In the span of just two decades, Panerai has risen to become one of the most popular watch brands in the world and also a bona fide manufacture. Today, we are going to take a look at one of their more unconventional watches, the Panerai Luminor 1950 3 Days Chrono Flyback Automatic Acciaio watch. The Panerai Luminor 1950 3 Days Chrono Flyback Automatic Acciaio, also known more simply as the PAM 524, is a great choice for lovers of Panerai’s iconic Luminor case that want something a little more special to stand out. As its name clearly states, the PAM 524 is a chronograph with a flyback complication, and I love how Panerai has integrated these functions into the watch.
For readers not familiar with a flyback function, it lets the wearer reset and start the chronograph mechanism without first stopping and then reseting and then starting it again. Pushing the flyback button is enough to reset the chronograph to zero and after which the chronograph seconds hand will immediately resume timing without any interruption. This is especially useful for timing quick continuous events like lap times.
First things first, the case is based on Panerai’s very popular 44mm 1950 Luminor case. Thanks to its bold cushion shape design and its instantly recognizable crown-protecting device, the Panerai Luminor 1950 3 Days Chrono Flyback Automatic Acciaio PAM 524 is big, chunky, brash, and has tremendous wrist presence. If you’re looking for a discreet timepiece, best look elsewhere.
Despite its chunkiness, the PAM 524 actually wears quite well on the wrist, thanks to the long, curved lugs and comfortable strap. That said, it’s a bit top-heavy, and the thickness is something that owners will need to get used to, otherwise they will be banging the watch into all sorts of things. The case is also well constructed with sharp lines and different finishing on the surfaces. The bezel is mirror-polished, while other parts of the case are brushed.
The dial can be best described as balanced. It’s not quite as clean as the “base” designs of the Panerai Luminor 1950 3 Days Acciaio (PAM 372) or the limited edition Panerai Radiomir 1940 3 Days Marina Militare Acciaio (PAM 587), but it’s not as busy as the Luminor 1950 10 Days GMT Automatic (PAM 533). It’s somewhere in between.
The first thing that strikes you is the bright blue chronograph seconds hand. It also lets other Paneristis know immediately that your Panerai is a little special. And unlike other Panerai watches, the Panerai Luminor 1950 3 Days Chrono Flyback Automatic Acciaio PAM 524 has markers for the individual minutes, which is necessary for the chronograph function. The individual minute markers, as well as the larger hour markers, and hours, minutes and running seconds hands are all rendered in matching ecru, which gives the dial a warm and vintage look and feel. Even the date is printed in the same ecru color, which is a nice and thoughtful touch.
There’s no minute subdial for the chronograph and that’s because the minute counter is centrally mounted under the blue seconds hand. It becomes visible once the blue seconds hand is running. And to differentiate it from the seconds hand, it is rendered in polished steel, which can be a little difficult to read since the hand is so thin. Other than this little issue, the Panerai Luminor 1950 3 Days Chrono Flyback Automatic Acciaio PAM 524 is, like most other Panerai watches, very legible. That said, the minute counter advances every minute, which makes it very easy for users to count the elapsed minutes.
Like many of you, I also like the minimal amount of text on the dial. Under the 12 o’clock markers, it simply says “Luminor Panerai”; and above the 6 o’clock marker, it just says “Flyback,” leaving owners in no doubt of the watch’s capabilities and functions. Speaking of which, activating the chronograph and flyback mechanism is dead simple. On the left side of the case are pushers with markings that clearly indicate their purpose. At 10 o’clock, the pusher is marked “S” for start and stop, while at 8 o’clock, the pusher is marked “R” and “F” for reset and flyback respectively.
Enabling all this is Panerai’s caliber P.9100, Panerai’s first automatic chronograph movement with flyback function. It comprises 302 components, 37 jewels, beats at 4Hz, and features two barrels for 3 days (or 72 hours) of power reserve. The two barrels are connected in series and are wound by a bidirectional rotor on ball-bearings. And in true Panerai fashion, the movement, which is visible through the sapphire caseback, has been finished simply and in a very industrial fashion. Much of the movement is hidden by a plate, though the balance and column wheel are exposed.
All things considered, I like the PAM 524 very much, and it’s a great choice for Paneristis who may already have another simpler time-only Panerai watch. The chronograph and flyback function is useful, and the watch has a balanced design and a vintage look and feel that is very charming. The Panerai Luminor 1950 3 Days Chrono Flyback Automatic Acciaio PAM 524 watch is priced at $11,200. panerai.com