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4 weeks ago

Light on Demand: Panerai Unveils Submersible Elux LAB-ID

With an innovative 30-minute power light feature, this latest release from Panerai uses a four-patent system.

By Toby Louch

Over the years, Italian watchmaker Panerai has garnered an impressive reputation for delving into its extensive back catalog and releasing watches that are inspired by its deep history of innovation. Aside from impressive timekeeping, it’s the field of luminescence where Panerai particularly excels. The latest culmination of this legacy is the new Panerai Submersible Elux LAB-ID PAM01800, a watch with a fully mechanical movement, which is able to power light on demand.

Priced at $96,300, this timepiece is exceptionally limited with only 150 available in total, with 50 pieces released each year over the next three years.

Originally patented in 1966, Panerai’s Elux technology is an abbreviation of ‘elettroluminescenza’ or electroluminescence and was essentially radiation-free panels that were uniformly illuminated by an electric field. The efficiency and reliability of this technology made it particularly beneficial for the Italian Navy, where it was utilized across naval instruments in command centers but also in luminous pathways and signage to guide helicopters during night landings on military ships.

Representing eight years of research and development, the new Submersible Elux LAB-ID PAM01800 looks to pay homage to the Italian horologist by joining its expertise in the field of electroluminescence and mechanical watchmaking.

[See also: $17m One-off Patek Philippe Leads Sales at 10th Edition of Only Watch]

Submersible Elux LAB-ID PAM01800 front
With innovation at the forefront, the Submersible Elux LAB-ID PAM01800 features a four-patent system / ©Panerai

Sitting at the pinnacle of innovation, Panerai Submersible Elux LAB-ID PAM01800 itself features four separate patents, ensuring its breakthroughs remain unique to Panerai. Capable of withstanding 50 bar of pressure, equivalent to 1640ft of water resistance the Submersible Elux LAB-ID maintains a close link with its military heritage thanks to its rugged nature.

The star of the show is the 30-minute power light feature. On-demand lighting powered by fully mechanical energy storage is an impressive breakthrough in its own right. By opening the patented pusher-protector system and activating the mechanism via the pusher, the user is able to illuminate the watch thanks to a mechanism conceived by the Panerai Laboratorio di Idee.

This complex feat is achieved thanks to six energy-storing barrels, four of which are used for illumination, while the remaining two ensure the precision of the P.9010/EL movement with its three-day power reserve. The four barrels for the power light have been engineered to unwind into a tiny microgenerator that converts mechanical energy into electricity. This eight by 2.3 mm microgenerator is incredibly efficient and uses no active electronics, greatly reducing the risk of failure. All of this technology is somehow able to fit into a 49mm case diameter.

Once the energy is converted, it is channeled to illuminate key indicators across the dial. Illuminating moving elements like the hands is no mean feat, the solution for which is patented by Panerai. Significant developments were also made in illuminating the bezel marker outside the watch case, particularly challenging given the necessity to maintain the sizable water resistance of the timepiece.

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Panerai Submersible Elux LAB-ID PAM01800 case back
Submersible Elux LAB-ID PAM01800 case back / ©Panerai

Wishing to maintain the exemplary standard set by the watch’s inner workings, the Submersible Elux LAB-ID PAM01800 is set in a Ti-Ceramitech case which has been crafted from ceramized titanium, a patent-pending material from Panerai. A specific process of Plasma Electrolytic Oxidation is undertaken to achieve the timepiece’s deep blue hue, inspired by the open seas. Aside from the color, this technique greatly improves the watch’s hardness, resulting in a case that’s 44% lighter than steel yet has a fracture toughness that’s 10 times higher than traditional ceramic.   

The dial continues the unique essence of the watch, featuring a linear Power Light reserve indicator in addition to a small seconds indicator at the nine o’clock position. The traditional REG TM mark which sits on the crown protection bridge has been replaced by SUB LAB, clearly identifying the piece as part of the Submersible series.

An extremely limited release from Italian Maison Panerai, only 150 Submersible Elux LAB-ID PAM01800 will be produced and priced at $96,300, with 50 released each year for the next three years. The first release will be available in October.

[See also: Audemars Piguet Releases New Royal Oak Watches]

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