Editor Catherine Bishop takes the new Panerai Luminor Due Luna editions for a spin. The watches mark the first time that the Luminor Due has integrated a complication – and what better way to start than with a moonphase?
New moon, waxing crescent, first quarter, waxing gibbous, full moon, waning gibbous, third quarter, waning crescent – back to new moon. These are the eight phases of the Moon. The Moon is our planet’s only natural satellite, pushing our oceans’ tides back and forth, while illuminating the starry sky each night for eternity and beyond.
Photo by Sanni Sahil
While the scientists of today agree that the Moon was formed by a rock smashing into the Earth, ancient civilizations had their own ideas about the Moon. The Romans believed that the goddess Luna was the divine embodiment of the Moon; the ancient Greeks considered the Moon to be the goddess Artemis, sister to Apollo, god of the Sun. Even today, the Moon is universally upheld as a feminine symbol of the natural cycles of life and the rhythm of time. How fitting, then, that Panerai should introduce its own moonphase complication to the elegant Luminor Due Luna models, which is sure to draw many a female client to the Swiss-Italian brand.
The Luminor Due: Core collection
The new Luminor Due Luna timepieces mark a first for the Luminor Due collection, which had never before integrated a complication into one of its watches. One reason for this is that the Luminor Due watches, first introduced back in 2016, are much slimmer than their diving watch relatives in the main Luminor collection. Stretching between 44 and 47 mm in diameter – there’s even a gigantic 50 mm moonphase model – the contemporary, stream-lined Luminor is sporty and bold.
By contrast, the Luminor Due collection maintains sharp proportions yet has a more elegant feel and smaller sizes. This line is as close as Panerai comes to a dress watch, while still maintaining the brand’s unmistakable DNA cues. On the one hand, we still see Panerai’s distinctive cushion case, sandwich dial, and curved Arabic and baton hour markers. Yet on the other hand, the Luminor Due features radiant sun-brushed dials; sleek alligator leather straps – and one of the four new models even features a mother-of-pearl dial.
The new quartet: Luminor Due Luna
The new iterations with moonphase are housed in 38 mm cases, with one Goldtech (Panerai’s rose-gold alloy) and three steel options available. Interestingly, only the former allows the wearer to admire the movement through the caseback, while the other editions stick to solid steel casebacks. The cases, in combination with the Safety Lock crown, promise water-resistance to 30 m. This level of water-resistance feels like a courteous nod to the DNA of the brand above anything else, as these are not supposed to be action-packed watches.
The crown protector does deserve a special mention, however. Not only is the design enjoyable, as well as reassuring, for the wearer, but it also add a very individual aesthetic spin to the Luminor Due Luna in comparison to other sporty dress watches on the market. The integration of such a tool-watch feature onto an otherwise rather gracefully designed timepiece is very unusual, and Panerai execute it extremely well.
This is partly thanks to the flawless polishing of the crown protector. The cases and bezels of all the Luminor Due Luna models are polished, adding to the argument that these are fairly smart timepieces. However, the one steel edition to come with a matching bracelet, as opposed to alligator leather strap, does alternate between polished and brushed steel, making for a well-finished look overall – but more on this a little later.
The design options
The Luminor Due Madreperla: PAM01181
As mentioned, there are four contrasting editions available. The stand-out option for me has to be the Luminor Due Madreperla, which I intended to take for a spin on my wrist for a day and ended up wearing for almost the entire week. I’ll freely admit that mother-of-pearl doesn’t tend to be my style, and my dream watch would usually feature a sporty steel bracelet and sun-brushed dial. However, the mother-of-pearl does match up nicely to the feminine feel of the Luminor Due Luna. Likewise, the Goldtech case quickly seduced me, as did its open sapphire crystal caseback.
The deep rose-gold tones also accentuate the matching moonphase lying at 3 o’clock, while complementing the golden luminous Arabic markers. The small seconds, which lie at 9 o’clock, are so well-integrated that they’re barely noticeable at first – this is a feat in itself. One thing that Panerai fans will note, however, is that this model does not use Panerai’s distinctive two-part sandwich dial, which applies luminescent to the lower surface. Cutting into fragile mother-of-pearl would not be a good idea for a resilient Swiss-made watch.
It’s worth mentioning Panerai’s Goldtech, a glowing alloy with a very intense rose-gold appearance. Unlike standard gold, Panerai Goldtech is made with a percentage of copper that imbues the material with a rich red hue. Unlike more traditional rose-gold cases, it has an overtly modern look thanks to its enduring intensity. Goldtech contains platinum, which prevents the material from oxidising; as a result, the intensity is able to match to the long lifetime of the watch. The watch is paired with a blue alligator strap, which secures with a Goldtech pin buckle.
PAM01179 and PAM01180: Sunburst brushing and steel
Two of the other models feature steel cases, sunburst dials, and a polished leather strap. The PAM01179 combines a deep blue dial with a matching navy strap. Interestingly, Panerai opts for golden luminous hands and small seconds, yet the sandwich dial’s luminous Arabic and baton hour markers are without colour. While this increases the watch’s legibility and avoids this timepiece becoming too monotone, it does create a slightly less harmonious look than the PAM01180.
Indeed, the PAM01180 has a much lighter look – if the PAM01179 is dark and handsome, the PAM01180 is the playful and pretty sibling. The golden moonphase, hour, minute, and small seconds and markers create a very balanced aesthetic in combination with the clean white sun-brushed dial. This time, the watch is paired with a bright pink alligator strap. Once again, I personally am not always a fan of alligator straps as they can look dated when used on watches that aren’t overtly traditional in terms of style. However, in line with the Luminor Due collection, this particular strap looks contemporary, high quality, and very attractive indeed.
The strap used on all three leather-strap models are so-called ‘Luminor Due satin straps’, which are specially designed to have a satin-like texture and sheen. The straps feel very comfortable on the wrist, and the light-weight, easily adjustable pin-buckle option takes the weight off the watch – particularly the gold PAM01181 – making the timepieces very wearable. With Panerai being home to such sizeable pieces across its collections, it’s no wonder the manufacture has learned to nail wearability. The straps use a quick release system, meaning that an array of colours are available to the wearer if desired.
Feeling the steel: PAM01301
This model brings all of my personal favourite core watch features to the forefront: a sporty steel case and matching bracelet, white sun-brushed dial, and decent diameter of 38 mm. Interestingly, the bracelet’s unusual curvaceous links take inspiration from the Luminor crown-lock bridge. The only way this piece could improve in my eyes is by offering a sapphire crystal caseback. It’s perhaps the most balanced of all of the models, offering a bridge between the Luminor Due’s sporty and stylish qualities. Once again, the moonphase is integrated perfectly into the design thanks to the matching golden luminous accents on this watch.
The moonphase calibre
Indeed, the moonphase on these four new Luminor Due Luna models is a talking point in its own right. The 24-carat moon, with its textured craters corresponding to the actual Moon, sits on a rotating disc featuring a starry midnight blue sky. These captivating miniature stars are not solid gold, but are rather spheres engraved into the disc. Once again, the moonphase is aesthetically very well executed, adding an unusually beautiful and artisanal touch to Panerai’s usually no-nonsense, sporty designs that tend to first and foremost command attention through their size.
The movement making this new moonphase complication possible is the P.900/MP calibre, an automatic movement with an impressive three-day power reserve and solid frequency of 4 Hz. Offering hours, minutes, small seconds, date, and moonphase, it builds upon the P.900 (used for Luminor Due models), which offers all but the latter complication.
The moonphase is my absolute favourite complication. This is because, while there is a vast array of ingenious and mind-blowing complications in the cosmos that is horology, there is no complication more romantic than the moonphase. With that in mind, I was excited to see these watches in the metal from the very start – and I was by no means disappointed.
Panerai are off to a very strong start with these first complicated Luminor Due watches – I even appreciated design features, such as mother-of-pearl, that aren’t usually my style. In the sense, Panerai evidently do an excellent job of not only appealing to a range of audiences through the four differing editions and their integration of the moonphase, but also by executing each product extremely well. Technological achievements are one thing, but the successful execution of an idea – in this case, creating a refined yet sporty yet complicated timepiece while staying true to a very bold brand – is no easy feat, either. In fact, it’s a key to success in the luxury industry – and something we find only once in a blue moon.