Capitalizing on its past and resisting any temptation to stray from the essential features that made its watches different from all the rest, Panerai embodies giving tribute to previous models. We talk about Rolex’s approach to that here. Some of the features that scream Panerai are: the sandwich dials, the cushion cases and the patented crown locking device. Panerai products are made and marketed from a historical perspective, so let’s take a look at the history of the Panerai Mare Nostrum - as it’s quite a unique Panerai model. We previously covered Panerai’s history of a company here and here.
The phrase Mare Nostrum translates to “Our Sea” and references the Mediterranean waters where the Italian Navy operated during World War II. The phrase originally stems from the Roman conquest of Egypt and Spain, but it was adopted by Panerai as a name for their torpedo timers.
The Panerai Mare Nostrum is the first chronograph produced by Panerai. It was first created in 1943 for the Italian Navy. The first Panerai Mare Nostrum was a whopping 52mm. In 1942, the Italian Navy requested Panerai release a chronograph for their deck officers to be used as torpedo timers. By 1943, a small number of prototypes were released. With a seaweed green dial, this model never went into production because the Allies invaded Italy in 1943. So, these first models are incredibly rare.
In 1993, with the rebirth of Panerai, the model was revived in a 42mm case with the reference 5218-301/A. There were 990 watches produced which include several dozen Slyvester Stallone models. It was the first Panerai without a black dial. Though it was smaller than the Mare Nostrum prototype. The steel case housed a basic modular movement.
*The Vendome group acquired Panerai a few years later. All watch models made prior to this are called pre-Vendome. All these models came on watch straps with large buckles nicknamed the “bottle opener” or “fancy” buckle. These included the Slytechs - limited edition watches commissioned or endorsed by Slyvester Stalone. But, we’ll talk about those models in another article.
The original Panerai Mare Nostrum was used as inspiration for the Mare Nostrum that was launched at SIHH in 2010. Only 99 pieces of the PAM300 were made.
In 2015, Panerai launched another Panerai Mare Nostrum at SIHH with a 52mm case as well. Made of titanium instead of stainless steel - it followed the previous Mare Nostrum’s construction of a screw-down case-back. The dial is two-tiered with a chocolate brown hue. It houses a hand-wound Minerva calibre which is highly unusual because Minerva movements are owned by Montblanc. With the solid case back, the movement, a true gem, remains hidden.
Then, the 42mm Mare Nostrum PAM716 was released in 2017. It resurrected the past design as well. It is a remake of the pre-Vendome* ref. 5218-301A. Limited to 1,000 pieces, they are packaged in a large box with a model of the Italian navy destroyer Luigi Durand De La Penne - which is a vessel where the original Panerai Mare Nostrum 5218-301A was unveiled in 1993. The PAM716 has since been discontinued.
The Panerai Mare Nostrum is a distinctive timepiece in comparison to Panerai’s other models. With so few available, it’s sure to be on any Panerai collectors’ dream list. You can read more about how to buy a pre-owned watch here. It seems every so often, Panerai decides to launch a new Mare Nostrum model with a limited supply, so we have hope we may see it again soon.