Panerai Radiomir 512 - Overview
There’s some sort of poetic injustice in the fact that a couple of weeks before I leave for Rome I get a Panerai in for review that I, in all likelihood, won’t be able to keep. Panerai was originally a Florence based watch maker that that produced diving instruments primarily for the Italian navy. There are two fundamental genres of watches from Panerai, the Luminor known by it’s large crown guard, and the Radiomir known by it’s simplicity (and large onion crown). I have almost always been attracted to the Luminors in the past, but this Radiomir has me completely smitten… but before we get too far into that let’s go over some specs:
Lug to Lug: 48.8mm
Weight: 2.9oz on OEM strap
If anyone can accuse Panerai of having a fault in the fit of their watches it would be due to size. They have cases that range from 42 (the smallest I know of) to much larger. They can be thick, and they can be bulky. Panerai is often worn and thought of as a statement watch, you want it to jump off your wrist and smack someone in the face with it’s Paneri-ness. The 512 is not that sort of Panerai. Clad in a 42mm steel case and using one of PAM’s thinnest hand winding movements this sucker sits lean and low on the wrist. It still retains that Panerai wrist presence but not at the expense of comfort. That is one of the many reasons that I am gobsmacked by this piece.
Panerai put their Cal 999/1 hand winding movement into the PAM512. This is a very reliable movement, and also Panerai’s thinnest. It offers a large amount of adjustment for any regulation needs. Now, the real shining attribute of the 999/1 is it’s beautiful decoration. Once you flip the 512 over you see it’s intricately beating heart.
Dial, Bezel, and Crystal:
The 512 has a beautiful sandwich dial with a layer of vintage-styled lume underneath. I’ve always though that sandwich dials give watch faces a depth and dimension that sets itself apart from other timepieces. The hands are polished steel, with vintage applied lume. Sub-second dial at 9 o’clock. The one gripe I have with most Panerais is that with the way they layout the markers, it’s a little… imprecise? It’s probably perfectly adequate, but I find some satisfaction in syncing it with the National Institute of Standards and Technology clock. The crystal is nicely ARed and domed sapphire crystal. Pretty standard, but worth noting.
Panerais come, generally speaking, on leather straps with large v-style buckles. The example I have has a blue suede strap with a polished buckle. It’s super comfortable. I find that on my 7.25” wrist the OEM panerai straps are a squish small. I’d opt for one of my buddy Greg Steven’s straps if it was me.
I thought my days of Panerai were over, I’ve owned a 380 and a 312 in the past and thought I was pretty much done…. but man this 512 has stolen my horological heart. The 1940’s case styling and display back, plus the sammich dial are an amazing mix. I couldn’t recommend this piece more. If you’re interested in purchasing this particular watch, it’s available from Azton Jewelers (as of the writing of this article), or you can message Alfred FNFZ4 on any of the major watch forums.