For many people, the quintessential modern Panerai is the Luminor 1950. This 44mm-wide case is what most people picture when they think of Panerai with is distinctive locking crown-guard system and chunky style. While Panerai does offer a (small) degree of variety among the various dials it pairs with the Luminor 1950, each has that iconic, minimalist, legible look that the brand is so admired for continuing after all these years. So what makes this particular Panerai Luminor Marina 1950 3 Days Automatic PAM328 watch different is that it comes not on a strap, but on a matching steel bracelet.
Among collectors and aficionados, Panerai is further popular because most of their watches look good on any number of straps. Not all timepieces can pull this off, as they look good on just one or a few color options. Having said that, I’ve long since been curious about wearing a Panerai on the few available metal bracelets they offer. Not only are the bracelets usually cool looking, but they add an entirely new character (very much a modern character) to these classic dive watch designs. So with that in mind, I started my time checking out the Panerai Luminor Marina 1950 3 Days Automatic PAM328 watch that comes standard on one of Panerai’s rare bracelets.
The simple angular Y-shaped links used to make the bracelet are attractive and make for a pleasant pairing to the minimalist yet industrial look of the Panerai Luminor Marina 1950 case. There was an earlier Panerai bracelet design that tried to match the curvature of the Panerai bezel a bit more into the design of the links. While that earlier bracelet design is also cool, I think this more modern approach is a bit more successful and fitting with the overall character and theme of what most people appreciate about that core Panerai DNA and sense of design.
On the wrist, the bracelet offers a bit more articulation than you might expect, given the single link structure, but it isn’t going to be as fluid feeling as other bracelets that have more, smaller links. The reason this is an issue is because the the Panerai Luminor Marina 1950 watch case is rather heavy, and a secure fit is needed for it to wear comfortably. What you don’t want happening is for a watch case to be sliding up and down your wrist as your wear it. The ideal fit on any wrist for a watch is to be snug in the same position without choking your wrist. When you achieve this fit, it is like magic, but when you don’t, it can make for an unpleasant experience and you not wearing a watch as often as you’d like.
So why do I mention all this in regard to the Panerai Luminor Marina 1950 3 Days Automatic PAM328? Well, the fit was pretty good, but not quite good enough. I found the bracelet to be either a bit too big or too small when I adjusted it. Panerai does include half-links which allow for a more precise fit. This is a good thing, but I craved an additional level of micro-adjusting to get the perfect fit. I’ve worn larger, heavier watches than this Panerai Luminor Marina 1950 3 Days Automatic PAM328 and had a wonderful and comfortable experience, but I’ve also worn smaller watches with a less satisfying experience.
In situations like this, I simply say to people that if they are interested in a watch like this they should try it on and see how the fit is before committing. With the bracelet, the Panerai Luminor Marina 1950 3 Days Automatic PAM328 is a good looking watch that offers just enough distinctiveness to make it more than just another Panerai. Though, you should make sure it suits your wrist properly. Of course, there are the many (many) other Luminor Marina 1950 watch models that come on straps.
Of course, Panerai more-or-less expects many of its customers to be frequent strap changers. Being able to mix up the look of your Panerai watch is part of the experience, and most look good anything from a black strap to a yellow one – and everything in between. I have a feeling that when it comes to the Panerai Luminor Marina 1950 3 Days Automatic PAM328, it is less expensive to buy this version of the watch with the bracelet then a different version that doesn’t come with the bracelet and to later buy the bracelet separately. So if you like the look of the bracelet but don’t want to wear it all the time, it makes sense to get a model like the Panerai Luminor Marina 1950 3 Days Automatic PAM328, and then a few strap options on the side. The straps/bracelet require simple screwdrivers to change – so it is pretty simple.
The clean elegance of the Luminor Marina 1950 dial is difficult to dispute. The dial features the time with subsidiary seconds dial at 9 o’clock and the date at 3 o’clock. The sandwich-style dial puts a layer of Super-LumiNova underneath the main dial which is seen through the cut-aways at the hour markers. The hands, of course, have additional luminant on them. Darkness viewing is typically really good with a Panerai. These were, after all, originally designed to be read in dark murky waters.
Over the dial is a thick (2.6mm thick) AR-coated sapphire crystal (that inevitably still gets some glare, given its high level of doming), and the case is water resistant to 300 meters, like any serious dive watch should be. Of course, you also have the trademarked crown guard system which is simple to use. You can wind the crown with the “lock” engaged, and when you unlock it you can then pull out the crown to adjust the time.
Inside the Panerai Luminor Marina 1950 3 Days Automatic PAM328 is Panerai’s in-house made P.9000 automatic movement. It features 72 hours (3 days) of power reserve operating at a modern 4Hz (28,800 bph). I recommend these 4Hz movements over some of the slower frequency 3Hz movements since they tend to result in better accuracy over time. I like that even with 300 meters of water resistance, the PAM328 has a sapphire crystal display back with a view of the movement on the rear of the watch. You don’t always get that with a water resistance at this level.
Like the idea of a Panerai Luminor Marina 1950 watch on this bracelet but want a slightly fancier model? Panerai currently offers a few other timepieces in the same family with this bracelet style that might be more up your alley. The first place people go is to the Panerai Luminor Marina 1950 3 Days Automatic Titanio PAM342. This is essentially the same watch with a slightly brown dial and titanium case – which means it is going to be lighter and more comfortable. Going back to steel, there is also the Luminor 1950 3 Days GMT Automatic PAM329 (with a GMT hand complication) as well as the Luminor 1950 3 Days GMT Power Reserve Automatic PAM347 (that has both a GMT hand and a power reserve indicator).
Panerai doesn’t sell a ton of its watches on bracelets which makes timepieces like the Panerai Luminor Marina 1950 3 Days Automatic PAM328 decidedly niche among their larger assortment of timepieces. In a sense, that makes them extra cool, but there is a reason for them being less common than Panerai watches on straps. In addition to bracelet not being a “historic” part of the Panerai brand, the bracelet make for a more difficult “perfect fit,” which means not everyone will love them. Though, for those people whose wrists match up with the bracelets, they make for a good looking and unique Panerai style. Price for the Panerai Luminor Marina 1950 3 Days Automatic PAM00328 watch is $9,100. panerai.com
>Model: Luminor Marina 1950 3 Days Automatic PAM328
>Would reviewer personally wear it: Yes
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Panerai guy who wants an even chunkier wearing timepiece.
>Best characteristic of watch: Good looking timepiece that with a bracelet makes the core Panerai aesthetic feel a bit more modern.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Quite heavy overall which can be an issue if you don’t get a very precise fit on your wrist. Rather pricey.