These days many microbrands or those wanting to be a microbrand go the easy route. Lots of off-the-shelf cases and parts and not much originality. Pancerna and the Pancerna P.7 Pilot is part of a small percentage of brands that strive to design and produce something more innovative or at the very least make everything from the ground up with no off-the-shelf parts. When we talk about originality, there is not much you can do these days that hasn’t been done unless you start getting really funky, but a brand I admire is Visitor Watches who are truly doing some innovative pieces, while still maintaining a classic look. While Pancerna has not produced a piece to that level just yet, they are on the right track, and this is only their first watch, so the sky is the limit. Pancerna’s website is not up just yet at the time of writing but will be soon, with preorders looking to go live in April, with a proposed preorder price of $519, a savings of $100 off retail. The watch itself is a unique, albeit quirky take on a trench style watch, with a slightly chunkier case and lugs, a bold dial, easy to use crown, and a beautiful case back. It will come with two straps, though I hope that it won’t be exactly the two straps shown in this review, as well as a canvas travel pouch.
Polarizing. I used that word in the video and I am using it here. There is no other way to describe the response to this Pancerna P.7 Pilot. Even in the review video itself, which I published a day or two before this article, you can see this reflected in the comment section. I really did not touch on this in the video, but I have to say, it is funny, if not a little hypocritical by the watch community. I constantly see here, on Youtube, on groups, forums, and wherever else people are discussing watches these days, that they want different, they want originality. They are sick of the same Submariner homage, or the Blancpain homage, or the newest trend, the Gerald Genta-inspired microbrand. Here we have an original take on a trench watch, and it has been interesting to see the comments so far, to say the least. Now, I have no issue clearly stating that this particular style of watch is not one that I gravitate towards normally, but to be very transparent, I do find my tastes changing a lot in the past year or two, so who knows. Maybe a little more wrist time and I will start to like this piece even more. But, I do like this piece, and even though it may not be my first choice, I like what is going on here.
Taking a look around the case, you can see where some of the unlike comes into play, mostly at the robust lugs. I waffled back and forth on this when the prototype first arrived, and I must admit that on the supplied Nato straps, it is not to my liking, but once I put it on a two-piece tropic rubber I had laying around, I enjoyed it much more, and was able to see what Pancera was going for. Yes, the wire lugs are thick and really do appear to stick out a bit (Lug to Lug is still a very manageable 49mm), but on the wrist, It really is very comfortable and they do not protrude into the wrist at all. The more I wore the P.7, the more I started to appreciate it, and the fact that it is a little quirky added to that. The case is somewhat bulbous, but again, that is part of this design, and the more I looked at it and photographed it for this review, the more I appreciated it. It does come off as slightly chunky, but this is not really a big watch at all with a 40mm case and just about 13mm thick(will be slightly thicker come production with a single domed sapphire instead of the flat you see here on the prototype).
You may be wondering, especially if you are Polish or of Polish descent why they chose the name Pancerna, and I am told it is for two reasons. 1, the owner’s mother was Polish and two, it means armored. How is it armored? No, you do not push the crown and a knife or laser will pop out-we quite haven’t figured out how to make a James Bond watch just yet, but production models of the Pancerna P.7 Pilot will have a hard ion coating, that is said to be 8 times harder than stainless steel. I assume this plating will be over the bead-blasted finish, which should allow for it to stay unmarred much longer than regular blasted steel. Blasted finishes tend to get marked up rather quickly and unlike polished or brushed steel, (or titanium), there really isn’t much you can do to remove them. Unfortunately, this prototype does not have that coating, which is why you see a few marks here or there around the case.
Nope, it is not a sandwich dial. I say this only because many assumed from my initial shots on Instagram that the Pancerna has a sandwich dial, but it is a printed dial, with printed markers. But it is the way they are designed, they give the appearance but without the complication of an upper and lower dial. It also allows for a good amount of lume to be applied to the makers and numerals, and trust me when I tell you, this watch glows. Well, don’t trust me, you can just look at the lume shots in this article or our video. The dial is simple and clean, I love the large 12, 3, 6, and 9, though I do wonder why they didn’t throw a 24-hour scale on the dial. Maybe they just wanted that clean aesthetic and who knows, if all goes well, maybe they can do a true GMT version in the future. One of my favorite details is the grey hour, minute, and second hand. They might seem like a weird thing for me to point out, but I just love that they are not black or high chrome. They fit the overall utilitarian vibe of this watch and I think they contrast nicely with the black dial. If you love the watch but are thinking, I wish there were other dial colors, you are in luck. production runs will see a blue, green, desert tan, and a grey dial, as well as the black.
Around the back, no you will not see the Miyota 9015 that is powering this Pancerna P.7 Pilot, but rather a very detailed stamped and engraved case-back with a propeller. While some would hope for an exhibition case back-hey, you have enough of those on almost every other watch, many that don’t deserve it, so for those of us, like myself that love a nice solid case back, let us have our fun too. Speaking of solid, man I tell ya, I love this crown. You may look at it and wonder what is so special, and it is really a combination of a few things. It is an extremely confident feeling and screws down so nicely. The shape and the way it intergrates into the case, the way my fingers can easily wrap around it to move it and set the time, and the fact that it is a screw-down crown in the first place! So many watches that I feel should have a screw crown do not, and it is a letdown. Here, this piece is 200m water resitant, so you won’t have to worry about the water sports when wearing this watch.
When it comes to strap options, I wish there was a two-piece option. The green canvas Nato is okay and is soft and comfortable, but I do not care for the stiff nylon Nato. In fairness, I really do despise these types of straps, always have, and it is what it is. There are many that love them, but a two-piece leather or waterproof suede would look fantastic in my opinion. As it stands now, you will get both Nato straps for the production, and they will both include a signed buckle. Strap changing is easy, once you slide the strap off, the spring pin is exposed and a little spring bar tool or small screwdriver will do the trick. I am happy that they were not solid lug bars, which would give no option for two-piece straps and I am also glad to not see any quick release pin straps in sight.
In conclusion, I do really like this Pancerna P.7 Pilot, but not exactly because it is my new favorite watch. The style is just not for me, but I love the fact that they had the confidence to create something a little outside the box, a little different, and take a historic type of watch and update it with a slightly modern look. It still has the classic styling and feels like it would be a watch that will work now and 20 years from now, and I think they did a very good job. They went with a higher beat movement and left the NH35 behind, and with all the features and the specs, I think the $519 preorder price is more than suitable. I am sure some will balk at the price and want it to be cheaper, just like we want all things to be cheaper these days, but keep in mind, the case, dial, crown and case back were all custom made, and with that, you will have a higher price. You cant order the P.7 just yet, but keep an eye on their Instagram for when their site goes live and I will update this review when the preorder opens.
Don’t worry, I didn’t forget the lume shot. I just saved the best for last. 🙂
I've been an avid watch lover since the age of 7. Watches are not only my hobby but a passion. My favorite style used to be dive watches, but field or non bezel watches have been growing on me. When I'm not reviewing watches I am either cooking or with family and friends.
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.