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Toad's Guide - PAM 239 Destro Review & CG Mod Tutorial

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Panerai. Panerai. Panerai.

You either love 'em or hate 'em. Those that love 'em...love 'em a lot...so much so that similar to Rolex Milsub collectors, they go on an arduous pursuit to collect a 1001 variants to what would seem to most, to be almost the exact same watch.

To be honest, I used to be of the hate 'em category, thinking them to be nothing more than an awkward, lumpy hunk of metal. But, as you get older, your eyes start to fail and certain things start to take on new meaning like your need to read the numbers on your watch. The always classy, intellectual and eloquent human being Sylvester Stallone said in Cigar Afficianado magazine: "[Panerai], it's perfect for people who are over 45 years old" adding a reference to the ease of reading large-format watches.

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...There...now is that close enough to read the time????

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Just when you thought 18mm was thick for a watch...(early Panerai Compass)

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Meaty gets Meatier...(early Panerai Depth Gauge)

There was an esteemed member here at RWG who summed up PAMs quite nicely in my mind questioning why anybody would want to wear something that looked like you were wearing a hamburger on your wrist. That's sick.

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Meat is Murder. Tasty...Tasty Murder!

But...for some reason...Pam's have Star Power as Sly put it. I mean if this guy who with his notoriety can make a little blue dress become the Halloween costume of 1998 is one who wears a Panerai, who wouldn't want one??

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Why yes...Grecian Formula does in fact transform me from pervert to Dirty Old Man.

So...enter HackR - Stage Left. I wear my watches on my right hand, and had mentioned wanting a left-handed watch in some thread some time back. HackR looking to offload an item to make room for something incoming sent me a PM about his...and lo and behold...a new watch had landed and a great friendship with another RWG member began.

It's funny that a left-handed watch is one you wear on your right hand...but the emphasis is on the fact that you can adjust the watch with your left hand while you wear your watch on your right. This is all fine and well except that with the movement merely being flipped around, the direction of movement for turning the crown is in fact "backwards" so somewhat counter-intuitive and a bit awkward. I'm not sure if this is different on the gen or the same...so I can't criticize it too harshly as a fault of the rep, given that I've never seen a gen Destro in real life.

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Destro? Fantastic question...I would like to know what that means...

BTW...if you're wondering why Destro is the term used for PAM's worn on the right hand, it's because "right" translates to a Destra in Italian. Make it masculine with an "o" ending...and you get Destro.

Having my first PAM in my collection made me realize that in spite of the popularity of the brand both in the rep and gen worlds, there is very little info on the brands and few complete reviews on RWG.

So, what better an opportunity to make RobbieG or Demsey proud than another long-winded Toad Review and Guide to some basic modding of my Pam 239 - Destro Submersible.

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Panerai History

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Panerai as a company is not that old. Giovanni Panerai first opened his shop in Florence in 1860 quickly making contacts with high end makers of Swiss watches. The company originally focussed on its mechanical engineering efforts producing equipment for the Royal Italian Navy under its original name of Panerai and Figlio.

By 1890 things expanded into producing parts and tools for precision engineering, expanding into an associated workshop for repairing clocks and watches.

In 1913, the company starts producing precision military equipment for the Royal Italian Navy like timers, calculators and other technical instruments that could function in the dark using a powerful luminescent substance called Radiomir, patented in 1915.

By 1935, Officine Panerai starts supplying precision pocket watches for military use and in 1938 produced it's first diving watch - the Radiomir using Rolex manufactured crowns, cases and movements.

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In the 40's, Panerai was only making watches for military supply, and the Italian Navy and a select group of German frogmen trained by the Italian Navy were supplied with 47mm Radiomirs...the famed, uber-rare Kampfschwimmer 3646.

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Following the end of WWII, Panerai seems to have disappeared...only to reappear in 1993 as it's "rebirth" supplying watches for the first time to the public in the manner of limited edition releases.

In 1995, Stallone discovers the brand and requests limited edition custom made models be produced for him and his friends, thereby catapaulting the brand into the modern luxury realm. And no...I didn't get a Slytech from Mr. Balboa...ungrateful, saggy piece of incomprehensible leather...after all I did for him! :angry:

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Quiet...quiet...there's a PAM bigger than 60mm out there...and it's MINE!!!

By 1997, Panerai is bought by the Vendome group (now Richemont) thereby creating the collector period designation between 1993 (the brand's rebirth) and pre-buy-out by Vendome in 1997 as the "Pre-V" period.

The rest is history as per standard big conglomerate watch company practices go:

  • Become a recognized brand by using somebody else's movement (Rolex)
  • Buy out by Swatch
  • Become a more recognized brand by using somebody else's more affordable movement (ETA)
  • Fight being seen as a cheap copout company by creating the Manifattura line of watches with expensive in-house mechanics


    The Review


    Enough chit-chat. Now...we dance.

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    Depending on how picky you are, the watch out of the box is not in fact that bad. Nothing glaringly cries fake to the standard eye, unless you are a Paneristi in which case, there are MANY what I consider to be minor faults.

    The cannon pinion is reasonably flat and I don't see any need to change to the ETA H3 high cannon pinion.

    The crown guard lever sits reasonably snug...no chance of it flying open without it being flipped up by the handle (a flaw easily corrected by sending the crown guard feet with sandpaper wrapped around a chopstick).

    The dial could do with some Chieftang AR if it wasn't for the cyclops crystal making that not possible.

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    Flaws include:

    • Slightly bumpy zit of a Crown Guard (CG) pin (this is one of the biggest flaws on most rep PAMs)
    • Curved shaping to the face of the CG
    • Different font on the bezel markers
    • Flat vs. matte bezel markers
    • Almost "Black" lume at 12 and 6-o-clock and running seconds subdial
    • Thin date font
    • Shallow (but still recessed) running seconds at 3 subdial
    • Slightly different sized letters on dial (hard to see)
    • Pearl looks to have more "fill" on the lume on the gen vs. the rep

    All in all...not too bad I think.

    The rep is powered by a non-chrono A7750 to get the running seconds at 3. As usual for the A7750 movement, the rotor was loud, but the movement ran fine with solid power reserve.

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    The caseback lettering on the bottom row with the serial and model number are too big, but even still, quite nicely captured...especially the exact numbering and edition as the gen pic...hmmmm...what picture did they use for the rep manufacturing??

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    On the bracelet, the watch has heft. It's a bit big...but fun in an IN YOUR FACE kind of way. Changing straps on PAMs is half the fun. They change the look of the piece so much and can really change the comfort factor as well.

    The rubber strap is a bit soft, but the deployment is nice.

    A minor, but still nagging flaw to me was that CG pin. Others have been bugged by the thin datefont...but being a Destro left-handed model, this was not something that could be fixed easily as most aftermarket datewheels with nice font are not printed in an "upside down" model for Destro's with the numbers being readable on the left hand side of the dial.

    The Zigmeister of course, will manufacture a fantastic custom CG pin on his lathe and I was very close to having him do the work...but, as others who have started modding know (Teejay...I'm talking about YOU), there is something very rewarding about trying to do things yourself...even if it takes a bit of trial and error. After all, I don't have 1500kg of power tools in the workshop for nothing!!

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    C'est la vie!

    The Mods

    To fix the CG pin flaw, I used a dremel as detailed below to go from stock to better than stock.

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    Remove CG screw #1

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    Flip up lever and remove screw #2

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    Remove CG

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    Note damage to screw head from incorrect sized screwdriver slippage (not me)

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    Remove curvature of CG face using 180 grit paper for quick material removal

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    Sand on hard flat surface parallel to vertical plane of CG so brush marks are lined up with vertical edges

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    Once face is as flat as you want it, switch to 240 grit paper to smoothen out the "brushed" effect

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    By this stage, the face will be a nice finish, but the CG pin will have disappeared being blended with the CG

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    Flip CG onto piece of wood and use a flat pin and hammer to slightly tap out CG pin

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    CG pin sticking up

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    Use a dremel and standard polishing compound with a small pointy polishing bit

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    Polish the top of the CG pin head...and tap pin back down gently!!

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    Nice!!

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    Reinstalled!!

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    Because a PAM is not a PAM without a trip to The Zigmeister!!

    Lumed dial, hands and pearl with Zig's C3/C1 tritium mix to match the T Swiss T dial. The gen is more white than yellow but I wanted the slightly aged tritium look that I have on my gen's with aged tritium.

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    Another gratuitous lume close-up...Paint by Numbers The Zigmeister Style!

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    Scorchin'!!

    The C1/C3 lume mix is nice and bright in a green glow. It's not super bright like the BGW9 blue lume Zig did on my 2006 CD, but that's due to the lume used, and the darker base colour of the existing crappy factory lume. The lume is legible in low light throughout the night.

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    Zig also serviced the A7750 non-chrono movement and it is quiet and now reliable.

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    Pre-mods

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    Pre-mods

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    Pre-mods

    Big thanks to The Zigmeister for the work. Class act and a fine result as always.

    Big thanks to HackR for selling me this piece.

    Hope you folks found this interesting and useful.

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S -

as always...informative and fun!... :1a:

good stuff, my friend... :drinks:

you're an ASSet to the community... ;)

well done!...

R-

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Cool informative post

I now know what the pre V period was :thumbsupsmileyanim:

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Nice article interesting to read..thanks

I never saw the appeal of these watches but I'm becoming 'Pam curious'.

"[Panerai], it's perfect for people who are over 45 years old" adding a reference to the ease of reading large-format watches."

Maybe we need a prescription crystal service! Any optometrist on the board :shock:

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Great write-up Toad.

Love my 239 which has all the same mods. I think mine was one of Zig's first lume jobs way back when...

Wish Lello got around to making a Date at 9:00 DW for these....the only thing I haven't dealt with g.gif

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Wish Lello got around to making a Date at 9:00 DW for these....the only thing I haven't dealt with g.gif

Thanks for the feedback...and thanks for the early advice on the watch. I agree, a Lello DW made for a Destro would be great...it would really bring the watch to the next level. Oh well...can't be too picky.

@HackR - I'm thinking of polishing all the bezel markers...just trying to figure out the best paint to fill in the numbers and markers with.

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Wow, great post, very informative and entertaining.

It looks great, well done and thanks for taking the time to do up such a detailed and step by step guide.

RWG at it's best.

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Superb. bookmarked it and will use it later to modd my own CG.

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Great review....and welcome to the 239 club...

someonepleasemakeadecentdatewheelforthisone!

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Hi Toad,

I just noticed your thread. I am going to mod my 239 at this time. I already owned one which has been serviced and re-lumed by The Zigmeister as well. I gave it to a friend of mine a long time ago and indeed I did regret that very quickly. By chance I could get another unworn one. I disassembled the watch for a crystal experiment. The rep comes with an embedded lens with a bad magnification. The embedded lens means no chance for a lens swap. SO I took a sapphire crystal form an older PO version (V2?) which has got exactly the same diameter as the rep crystal of my 239. I installed the PO crystal to the case provisionally just to see if it would fit or not. The PO crystal is not that thick as the 239 crystal but it looks very nice and it does make almost no distortion as you can see from the pics. Furthermore it is lining up with the bezel’s edge properly. Now I am looking for a matching lens to solve that magnification. Does anybody has got a nice mag in stock? I think I will need 6mm in diameter?

I also tried to find a left handed DW with bolt font but I am afraid I will have to stay with the rep DW :( as there is no offer yet.

Pics:

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Wow...didn't realize a PO crystal would fit on that. As to the date mag lens...I'm not sure who has them...but I have seen people doing an upgrade on them.

I would suggest posting a topic requesting info on an improved date mag lens for a PAM.

So far though, the crystal looks good!! Creative work!! You could also send the crystal out now for the Chief's AR if you wanted before the datemag gets glued on! Sorry I don't have any more info! Interesting post though...thanks for that.

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Toad, the PO crystal is ar coated already. I am not sure if the mag can be glued on to the ar coating. As far as I know the left over glue is to be removed with acetone which could damage the ar coating? I already sent a few inquiries to several watch guys. Let's cross our fingers. :thumbsupsmileyanim:

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