Panerai Pam 233 vs IWC Big Pilot 5002 - Part III of III ¶
This week, Jason wraps up the match between the Panerai PAM 233 and the IWC 5002 and chooses a winner.
Part Three of Three
Round Four: Straps and Comfort
On the strap side of things the IWC features one of the toughest looking buffalo straps I’ve ever handled. It is thick and hard, and looks like it could last generations. It’s the classic pilot’s look, dark brown with rivets on the end pieces and a nice IWC single deployant buckle. In case you have wondered what the rivets are for, many watches in the 1930s had fixed bars to secure a strap. Without a removable pin to change straps, you needed to button the strap onto the watch, hence the rivets. Nowadays they are just for show. The strap is long enough to conceivably wear over a flight suit, but still has enough adjustment to fit even the smallest wrist (i.e. mine). The only issue I have is that the leather is so tough and so hard that if you like to wear your watch snug, it digs into your wrist. You have to back it off a bit and wear it slightly loose to be comfortable. That’s the price you have to pay to have a strap that will probably outlive you.
The Panerai has a classic black calfskin strap with Pre-Vendome-style tang buckle. It’s simple, and it works – I much prefer this configuration to deployant buckles. There is a reason why “Pre-V” buckles are the most popular option for PAM straps – they are comfy and they look great. The strap is soft and flexible, and wears very well. The padding is a nice classy touch; where “standard” PAM straps have a simple uniform look; the 1950 strap has scalloped and tapered padding that is thicker near the lugs. For me, its small details like this that distinguishes a great watch from a good one.
Final Round: The Subjective (Ring) Side
So after all this, what can be said in summation? It’s tough to declare any sort of winner in a comparison like this – they are both classic, high quality pieces and they cater to two different styles. So that’s where my opinion comes into play to decide this match.
The 1950 is a great watch and a great design. It’s elegant but still manly. It’s no wonder that Panerai has become a powerhouse in the watch world. Designs like this are timeless and somehow straddle the line between industrial and classic – it really is a versatile watch that you can wear with anything, in any situation. The quality is exceptional and the finishing is beautiful. It’s a great watch. But it isn’t me.
Personally I’ve always been drawn to the Big Pilot. My background is in military history so I love simple, rugged military hardware. And the dial of the Fliegeruhr is one of the all-time great designs - totally simple, perfectly readable, and it still looks modern after 70 years. Anyone who wears a Big Pilot is making a statement – they appreciate good engineering and good design over complication and flash. It’s more industrial design than artsy, which is totally in tune with the military heritage. So in my book, it wins. Out of the two watches we have here, the Big Pilot is the one I’d wear.
If you would like any more information about either of these watches, or you wish to flame me into oblivion for choosing an IWC over a Panerai, please feel free to call me at 514.845.8878 or visit our contact page.