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Map measure of the month: the Panerai Nautical Curvimeter model PAM00302

Panerai Nautical Curvimeter, model PAM00302
Panerai Nautical Curvimeter, model PAM00302

This month’s map measure was released by Panerai for the Classic Yachts Challenge in 2007. Produced as a very limited edition, a small number were also available on general sale, in particular, to collectors of all things Panerai, the ‘Paneristi’.

The Classic Yachts Challenge is part of the international yachting circuit. Italian luxury watch manufacturer Officine Panerai have sponsored this series of events since 2004 and produce limited edition watches in association with the sailing events. These timepieces attract considerable attention and most go on to subsequently command very high prices on the collector market. In addition to the watch releases, every now and then Panerai have released something different. A compass, depth gauges and in 2007, the instrument looked at here, a nautical curvimeter.

The Panerai Nautical Curvimeter model PAM00302 (sometimes shortened to PAM 302) is intended for measuring distance on nautical charts. The Swiss made measure has two hands. One rotates through 1:10 000 and 1:30 000 scales on two inner concentric scales on the dial. An outer scale has additional graduations at scales of 1:50 000, 1:100 000 and 1:250 000. One complete revolution of the needle around the dial indicates up to 50 nautical miles. A turn of the main indicator dial also moves forward a separate counter at the top of the instruments face. A second hand rotates around this dial and will indicate up to 12 revolutions before starting over.

Panerai nautical curvimeter in the hand
Face of measure

The measure has a reset button on the side that when pressed returns both needle and revolution counter to zero. The instrument is used by moving the small tracking wheel at the base along lines on a chart. This in turn acts on finely manufactured internal gearing to rotate the needles. The action of this analogue instrument is extremely smooth, the movement is faultless and no internal grinding or alterations in internal resistance is felt while in use.

This measure is easily amongst the finest action of any map measure manufactured. This is a quality instrument and unsurprisingly, it cost a great deal when new- Panerai’s list price was $1200 in 2009. That price reflects more the brand, rarity and collectability than reality as there are (though few) less expensive comparable measures available elsewhere, such as the model on which this instrument is based. As I write this (in January 2022) I note that one dealer in collector’s watches is offering their ex-display model of this measure for $2400. An astonishing amount for what it is.

The Model PAM00302 nautical curvimeter shown here weighs 64g, feeling suitably robust and chunky in the hand. The curvimeter has a sandblasted steel case with polished stainless steel bezel. The face of the dial is black with contrasting white printing and two white rotating needle hands. It has a scratch resistant sapphire crystal face and solid circular case back measuring 39.50mm in diameter. The rear of the case has the following text: OFFICINE PANERAI CLASSIC YACHTS CHALLENGE 2007 around the perimeter. Inside this is etched NAUTICAL CURVIMETER OP 6733 and MI 2613004. 6733 is the case number and the final serial number commences with MI for Minerva and may be unique to each individual instrument. Overall length is 99mm and case and dished face are 12mm thick at the extreme. The stainless steel handle is 47mm in length with 32mm of knurling to improve grip

Rear of case
Rear of case

The Panerai Nautical Curvimeter model PAM00302 is based on the model C 01 curvimeter made by Minerva, a Swiss manufacturer of precision high quality watches, stop-watches and other instruments. Minerva also made the nautical curvimeter for Panerai however their branding is not shown on the exterior of the instrument other than within the serial number on the rear. The dial face colour was changed to black for the Panerai limited edition release and the scales altered to suit nautical usage. There do not appear to be any other changes other than the added text on the rear of the case. Three Points of the Compass will have a closer look at the original Minerva version of this measure in the future.

From new, the Panerai nautical curvimeter came in luxurious packaged condition. None of that accompanied my measure when I purchased it second hand and it is doubtful that such bulky packaging or accompanying documentation accompanied any measures that went to sea, however collectors tend to retain such additions. Only 300 units were produced of this measure and it is going to become increasingly uncommon as those used in a sea going environment succumb to the rigours of working life.

Image of curvimeter from Minerva catalogue 264
Image of C-01 curvimeter from Minerva catalogue 264

The instrument shown here has ‘had a life’ prior to coming in to my possession. With appropriate disregard of the high original cost of the instrument, a previous owner has obviously been frustrated by continually tracking in the wrong direction and scratched a direction of travel arrow on the top of the case. The reset button also has some wear to it from continual use. I find it refreshing to see that this accurate measure has seen considerable actual use at sea and has not acted simply as a collectors piece. It is a beautifully crafted map measure and a pleasure to use. Caveat emptor, replicas of this measure have been produced.

scratched arrow
scratched arrow indicating direction for use

Three Points of the Compass has looked at a few more Map Measurers in detail. Links to these can be found here.

When obtained new, the Panerai nautical curvimeter came packaged in a lined wooden box together with outer packaging and documentation. Image: eBay
When sold new, the Panerai nautical curvimeter came packaged in a lined wooden box together with outer packaging and documentation. Image: eBay

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