For many, the 217 is the Holy Grail of Panerai watches. Yes, it is an uber-cool, rare, stunning head turner.
A piece designed for a real man. I am talking here about you or Matt Damon. Oh yes, in that order.
I can't think of any other Panerai out there that would give you so much 'exposure'. Quite frankly it is difficult to describe 217 as anything but the ultimate attention seeker.
Now, make no mistake: I am *not* crazy about Panerai watches in general. I find them too precious to be worn, not water proof enough for what you would expect from a 'military' grade watch. For someone who still prefers inner beauty than external appearance, ETA movements leaves very little room for excitement. After all, I started my apprenticeship on this very same calibre - except it was called the Unitas pocket watch back then. Yeah, kind of like expecting Mat Moran to get excited about the new McChicken Burger.
And for all the above reasons (and a few more) I just could not put this watch for sale before giving it a test ride.
To accommodate my butcher's size wrist, the 217 was fitted with a custom made military style strap (comfortable 22cm!) and I've promised myself to give it a "fair go".
Then I took it "for a walk".
My first point of stop was a local news agent. Then a couple of food vendors at the local food court. While I was not trying to hide it, neither was I pushing it in people's faces. Yet the effect was very much the same: a curious, puzzled look of disbelief.
A fellow passenger on the bus home could not resist to comment. "Nice watch!" he said. Getting a compliment from a busy Sydneysider on a Friday afternoon bus is as cool and as difficult as getting an autographed picture from Heidi Klum. In the year 2012 people just don't care. And even when they do, they mind their own business. Or talk on their mobile phone, or whatever.
Trying to impress my only friend with the PAM217 was more challenging than I thought. Yet even he - a guy totally not into watches - could not help himself but to notice my large Militare.
"What do you think it's worth?" I asked.
"Five thousand? Maybe six?" he said.
"OK, guess again - and here is your 'call a friend' tip: less than twenty".
"Are you kidding me - he said - take it off, let me have a closer look."
So I did. After an agonizing 30 seconds of inspection, he said: "I really hate you. But even I can see why this Pammmeriii is worth $20K."
And that is exactly what is so special with the 217: anyone, including my best friend
who is totally NOT into watches can appreciate all the reasons why the Militare Destro is such a great piece.
Yes, some watchmakers are completely blind for external beauty, me included.
In one word: elitist, exclusive, rare and snobbish. But not over the top, not vulgar and never inappropriate.
In case you are still unsure about it, ask yourself this question: if you were invited to dinner with Heidi, which one would you wear?
PS: Now here is the most extraordinary fact about the 217 - despite the large size of 47mm, it is probably one of the most comfortable Panerai watches! Thanks to the destro" design (designed for people who wear watches on their right hand) and thick saddle leather strap, the watch sits very comfortably on the wrist. I am wearing it now, as I type, and I've been wearing it all day today without the slightest discomfort. Priceless feeling! I just wish they made it in 49mm.