This is the latest addition to Panerai’s hardcore dive watch range: the Luminor Submersible Chrono “Guillaume Néry Edition”. It adds a blue bezel, textured grey dial and blue chronograph accents to the existing Luminor Submersible Chrono – PAM615 – and has been produced as a tribute to French freediving champion Guillame Néry, who is sponsored by the brand.
Néry, 36, is a two-time champion freediver and has broken four world records in the sport; now retired, he acts as an ambassador for diving and maritime pursuits. Notably, in 2015 he accidentally set the record for the world’s deepest free dive – to 139m – when he descended lower than he was prepared for thanks to an organisational mix-up that saw his target marker placed lower than it should have been. The error could have cost him his life: he suffered a pulmonary edema and blacked out on his ascent while still 10m from the surface, but fortunately he made a full recovery.
The depth is significant, and germane to the story, because Panerai has chosen to celebrate Néry’s feats with an engraved caseback decoration that marks his world record achievements: a stylised image of the diver is shown against a background of rippling water (and a shoal of small fish), with a marker at “126m” beneath his outstretched hand. Néry’s accidental 139m dive was not recorded as an official record; his best official performance remains 126m (a record which was broken in 2018 by Russian Alexey Molchanov).
With two shades of blue in the chronograph hands and ceramic bezel insert, an intriguingly-textured grey dial (it reminds us a bit of Omega’s laser-ablated Grey Side of the Moon Speedmaster) and a blue rubber strap, it’s making an early tilt at the title of “most handsome dive watch in 2019”, whether you care for and buy into Néry’s achievements or not.
The watch is technically identical to the existing Luminor Sub, with Panerai’s in-house calibre P.9100 flyback chronograph vibrating at 28,800 vph with a three-day power reserve. Measuring 47mm across and cased in titanium, it is water-resistant to 300m. The subdials represent running seconds at 9 o’clock and chronograph hours at 3 o’clock, with both chronograph seconds and minutes on the central pinion, in blue and grey respectively. The watch is not limited to a number of pieces, despite all the hallmarks of a limited edition; we have no word on pricing at this stage but expect it to command a premium on the PAM615’s list price of £14,500.