Okay, I’ll admit, these are not the most elegant labels when discussing luxury watches. But if you hang out with Paneristi long enough, you’re bound to hear the terms “sausage” and “sandwich” being used when discussing Panerai watches and their different dials. So what exactly are Panerai sandwich and sausage dials? Let’s dig in, shall we?
Do you know the difference between Panerai sandwich and sausage dials?
Panerai Sandwich Dials
As its name suggests, sandwich dials utilize a layering technique. This is by no means exclusive to Panerai, but the Florentine watch brand did opt for sandwich dials early on in their history, as a way to create highly luminescent watch faces. Early examples of Panerai sandwich dials used three layers, and the company followed that up with the more common two-layer construction.
Essentially, a Panerai sandwich dial includes two separate disks where the bottom layer holds the luminescent material in recessed indexes while the top layer has index cut-outs to allow the luminescence to shine through. When looking at a Panerai sandwich dial, you’ll notice the cool cut-out stencil effect immediately.
On sandwich dials, the hour markers are recessed into the surface of the dial (Image: Panerai).
Panerai first used a radium-based material for lume, which they patented as “Radiomir” and later used a proprietary tritium-based substance called “Luminor” (now you see where they Panerai watch model names come from). Of course, these days, Panerai uses modern-day (and non-reactive) Super-LumiNova on their dials.
Much to the chagrin of Panerai enthusiasts, Panerai seems to be moving away from sandwich dials on most of their current watches, saving this technique for special releases instead, like the recent Luminor Due modes.
Sandwich dials and sausage dials add visual intrigue and depth to the appearance of Panerai watches (Image: Panerai).
Panerai Sausage Dials
In contrast to the sunken indices of the Panerai sandwich dials, the Panerai sausage dials have painted on hour makers that protrude slightly. In some models, the indexes were first etched into the dial and then filled in with luminescent material. In other versions, the lume was painted directly onto a flat surface.
Regardless of technique, the end result is curvier numerals and stick markers that swell above the dial, which ultimately made way for the (unfortunate) sausage name. But these are also referred to as Panerai painted dials if you prefer to use that term (as I do). Additionally, Panerai painted dials are not to be confused with Panerai printed dials, which have a flat surface.
Notice how the luminous hour markers slightly puff up and are raised from the surface of the dial?
Sandwich or Sausage, Which Panerai Dial to Choose?
Place a sandwich and sausage dial next to each other, and you’ll spot the difference immediately. There are those who prefer the sandwich dial – both for its style, and because it more closely resembles the dials fitted to early Panerai watches. Yet, fans of the Panerai sausage dial say that this design actually offers better legibility from all angles since there’s no sunken-in effect.
Both dial designs offer their own distinct look, and both have a place in Panerai’s history. I’ve always liked stencil style typography so I gravitate towards Panerai sandwich dials. But I have nothing against Panerai sausage dials (except for the dreadful nickname), since they’re quite good looking too.
Which Panerai dial do you prefer?
Sandwich dial or sausage dial? Can you tell the difference?