Slipping slightly under the radar behind the wave of press that the latest MB&F Horological Machine has caused at SIHH 2017, the ridiculously wordy Panerai Lab-ID Luminor 1950 Carbotech 3 Days in 49mm is a noteworthy timepiece of consideration, featuring ground-breaking innovation from the Panerai HQ.
Love the brand or hate it, it is hard to not come to terms with the fact that Panerai has increasingly become the industry leader in incorporating new materials and advancing technological innovation. This trend seems set to continue in 2017 with the Panerai Lab-ID Luminor 1950 Carbotech 3 Days in 49mm. The absence of any liquid lubricants and a 50-year guarantee speaks of a technologically audacious watch that the Firenze brand are proud to stand behind. While not the first watch to eliminate liquid lubricants, recall the JLC Extreme LAB as well as the Cartier ID One, Panerai adds a sophisticated elegance to solving the technical complications of removing traditional lubrication.
The first thing that would strike you about the watch is the dial. It has been purported that the dial is made of Vantablack, a material that has been labelled the blackest substance on the earth for its ability to absorb 99.965% of the radiation that hits it, creating an eerily black dial. The darkness of the dial is further amplified by the coat of blue Super-LumiNova on the dial and the hands, as well as the printing of the Panerai brand and LAB-ID directly on the crystal.
A little bit more about Vantablack. Pound for pound more expensive than either gold or diamond, it is made of a mass of tiny nano tubes, each as wide as an atom. Vantablack derives its unique properties by absorbing the light that enters the tubes, preventing it from escaping. These tubes are grown exclusively in the Surrey NanoSystems lab using a panted process that requires up to two days to coat a single object.
Back to the watch. Impressive as the dial might be, the most notable feature of the Lab-ID is the absence of traditional oils or grease on the movement. Almost completely made from a tantalum-based ceramic, the new P.3001/C movement contains a high level of carbon, making the lubrication of the gear train pivots unnecessary. Furthermore, the lever and escape wheel are made from a DLC-coated silicon, eliminating the need for oil on the escape wheel itself. The free employment of carbon across the movement also means that the Lab-ID requires far less jewels than traditional movements; and where they are employed, Panerai enforces a surface coat of DLC to eliminate the need for lubrication. With a 50 year warranty, Panerai are fairly confident that their methods works.
The Panerai Lab-ID Luminor 1950 Carbotech 3 Days in 49mm is a limited edition collection of 50 pieces, retailing for €50,000. For more information, do visit the official Panerai website.