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Old 10 July 2009, 05:36 PM   #1
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Indepth Analysis of the Panerai Prototype code named "SLOB"

There are very special moments in one's watch collecting life and they are far and few between, hence that is what makes them memorable.

The chance to own those very few pieces that are in effect the very basis of a brand is indeed a great honor.

It would not be a stretch of the imagination to say that in late 1997 and early 1998 the culmination of the acquisition by the Vendome Group of Officine Panerai was to spark a whole watch movement of large sports watches but also a renaissance of a brand that had been dormant for over four decades. Very few people outside of Italy let alone Europe had ever heard of the brand.

In 1998, about the time the acquisition had taken place I was a wee freshman at University and was spending a semester abroad at NYU's La Pietra campus in Florence, Italy when sauntering in Piazza Duomo one afternoon I came across the Panerai store. The bold yet minimalistic and masculine design of the watches in the window captivated me, in those days the store still retained its old world Italian charm, when you entered it you felt you were transported back a 100 years and time stood still. Sadly that is all gone now, the Piazza Duomo boutique looks like any of the many scattered around the world.

Regardless thanks to the ingenuity and global reach of the Vendome Group which was later to be known as Richemont made Panerai and its unique military history available to watch collectors globally.

With the new management in place there was a need to develop fresh and bold ideas before Panerai was launched on the global stage.

Many Prototypes must have been made by Panerai over the years, some of us remember seeing them either in person or in online reports such as the PVD coated orange dial Luminor and so on. Some of them went into production as they were and some weren't.

Due to the timeline and the production year of this Prototype to my knowledge this could have been the first ever Prototype made by Post Vendome Panerai. With a strange code name "SLOB", when we look at the piece it is anything but, it is as dynamic as it was eleven years ago. The DNA of what was to come is all inherent in its details as everything about the watch is truly unique and yet is the very foundation of re-invented global Panerai as we know it. It is a fusion of Vintage, Pre-Vendome and Post Vendome pieces, a chance for imagination to take hold and to experiment with new materials.

Panerais that were made prior to the acquisition were using Tritium dials which as all die hard Panerai collectors know over time develops a gorgeous yellowy patina that we all love, yet the new management realized that was not to be the case in the long run due to the deterioration in luminosity over time. Although Pre-A, A and B series Panerai Luminors retained their tritium dials as early as 1998 Panerai was already experimenting with Luminova dials and the SLOB might have been the first Luminova dialed Panerai.

So what do we know of this strange Prototype. Well according to a letter issued by Panerai it is as follows:

The interesting thing is, when I measured the case it was 43mm yet on the certificate it says 44mm? Maybe its time for me to get a new one LooL.

In posts and information about the watch online it has been said that the watch has a Titanium case with a special Bronze PVD treatment. However in my discussions with the previous owner and as we shall see it is not the case. The case is solid Bronze and so is the dial. The problem with Bronze as a material is that when it is cast there are air pockets built into the metal which can be detrimental to the underwater integrity of the case at extreme depths. Therefore the idea of offering Bronze as a case material on regular production watches or Special Editions was scrapped. The only Titanium components on the watch are the caseback, the crown and crown lever.

So Prototypes are just that, experimental pieces, not meant to be owned by watch collectors so how did this one escape the Laboratory of Ideas?

Well an English gentleman living in Copenhagen engaged in the Antiques business had the chance to acquire this piece from an ex-Panerai executive who was in the design department and she had received the watch from Mr. Bonati himself. A jealous wife of a colleague forced her to leave and the sale of this watch allowed her to start her own business which has since become very successful over the years. All I can say we are very lucky as collectors to be exposed to such history and to be able to own and analyze such an important piece.

So without further delay let us look at the watch

The Case

The bronze case is showing underneath the PVD coating, as an avid pen collector they remind me of the Maki-E gold dust treatment one would find on Namiki-Dunhill fountain pens.

In some instances the black PVD and bronze combine to give the case a purplish hue

The case has a more carved feel vs. the clinical machine precision of the current Panerais, reminds me of Pre-Vendome Panerai cases.

Titanium caseback

The Crown and Crown Lever

Titanium crown and crown lever

The Dial

You can notice the gilt tone of the text on the dial aswell as the subsecond markers which is due to the bronze dial

The L SWISS L text has a smaller font than contemporary Panerais

The dial is smaller due to the 43mm case size aswell as the Bronze ring that encircles the dial, giving it a neon like characteristic, quite beautiful

Vintage Panerai style Dome Plexiglass

This is my favorite part of the watch, the way it reflects and refracts the color of the bronze ring around the dial is truly breath taking

The Strap and Buckle

The years have distressed the strap and made it quite supple

Hope you enjoyed the report

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Old 10 July 2009, 05:41 PM   #2
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thank you!

thank you Salman,well done! another lesson learnt!!
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Old 10 July 2009, 07:14 PM   #3
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Wonderful Salman.... i spent a lot of time tasking all this in.....
For those who know.. good for you
For those who don't.. sorry for you

PANARTIST and the proud father of PAM 186 ARKTOS GMT Ltd Ed - PAM 233 - NEW BLK CALI
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Old 10 July 2009, 08:04 PM   #4
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Thanks for sharing!!! Very nice info.
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Old 10 July 2009, 09:52 PM   #5
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WOW, what an unbelievably special watch. Thanks for taking the time to share with us.
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Old 10 July 2009, 10:10 PM   #6
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Great review and history! Thanks
Cheers, Jeff
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Old 10 July 2009, 10:51 PM   #7
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i never heard about. very nice.
panerai and rolex
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Old 10 July 2009, 11:09 PM   #8
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great post , thx for sharing .. !!
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Old 10 July 2009, 11:55 PM   #9
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Thanks for sharing again. 9 more out there huh?????
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Old 11 July 2009, 04:32 PM   #10
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Thanks guys , glad you all enjoyed the review,

mfer: interesting you should bring this up, I was talking to the previous owner and he said that Panerai made two mistakes in the certificate they provided. The 1st as I mentioned was the size of the case, second is that although Panerai planned to make 10 of them only 5 were made, of which 3 are owned by Panerai and the other 2 are out in the wild of which this is one.

Till I get a new certificate however officially its 10 pieces.


Originally Posted by mfer View Post
Thanks for sharing again. 9 more out there huh?????
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Old 11 July 2009, 04:45 PM   #11
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Wow, very informative history. Thanks for sharing Salman. It's a very special treasure!
Panerais are investment in happiness!
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Old 11 July 2009, 06:00 PM   #12
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A watch named after my good self "slob"
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Old 11 July 2009, 08:18 PM   #13
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Wow Salman,great post,great pictures of a fantastic Panerai
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Old 12 July 2009, 02:19 AM   #14
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Great info and thanks for sharing!
Rolex / Panerai / Omega
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Old 12 July 2009, 02:22 AM   #15
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Thanks for sharing this great information on a beautiful watch!

Stuff like this makes me want another Panerai!!
You can't turn back the clock. But you can wind it up again.
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Old 31 August 2009, 05:21 AM   #16
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Fantastic write up! I feel like such a poser after reading this review..I'm glad to see that such a piece went to someone who truly appreciates and knows the watch! BEAUTIFUL Piece!!!
Pam 312 N // Rolex GMT IIc // Rolex Date //
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