Pancor P03

After two successful and very modern watch designs, Pancor has gone retro with the 1960's-inspired P03 diver. I thought the P01 chronograph was pretty slick, and the P02 charmed me enough that I bought one (pistachio dial!), but the P03 may just be the best yet. It is clean, sensible, Seiko-powered automatic that radiates quality and charm -- for only $259 at the Kickstarter early bird price. For this review, Pancor let me try all four prototypes: blue, green, and black dials in brushed stainless steel cases, and a black dial in a black PVD case.

Pancor P03

The P03 is designed to be a legitimate dive watch. It is rated for 300m water resistance, has a screw-down crown and case back, bright C3 or BWG9 SuperLuminova, a 120-click uniderectional bezel, domed and AR-coated sapphire crystal, and a vintage-style "tropic" rubber strap. Unlike many modern dive watches, it is not huge. The P03's case is just 39mm wide, 47mm long, and 13mm thick, topped with a 40mm bezel, creating classic proportions that suit my 6.75" wrist just fine, and in fact, given the Pancor's understated good looks, allowed me to suit it up with a proper suit for the office.

Pancor P03 wrist

Both previous Pancors excelled in their attention to detail, and the P03 does not disappoint. Where many divers sport oversized crowns with aggressive, gear-like teeth, the P03's is modest, sporting a polished, beveled, signed head, a fine coin edge, and a significant undercut that further minimizes its bulk. The bezel's infinitesimal overhang does less to make it appear larger than to make the sheer-sided case appear smaller. It also aids grip as it is polished and wears a similarly delicate coin edge as the crown. It looks great, but it is easy to slip if you don't have a firm hold. The insert is glossy ceramic, its index engraved in a lightweight typeface. These meticulously crafted design elements lend the P03 an air of refinement not often found in a dive watch.

side view Pancor P03

Lest you think the P03 is too dainty for a diver, the dial will disabuse you of that notion. The dots and rounded bars are tall, polished, and full of lume. I rather like the pop of these slightly overstuffed markers in a watch otherwise full of finely rendered details. Long pencil hands and a lollipop second hand completes the set. Lume is excellent - everything glows long and strong, including the bezel. I do love a properly lumed bezel!

Pancor P03 lume

All variants use beige C3 except the blue dial, which has white BGW9. The green dial caught my eye right away. The blue is perfectly handsome, and it is hard to go wrong with matte black, but the green is a deep, rich color of the British Racing variety. It is an uncommon choice for a diver and looks rather sporty with its vintage color lume.

Pancor P03 green

If there is one area where watch designers let me down, it is the text on the dial. It is too tempting to write too much, to use a featureless typeface, or both. Pancor has indeed packed three lines on the bottom in addition to the brand name but has done so in a light, broad, modern font that is in keeping with the watch's overall character. Very well done.

Pancor P03

On the backside, the polished lid bears an engraved logo surrounded by nautical elements. Inside is a Seiko NH38, a sibling to the ever-popular NH35. The 24-jewel, 21.6l bph automatic shares the same design as the 35, but loses the date function, so there is no phantom stop in the crown and no click of an unseen date change. To be honest, such things never bothered me, but I know they drive other watch nerds up a wall. The use of the NH38 is yet another thoughtful touch.

Pancor P03  caseback

Pancor ships the P03's with two 20mm straps. The aforementioned black rubber tropic is the natural choice for those who will use their dive watch for its intended purpose. It looks spot-on for this retro design and is, of course, most practical for any sort of wet activity. When you wear your divers on dry land, you might try one of the distressed and minimally stitched leather options (blown or black). Both terminate in a signed, 18mm buckle. As mentioned above, the P03, while not at all a dress diver, actually dresses up quite nicely and would carry off a more tailored strap if you have a coat and tie job like the Bum.

Pancor P03 black

I absolutely love the P03. It ticks all the right boxes for me in terms of size, style, and practicality. After dinner the other night, my wife saw me peering intently at my wrist and asked what I was looking at. "I was just admiring the designer's choice of such a fine coin edge on the bezel and noticing how it plays off the similar edge on the crown," I said. 

"You could have just said, 'my watch'" she replied. 

Yeah, I could have, but that wouldn't have done the P03 justice. 

If you feel as I do, I'd suggest you head over to PancorWatch.com and sign up for P03 alerts. You will be alerted when the Kickstarter campaign launches on September 19, and you will also get a code for 20€ (about $22 USD) off.  ⬩

Pancor P03
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