It's not everyday we come across this piece - the PAM106, which just might be one of the more elusive regular models in the Panerai range (as in, it wasn't designated a special edition). Why is it elusive? Officially, only 1000 pieces were ever made over two years, in 2002 and 2003 (D and E series). It appears to be the first Submersible to receive the bracelet, and it is also the series to receive the updated bezel with ratchet at one minute intervals, and minute indices between 12 and 3. The PAM106 also features a bi-metal case and bracelet. The case itself is in titanium with a stainless steel bezel, and the bracelet is a mix of brushed steel and titanium, making this watch quite subdued and low key. Another interesting facet about the 106 is the dial. The shade of anthracite actually changes from a light grey to almost back depending on lighting and angle.
Thanks to its stainless steel/titanium construction, the watch itself is not too heavy and not too light. It sits on the wrist just right. (Didn't mean to rhyme there). At 44mm in diameter it's not a small watch, but it's no longer the BIG watch it used to be. The bracelet tapers from the lugs to the clasp, reducing a bit of visual weight as well. What I don't understand is why Panerai produced the bracelet with only half the clasp!! I believe many of the original clasps broke quite easily and were replaced with what should have been, a proper full folding clasp. I'm guessing the owner of this particular example wears the watch more on strap than on bracelet, which might be the reason why the original half clasp appears to be quite sturdy still. Personally I'm a big fan of the older style bracelet, which was modelled upon the crown bridge. The bracelet design was simplified on newer models and I think this is a great shame, as it now just looks generic and dare I say it, cheap...
Another known issue for the Submersible models of this age is the pitting of the hands, as can be plainly seen in this example. This is a bit of a mystery as it's actually not a case of moisture getting into the watch. The hands would be the only place with signs of pitting whereas the rest of the watch is fine. Online chatter suggests that these hands were replaced under warranty, but of course, as purists go, it's better to keep everything as original as possible, right?
Now, the dial. There were two versions available. Tritium dials and super-luminova dials. Again, the tritium is more highly sought after and now shows a warm patina. It is said that D series were produced with tritium and this changed to the super-luminova in the E series. But of course, if the tritium dial was replaced during service, the replacement would be the lume version.
The PAM106 is powered by the OPIII movement, which is just Panerai speak for a valjoux 7750 minus all the chrono functions. As such it's a reliable movement and everyone can service it. And because it is a 7750, you get the signature rotor wobble if you shake the watch the right (or wrong) way.
Granted, the Submersible is not as "iconic" as either the Luminor or the Radiomir. It is a bit of a hybrid design-wise (mix of Egiziano and Luminor WITH an automatic movement). However Panerai continued with this style and it's come into its own as a strong separate model line within Panerai, and although its style might be polarising to some, you could say it's found its niche and you can always take comfort in knowing there aren't as many Submersibles out there as Luminors or Radiomirs or Fiddys... If you manage to find a PAM106 in a good condition, geddit as they'll probably become harder and harder to find. Unless, of course, you settle for the more ubiquitous Pam 24 or Pam 25...
Thanks to the owner of this lovely timepiece for offering me the opportunity to review the watch.