Panerai’s most technically awe-inspiring watch at this year’s SIHH watch salon is easily the Panerai Luminor “Lo Scienziato” Luminor 1950 Tourbillon GMT Titanio (Ref. PAM00578), a limited-edition piece combining an ultra-light titanium case, skeletonized movement, GMT complication, and unconventional tourbillon. Here’s what you need to know about the Lo Scienziato.
It is inspired by one of history’s great Tuscan geniuses.
Officine Panerai, now headquartered in Neuchatel, Switzerland, traces its roots to Florence, in Italy’s Tuscany region, where it started out in 1860 as a watchmaker’s shop and school. Panerai instituted the Lo Scienziato collection of skeletonized tourbillon watches in 2010 in honor of Galileo Galilei, the Tuscan-born Renaissance figure who is today regarded as the father of modern science. Along with his numerous accomplishments in the fields of physics, astronomy, mathematics and engineering, Galileo also applied his genius to time-measurement problems, devising a system to calculate longitude at sea using Jupiter’s moons as a celestial clock and doing fundamental work on isochronism. The first Lo Scienziato (“The Scientist” in Italian) watches were 48 mm in diameter and had black ceramic Radiomir cases.
A special laser technology is used to make the watch’s lightweight titanium case.
The new Lo Scienziato’s case (in the Luminor style, thus boasting the patented crown-lock lever bridge) measures 47 mm in diameter and is made of titanium, a metal known not only for its high corrosion resistance and hypoallergenic qualities but also for being 40 percent lighter than steel. In making the case, Panerai used an innovative technology that enabled it to be even lighter, hollowing it out internally to form a complex geometrical cavity without compromising the material’s solidity, tension-resistance, or water-resistance (to 100 meters’ depth). The process, called Direct Metal Laser Sintering, builds a 3D object layer by layer out of powdered titanium by means of a fiberoptic laser. The layers, each of which is only .02 mm thick, gradually merge to become completely solid and create a uniform surface appearance.
The skeletonized movement is also designed for maximum lightness of weight.
Panerai uses a skeletonized version of its in-house-made P.2005 movement, Caliber P.2005, in the Lo Scienziato. Renamed Caliber P.2005/T, it has plates and bridges made of titanium, like the case. Hence, the density to these components is about half that of brass, the traditional material used to make them, and the result is a movement that is 35 percent lighter than its predecessor, Caliber P.2005/S, which had been used in previous pieces in the Panerai Lo Scienziato collection. Further adding to the overall lightness of the ensemble is the lack of a traditional dial: all the elements that would normally appear on the dial are instead attached directly to either the front of the movement or to the inner flange of the case — such as the hour numerals, small seconds indicator at 9 o’clock, and the second-time-zone and day-night indicator at 3 o’clock.
Panerai PAM00578 Lo Scienzato – dial CU
Panerai PAM00578 Lo Scienzato – back – angle
The patented tourbillon movement has some nontraditional attributes.
Panerai has patented the tourbillon system in the Lo Scienziato, which is engineered to compensate more precisely for the effects of gravity on the escapement, and thus achieve more accuracy. It does this by having the cage rotate on an axis that is perpendicular rather than parallel to that of the balance. The cage also makes a complete rotation every 30 seconds, rather than once per minute as in more traditional tourbillons.
Panerai PAM00578 Lo Scienzato – reclining
The Panerai Luminor “Lo Scienziato” Luminor 1950 Tourbillon GMT Titanio – 47 mm comes on an anthracite-colored alligator strap with a titanium buckle that continues the skeletonized theme (below). It is limited to just 150 pieces worldwide and priced at $143,000.