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Grimlock's First Build the DSN 203A....Gahd I Love Pre-V


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I discovered Panerai reps not too long ago and as I was clicking through thousands of images, I noted that the models that stuck out the me were the Pre-Vs.  I didn't know what they were at the time, but my eye latched onto their dials.  The bold, rough etched numbers and contrasting printing.  the white hands and non-matching dials.  I had to have one...but I as I searched and discovered that the out of the box options were few and the best reps were all hand made by masters.  I spent hours looking at all the builds by Projectologist and w0lf with dials by FGD and Southy, just to name a few of the greats and I figured what they hell, I'll give it a shot.  So here's my first build... The 5218-203A  I'm a sucker for seconds at 9 so I had to start there, also my collection was sorely lacking a PVD watch and while the shape isn't perfect for Pre-V, the PVD is, so I chose the DSN newborn case.  What amazing quality, I'm in total awe of the DSN PVD case.  


Here's the recipe:
DSN Newborn PVD Case 
DSN Crystal
DSN double gasket, spring loaded crown
DSN Crown guard
Jakob Caseback
DSN Dial
FGD Hands with white-ish non aged lume
Grimlock flattened and polished H3 canon pinion set ;)
Swiss 6497
Dirk Tan Strap
First, let me say that without a light box, it's virtually impossible to photograph a non-AR watch....I will try to get some better pics later.  
This is easily my favorite watch I have ever owned and it's only going to get better when I get a new dial (I have been begging an expert to make me one, FGDs are too scarce;), if you know of one let me know!)
Overall I love the DSN PVD, but it already has a few nicks and I've barely worn it.  I'm not sure how tough it is.  The Spring Loaded Crown is awesome and honestly the shape of the CG is really close.  I take the comments about the lever being off. But seriously the only obvious tell is the back edge near the pin that should be curved and rounded off instead of flush with the rest of the CG body.  Other than that, it's an amazingly accurate Pre-V CG. The slope and the thickness of the CG body is perfect to my untrained eye.  Nice work Davidsen!!!
Before you ask about the white, "non-matching" hands... I understand there was no "non-matching" 203/a's but I have seen a ton of pictures where the dial has aged, but the hands haven't. The DSN Hands match the dial but I like the pictures I have seen where the white pops out against the vintage numbers and indices.  I took my inspiration from photos like this one
Here is the DSN CG versus the Gen CG, the lever is far different. DSN's is too squared off with few contours, but the CG body is darn close.  Nay-sayers...I scoff at you.  I say, "that'll do"
DSN Lever
Gen Lever
DSN Profile
Gen Profile
Another major comment is the lugs, of course.  Everyone here knows about the lugs on the Pre-V.  DSN's don't maintain the fat and short profile of the Pre-V case.  They seem to be missing about 0.5mm off the top edge.  Second... the downward angle seems to be too severe.  This case looks like it has too much cushion shape.  Maybe closer to the 6502 case? See below, at least I think the DSN case could be shaped into a good 6502.  Hopefully we'll get a newborn--newborn case that fixes the lugs for Pre-V uses.  Maybe davidsen can take a mold of the 111J?  
6502 PVD Profile
About the Dial, the DSN is a very respectible effort.  Where else for $50 can you get a milled brass dial, hand lumed and shaped with reasonable accuracy? This no Southy or FGD dial, but it's damn nice for the price and obviously not as rare.  The major difference is the over all thickness of each marker.  I swear if everything gained about 0.25mm they would get spot on GEN!  the font on the printing seems to be correct as well!!! this dial seems to be so close lacking in a few seemingly minor details that really take away from it's gen feel. This is a huge opportunity here for DSN to send his sales through the roof.
I adjusted the contrast here so you can see the true thickness of the markers...
My build is run by an undecorated Swiss ETA 6497.  This is actually, the exact movement that Panerai used in some of the PAM318.  So it's technically GEN!!! :lol:
You can't forget about the Dirk strap.  This is a Dirk tan which is the original color that came with the 203a. If you've always wondered why a strap would cost $150-200, Do yourself a favor and try one out.  You will quickly learn where the money goes.  This is the most comfortable strap I have ever had.  
Last but not least is the Jakob Caseback. The DSN is really nice for the money, but I thought I'd try out the Jakob for my first build.  I wasn't sure at first, but it has really grown on me  The more pics I see, the more I realize the engraving is very close to gen, although I think he combines different elements of different gen casebacks making or kind of a mish-mash of different gen properties.  For example on this 203a I think the serial number should be the smaller stamped style like DSN. 
Overall, I would say bravo to DSN for the amazing PVD work and look toward the future for hopefully a newborn---newborn case that fixes the lugs and dial.  
I love this watch.


I Just have a few more tweaks to go to be done.  I'm searching high and low for a good FGD 203a dial and also harassing Steph_Dexter to make me one;) Then with the hands, I was so excited to get the build together that I forgot to file down the bottom of the minute hand so it sits flush with my polished CP....Oh well, when I swap dials I'll fix that one.


Thanks for reading guys.  I'm stoked that I was able to learn a new skill. Hopefully my builds will be able to stand up to a few of yours some day soon!!!  Next up... the 201a! 

Edited by Grimlocktime
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Thanks guys. I've got the 201 matching and 202 non matching queued up next

Here's what I've got for the 201a

Noob 111H Case (Drilled for Lug Bars)

Noob Crystal with Ar Removed

Jakob Caseback

Swiss Low beat

DSN Lug Bars

DSN Springloaded Crown and tube

V CG or Goin CG ( I have both I can't decide)

Steph_Dexter Dial Matching

FGD Hands

I was going to do a Dirk tan Shark or maybe an Orloff with an MX buckle?

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