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F.P. Journe’s Sonnerie Souveraine

F.P. Journe’s Sonnerie Souveraine

Operating a chiming watch has always been risky. If you do the slightest thing wrong, such as setting the time while the chimes are ringing or engaged, you are likely to damage the extremely complex ? and expensive ? mechanisms inside. Thus, the first entry in the specification book for this watch was: ?Make it safe to use by an eight-year-old child.? That eight-year-old child set me the toughest assignment of my career!

RXW MM20

Those who know me would know that I had been looking for another watch for quite some time. I narrowed it down to the RXW MM20, the IWC Mark XII with the JLC movement, and the Omega Co-Axial Chronograph.

I had been wanting to see the RXW MM20 in person for about 2 years. I had talked to Bill Sohne and Chuck Maddox, two renown contributors at TimeZone’s Omega Forum, about the MM20 on AIM countless times; they both own one and love theirs. Panerai brought a lawsuit against Ken Trading and forced production on this watch to stop, there had been a few re-issues, and most recently they were sold at OrientTime.com. The OrientTime site had an order form in plain text (no SSL encryption), and I was uneasy to place an order across the world with my credit card information in plain text.

I put off buying a watch for a while; kept myself very busy with work, photography, and consulting. Nevertheless, my subconscious kept telling me that it was time for another watch. Earlier this week I casually went to the Big Watch Forum’s Trading forum, there I saw a listing with a brand-new-in-box MM20 from a seller who happened to be a Bay Area resident!! Two days and half a dozen emails later, we met up at a Wells Fargo in Santa Clara, turned out he owned 3 MM20’s, one as his daily wear, and two brand spanking new ones as spares, in case something happened to his daily wear. (yes, he loved the MM20, he also had a Panerai, which started his big watch obsession). He took off his daily MM20 for me to try on, my main concern about getting this watch was the size, it is 47mm wide without the crown! It does look huge in person and on my wrist, but maybe it was the styling of the dial, it looked just right. The watch was more beautiful in person than in pictures! I had to get it. As I don’t keep any money in Wells Fargo, we decided to just do it via PayPal, so we drove to my condo across the street and 10 minutes later, the watch was mine! Amin, the seller, was kind enough to show me how to change straps, the watch was shipped with the brown strap and I prefer the black strap. I must say this was one of the best internet transactions I’ve had. Amin, an attorney at Google, was a real pleasure to deal with. He was also very knowledgeable about the RXW, Panerai, and other big watches. The watch was in original BNIB conditions, it had never been worn! I actually felt a little bit of guilt as I removed the protective films and put it on my wrist.

The RXW MM20 was made by Ken Trading in Japan, it’s a very close homage to the original MARINA MILITARE, which translates to Navy in Italian. The original MARINA MILITARE was made by Rolex in 1938, and is the watch Panerai now emulates. It has the Swiss UNITAS 6497 movement, 316L stainless steel case, and a sapphire crystal. The UNITAS 6497 is not real fancy, but it’s real fun to wind. The dial actually has two layers, the bottom one is a layer of Super Luminova, and the top layer was cut so you see the bottom layer at the markings and arabic numerals (12, 3, 6 and 9). The base dial employes antimagnetic soft iron. RXW refers to the dial as Plasmir. It has a sub-dial for the second display at the 9-o’clock position. The case is brushed stainless steel, but the bezel is polished. Like some Panerai’s, the crown has a crown guard, it’s pretty useless but it does look nice. The watch comes with 3 boxes; a very well-crafted wooden box, a black paper box and a cardboard box.

A picture is worth a thousand words, so here was my attempt at watch photography, follow this link if you fancy viewing them in their full-resolution glory. 🙂

RXW MM20 MARINA MILITARE

RXW MM20 MARINA MILITARE

Crown guard

RXW MM20 on my wrist, 47mm

Crown guard

Crown guard

MM20 subdial

Straps

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orienttime.com

So Ken Trading can’t sell the MM20 anymore because Panerai sued them in Japan, but Orient Time can! Awesome! Maybe I’ll really pick one up this time!

orienttime.com

They should really have a secure order form though, I don’t like sending my CC info in plain text.