Superlatives should be used sparingly in watchmaking –especially mechanical watchmaking, which is (to put it mildly) a mature technology, having been evolving for over five centuries; they should especially be used sparingly when characterizing mechanical innovations, which, one often suspects, are there more to give watch fans and writers something to talk and write about than because they add any real functional advantage or inherent intellectual interest to a watch.
But we think this new regatta timer from Panerai deserves the praise; it’s one of the most interesting watches from Panerai in years, and while many hardcore Paneristi will (justifiably) continue to find themselves attracted to the mechanically simpler Panerai models that are an undiluted shot of nostalgia, it’s great to see Panerai –with its history of nautical enterprise –making one of the most useful and aesthetically successful regatta watches in the world.
Let’s review the context: a yacht race begins with the competing sailboats at the starting line, but, wind and water being what they are, the boats can’t just sit at the starting line; they’re in constant motion, and the challenge for every captain is to get his boat across the starting line after the starting gun goes off –cross the line early and you’re penalized, but play it too safe and you’ll cross later than the competition and end up too far behind to have any hope of making up the time. It’s not too much to say that yacht races are to a large extent won or lost at the starting line –which is why a means of timing the critical interval between the sound of the warning gun and the sound of the starting gun is so essential.
Panerai’s regatta timer can be custom-set to count down any warning/starting interval; the orange colored pusher at four o’clock moves the central orange chronograph minute hand back from zero in one minute increments. Once the zero mark is reached and the race starts, the chronograph can be left running to time the actual race. If necessary, hitting the re-set button (at 8:00) can either zero the chronograph, or, if it’s running when the re-set button’s depressed, operate the flyback function. A tachymetric scale allows measurement of average speed over a measured distance.
It’s water resistant to 100 meters as well, and fitted with Panerai’s patented Luminor crown locking mechanism. It’s one of the most sensible, versatile, and handsome versions of this unusual complication we’ve ever seen and, like any really well designed tool watch, we think it’ll have an appeal much broader than the specific domain for which it was designed.
The Panerai Luminor 1950 Regatta 3 Days Chrono Flyback Titanio is offered in brushed titanium, with a rubber strap. Regatta countdown timer and flyback chronograph with tachymetric scale; movement Panerai in-house calibre P9100/R. Reference PAM00526. For pricing and availability, contact Panerai (www.panerai.com.)