The 13th edition of the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge (PCYC), an international circuit of regattas for vintage sailing yachts, kicked off in Antigua on April 19th and continues throughout the spring and summer, with winners of each of the 10 individual Mediterranean Circuit and North American Circuit events receiving a Panerai watch as their prize. This year, Panerai is also offering special PCYC timepieces to the public — two new references of the Luminor 1950 3 Days Chrono Flyback Automatic Acciaio, and a new version of its most ideal watch for competitive sailors, the Luminor 1950 Regatta 3 Days Chrono Flyback Titanio.
Both versions of the Panerai Luminor 1950 PCYC 3 Days Chrono Flyback Automatic Acciaio feature 44-mm-diameter cases in corrosion-resistant AISI 316L stainless steel; like all Luminor 1950 cases, they are equipped with Panerai’s familiar (and patented) lever-locking bridge device for the winding crown, which ensures the watch is water-resistant to 100 meters. The solid steel caseback is engraved with the image of a vintage yacht and the words “PANERAI CLASSIC YACHTS CHALLENGE.” Beneath that solid caseback ticks Panerai’s in-house automatic P.9100 caliber, which includes a flyback chronograph function, with a vertical clutch and column wheel, and stores a three-day (72-hour) power reserve in two series-connected spring barrels. Other technical highlights include a seconds-reset device, a bidirectional rotor, and a variable inertia balance oscillating at 28,800 vph.
The dial of this special PCYC timepiece is offered with either a black dial with beige Arabic hour numerals (Ref. PAM00653, above) or an ivory dial with beige hour markers and blue details (Ref. PAM00654, below). The black-dial model comes on an untreated brown leather strap with beige stitching; the beige stitching, which echoes the color of the hour markers, also appears on the brown leather strap of the ivory-dialed version. The pusher at 10 o’clock starts, stops, and resets the chronograph, while the one at 8 o’clock instantly zeroes and re-starts the chronograph hands without the need to stop and restart with the other pusher. The dial was designed for legibility of the watch’s various readouts, with the central chronograph minutes hands in different colors, the chronograph hours recorded on the subdial at 3 o’clock and the running seconds displayed on the subdial at 9 o’clock. Both watches’ dials have luminous treatment on the hands and hour markers and a tachymeter scale in knots (nautical miles) along the flange, which can be used with the chronograph to calculate the average speed of a yacht over a particular distance. Both the PAM00653 and PAM00654 models are priced at $12,300.
The Panerai Luminor 1950 PCYC Regatta 3 Days Chrono Flyback Automatic Titanio (Ref. PAM00652) has all the technical attributes of the other two PCYC models, but also adds a regatta countdown function and a larger case — 47 mm in diameter — made of tough but lightweight brushed titanium. The case has a contrasting polished bezel along with the Panerai crown-locking lever device and an engraving on the caseback of a classic yacht and “PANERAI CLASSIC YACHTS CHALLENGE” text. Joining the chronograph pushers at 8 and 10 o’clock on this model is an additional push-button at 4 o’clock that activates the watch’s signature function, a regatta countdown that enables the wearer to accurately and precisely count down to the start of a yacht race.
Perfect timing is crucial in a regatta; the sailing vessels must line up behind the buoys without edging past an imaginary start line prior to the start of the race. To use this watch to start the countdown to race time, simply press the 4 o’clock push-button at 4 o’clock to move the central chronograph minute hand back, one minute at a time, until it is at the correct position in relation to the length of the countdown. Next, press the chronograph stop/start button at 10 o’clock, which starts the chronograph hands moving, indicating first the minutes and seconds remaining until the start, and then, when the countdown has finished, the time elapsed since the start of the race. At the end of the interval being measured, the push-button at eight o’clock returns all the chronograph hands to zero; if it is operated while the hands are still moving, it activates the return-to-zero (flyback) function of these hands, enabling the wearer to start timing a new interval immediately, without using the stop and reset buttons. Again, legibility of these operations was key in the dial’s design: the chronograph seconds and minutes hands are in different colors (rhodium-plated and gilded, respectively); the elapsed hours are displayed in the 3 o’clock subdial and the small seconds, in the 9 o’clock subdial.
The watch’s engine is Panerai Caliber P.9100/R, a modified version of Caliber P.9100 with an added module for the countdown function. Like the Flyback models, this watch features a tachymeter scale in knots and beige, luminous hour markers on the dial whose color is echoed in the strap’s contrast stitching. The strap is made of natural untreated leather and fastens to the wrist with a titanium clasp with a heat-stamped “OP” (Officine Panerai) logo. The price: $17,200.