The other watch, which I may have recently accidentally bought, is also from the far east. Getat Watches have a sound reputation for making low priced homages of Panerais. They’re popular because they are almost infinitely customisable, look excellent and are hugely inexpensive, especially when compared to real Panerais. You can buy a customised, Chinese built watch, for about $190 inc. shipping which looks and behaves like a similar watch costing $9,000.
Now clearly there will be quality differences between the two. The movements will be of different quality, being better finished and decorated in the real model, although they will likely be based on the Unitas 6497 movement, in effect a glorified pocket watch. One will be Swiss and the other Chinese, both are capable of being regulated to run well and be accurate. The cases and winding mechanisms will be distinguishable in terms of fit and finish but they will essentially function the same.
If that’s the case, why then spend a lot of money on say a Rolex Submariner rather than a Seiko diver or something costing even less? Realistically the fundamental answer must be that you identify with the brand. Quality is higher than on cheaper items (normally) but is it worth that much more? In a rational world, in many ways the answer should be “no.” Appreciable value also plays a part. So when it comes to real Panerai, I’m never been that much of a fan, certainly not at the inflated prices they sell for. Added to the fact that until recently, Panerai fitted their watches with standard, low cost, movements, admittedly fettled, yet they still charged a hefty premium. In 2011 there was the famous PAM 318 Brooklyn Bridge Controversy, where a movement more likely to be found in my Chinese homage was put into a real Panerai, costing then over £4,000. Panerai were forced to eat a whole humble pie and their reputation for ripping off their many fans was certainly cemented in my mind
Another thing which has previously put me off them, is the size of their watches. These can reach up to a 47mm diameter and be 17 mm thick. At this sort of size you have to have the wrists of a body builder to wear them convincingly. However having recently bought my Seiko Tuna, which is a big watch, I thought I would like to try one especially if it’s going to cost me less than £120.
Getat has a less than stellar reputation for providing either good communications or fast delivery but his watches are rated, especially when they eventually arrive. I placed an order a few years back and after waiting 7 weeks even for an acknowledgement, I asked for a cancellation and a refund. To be fair that was provided without question within a couple of days. To attempt to cut down the delivery time, I decided to order one of his more standard watches and only specify basic customisation. Here it is.
This is a 44mm case based on a Panerai Luminor design. Getat has recently upgraded the case to make it water-resistant to 100 meters. I went for the brushed case with a polished bezel, a display caseback so as to be able to see the movement, a black sandwich dial marked with Marina Militare (Italian for Navy and most definitely not a Panerai trademark) and indices filled with aqua blue superluminova. I opted for a sapphire crystal (an amazing thing to have at this price) and chose a dark brown leather strap with buckle. Shipping was a whole $25. The movement is one of those Chinese copies of the Swiss Unitas 6497 hand wound movements. Should it come in with unacceptable accuracy, a quick look over and regulation, should cost £40 or thereabouts.
So I’m looking forward to getting this delivered in, maybe if I’m lucky, a couple of months. It may feel too big for me but I’m going to enjoy trying this on and seeing what they’re like in the flesh. For £100 I can’t go wrong…