Friday, March 25, 2011

The finer points of a Panerai Strap selection

One of the beauty of owning a Panerai is the endless OEM and after market straps you can purchase.  Although Panerai officially recommends that you swap out your leather straps at your Authorized Dealer ("AD"), with most of the watches you are provided the tools necessary to do the swap yourself.  These tools come in the nice maple presentation box that comes with your timepiece.

Beware of people selling Panerai without box or papers.  In addition, get to know the watches, and beware of watches that are not sold with their appropriate box.  Not all Panerai presentation boxes look the same.  The box style varies depending on the model of watch you purchase.  I have seen many pictures of Panerais for sale online, with box and papers, except the box doesn't match the watch that's being sold.  Immediate red flag.

Apologize for the tangent, now back to the straps.

Be aware that different styles of Panerai requires different straps.  Radiomir straps definitely will not fit Luminor straps because they are too wide, 47mm vs. 46mm.  In addition, Luminor straps will not fit Radiomir straps without minor modifications such as the removal of the spacer tubes.  Because straps for the Luminor were designed for a shorter mount point, there will be gaps and the strap will not fit flush to the crown.

You should be able to fairly easily tell these two straps apart without having to pull out your ruler and measure the width of the mount points.  Straps for the Luminor usually come with a metallic tube inserted into the end that attaches to the watch.  This tube facilitates the mounting and removal of the strap, as well as allow the strap to move freely once installed.  Radiomir have an uniquely different strap attachment.  The Radiomir watches do not need a metal tube.  Because Radiomirs generally has a 47mm base, the straps are slightly wider as well at 27mm.

Straps made to fit tongue buckles are different from straps made to fit deployant buckles (Panerai calls it Adjustable Buckles).  Because the different buckles are shaped differently, the straps are also shaped differently to accommodate the differences.  The straps made for deployant (adjustable) buckles tend to be wider in the center than for the standard tongue buckles.  This means a strap made for a deployant (adjustable) buckle may not fit a tongue buckle, and vice versa.  I prefer deployant (adjustable) buckles because they generally fit better while allowing for circulation between your wrist and the watch strap, in addition, they also preserve the strap much better and eliminates many of the buckle lines you see often with a well used tongue buckle strap.  That being said, most historic or limited edition Panerai pieces generally come with the tongue buckle.

Armed with this knowledge, you should be able to quickly assess whether the strap you are interesting in purchasing can fit your watch.  Amazingly, not a lot of Sales Associates (unless you are at the Panerai boutique) are aware of this.

Like I said previously, there are a lot of after market strap makers that you can find online.  But when you start going custom, you'll realize that the OEM straps aren't really that expensive, especially when you consider that it's much more rigorously tested to be hypoallergenic.  You can find more information about the OEM selection at the Panerai site here.

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