Laboratorio Di Idee is Panerai’s skunkworks department that periodically dishes out technically innovative timepieces. This year’s offering was based on a lofty premise – a watch movement that will need no lubrication whatsoever. How confident is Panerai about the claim? They are offering a 50-year guarantee on the LAB-ID Luminor 1950 Carbotech.
As the name suggests, this watch uses a 49 mm carbotech case, a composite material based on carbon fiber. The classic Panerai sandwich structure is seen here, with blue SuperLuminova shining through the cut-outs in the dial. This dial, however, has a coating of carbon nanotubes that helps it absorb all light, reducing reflection to a minimum and giving the dial a particularly deep black appearance. The result is a good contrast with the blue of the hour markers and hands. Because it is not possible to print or stamp a dial with these characteristics, the branding is laser-etched directly on the crystal before the application of a double anti-reflective coating.
However, the doozy bits of the watch come courtesy the handwound semi-skeletonized caliber P.3001/C – this movement only uses four jewels and no additional lubrication. The mainplates and bridges are made from a low friction composite, which uses a Tantalum-based ceramic with a high percentage of carbon that minimizes pivot friction.
The main components of the escapement are made from silicon that have a special DLC coating, again requiring no lubrication. These solutions ensure that there is no need for regular maintenance and servicing of the movement, enabling Panerai to guarantee it for no less than 50 years.
Caliber P.3001/C has a power reserve of three days. The mainspring of the barrel uses a series of layers and sub-layers of coating, the surface one being coated with DLC. A surface coating of DLC on the four jewels means that there is no need to further lubricate the Incabloc anti-shock device either.
The movement’s distinctive features include a large balance wheel, fixed by a bridge with twin supports. When the balance wheel is stopped, the seconds hand resets to zero so that the watch can be perfectly synchronized with a reference signal.