Its always interesting to compare the style of a watch to its country of origin. Swiss watches are often restrained and use classic designs. Japanese watches can have modern and funky styling elements mixed in. So how does Australian culture influence its watches? Let's find out!
Panzera Watches was established in 2009 and, as you've probably guessed, is headquartered in Australia. They place Japanese and Swiss movements inside cases and parts that are manufactured in Germany. The straps are Italian and Spanish. Most importantly, the design occurs in Sydney. Final assembly, and five days of testing for each watch is also performed in Australia (or Switzerland for the Swiss Made Flight Master).
They describe their styles as "modern vintage," and their watches fall into the Air, Land and Sea categories. In other words, they are built with the classic pilot, navy or racing aesthetics you'd expect, but with bold and modern elements added.
With 200m of water resistance, the Aquamarine 45 falls under the Sea category. It doesn't have a rotating bezel, but the cushion-shaped case and beefy lugs give it a resemblance to a Panerai Radiomir, which is considered a dive watch. Panzera says that it is "built for the action and lifestyle found along the rugged Australian coastline." Australia's surf culture is definitely evident in its bold and unique styling.
As you may have guessed by the name, the Aquamarine 45 has a 45mm case width. When I opened the box and strapped it on, I was sure that that it was 47-48mm. A quick check with come calipers determined that 45 is in fact, the correct number.
My 45.5mm Omega Planet Ocean Chronograph is actually wider and thicker, but the Aquamarine 45 has a much bigger wrist presence due to the squared edges of the case (it is just over 50mm when measured diagonally). Because the lugs are not integrated, the lug to lug width is also bigger than the Omega at 55mm by my measurement.
The result is a watch that looks bigger than the numbers indicate. Perfect for someone who doesn't have a massive wrist, but wants something that looks substantial.
The Aquamarine 45 is available in a number of case finishes. Mine is the Atlantic Blue Fathom, which features a fully-polished stainless steel case. The polish definitely adds to the attention-grabbing character, and enhances the way light plays with the case and dial (more on that later).
As is typical for a cushion case, the watch is nearly a square, but the sides are slightly curved. The edges and corners appear sharp at first, but are also slightly rounded off.
The bold, sloped bezel appears to be a separate piece that is pressed on.
The chunky lugs are flat on the sides, and curve downward on the tops (lug width is 24mm). The bottom of the lugs extend below the bottom of the case, which helps the big watch sit flush on the wrist.
Thickness is a manageable 14mm - again, it looks much thicker than the numbers indicate due to the flat sides and deeply-recessed dial.
The case-back is solid. It is polished around the edges, with a matte finish in the center. Panzera text surrounds their logo, and the critical specs encircle the perimeter. The solid case-back is likely thinner than an exhibition back would have been, so I think it was the right choice to help the watch sit flush on the wrist.
The screw-down crown is roughly 4mm thick, and a beefy 10mm in diameter. I'm sure this was done to continue the bold look, but it also makes winding and setting the watch a breeze!
The crown features a polished face with Panzera logo and text matching the case-back. The sides are ridged for better grip, and also feature a circumferential groove.
A matte black dial is available, but I prefer the midnight blue sunburst dial for the way it plays with light.
It appears to be a metallic sunburst in most conditions, but actually has a light matte texture that can be detected when very bright reflections are present.
The dial features thin stick hour markers that extend deep into the dial at most hours. They also have very thin polished metal surrounds. The result is that you don't notice the metal with the naked eye in most conditions, but they catch sunlight delightfully. White painted minute markers are also distributed between the hours.
Interestingly, a pilot-style triangle with two dots is placed at twelve.
There are also arabic numerals at twelve and 6 with a modern-looking font. The red twelve and arrow next to the date window add a splash of color.
The dial features minimal text, with "PANZERA" at twelve, and "AUTOMATIC" at six. This minimal and symmetric text is the way to go.
The water resistance spec is hidden at the bottom of the dial where you would typically find the country of origin. It's a fun and clean way to hide this information without cluttering up the dial.
When a large watch like the Aquamarine 45 uses a standard movement, the application of the date can become a concern, as it tends to float in the middle of the dial. Panzera added the red triangle mentioned above next to the three marker, and also expanded the date window to show three dates. They also included a day display (with English and Spanish options) to fill the space to the left. All of the days have white text.
Including no date would have been the cleaner option, but I prefer to have the date on my watch. I also like that they used a black rather than white background to help in blend in. Blue would have been a nice touch, but I assume it would have increased cost significantly to have custom day and date wheels developed.
The main hour markers are painted with lume that is pure white in the light, and whitish green in the dark. The lume is quite good, as Panzera uses Superluminova.
The hour and minute hands are sword-shaped and skeletonized. The main surfaces are painted white with the same color lume as the hour markers. The centers are matte black which helps them blend into the dark blue dial (even more so on the black dial version).
The second hand is a stick hand with a black center and counter-balance. The main surface is also lumed, but the tip is painted red.
I'd love to see the minute and second hand extend to the edge of the dial, but legibility is still excellent during day and night. These types of hands are some of the best for legibility in my opinion.
The crystal is a flat sapphire with double anti-reflective coating. The coating can take on a blue tint in some lighting conditions (matching the dial).
Normally I love domed crystals, but for a watch that is already thick, the flat crystal helps the profile on the wrist. It is also completely free of distortion at any angle, further improving the legibility.
Panzera offers countless strap options for the Aquamarine 45 including many colors of silicone, leather, nylon and a stainless steel mesh bracelet.
The Atlantic Blue Fathom version comes on a 3 - 6mm thick blue silicone strap with white stitching. The blue color gives the watch a fun vibe, and makes it the perfect vacation/beach watch.
The strap has two silicone keepers, and a polished buckle engraved with Panzera text. The underside is also recessed to help keep your wrist cool.
Normally silicone is not my first choice, but this one seems to be of higher quality than most. It's quite comfortable, and helps hold the 102/130g (without and with strap) watch securely on the wrist. The stitching and extra thickness added to the center section give it a higher end look.
Panzera fits the Aquamarine 45 with a Miyota 820A movement. It features hacking and hand-winding, 21 jewels, and the day and date functions mentioned earlier.
It beats at 21,600bph (6 beats per second). It is a workhorse movement, but is completely appropriate for this price point (plus you get to enjoy that Miyota wobble from time to time).
As mentioned, the Aquamarine 45 has some Radiomir design cues in the case shape. I like that Panzera applied a very unique dial and hand design (plus the crown). This ensures that no one will mistake the watch for an homage, and the watch has clear design language that indicates it is part of the Panzera collection.
The fully-polished case, and flashy dial give it a strong wrist presence, and the legibility is excellent.
The Atlantic Blue Fathom version lists for $535, but is currently marked down to $294. The full price is appropriate for the level of watch you are getting, which makes the watch at the marked down price a lot of huge bang for the buck.
My personal preference would be an Aquamarine 43 (about 2mm smaller), but considering its size and weight, the 45 is quite wearable and has a bold wrist presence. If you like bigger watches, it's a great value, and I recommend checking one out.
Panzera also has a new model called the Time Master 42 coming soon. The size is (you guessed it) 42mm. If you like Panzera's design language, it looks like it will be a great option (plus I love racing watches)!
Are you a large watch lover? What do you think of the Aquamarine 45? Let us know in the comments!