The history of Panerai watches
“Every Panerai watch is as unique as its history”.
Giovanni Panerai opened his first watchmaking shop in Florence in 1860. The Panerai shop in Piazza San Giovanni in Florence is not just a centre that sells the top Swiss watch brands, it is also a hub for research and publications that concern the measurement of time and a meeting place for enthusiasts and collectors.
A history of innovation that began in 1916 when the first patent for the Radiomir was deposited, a radium based powder commissioned by the Italian Royal Navy to make its instrument dials and aiming mechanisms luminous. In 1936, in order to satisfy another request made by the Italian Royal Navy, the Radiomir was born, the first truly underwater military watch, a very robust and eminently readable device thanks to the size and characteristics of its dial.
Then in 1949 the celebrated Luminor name was invented, a name coined specifically for the luminescent compound patented to replace the hazardous radium and subsequently used for the new Panerai model. The Luminor has a bulkier case, with incorporated lugs, but most significantly it sports an innovative bridge clasp on the crown, to improve the watches’ water resistance. Panerai to this day still works according to the indications of the founder of the Officine (Workshops – etymologically speaking a combination of opera=work and facere=to make), by promoting its workshop of ideas in which creativity, technical skill and an understanding of design are harmoniously blended.
The Panerai style
The constant search for perfection is one of the distinctive traits of Panerai’s production, which is achieved through its design and manufacturing processes.
A design that is entirely Italian and focuses on developing the concept of understatement and precision which, from a stylistic point of view, has spawned a new form of elegance linked to the concept of simplicity. Panerai is also one of the most consistent manufacturers in introducing modern watchmaking principles into its models. Its unique design is also complemented by its constant research into materials to be used for the watches’ outer decoration and the quality of its mechanisms, specifically designed and manufactured by the Brand at its new production site. All Panerai watches are a blend of Italian design and Swiss manufacturing perfection.
Radiomir collection: the first Panerai watch
The first Panerai watch was commissioned by the Italian Royal Navy, which wished to add to its standard kit “a special luminous watch for deep-sea divers”. This led to the creation of the first prototype of the Radiomir in 1936.
In the 40’s the Radiomir collection was redesigned with a new case to satisfy the requirements of the Italian Navy’s Special Forces. Today Panerai presents a modern and innovative collection which bears witness to its long history.
Luminor collection 1950: ruggedness and innovation in an iconic watch
The aesthetics of the Luminor 1950’s case are based on the Panerai tradition but have been revised in terms of shape and the painstaking care taken over detail.
Luminor Collection: the unmistakable Panerai look
Luminor, a word that already makes one thing of light and that identifies the largest family of Officine Panerai watches. On 11 January 1949 the first watch earmarked for military use was patented. The innovative feature that stands out in the Luminor 1950 watches is the crown lever protection device that guarantees perfect water resistance, protecting the crown from impacts and unnoticed manipulation even in the most extreme working conditions.
Luminor Due Collection is a new chapter of Panerai’s history. It offers enthusiasts a new interpretation of the Luminor watch while providing a more contemporary set of features, resulting in a thinner case compared to the original, which on some models is reduced by much as 40%. Each of the watches’ parts is inspired by Panerai’s history, but has been revised to ensure a perfect wrist fit and to adapt it to both sporting use as well as more elegant occasions.
Panerai’s complication watches: complex mechanics in an unmistakeable design
Panerai makes a limited collection of watches featuring complications, in which skill and mechanical complexity are blended with the distinctive Italian design of the Brand. In 2018 Panerai presented the L’Astronomo – Luminor 1950 Tourbillon Moon Phases Equation of Time GMT, dedicated to Galileo Galilei. It is the first of Officine Panerai’s creations to be provided with moon phase indications and a polarised crystal system for date calculation. A Luminor 1950 case, which with its iconic design represents Officine Panerai’s fascinating heritage, encloses a surfeit of technical solutions that bear witness to the Florentine brand’s capacity to revive even the most traditional complications in a very striking fashion and bring innovation into the world of sports watchmaking.
A clock has an internal mechanism that is made up of many cogs that are constantly moving and coming into contact. That’s why Panerai suggest that every watch should be checked every 4-5 years, partly to guarantee the reliability of the watch and verify the conditions in which it has been used. In this way one can assess the need for a thorough servicing to clean the mechanism of any lubricant oils, which over the years are naturally bound to lose their effectiveness, ensure that the case is still watertight and that the watch is in top working condition.
For all watches, but in especially those that come into contact with water, Panerai recommends checking that the case is still watertight every year. One can ask for a free wet test to confirm water tightness from the Hausmann & Co. Servicing Centre.