In this installment of Exploring Evergreens, I have a closer look at my very own cheap 1:1 Panerai Radiomir replica watches. This is reference PAM00210, and I would argue that this is prime Panerai. Whether you agree or not, this is an archetypal Radiomir, the basic shape of which has been around since 1936. With hardly any aesthetic changes made since then, I think we can safely label this as an evergreen.
The Panerai PAM00210 is what we would call a neo-vintage reference. It was produced from 2005 until 2012, and mine is an early one that dates back to the first year of production. Join me as I explore how this Panerai has aged over the last two decades and whether it is still an appealing proposition in 2024.
True to the original Panerai Radiomir design
So, why would I claim the PAM00210 is prime Panerai? This is down to its faithfulness to the original Radiomir from 1936. Granted, mine has been downsized by 2mm from the original 47mm diameter. Otherwise, though, it is almost identical in design to the original converted Rolex pocket watches with their radioactive dials.
Now, staying true to the original is only to be applauded if the original is any good. And, boy, is it! The Panerai Radiomir is one of those instantly recognizable shapes that is burnt onto the collective retina of the horological community. Fascinatingly, it looks like a near-perfect, cohesive design when, in truth, it isn’t. There was never a consorted effort to “design” the Radiomir as such. It was a cushion-shaped Rolex pocket watch, turned on its side, with wire lugs soldered on. Only the dial was typical for Panerai, which made radium-lumed sandwich dials for other diving tools before turning to perfect Swiss fake Panerai watches.
The AAA wholesale Panerai Radiomir replica watches, then, should look like the wrist-mounted, time-telling equivalent of Frankenstein’s monster. But it doesn’t. It is an object of sheer beauty. It is brutal and elegant at the same time. There is a pragmatic functionality to it, enlivened with typical Italian flair. How can a hodgepodge military dive watch watch have sprezzatura? Leave it to the Italians.
PAM00210 — from simpler times
Panerai is a luxury brand under the Richemont group today. This means modern luxury Panerai copy watches are no longer military diving tools but luxurious fashion statements. And that means that most have been embellished with fancy features and decorations, from gold cases and vignette dials to date complications to minute-repeating tourbillons. There isn’t a version in the 2024 catalog that is akin to the original, barebones design.
So if you want that pre-WWII aesthetic, you will have to look at discontinued references. If you, specifically, want a sandwich dial, a hand-wound caliber, no complications, two hands, and a black dial with minimal text, you will likely end up with the PAM00210.
Admittedly, Panerai was already a luxury brand in 2005. It was also already under the Richemont umbrella. The high quality UK replica Panerai watches, however, tended to be simpler, both technically and aesthetically. They still captured a little more of that tool-watch vibe through their rudimentary calibers, rugged build, and classical styling. As you may know, Panerai had a rather bumpy road upmarket, alienating some of its longtime fans. Today, the brand is different. It produces fantastic watches, yes, but not necessarily in the spirit of the PAM00210 and its predecessors. Consequently, if that is the Panerai you like, you have no choice but to go (neo-)vintage.
What has aged well on the PAM00210?
It may come as no surprise that I feel that it is first and foremost the PAM00210’s design that has aged perfectly. Nearly 20 years after this reference’s introduction and almost 90 years after the Radiomir’s original conception, it is still beautiful. You can put this Swiss movements Panerai Radiomir fake watches in the same sentence as the Tank, Submariner, Reverso, and Speedmaster as one of those watches that transcends its time.
Reference PAM00210, specifically, is a perfect modern interpretation of the Radiomir. Although it measures 13mm thick, it looks significantly slimmer. The tapered case and shallow flanks combined with a mildly domed sapphire crystal take care of that. These are modernizations of the original, but they are perfectly in character for the Radiomir. They still look equally classical and contemporary in 2024.
Another thing that I particularly like about this 2024 China Panerai replica watches is its lume. This is Super-LumiNova, but it behaves rather interestingly color-wise. There is no actual faux patina, but in a certain light, it does appear to have a cream-like color. At other times, it is much more pale green, looking more modern. It is a strange effect that I have never seen on any other watch, and it is probably an optical illusion. Being a thick application of a modern compound, the dial and hands still light up like a torch in the dark.
What “hasn’t aged so well” on the PAM00210?
I am inclined to say that the PAM00210 is still perfect in 2024. Times have changed, though. The Unitas 6497-based caliber OP X inside isn’t really to today’s standards anymore. Although it is very nice to look at through the oversized sapphire case back, it isn’t very finely finished.
The thing is, I don’t feel it is justified that it is out of vogue. These movements are dead simple and extremely reliable. The power reserve is a perfectly fine 56 hours, and you get a beautiful swan-neck regulator. I also find the modified Panerai version rather visually attractive. It was even a COSC-certified chronometer in the PAM00210. A big bonus is that any decent watchmaker can service it cheaply and quickly.
To me, this kind of caliber is perfect for Panerai super clone watches for men. I don’t see the brand as a maker of Haute Horlogerie. I have written before that I wish Panerai would just stick to ébauche calibers and a lower price point. Still, I would understand if people looked at the PAM00210 and saw a watch with an outdated movement. Think twice, though. It may be the better owning experience!
Is the PAM00210 still an appealing buy in 2024?
To answer this question, I think we should have a look at Panerai’s current offerings. The top online replica Panerai Radiomir Officine PAM01383 watches is the most basic Radiomir, with a price of €5,000. The differences with PAM00210 are a blue sunburst dial, faux patina, a closed case back, a P.6000 caliber inside, and the lack of a sandwich dial. If you want a sandwich dial (unfortunately only available in versions with vignette dials and patinated cases), you have to move up to the Tre Giorni models at €7,200. That is a pretty steep jump for an incredibly similar watch with just a pre-aged case and a different dial texture.
Suddenly, the €4K average price of a pre-owned PAM00210 doesn’t seem so daunting anymore. You get the original styling, a tank of a chronometer caliber, a sandwich dial, and no embellishments. Your mileage may vary, but to me, this is a very appealing proposition. Then again, I would say so, having already put my money where my mouth is.
For all the reasons above, I feel the Swiss made fake Panerai Radiomir PAM00210 watches is a real sweet spot in today’s market. On a more personal note, I found it to be much more wearable than expected to boot. I have a 17cm wrist, but I don’t find the 45mm Radiomir overpowering at all. I would even go so far as to call it versatile. I fully expected to wear it on rare occasions only, but I find myself constantly reaching for it during the colder months when I wear leather straps.
There is no denying that the Panerai Radiomir is an evergreen watch. Whether the PAM00210 is its ultimate incarnation is perhaps more subjective. It is to me, though, and I would pick it again if I had to choose my one favorite PAM.