Panerai is a brand that we know and love, but with over 100 unique models it can be a lot to take in. So, here’s our Guide to Panerai. We’re going to start with the brand’s interesting history, then give a quick model overview, to help understand their extensive lineup, and highlight some of our favorites.
Panerai was founded in the late 1800s in Florence, Italy, by Giovanni Panerai. And it originally started as a watch shop and later became Florence’s first watch-making school. It wasn’t until 1936 that we see our first actual Panerai watch, The Radiomir. The watch was named for the luminous material known as Radium, and at the time the radioactive nature of Radium wasn’t known. What’s even more interesting than a radioactive watch, is this watch and all of the first watches from Panerai were made by Rolex. Panerai knew Rolex was a pioneer in water resistance as well as a leader in watch movements, and these qualities paired with the luminous nature of the Panerai dial made these watches an asset to Italian Divers in WWII. Rolex Continued to make Panerai watches until 1956. After that Panerai began producing its own watches.
And then in 1993 Panerai stopped producing watches for the Italian Navy and began to focus on the general public. These designs drew heavy inspiration from the original design by Rolex. In the early 90s Panerai wasn’t doing well. Then Sylvester Stallone found the watches while filming the 1996 movie, “Daylight” in Italy. All of a sudden, this little Italian watch brand was gaining notoriety. And in 1997 the Richemont Group acquired Panerai. The first watches released under the new ownership were the Luminor and Luminor Marina.
In the past 20 plus years Panerai has grown from a little watchmaker in Florence to a prominent luxury brand with world recognition. Now the Panerai brand has so many great watches to choose from, and most of the watches on this list can come in a variety of materials like steel, titanium, gold, platinum, and even carbon. The brand’s watches also have a number of in-house movements from simple, manual wound, time only to automatic fly back chronographs. And with a majority of their watches now featuring these in-house movements you can see how Panerai has truly grown into a major player in the industry. But because of their extensive library of watches, and all the different options it can be overwhelming.
The Panerai Model Guide
So, this is meant as a guide to getting comfortable with the brand at a high level. Now let’s take a look at the Panerai Brand and its different lines. We can break it down into four categories. The Radiomir, The Luminor, The Submersible, and the newest addition the Luminor Due.
The Radiomir is the Original Panerai. It debuted in 1936, and again, was made by Rolex. The iconic case shape has become a distinguishing factor in most Panerai watches to this day. All though no longer made with Radioactive Radium, the Radiomir, like all Panerai, has intense luminescence thanks to a generous use of SuperLuminova. Even with its military inspired history the Radiomir has become one of the dressier options from Panerai. The Radiomir is defined by its wire lugs, sleek case, and diamond crown. Currently they’re 24 unique Radiomir models.
The Radiomir 1940
In particular, the Radiomir 1940. We wanted to highlight the Radiomir 1940 because of its Historical significance. The case design is directly from the 1940s Radiomir. It is distinguished by its more traditional lug and crown design. It currently comes in a range of sizes from 42mm – 48mm. The original Radiomir 1940 was a whopping 47mm! On this particular model you can see the faux patina on the luminescence.
The Luminor. The Luminor was the successor to the Radiomir. Starting in 1949 with a new patented luminescent substance called Luminor and culminating in a new case design and the now iconic, half-moon crown guard. This allowed for improved water resistance. The Luminor has now become the flagship Panerai watch. With over 60 current models there are plenty to choose from. The Most common Luminor is the 44mm version.
The Luminor 1950
The Luminor 1950. Similar to the Radiomir 1940, we wanted to highlight the Luminor 1950 because of its historical significance as the original Luminor. With it more curvaceous case and bulbous crystal it stands apart from the more blocky design of the modern Luminor.
The Submersible. These are the workhorse watches in the Panerai line up. Only recently did Panerai separate the Submersible line into its own category. These watches have all the necessary components to make them ISO certified Dive Watches. The Submersible line is the most specialized with only 11 models. A crazy fact about the Submersible is these watches still used Tritium well into this century! These watches retain the iconic crown bridge of the Luminor, but also gain a rotating bezel to keep with the ISO Dive Standards. This one, in particular, has a 47 mm carbon fiber case called Carbotech. And is powered by an in-house Panerai caliber with a 3 Day power reserve. This thing is a beast!
The Luminor Due
The Luminor Due. This is the newest line to the Panerai family. The Due line watches are noticeably thinner than all other Panerai and represent an easier to wear watch for smaller wrists. They range in size from 38mm, which is a first for Panerai, up to 45mm. They do not have the water-resistant rating of some of the more tool-focused brethren, but nevertheless maintain the same styling and use of in-house movements. Even-though this is the newest line they are already 16 different models. Keeping with the more casual styling they have some really interesting sunburst dials.
So, there you have it. As we mentioned this is just meant as a guide. And hopefully this overview helps you navigate the Panerai brand a little better. Let us know your favorite Panerai model and what you love about it. And as always thanks for watching.