A Tale of 2 Watches - Panerai Radiomir SLC's PAM 425 vs PAM 449

There seems to be a lot of confusion between the Panerai Radiomir SLC models, the PAM 425 and the PAM 449.  This is compoundED based on the fact that they were both released at the same time for the 'O' Series (2012-2013 production year) and they both look so similar.  Yes, they both feature the same simplified sandwich SLC style dial, the same 3 days manual winding P.3000 movement, and both are housed in the same 47mm stainless steel Radiomir case with see thru sapphire casebacks.  But that is where the similarities end..

 

Only when you have the ability to compare these 2 watches side by side can you truly appreciate and understand the similarities and differences between these 2 very cool historically inspired Radiomirs.  And that is exactly what we are going to do for you in the above video and in the below blog post.  Here goes--fasten your seat belts....

 

The Panerai Radiomir SLC models were produced to emphasize the strong historical connection between Rolex and Panerai as exemplified by the release of the Ref 2533 in 1936.  This watch was a milestone for Panerai (as well as Radiomir) as it was the first time Rolex allowed another company to use their watches—not just the case but the movement and dial essentially on a carte blanche basis.  Rolex is quite mum as to the nature of their historical relationship with Panerai, how it started and how it was allowed to go on for so long with virtually no oversight or rules.  Suffice to say, Panerai enjoyed a long period of using Rolex watch cases and movement in producing special order tactical watches via special commission from military special force groups like the Xmas Flotilla, the Egyptian Navy and the list goes on.  The fact that Panerai was not a commercial watchmaker at the time and rather a mil-spec provider specializing in luminous technologies for use in underwater tactical situations may be one reason why this relationship was allowed to blossom, under the guise of producing mostly protoypes and then production runs of fewer than 25 watches with very little fanfare.  One thing is certain, both of these watches bear a strong resemblance to the original 1936 Ref 2533 with SLC dial.

 

The Biggest differences between the PAM 425 vs PAM 449 is that the PAM 449 is special edition.  This means the watch was made in only 1 year production year for 750 pieces and will never be produced again.  The best way to consider Panerai designated ‘Special Editions’ is that it is the same as a sports team retiring their faithful franchise player’s Jersey and Number, never to be reused by any player on that team every again.  IN the case of Panerai, each ‘Special Edition’ was is accompanied by a massively oversized Special Edition burlwood boxset complete with a Rolled Parchment Special Edition Certificate individually numbered to match the watch.  Accordingly, the PAM 425 was released for the ‘O’ series in 1500 pieces and has been made consecutively in similar production numbers for the subsequent ‘P’ ‘Q’ and now ‘R’ series with no immediate plans for its production to be suspended.  As a result, there are a substantially more PAM 425’s available in primary (new from authorized dealer) and secondary marketplace than PAM 449’s.

 

Another big difference between the PAM 449 and PAM 425 is that the PAM 449 features a plastic or Plexiglas crystal which is what the original Ref 2533 was outfitted with.  The PAM 425 features a sapphire crystal.  Interestingly, both crystals look almost identical; the best way to tell the PAM 425 crystal is sapphire to hold it to your forehead where it is cold to the touch--not so with the Plexiglas crystal.  (As a special edition with Plexiglas crystal, the PAM 449 also comes with a spare replacement plexiglass crystal that must be installed by Panerai.) 

 

One of the biggest aesthetic difference between the 2 watches is that the PAM 449 has metallic blued steel hour and minute hands just like the original hands on the Ref 2533.  They are subtle and shine blue only when reflected in the light but the effect is super cool and gives the watch a further authenticity in taking its cues from the original Ref 2533.  The PAM 425 has gold hour and minute hands.  Both watches have the SLC aka minimalist sandwich dial with brown/ecru tinted luminous material (aka ‘dirty brown dial’) which gives the watch a more authentic aged vintage patina.  The PAM 425 features a silhouette of the infamous Panerai Blackseal icon (an SLC torpedo commanded by 2 underwater frogmen commando figures) in bas-relief just above the 6:00 position on the dial. 

 

The PAM 449 features the words ‘VINTAGE’ stamped between the wire lug strap attachments at 6:00 whereas the PAM 425 has ‘OP6837’ stamped between its wire lug strap attachments at 6:00. 

 

The PAM 449 features a very unique original Panerai ‘Ranger’ leather strap in gold semi mat (exclusive to only a few other Radiomir Special Edition models) whereas the PAM 425 is outfitted with an original Panerai ‘assolutamente’ (aged-distressed leather) strap in dark brown. 

 

Both of these watches are amazing and faithful tributes to the original vintage Pre Vendome Ref 2533.  Although neither feature the original Rolex movement, They both convey a sense of historical authenticity and make you feel like you are a part of history sharing a special instrument available only to the special few, and for a particular purpose or mission.  Your mission should you choose to accept it is to decide whether you prefer the PAM 449 or PAM 425—either one will leave you feeling like you are part of a special club harboring a unique and special secret.  Ah, the mystique of Panerai!

 

-OJ

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