Are you ready for a glimpse of another new micro-brand watch model? I know it seems these days the market is just flat out flooded with tons of different watch brands along with many different styles. However, it is always refreshing when a watch company steps away from their comfort zone like Panzera has done with the Aquamarine 45. All the past watch models from Panzera could be considered either pilot style or dress. The Aquamarine is the first attempt by Panzera to jump into the sport/dive watch venue and thank goodness, they did not just throw out some stale looking timepiece. My colleagues have previously reviewed models from Panzera and typical had positive comments about build quality and design. I am pleased to get my first up close look at the Panzera Aquamarine 45. The Aquamarine ranges in price from $555 for the all stainless steel finished model to $645 for the Rose IP plated model. The model that is the subject of this review is the black IP, which retails for $575. You can read more about Panzera and the Aquamarine 45 at http://panzera-style.com/aquamarine45/.
Panzera Aquamarine Specifications:
- Model: A45-02R
- Case: 316L Surgical Grade Stainless Steel/IP Black Matte Finish
- Case Size: 45mm
- Case Length: 55mm
- Case Thickness: 15mm
- Lug Width: 24mm
- Movement: Mechanical Automatic
- Water Resistance: 200 meters
- Strap: Rubber/Leather
Price: $575 USD
First off, I know many of you see the name of the model, Aquamarine 45, and assume dive watch, right? Well, it is, but it isn’t. I mean, another brand, Panerai of course, is known for watches without timing bezels that were used for dives, just like a few other brands do, and a bezel does not really define a dive watch I guess. In certain diving aspects, a timing bezel is just not needed. If a timing bezel is important to you for a dive watch, I would look elsewhere. But if you do not dive, or time anything with a bezel, this is a nice dive/sport style watch in my opinion.
Let us move on to looking at the case details aside from the size. The available case finishes and strap options will allow the wearer to dress the watch up significantly or keep things extremely casual. At 15mm thick it may still be able to fit under a dress shirt cuff. The brushed/matte finishing on the black IP version is flawless at least to the naked eye. While the case design of the Aquamarine 45 is not what I or anyone else may considered unique, I have to admit the cushion case style may be one of the more popular designs on the market. Personally, the cushion case design is my favorite. I find this style of case provides a level of balance on the wrist and on top of that, it just looks great. I believe the fact that the lug width is 24mm has a lot to do with aiding in the balance, as I have always felt wider straps just feel better on the wrist as well.
I love the over-sized 10+mm double crown design and that fact that it screws down which I have always preferred to push/pull crowns. Even though the crown is large, it does not dig into the wrist, which is an absolute no-no. The crown has a nice clean logo on the face sticking with the nautical theme of the watch. Unless some sort of extreme gasket system is utilized, the crown had better be screw down or I would be highly skeptical about high levels of water resistance. So, what is the case missing? Not a whole lot actually. If I had to pick one aspect to improve upon with the case, it would have to be the lugs and the need for drilled lug holes making strap changes much simpler. If you like cushion cases, I think you would be hard pressed to dislike this one.
How many times have you guys heard me mention that I do not care for domed sapphire crystals? Well, not a worry on the Aquamarine 45 as the crystal is flat, thank goodness. The crystal is large as well at 37mm providing an easy view of the midnight black dial. Now, I have to admit, I am not a fan of the anti-reflective (AR) coating used by Panzera as they chose to coat internal and external. I know having both provide great clarity for the dial but there is a drawback. AR coatings tend to scratch easily and over time that could be a problem especially if the watch is worn more during sporting activities over dress watch venues. I love the midnight black dial on the Aquamarine. The choice for a mix of markers and numbers looks great and resembles some of the Panerai style dial setups. I also really like the skeleton hour and minute hands.
The one aspect about the dial that I have to admit I am not a fan of is the open numeric date window. I like the day/date option; however, I wish they would have just kept it simpler, at least it is legible. At this point, everyone is probably wondering does the watch have any lume? It does but it is not fantastic. The Panzera Aquamarine lume glows well enough for a short period of time, and should not be a problem telling the time in a darkened room for a few hours.
Powering the Panzera Aquamarine is Miyota automatic movement. It is a 21 jewel Miyota so my assumption is that the movement is some variation of the 8215 allowing for a day/date complication. Like many of you, I am not a huge fan of the 8200 series Miyota movements. These movements are robust but tend to be inaccurate. In addition, I do not care for the erratic movement of the second hand around the dial. It just bothers me, as I prefer the smooth sweep provided by movements such as the 9015 and ETA movements. Like many, I am still trying to adjust to the idea that more and more we are going to see the 8215 or similar in many new watch models in order to keep pricing down. While I prefer the Miyota 9015, many times we are now seeing prices at $700 or more using that movement. I would almost rather companies opt for the Seiko NH35 instead of the Miyota 8215. The NH35 would help keep the overall cost down for consumers while providing a bit more of an aesthetically pleasing sweep by the second hand. I think Panzera would have been better served by at least going the Seiko route in this case.
The last features I will cover briefly are the strap options. Sorry no bracelets guys. I am fortunate to get a glimpse of the both the rubber and leather straps used with the Aquamarine 45. Up front, I have to point out if you have a large wrist there may be some issues. On my 7 ¾-inch wrist, I only have two holes to size upward on both straps. Please keep the sizing in mind, as you may need to grab another strap. As far as quality is concerned, both straps are top notch in my book. The 24mm width of the straps as I mentioned previously aid with the balance feel of the watch on the wrist in my personal opinion. If I could suggest one more thing to Panzera, provide the same heavy-duty buckle found on the leather strap on the rubber strap.
I would like to applaud Panzera for stepping outside of their comfort zone and producing such a very nice looking sport/dive watch at an affordable price. The Panzera Aquamarine 45 has a good amount of quality specifications ranging from the case design and make-up, case plating options, sapphire crystal and aesthetically pleasing dial/hands. The downside is the Miyota 8200 series movement. If Panzera keeps producing watches of solid quality like this one, but with a higher grade movement, they will continue to grow as a company. I hope they will look into using Seiko and higher grade Miyota automatics for future productions. If the movement does not dissuade you, I would say it is worth checking out.