http://www.thewatchbox.com In the beginning, there was the Luminor. The story of the modern phenomenon of Officine Panerai began in the mid-1990s with no-nonsense sports models like this Luminor Marina PAM00001 "A-Series." It's the look that launched a legend. Panerai's nearly six-decade history as a supplier to special forces came to an end in 1993, and the old warhorses were unleashed on the civilian market. After initial stumbles, the latent charisma of the Luminor caught the attention of action film royalty like Sly Stallone, Arnold, and Bruce Willis. A worldwide fan phenomenon - the Paneristi - coalesced around the 44mm Luminor case and the combat-inspired oversized dial features. But the crown guard, officially known as the Device Protecting the Crown, was the true standout. Originally designed to prevent constant wear on the seals of the crown (as in a screw-down crown), the DPC also provided a measure of insurance against rough play that could damage a conventional exposed crown. There was nothing else like it, and thanks to patent protection, there still isn't. This Panerai Luminor Marina PAM 1 A-series is a 1997 unit from the very beginning of the "Vendome" (Richemont Group) ownership. It retains all of the character of the first Panerai models. In particular, the exquisite natural tritium patina - a charming ecru tan - is the hook that grabs and holds an enthusiast's attention. These days, Panerai uses artificially-dyed lume to recreate the tritium patina look, but savvy Paneristi know to look for the real thing; this PAM00001 is it. Add a robust pocket watch-based COSC chronometer movement - like in the firm's WWII heyday - with a 56-hour power reserve, and all the essential ingredients are in place to "party like it's 1997." And while today's Officine Panerai is 75K unit-per-year mass manufacturer, production in 1997 totaled closer to a tenth of that. Of the 1,500 PAM00001 A-series units built, only a fraction survive in this condition with a full Panerai factory set of boxes, manuals, documents of provenance, accessory rubber strap, and jeweler's tool for DIY strap swaps. See this survivor and its full factory set in high-resolution images on www.thewatchbox.com Video and content by Tim Mosso.