Guido Panerai & Figlio created the first prototype watch in 1936 and later renamed this company to "Officine Panerai". In the beginning, this brand used Rolex movement and supplied advanced precision equipments to Italian Navy.
The highly specialized manufacturing standard of Panerai had an integral relationship with marine environment. Top quality and high-performance products that were beyond the military use standards included fluorescence calculator, aiming device, depth gauge, compass, and the timing fuse of landmine or underwater detonator. It was the accumulated technology in these ares that made Panerai able to create an unusual professional diving watch.
Radiomir Jonined The Navy
Panerai Radiomir started to serve for Italian Royal Navy from 1938, as participants, they were also loaded into a number of annals that filled with legendary battles. Commando wore these watches and swim to the enemy naval vessels.
The most impressive attack was the one that was made in Alexandria, Egypt, in 1941. Six commandos defeated two warships of the British Mediterranean and a navy tanker. During this mission, lieutenant Luigi Durand De La Penne was captured, before the explosion of the devices he set, he told the British captain to evacuate the ships immediately, so the crew could be saved. De La Penne and his assistant were arrested on HMS Valiant, this ship exploded in the scheduled time. The two italian survived, De La Penne was awarded the Gold Medal and the British admiral described him as the commander that made fleet suffer the maximum losses.
After war, hundreds pieces of Radiomir Panerai watches that have been produced became the priceless treasure, followed by the watch lovers around the world.
Luminor Got on Stage
In 1993, Officine Panerai re-launched the famous Panerai Luminor and published the first Radiomir Panerai Platinum edition. In addition, the Panerai Mare Nostrum, originally designed for Italian naval deck officers and has never been listed, was also put into production. This chronograph watch that had two chronograph counters and waterproof case was a perfect combination of Swiss advanced technology and Italian design. The watch has been tested under a series of extreme conditions.
Panerai Radiomir required to be strong, waterproof and highly readable. In 1938, Panerai introduced a cushion-shaped prototype watch with a large case(about 47mm in diameter), this watch had wire lugs, screw-in case back and a 16-ligne movement, a classic diameter for pocket watch. The movement, case back and crown all had Rolex logo, which confirmed the cooperation between Panerai and this Geneva watch brand. Other noticable details included the Perspex glass face that could prevent corrosion of atmospheric elements and acid, the luminous Arabic numbers and hour markers on the dial and the long enough leather strap that could be worn outside the diving suits.
From the prototype to a small production, the case and dial of the watch have been improved obviously. The test reports in the prototype stage pointed out the biggest flaw of the watch was that it was hard to read time. The new version adopted a Sandwich Dial, the black top had hour markers, including the Arabic numbers at 3, 6, 9 and 12, the layer below was coated with Luminescent material. The luminescence feature of the watch was strengthened by the name - Radiomir. The inspiration of Radiomir's name came from a luminous material that Panerai researchers developed and was made up of Zinc, Radium and New Th.
These early examples and improvements in technical area have been more than 60 years. Officine Panerai designed new case and approachs to improve waterproofing performance, such as the patented plate and crown guard, as well as other movements. The Radiomir radioactive material of Panerai was replaced by Luminor, which was another Panerai-patented luminescence and based on Triple H. The latter was replaced by the recent Super-Luminova.
Today's Officine Panerai
In the 1990s, another revolution happened, Panerai became the adoring products of mechanical watch lovers. Those watches, whose size and aesthetic details were fully shown on the basis of the past vintage models and basic concept remained unchanged became the popular models followed by the public. The determination of supplying reliable and prestigious watches which Panerai insisted on has never changed. The famous Radiomir and Luminor have also become two symbols of sports watches.
Radiomir series kept the appearance and style of the 1938's models, from 1997, Panerai started to introduce complicated Radiomir models and Radiomir developed towards chronograph direction, but its production was small and only available for collectors. The Radiomir published in 2004 included Radiomir 45mm Black Seal, Radiomir 8 Days and Radiomir GMT.
Officine Panerai was bought by Richemont Group in 1998 and continuously specializes in producing high-precision products and extremely complex mechanical devices. The combination of the long history and the particular italian design tradition interpreted the uniqueness of this watch brand. Panerai's creativity, technology and unique heritage were the integral parts of the history of Radiomir Panerai and Panerai Luminor.