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REVIEW: Panerai Radiomir Alarm GMT

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Published on 01-10-2010 10:52 AM

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Review of the Panerai Radiomir Alarm GMT
By: John B. Holbrook, II


One of the watch industry’s hottest companies with the most dedicated fan base comes not from Switzerland, but from Italy — Officine Panerai. Founded in 1860, Giovanni Panerai began in a humble workshop in Florence. As work continued through the dawn of the 20th Century, the operation grew and was subsequently expanded by Guido Panerai (grandson of Giovanni). By the 1930s, Panerai was specializing in developing and manufacturing high precision diving instruments used by “frog men” and was eventually commissioned by the Italian Navy to produce watches which could be used and read underwater. These first models actually used movements, case backs, and crowns made by Rolex. Thanks to Panerai’s innovative use of luminous materials using a mix of zinc sulfide and radium bromide (given later the name Radiomir), Panerai’s watches were perfectly legible underwater. Today, the over sized and uniquely styled watches have become a hot fashion accessory item among celebrities, and Panerai’s unique heritage and tradition have also given them a strong following among watch enthusiasts.

With a case diameter of 42mm, the Panerai Radiomir Alarm GMT (reference PAM 00098) has an impressive presence on the wrist, but could nearly be called small by Panerai standards. The polished stainless steel (316L grade steel), cushion-shaped case employs unique wire loop strap attachments (patented by Panerai) which are removable. The comfortable yet durable brown alligator strap held on the wire loops has a Panerai signed buckle.


The Panerai Radiomir Alarm GMT case is rated to provide 30 meters of water resistance. The right side of the case sports twin winding crowns - the top crown (signed OP) winds the watch and sets the time along with the 2nd time zone function. The bottom crown (signed with a bell icon) winds and sets the mechanical alarm feature. Pulling the crown into the first position allows the quick-set date to be advanced with a clockwise crown rotation, while a counter clock¬wise rotation advances the hour of the 2nd time zone located in the aperture just above 6 o’clock. Pulling the top crown further into the 2nd position allows for setting of the hour and minute hand — the 2nd hand “hacks” while the crown is in this position, to allow for synchronizing with an accurate time source. Once you’ve set the arrow head hand via the bottom crown, you simply leave the crown in the pulled-out position and the alarm will sound (reminiscent of an old fashioned hand- wound alarm clock) at the appointed time. The alarm will not sound unless the bottom crown is in the pulled- out position. Under the 1.5mm thick sapphire crystal one finds the famed Radiomir black dial with its ultra-legible and highly luminescent markers and hands. Fortunately, Panerai discontinued the use of radioactive materials many years ago, in favor of safer, if less brilliant, luminous compound coatings. Still, the dial of this Radiomir Alarm GMT glows like a torch once the lights go out. The dial also features a date window in the 3 o’clock position on the dial, enhanced by an under-the-crystal magnifying window.

The movement inside the OP Alarm GMT (viewable behind a sapphire display back) is nothing short of fascinating. Until recent years, Panerai had never manufactured their own watch movements, instead relying on calibers from other top manufacturers to power their watches. In this case, Panerai chose to use a Girard Perregaux Caliber 59 to power the Radiomir Alarm GMT. The GP 59 (commonly used in their Traveler II watch) itself is a highly re-worked version of a vintage A. Schild 5008 (an automatic alarm movement from the 1970s). The final product used in the Radiomir Alarm GMT is a 31 jewel, self- winding movement employing a Glucydur balance with a Nivarox I spring, and Incabloc shock resistance. The balance vibrates at 28,800 beats per hour, and the movement has a power reserve of 47 hours. The movement actually makes use of two springs — one to power the watch, and the other to power the alarm function. Both springs are wound via the main rotor, but can be individually hand wound via the twin crowns. As can clearly be seen beneath the sapphire dis¬play crystal, the movement is beautifully decorated on both the balance bridges and the rotor with blued screws, and Panerai personalized engravings. This movement is as attractive to look at, as it is fascinating in its engineering and function.



Providing unique functionality with the distinctive Officine Panerai style, the Radiomir Alarm GMT is a magnificent wristwatch. The watch is the perfect tool for the frequent traveler or simply an excellent addition for the Panerai collector. The watch is, as far as I know, no longer produced by Panerai, but is still quite sought after by collectors.

**Photos & Text Copyright 2010 WATCH TALK FORUMS INC.. No part of this report can be reproduced outside of WATCH TALK FORUMS without the expressed permission of John B. Holbrook, II.

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REVIEW: Panerai Radiomir Alarm GMT
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