dial uncluttered, and the gold and blued steel hands adding a flash of colour. The slightly distressed Ponte Vecchio calf strap is a perfect stylistic match.
The caseback is solid, showing a broadside view of a classic yacht, which is something of a mixed blessing. This solid caseback is quite handsome (and indeed appropriate for a sporty, 100 metre-rated copy watch), but it does hide the equally handsome P.9100 movement from view. Luckily, the qualities of the Panerai’s first in-house automatic chronograph movement are self-evident: three days of power reserve, 28,800 beat rate, and of course the handy ability to reset and restart the chronograph with the single press of a button.
There will always be a place for iconic, uber-tough, brooding fake Panerai — those rock solid divers upon which the brand’s reputation was built. But there’s also space for this new, slightly more refined expression of the brand — ideally that space is the sun-drenched deck of a wooden boat, drifting on the Mediterranean Sea.