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Ennebi Fondale Model 9650 Luxury Watch Review

http://www.thewatchbox.com Behold the true heir to the military Panerai legacy. That's right, this Ennebi Fondale Mod. 9650 is the living embodiment of the final designs proposed at the Marina Militare-era Officine Panerai. And it comes straight of the pen of the original designer, Alessandro Bettarini. During the 1980s, Bettarini joined Panerai, then a military contractor, as a fabricator and engineer. His specialty was in the fields of exotic materials and precision machining. Given the opportunity to revisit Panerai's military contracts with a modern prototype for a new generation of dive watch, Bettarini designed what you see here. At the time (1984-85), the watch was known as the Officine Panerai "Millemetri" after its maximum rated depth. Despite a positive reception from the armed forces, the watch was shelved as Panerai moved out of the military timepiece sector and prepared to launch a less ambitious line of civilian models. Bettarini and his engineering associate, Luciano Nincheri, severed their ties with the now Richemont-owned (and Swiss manufactured) Panerai in the late 1990s, but they resolved to preserve the tradition of Italian watchmaking. The 2005 Ennebi Fondale Mod. 9650 was their debut product. It's the mirror image of Bettarini's Millemetri prototype. But whereas the "Mighty Mille" is lost to history, the Fondale Mod. 9650 can be yours. Its grade 5 titanium case, 1000-meter rated depth, high-vis dial, locking diver's bezel, and luxurious Italian leather strap make it a technological knockout and style standout. And with the exception of the rugged Swiss ETA 2892 automatic movement, this Ennebi Fondale is constructed entirely in Italy. That's a special point of pride at Ennebi; Panerai watches haven't been built in the company's ancestral home since the pre-Vendome period of the early to mid 90s. Original thinking is in evidence throughout the Fondale. During his experiments with the Millemetri, Bettarini discovered that the so-called "Device Protecting the Crown" had become unnecessary, and the Fondale achieves its colossal depth rating without the locking lever. Not only does the Fondale dispense with the lever, but it requires no screw-down function to seal against mammoth depth. Access to the massive crown's functions couldn't be easier, and two towering crown guards ensure as much protection as any Panerai Luminor. The hulking Italian leather strap is as smooth and rich as the seats of a Ferrari. It's thick, to be sure, but the finish and feel is leagues above the mass of factory straps supplied by competing watchmakers. Its diagonal hand stitching and strategically placed double stitching reeks of old-world craft quality. Due to the 24mm lug spacing, aftermarket Panerai straps for 44mm Luminor models will fit the Fondale perfectly, so existing collectors of Panerai can start customizing their Ennebi the moment it arrives. A unique oversized ardillon buckle with an integrated roller permits easy adjustment with one hand once the watch is on the wrist. Buying an Ennebi Fondale is like purchasing a piece of history and joining in a romantic dream. In their quest to preserve Italian watchmaking heritage and the core of the old Panerai traditions, Bettarini and Nincheri have created a time capsule of old-school Italian charm, craftsmanship, and history. This one is available with full factory accessories from thewatchbox.com. Video and content by Tim Mosso.