Panerai Lab-ID Luminor 1950 Carbotech

It’s a pretty good way of getting attention. Tell your audience that the watch you’re presenting only needs servicing once every 50 years — excuse us, say what now? — and you’re pretty much guaranteed a showstopper, conversation starter and general centre of attention timepiece… as befits a brand like Panerai, whose big watches perfectly suit the sentiment that a watch should be a talking point. Discretion has its place, and it isn’t here, in this 49mm watch with its deep black and glowing blue appearance. So, that’s the pretty bold statement that had horology fans stopping in their tracks for a second take.

Of course, as all brilliant marketing stories, there’s a bit more to it than that, and the fact that the watch is lubricant-free (Panerai developed a low-friction composite that means that the watch runs perfectly without the need for it to be serviced for lubrication) doesn’t mean that you won’t ever need to have it serviced over the course of the next half century. Just not for lubrication. Still, it’s pretty impressive stuff, and the secret to it lies in the liberal use of carbon.


The watch, which is limited to just 50 pieces, is made of carbon – the case of carbotech, the dial covered with carbon nanotubes and the movement also features liberal use of carbon composites.

To remove the need for further lubricating the main bridges and the plate, these components are made of a completely new material: a low friction composite
prime time 71 which integrates a Tantalum based ceramic. Also eliminated is the need to lubricate the escapement, as a result of making the main components from silicon and applying a special coating of DLC (Diamond Like Carbon) to the wheelwork. Last but not least, a surface coating of DLC on the four jewels means that there is no need to lubricate the Incabloc® anti-shock device. Carbotech itself is an interesting material; its dense uneven nature means every watch can claim to be distinctly unique; it’s intrinsically high performing thanks to its formation from ultra-thin carbon fibre sheets, allowing the watch to be water resistant to around 100 metres, as well as extremely resistant and reliable. An added bonus – Carbotech is super light, hypoallergenic and doesn’t corrode.

The second notable detail of the Panerai Lab-ID lies in its superilluminated dial. In this case blue coloured Super-Luminova shows the time; the numerals are openings in the dial rather than the Super-Luminova being added afterwards, a neat workaround due to the fact that it’s not possible to stamp or print onto the carbon coated dial.

Most of the watch movement is visible through the large porthole protected by a sapphire case back; the skeletonishing of the bridges and barrels offering a further insight into the technical mastery and hypnotic dark beauty of the watch.

Hand-wound mechanical, P.3001/C calibre, executed entirely by Panerai.
49 mm, carbotech, Dial in deep black with luminous Arabic numerals and hour markers. Small seconds at 9 o’clock.
Black leather strap with contrasting sewing in the same blue as the luminous details of the dial.

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