As mentioned in a previous article, Panerai is no stranger to pushing the boundaries of their brand with new cutting edge designs and materials. A few weeks ago, we covered some of the unique materials Panerai uses in their watch cases. If you missed it, you can find it here! Today, we’re going to dive into part two of the quick look into Panerai case materials.
Introduced in 2015, Carbotech made its debut with the release of the PAM 616. Up until then, this material has never been seen in watchmaking. Carbotech is created by taking layers of carbon fiber and compressing them with immense amounts of pressure along with a material called Polyether Ether Ketone. The process leaves Panerai with blocks of their Carbotech material that can then be shaped to create their cases, bezels, and crown guards. Aesthetically- Carbotech is a dark material with a marbling effect and each case has its own unique look from the manufacturing process. Physically- it’s extremely lightweight, virtually corrosion proof, and hypoallergenic. Since 2015, Panerai has used this material in nearly a dozen models and most recently in its ‘70 years of Luminor limited edition PAM 1118.
Just like the Carbotech, BMG-TECH was a new material released exclusively by Officine Panerai. Making its debut in 2017, BMG-TECH was first seen in the PAM 692. BMG is short for Bulk Metallic Glass. A liquid alloy composed of zirconium, nickel, titanium, and aluminum is subjected to immense amounts of pressure and heat and then cooled rapidly. This rapid cooling causes the atoms within the material to align in a random state. While BMG is technically a glass alloy, the random atom alignment makes the material harder, lighter, and more scratch resistant than steel. Unlike most steel alternatives (ceramic, titanium, carbotech), BMG-TECH is an alternative that closely resembles steel. It has the look and polishable characteristics of stainless steel while remaining harder, lighter, and shatter resistant. It is said to be able to withstand an elevated fall onto a hard surface without shattering. Other steel alternatives (ex. ceramic) are harder and more scratch resistant than steel, but run the risk of shattering when falling from a certain height.
Titanium is no stranger to the watch industry. Omega, IWC, Breitling, and all other brands in-between have released various models in titanium. However, no one does it quite like Panerai. Showcased in this year’s release of the PAM 1117, Panerai uses a 3-D printing technique called Direct Metal Laser Sintering (or DMLS). During this process, Panerai uses titanium powder and their DMLS technique to form a case where sections can be left hollow. Something that is impossible to do when forming a case from a traditional block of titanium. This technique yields a case with exceptional strength to weight ratio as the PAM 1117 weighs only 100 grams (3.5 oz) with the strap included!
Fibratech is the latest innovation from Panerai’s Laboratorio di idee. The material is made from basalt rock fibers. Basalt rocks are formed when lava rich in magnesium and iron cool rapidly. These fibers along with other polymers are put through a process where the temperature and pressure are controlled meticulously. The materials combine through the process and yield a composite material that is 60% lighter than steel, 100% resistant to corrosion, and textured with a matte grey color. Similar to the Carbotech, each Fibratech watch will have its own unique look as each section of the source material differs from the next. Fibratech made its debut in the spring of 2020 with the release of the ‘70 years of Luminor collection. More specifically, with the release of the PAM 1119. Since then, Panerai released a second model with this material which can be seen in the PAM 1663.
Written by Patrick Bernardez