The early beginnings of the brand of Panerai go back to the year of 1860 and the founder of same name Giovanni Panerai who set up business in no other place than the picturesque Florence. One of the best-known patents of Panerai to be mentioned is the luminous powder Radiomir which renders readability even under worst visibility conditions. Thereby Panerai watches perfectly met military needs of the Italian Royal Navy. Later on, the world-famous Radiomir model was successfully followed by the Luminor line. Being exclusively tailored to the requirements of the Royal Navy it is characterized by its cushion-shaped case as well as its prominent crown-protecting bridge. Panerai tradition is not only distinguished by Italian design but also prime product quality. Either way Radiomir or Luminor models do equally reflect the most ambitious of all watch making arts.
Officine Panerai History
In the very same year of 1860 while Giuseppe Garibaldi turns the king- and dukedoms into the nation state of Italy, Giovanni Panerai opens his watchmaker's shop on Ponte alle Grazie in Florence. This initial business was based on the trade of Swiss watches. Thirty years later it was not only taken over but also relocated to the Piazza San Giovanni in Florence by Giovanni’s grand grandson Guido. This point in time marks the beginning of multiple innovations in terms of visual appearance and watch manufacturing proudly presented and patented by Panerai. Among these, the luminous material of Radomir launched in 1916 is certainly considered a milestone in a long line of successes. As all Navy instruments, indices and hands applied and produced by Panerai were provided with luminous material, readability could be guaranteed at any rate. It follows that as early as in 1936 Panerai watch makers could come up with a prototype of watch, which would become part of the basic equipment of the frogman commandos of the First Submarine Group Command of the Royal Italian Navy. Finally the Radomir, flagship and front model of the Italian manufacture was born.
Since Radiomir is a radium-based paste, therefore having radioactive properties, it was replaced by tritium-based Luminor by 1949. Simultaneously the new self-luminous substance superseded the name of the Radiomir, giving rise to the new line of Luminor watches. Being exclusively manufactured for the Royal Navy these were enhanced by their characteristic case with the prominent crown-protecting bridge as early as a year after.
Not until 1972, thus death of the founder’s last descendant which was followed by the venture’s transfer to the engineer Dino Zei, was the original name of Officini Panerai S.r.L. to be reintroduced to the company. By still being immediately involved into the development and manufacturing of for instance depth indicating instruments as well as compasses for the Royal Italian Navy it is at least to some extend sworn to secrecy. As late as in 1993 the manufacture was to present their collections of the models Luminor, Luminor Marina and Mare Nostrum in public. Four years later the Italian watch manufacturer is to become a member of the Richemont Group.
Watches and movements by Officine Panerai
The manufacture classifies their collections into the categories of Historical, Contemporary and Special Editions. While the historical line is represented by the Radiomir, the Luminor, the Radiomir 1940 and the Luminor 1950, the contemporary collection contains the Radiomir, the Luminor and the Luminor 1950 in modern configuration. The Special Editions comprise multiple different models, which are ordered by years beginning in 1997 ascending to this day. The manufacture’s movements are divided into automatic and manual winding. The manually winded movements except for Caliber P.999 are collectively labeled by a capital P followed by a four digit number. Automatic movements can be identified by a similar system, which only excludes Caliber P.9100/R. In this case the additional letter R implies the separate complication of a Regatta Countdown which is purpose-built for sailing sports.
Panerai in the world of watches
As the face of Panerai watches has attained remarkable prominence over time, the additional lettering of the brand’s name upon the dial could be claimed completely redundant. Making use of it for the good cause as expressed in a benefit event for those in need in corporation with Hugh Jackman in October 2013 is on the contrary not only a major but an essential concern to the company.
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