HANDS-ON: The Panerai Radiomir Otto Giorni brings a new case finish to the collectionFergus Nash
Panerai are generally not a brand to depart from their established successes, usually riffing around the same ideas for years with subtle tweaks and colour options. That’s not a bad thing by any means, as the jumbo-sized cushion case watches are as iconic as they come. However, every now and again, they break some new ground, and the Panerai Radiomir Otto Giorni has opened up a new aesthetic direction for the Italian powerhouse with the Brunito, or burnished case finish.
The name Panerai inspires a certain kind of rugged image, and the Radiomir Otto Giorni encapsulates the feel of a vintage tool. If I were to imagine combing through the wreckage of a submarine and finding a bashed-up toolbox, I may expect to find something like the Radiomir Otto Giorni inside. The case is still made from Panerai’s recycled eSteel which features on many of their newer models, but it’s been given a special kind of PVD coating known as Brunito. That’s the Italian word for burnished, and although burnishing typically makes a metal shinier, here it looks like some kind of dark acid corrosion. This way, you get the effect of decades of tarnishing without any actual structural damage to the case.
Panerai watches are usually larger than life in many senses, but the Radiomir Otto Giorni is thankfully toned down from some of their bulkier or historic releases. The 45mm diameter is eased by the soft edges of the cushion shape, and the petite wire lugs ensure a comfortable fit on the average wrist with a 48mm lug-to-lug length. A height of 12.5mm also sits nicely, carrying a lot of presence without feeling overly bulky.
Panerai had already invented Radiomir as a luminous compound to be used in gun sights in the 1910s, but it was the ‘30s when they teamed up with Rolex to produce watches for the Royal Italian Navy. To combat the extreme murkiness of harbour waters, the dial had to be as large and legible as possible. That collaboration birthed the beloved Panerai aesthetic, but the Radiomir evolved into further simplicity. This modern execution does its best to capture the spirit of the vintage models, but undoubtedly has contemporary touches. The fumé dial is one, with a rough, stippled texture and tinted edges surrounding either a blue or brown centre.
The sandwich construction allows for a great sense of depth and long-lasting glow of the faux-aged luminous layer, the creamy tones adding the the impression of age. At 9 o’clock, a leaf-shaped small seconds display mirrors the printed circle advertising the 8-day power reserve in Italian. Adding an extra vintage touch are the blued hands, segmented on the hour for after-dark differentiation.
Paired with the Panerai Radiomir Otto Giorni is an Austrian-made calf leather strap, either in brown or blue depending on the watch. The upper surface is smooth but dynamic in its colouring, and the exposed stitching grants it an old and rugged look akin to that of a well-loved tool belt. The 27mm lug width may make finding aftermarket straps difficult, but if you want to take advantage of the 100m water resistance with a rubber strap then the wire lugs can be easily removed thanks to screws in the caseback.
The Panerai P.5000 movement really isn’t much to look at from the sapphire display caseback, because most of it is covered up by a horizontally brushed plate. However, there is a window which opens up to the balance wheel so you have something to stare at when turning the case around. It’s manually wound, keeping the case relatively slender, with a total thickness of just 4.5mm. The secret to its eight-day power reserve is having two mainspring barrels and a slow beat rate of 21,600 vibrations per hour, which may make the seconds hand sweep less smoothy, but does help to increase the service interval.
The Panerai Radiomir Otto Giorni pricing and availability:
The Panerai Radiomir Otto Giorni is now available from Panerai’s website and retailers. Price: A$14,800
|Model||Radiomir Otto Giorni|
|Case Dimensions||45mm (D) x 12.5mm (T) x 48mm (LTL)|
|Water Resistance||100 metres|
|Dial||Brown or blue|
|Strap||Brown or blue calf leather|
|Power Reserve||8 days|
|Functions||Hours, minutes, small seconds|