Mare Nostrum, the most mysterious and rarest of all Panerai models, for the main characteristics of this impressive chronograph: case, measurements, dial and production processes. The result is a large watch with big historical appeal and big visual impact.
Discovery by Officine Panerai of one of the prototypes, now part of the collections at the Officine Panerai Museum in Florence, enabled creation of a new Mare Nostrum an extraordinary model from a collectors’ point of view, in a single edition of just 99 examples that reproduce the original right down to the smallest detail.
The replica Mare Nostrum – 52 mm has an impressive brushed case in three parts and measuring 52 mm in diameter, like the original. With very strong lugs, it has a tonneau shape, but looks round due to the wide flat bezel with ridged edge on which, just as on the prototype, a fine circular mark stands out, perhaps due to an unfinished process or a reference mark for a subsequent scale engraving. The screw-down back plate has four grooves to assist unscrewing and this too is in brushed steel, but unlike the original, it features a sapphire crystal window through which the movement can be seen. The cylindrical winding and regulating crown, with the words Mare Nostrum engraved on its ridged edge is of the screw-down type and the pump buttons are cylindrical.
The watch is guaranteed watertight to 3 bar (about 30 metres), a depth that depended on the historical use of the Mare Nostrum. The two reasons for this were that, firstly, the model was designed for use on ships and not underwater and secondly, at that time it was virtually impossible to make the chronographic buttons on a watch totally waterproof for any length of time.
Protected by a 1.6 mm thick anti-reflective sapphire crystal, the dial has a black base and two levels. The outer, upper ring, bears small Arabic numerals, stick hour markers and round minute markers, all coated in luminescent material. The central one level, over a millimetre lower, bears the names of the brand and model and the two subsidiary dials. On the left the small seconds one, on the right the minute counter, set to 45, as was the norm in those days. The considerable gap between replica and authentic PAM00300 are too real to find out.