Good work, Martin.
This is an attempt to create a resource for anyone wanting to date their bottles of Paco Rabanne Pour Homme – specifically Eau de Toilette. This is the only fragrance I like to wear, and as the reformulations have now moved too far away from the original, I have been forced into buying-up old vintage bottles. I will give some tips about buying at the end.
I would like to say a special thank you to Andrè Moreau, who has given me a lot of help, and the benefit of his experience. Thank you also, to the many other members who provided me with their bottle numbers, and other clues to help create this post.
Although I have put in a lot of research, some of the dates are not 100% reliable. In time, with members using this post to date their bottles, we should get a more accurate picture. That is, if anyone can produce a bottle that doesn’t fit into my dating estimates, I will be able to make corrections, and this resource should become more reliable for everyone.
A note about photos
The images for the first 3 editions are from my own collection. They were taken under the same light, so this should help with comparing colours. I will update with better pics when I get the chance. The 4th edition photo is from an Ebay listing. The 5th & 6th edition images are just stock photos.
Although there have been minor packaging changes over the years, I believe that there are basically 6 distinct versions of this fragrance.
1973 - 1986 1st Edition (Original)
The good news is that this is the most easily recognisable of all the versions. The bottle will always have a metal ‘Pr’ logo stuck to the front of the bottle, and the font of the ‘r’ varies from all other versions, in that the top of the letter is more rounded and bulbous.
The earlier bottles will never have ‘Eau de Toilette’ or the ‘Estimated’ sign on them, and instead of using a percentage (90%) for the alcohol content, an ordinal indicator is used as an abbreviation. This looks very similar to the degree symbol (90°). A slightly narrower font is also used for the later bottles. Andrè has provided a detailed article with excellent photographs here, but he has mentioned that he will revise his dating at some point. Jason Newton’s bottle from June 1982 shows something in-between Andrè’s bottles. It uses the newer ‘Eau de Toilette’ bottle marking, and ‘90%’ box marking. But it does not have the ‘Estimated’ sign yet.
Again, the distinctive logo makes this version easy to spot. You should refer to Andrè’s post for the best photographs, and information regarding these boxes.
Available as an atomiseur, and later as a vaporisateur. For anyone who is not aware, an ‘atomiseur’ (atomiser in English…or atomizer in American ) is quite different to a ‘vaporisateur’ (or ‘natural’ spray). The atomiseur works by having a pressurised gas inside the bottle, just like an aerosol. When the top is pressed down, the bottle will dispense just like any aerosol – for as long as you continue to hold it down. A vaporisateur, on the other hand, is the more familiar, modern version of a spray. This will dispense a set amount of fluid, regardless of how long you hold the top down. The link to Jason’s bottle above, shows how the atomiseur looks in this edition.
The bottle used for the atomiseur version is a very different shape to the splash. It is a tall, narrow, 'squarish' shape. There are many photos available, Jason's bottle is a good example. The vaporisateur bottle is different again! Update: I have just come across a rare 'vaporisateur' in this edition - pics to follow shortly.
Batch-Codes and Dating Evidence
Andrè has informed me that there were no batch-codes used before 1976. I have only one spray (no box) and one splash (pictured above) of this Edition. The box for my splash has ‘85E’ punched into the top of the box (outside). The fact that it’s punched into the card, removes the chance that there is a digit missing, so it is a genuine 3-Digit code, and it’s the only one I’ve seen so far. Generally, Paco Rabanne has used the first digit (and later the first 2 digits) to signify the year of manufacture, and the first letter to signify the month of manufacture, so in this case…May 1978. It cannot be May 1985, because the box has no writing on the back – which makes it an earlier version of the Original Edition (see Andrè’s photos). See also, an article from Andrè, regarding the EMB code on boxes.
Although there is a shortage of bottles, to use as reliable evidence, I have stated the end of this Edition as 1986. This is because several people have reported seeing adverts dated 1984 and 1985 featuring this bottle, and also because 1986 was the year that the company claims to have changed the packaging. What we really need are more people to check their bottles for batch-codes. If you have a box and bottle with no batch-code, then it probably means you have one produced from 1973 to 1976. It also means that I really hate you!
1984 - 1992 2nd Edition
More good news here – these bottles will always have raised glass underneath the ‘Pr’ logo. This, again, makes them easily distinguishable from all other editions! Apart from this raised logo, the bottles are almost completely flat on the front and back, ever so slightly concave in the middle. This is in contrast to later bottles, which are always convex. The ‘Pr’ logo uses a different ‘r’ to the Original edition, and this font was not changed again until the 5th Edition. Notice the use of different coloured print on the bottle. The one you see pictured tends to be the standard format for splash bottles - white logo and name, then black text for the rest of the details. However, I have seen just a few that have a black logo, and so far they have always been 60ml bottles. I initially thought that this was a special size that was only available in special gift sets with other toiletries, but I have also seen them boxed alone.
A slightly darker sage green is used than for the 1st Edition, and with the new ‘r’ in the ‘Pr’ logo. The logo is slightly smaller than on the 1st Edition. ‘eau de toilette’ appears on the top of the box. On the back, at the bottom, should appear a small box of French text. This states that the product may only be sold by authorised Paco Rabanne dealers. Barcodes came into use on these boxes in 1990, so look for this as an indicator of a later product – it will always be located on the underneath of the box. You can see a comparison of the box colours here.
Comes in the same shaped bottle as the previous edition, but this time with the raised glass behind the logo. The sprays come with a black logo and black text – not following the same format as the splash. This edition is available in both ‘atomiseur’ and ‘vaporisateur’. The latest atomiseur I have come across carries the code 9B05 (Feb 1989). So I believe the atomiseur was discontinued around 1989. Apparently the prohibition of CFCs caused the demise of the atomiseur. But we still have aerosols in other applications, and they are perfectly legal. So, if the company had wanted to continue producing their spray as an ‘atomiseur’, I think they probably could have. My own opinion about the change is simply that it must be cheaper to produce bottles that are not filled with pressurised gas.
Batch-Codes and Dating Evidence
I have only seen 4-digit codes used for this edition, and the format is number-letter-number-number. The first digit refers to the year of manufacture, the second digit refers to the month, and the last two digits probably refer to internal production lines. The letter ‘I’ is not used, as it looks like a 1 - so the month range is A-M.
If we believe the 1st edition was manufactured until 1986, then it would make sense that 1986 be the first year of production for the 2nd Edition. However, Andrè recently showed me a 240ml splash bottle dated 1984!! This bottle also had all-black logo & lettering. This raises several questions, the first of which is ‘What the hell is going on here?!’. Perhaps one single bottle is not the most overwhelming evidence – and the ‘incorrect’ colours could signify a fake. The batch-code was printed on the underneath of the bottle (unusual) and was in large white font (also very unusual). I have no other good explanation, except that there may have been an overlap of 2 years, during which time the new edition was trialled in some markets. Hopefully, people will come forward with more bottles dated 1984-1986 so that we can pin down the dates with more accuracy.
The latest bottle I have seen is from August 1990, but several people have reported advertisements in 1991 using the 2nd edition, so we have to assume that this bottle was still being manufactured in 1991. You can see a good example of this here. Update: Jason Newton has found an advert dated Aug 1992, still showing the 2nd edition bottle - end date for this edition has been revised.
To me, it seems quite ridiculous to use a single digit for identifying the year of manufacture. Unless a company has a plan to produce a range for less than 10 years, (which seems strange) it cannot be a reliable system. But as it happens, Paco Rabanne did not produce this edition for 10 years, so it shouldn’t be an issue when identifying bottles. By the 3rd edition, someone finally had some sense, and this format was changed!
Update: Purchased a 240ml bottle with Batch-code 5F14 (June 1985). The code was punched onto the bottom of the box, and printed in large white font on the underneath of the bottle. Only other time I have seen this white printing on the underside, was from the 1984 bottle - this makes the 1984 bottle less likely to be a fake. Update: And another purchase of a 120ml splash with '8D11' painted in white on the bottom of the bottle.
1991 - 1995 3rd Edition
This bottle will have a flat painted logo on the bottle. The shape of the bottle is now convex (it tapers in at the edges, and bulges out at the centre). Logo and text should all appear in white.
The box should be the same colour as the 2nd edition. Note that the logo is quite a bit smaller than on the previous edition. In 1993 Paco Rabanne joined the Green Dot Scheme, and this symbol should appear on the back of the box from around this time. The date of 1993 is based on the fact that I have bottles from Dec 1992 and Jan 1993. Neither of these boxes carries the Green Dot. All boxes should have a barcode on the underneath.
These should all be ‘vaporisateurs’. The bottle shape has now changed from being quite square, to being the same shape as the splash bottle.
Batch-Codes and Dating Evidence
This edition introduces a much nicer dating system. A 5-digit system is introduced, with the first 2 digits being the year of manufacture, then a letter to signify the month as before, and then 2 more digits which again, must be internal descriptors. Dating tends to be more reliable too, in that every single bottle and box I have bought, has a date on it.
I have several bottles of this edition, and the earliest one has the code 91M04 (Dec 1991). The last date of manufacture has been quite easy to pin down. The latest bottle I’ve seen is dated November 1995, and I have seen a 4th Edition dated April 1996. This also ties in with an E-mail I got from the manufacturer, to say the change was made in 1995.
1996 - 2002 4th Edition
This is a difficult edition for me to review, as I do not own any bottles of it, and they seem quite rare to encounter! If you have one of these, hopefully you can provide more details. The most obvious difference is that the bottle uses a darker glass than previous editions. The text and logo on the bottle should all be white (remember, we are only discussing EdT here!). The Pr logo is smaller than all previous editions. The logo and title appear near the top of the bottle, then there is a large gap between that and the text at the bottom. The bottle pictured above is from June 2000 and has ‘EAU DE TOILETTE’ at the bottom of the bottle. The word ‘Paris’ appeared on a bottle that I have seen from April 1998, but as you can see, it is not on the bottle pictured. That bottle is from June 2000, and I don’t think the word ‘Paris’ has appeared on the front since the late 1990s.
The box colour is a different green to the 3rd Edition, and here is an example of both boxes that have been photographed under similar light conditions. The codes for these boxes are (left)95F19 and (right)96D14. The boxes are for different sized bottles, but still, we can see a smaller logo is used on the more recent box. Also note the gap between the name of the fragrance, and the other text at the bottom. This is replicated on the bottle.
You can see that the box from June 2000 is a different colour again, from the box pictured on the right here. We definitely need more examples to get a clearer picture of when these changes were made!
Always’ vaporisateur’ of course. Spray and splash bottles are identical in shape. Spray bottle can be seen above.
Batch Codes and Dating Evidence
These follow the same system as the 3rd Edition.
The start date for this edition is explained at the end of the 3rd edition. The end date is based on a major reformulation of Paco Rabanne. More information below!
2002 - 2010 5th Edition
The words 'Paco Rabanne' appear twice on the bottle now. Once in the name of the fragrance, and then again as the name of the perfumery at the bottom of the bottle. A new font used for the ‘r’ of the ‘Pr’ logo. It now becomes totally flat along the top, and the same font is carried over to the 6th Edition. The contents of the bottle should be very different, following the reduction of oakmoss. See ‘Reformulations’ below.
This box is very distinctive from all previous versions. It is a much more modern-looking shiny emerald-green, with embossed silver logo and text. Both above bottle changes are duplicated on he box - logo font and double 'Paco Rabanne'.
The same bottles are used for splash and vaporisateur versions. Spray version is pictured.
Batch Codes and Dating Evidence
Unfortunately, Paco Rabanne has moved back to dating the year with a single digit!?! The format is now 5 numerals. The first will tell you the year of manufacture, the next 3 digits will tell you the day of manufacture (0-366), and the last digit will be the production line. (Thanks again to Andrè for this information ) So, as an example….82711 would be, 2008 – 271st day of the year – Production line 1. NB We have found bottles from 2005 and 2006 that use a 4-digit numerical sequence, where the first digit still relates to the year. E.g. 5601 = 2005. So, the 5-Digit coding probably came in from 2007 or 2008. Hopefully some users will have bottles dated from 2002-2008 so that we can verify this.
The date of introduction for this edition is based on the reformulation date. New guidelines laid down in July 2001 by the IFRA forced manufacturers to reformulate many of their products. This change would have come into effect shortly after the rulings. The date for the end of this edition is clear, as explained below.
2010 – 6th Edition (Current)
Well, the good news is that you will recognise this bottle easily. It has a very large Pr logo that I don’t particularly like. And that is where the good news for this edition ends!
The same emerald-green box is used, as in the previous edition, but with the new logo on it.
I think the spray tends to be more ubiquitous these days. I haven’t seen a dedicated splash version, except for the optional ‘splash/spray’ versions that come with a separate atomiser that you can insert into the bottle. Then again, I have not looked closely at this Edition, because it’s not what I consider to be ‘Paco Rabanne Pour Homme’.
Batch Codes and Dating Evidence
5-Digit numerical codes, as with the 5th Edition.
Evidence for dating is pretty straightforward. The company claims to have changed the packaging in 2010. This is supported by the date of many posts right here on the forum, as people discovered this ‘new’ edition.
Finding your Batch-Code
Refer to the above sections to see which type of batch-code your Paco Rabanne should carry. The batch-code should be punched onto the outside of the box. By ‘punched’ I mean that it is cut into the card, and not printed onto it. This most often occurs on the bottom flap, but I have also seen it on top. Although punching is the most common method, I have seen a bottle with a printed batch-code! Why can’t they just have a fixed pattern for this stuff huh??
Batch-codes on bottles will usually appear on the back of the bottle, near the bottom. The number will actually be printed onto the glass, and is often quite difficult to read. I have also seen numbers on the underneath of the bottle.
Unfortunately, I have come across products that only have the number on the bottle, or on the box. But the ideal is that the box and bottle should both carry the same number, and this does happen too. I believe the legal requirement is that the batch-code should appear on the outside of the box. But in my experience it is the bottle that most often has a number on it, and it is more unusual to find a numbered box containing an unnumbered bottle.
Sometimes there are printed codes on the inside of the box – as you can see here. But I have asked Andrè about these, and he has advised me that they are not batch-codes. If anyone has any more information about these numbers, it would be good to learn about them.
Eau de Toilette - After Shave - Deodorant
In earlier editions, Eau de Toilette is not always marked on the product. However, After-Shaves and Deodorants, which used identical bottles to the EdT for editions 1 & 2, should always be marked with this information on the bottle and box. In case there is any doubt, alcohol content can be used as a guide. EdT should be 90%, Deodorant 91%, and After-shave 58%. There is only one exception I have come across, and that was a 1st edition atomiseur that was marked as 92°!! I wonder if anyone has seen other exceptions?
This is a tricky thing to write about. To begin with, one person’s sense of smell will be different to another, so all ‘opinion’ has to be taken as just that – unless there is some concrete evidence of reformulation.
I have done several trials of the first 3 versions and found very little difference. The problem is…because of the age of this scent, even 2 bottles of the identical vintage can never be identical. Unless the bottles have been stored under exactly the same conditions (i.e. side by side!) then there has to be some kind of variation. In my case, I have purchased bottles from different parts of the world, which means different climates, temperatures, humidity levels, obviously totally different storage conditions etc. So, comparing the bottles I have is not particularly useful. Even if there had never been a reformulation to PRPH, a 40 year old bottle is going to smell different to a 20 year old bottle, so testing bottles in retrospect is not a reliable way to indicate that a reformulation has taken place.
Ericrico has written extensively on the forum regarding the intricate details of how the fragrance has varied over the years, and it is worth reading his posts for an expert opinion.
Here is what I am confident about. Paco Rabanne Pour Homme has undergone at least two significant reformulations over the years - and probably some minor ones too. One major reformulation definitely took place in 2001/2002, after manufacturers were forced, by the IFRA, to reduce the amount of oakmoss used in their fragrances (July 2001). This required a change to the PRPH recipe, which has always relied heavily on this particular ingredient. Another major reformulation took place to coincide with the latest packaging of 2010, and will be immediately obvious to anyone comparing Editions 5 & 6 side-by-side.
If you were to line up all 6 versions and test them, you would find that there has been a steady, progressive departure from the original, into a totally different fragrance. If I had to rank the size of these changes in numerical terms, it would look something like this:
1st Edition – 100%
2nd Edition – 97%
3rd Edition – 92%
4th Edition - Unknown
5th Edition – 50%
6th Edition – 20%
Meaning that the 6th edition has something like 20% of the characteristics of the Original, and that there is only a 5% difference between the 2nd & 3rd editions. Again, these kinds of comparisons are totally subjective, and in the case of a 5% difference, this could easily be put down to bottle-variance, and not necessarily a reformulation. I am not totally convinced that there was any change to the recipe from 1st to 2nd Editions. However, there is evidence of a reformulation for the 3rd Edition. 2001 was not the first time that the IFRA had put a restriction on oakmoss, as can be seen in one of Andrè’s posts here.
Tips for buying
I bought almost all of my bottles from Ebay, and had them shipped in from all over the world. I have to say that I was not optimistic about how well the product would have lasted, but I can say after purchasing 15 separate bottles, only one of them was disappointing enough for me to regret having made the purchase. What I learned from this particular sale was NOT to buy a bottle that was without its box. The thing that will help a fragrance to deteriorate quickest is sunlight. Although a box is no guarantee that the fragrance has aged well, If the seller doesn’t have a box, there is more chance that the bottle has been exposed to sunlight at some point over the years. Of course, you could get lucky and find one that has been stored well - but without a box, the odds against it. The next most damaging thing is heat – which is what makes the sunlight so bad. Leaving a bottle in direct sunlight will not only expose it to harmful UV-rays, but also to an increased temperature. So, store your bottles in a cool dark place, along with the potatoes, dynamite, gunpowder etc.
When purchasing bottles that are not full, beware that the remaining fluid in the bottle is being exposed to the air that is in there too. This reduces the chances of the fragrance having held up well, and I wouldn’t buy one of these unless the price was very low indeed, or the bottle itself had some unique value to it. Besides, when you are paying for postage, the larger and fuller the bottle, the cheaper your scent will work out.
In the case of ‘atomiseurs’, note that some people have had the nightmare experience of a bottle dispensing all of its gas, (and a large amount of the fragrance) because of a faulty atomiser. I have not had this happen to me, and I think it is very rare. But in a case where you have a choice of similar age bottles, I would always recommend the ‘vaporisateur’. You can search the forum to read about those horror stories. I think there is also an argument that in two bottles of the same volume, one should get more fluid in a vaporisateur, because there is no gas being stored inside the bottle. Please comment if you know more about the science of this.
New legislation has been introduced in the US, and perhaps in some other countries, to prohibit overseas shipping of any product that contains alcohol. Because of this, you might have issues when ordering from the US.
My advice for ‘best buy’ is the 3rd Edition. Bottles are available in abundance, and although it might not be exactly the same as the original, the difference is slight, and not in any way negative (at least in my opinion). The fact that it is newer, also means there has been less time for it to deteriorate, and the availability of bottles means that prices are not too high either. Another advantage is that coding is clearer and more reliable.
Happy bidding! (Just don’t dare outbid me please )
Last edited by Martin_UK; 7th March 2014 at 10:55 PM.
Good work, Martin.
Hail to the Master !
Raiders of the Lost Scent: Journey in the Realm of Lost Perfumes
Great stuff and awesome post about this magnificant fragrance!! Thanks!
I got 5 different variations of Paco Rabanne starting with original vintage, vintage with edt 90% Vol. on the box, the third editon as well as two bottles of the fifth till the newest soapy incarnation of current formulation. Nothing can beat the first three versions imo!
My Top '10' : (In no particular order)
- Dolce & Gabbana: Pour Homme (vintage)
- Paco Rabanne: Pour Homme (vintage)
- Loewe: Esencia/Pour Homme/Solo/7
- Davidoff: Leather Blend Edp
- Dior: Eau Sauvage Parfum
- MPG: Santal Noble
- Guerlain: Vetiver
- Van Cleef & Arpels: Pour Homme
- Hermes: Terre d'Hermes
- YSL: Kouros (Fraicheur)
Thanks for sharing the infos, regrading a great fragrance.