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Panerai: Traditional Italian Watches

Panerai skillfully combines Italian style with Swiss watchmaking. Cushion-shaped cases and large crown guards make Panerai timepieces unmistakeable. Highly complicated in-house calibers earn this company a top spot in the world of haute horlogerie.

By Chrono24 Last updated on October 28, 2019

5 Reasons to Buy a Watch from Panerai

  • Distinctive cushion-shaped cases
  • Imposing crown-protecting bridge on the Luminor
  • Innovative technology and the finest in-house calibers
  • Power reserve of up to 10 days (240 hours)
  • Originally developed for elite Italian combat divers

From a Military Watch to a Luxury Icon

The history of Officine Panerai, an Italian luxury watch manufacturer, stretches all the way back to 1860. However, their watches first became available to the public over 130 years later in 1993. Up until then, this Florentine company was a supplier for the Royal Italian Navy and very secretive about their products.

Today, Panerai creates some of the industry's most highly coveted timepieces. Cushion-shaped cases and massive sizes of 47 mm and above lend these watches a rather masculine feel and make them truly unmistakable. The dials are always tidy and easy to read under all lighting conditions thanks to luminous hands and indices.

The Radiomir and Luminor collections get their inspiration from historical models from the 1930s, 40s, and 50s. On the other hand, the diving watches of the Submersible series pair retro details with modern design and generally appeal to younger audiences.

Panerai has been equipping certain models with in-house calibers since 2005. These movements are produced at the company's facilities in Neuchâtel, Switzerland and vary in their complications. Some calibers feature a second time zone, double chronograph, tourbillon, or minute repeater. What's more, many of these movements boast an astonishing 10-day power reserve. All watches from before 2005 are powered by calibers from different ébauche suppliers, such as ETA.

How much do Panerai watches cost?

Model Price (approx.) Features
Radiomir 1940 Minute Repeater Carillon Tourbillon GMT, ref. PAM00600 434,000 USD Minute repeater, tourbillon, GMT, 4-day power reserve
Lo Scienziato – Luminor 1950 Tourbillon GMT, ref. PAM00578 109,000 USD Tourbillon, GMT, power reserve display, 6-day power reserve
Luminor Submersible 1950 3 Days Automatic Bronzo, ref. PAM00382 32,000 USD Bronze case, rotatable bezel, small seconds, date, 3-day power reserve
Radiomir 3 Days Automatic Oro Rosso, ref. PAM00573 18,000 USD Rose gold case, small seconds, 3-day power reserve
Luminor Submersible 1950 Carbotech 3 Days Automatic, ref. PAM00616 13,500 USD Carbon case, small seconds, rotatable bezel, date, 3-day power reserve
Luminor 1950 Regatta 3 Days Chrono Flyback Automatic Titanio, ref. PAM00526 13,500 USD Flyback chronograph, regatta countdown, 3-day power reserve
Luminor 1950 3 Days Acciaio, ref. PAM00372 7,000 USD Hours, minute, 3-day power reserve
Luminor Submersible Automatic, ref. PAM00024 6,000 USD Automatic, small seconds, date, rotatable bezel
Luminor Marina Logo Acciaio, ref. PAM01005 4,300 USD Small seconds, 56-hour power reserve
Radiomir Black Seal Logo Acciaio, ref. PAM00380 3,800 USD Small seconds, 56-hour power reserve
Radiomir Base Logo, ref. PAM00753 3,500 USD Hours, minutes, 72-hour power reserve

Detailed Price and Model Information for the Radiomir

The Radiomir was the very first Panerai watch. The company began producing models for the Italian Navy all the way back in 1936. Its name comes from the luminous material patented by Panerai in 1916. This material is based on radium, a radioactive element.

This timepiece's design has changed very little since its introduction. It still has a cushion-shaped case, tidy dial, two hands, and luminous indices and numerals at 3, 6, 9, and 12 o'clock. The different models range from 42 to 49 mm in diameter. Most are made of stainless steel. However, there are a few rose gold Radiomir watches, such as the Radiomir 1940 3 Days Oro Rosso with a California dial. This type of dial has hours marked by Roman numerals on its upper half and Arabic numerals on the lower half. You can also choose from various complications, including a small seconds, power reserve indicator, or GMT function.

The collection's top model is the Radiomir 1940 Minute Repeater Carillon Tourbillon GMT . This 49-mm rose gold watch is only produced upon customer request and displays the time in two time zones using a central set of hands. By activating the push-piece on the case at 8 o'clock, you can also hear the time in either time zone thanks to a series of chimes. A sapphire glass case back offers a view of the intricately skeletonized in-house caliber P.2500/MR at work. A price is hard to nail down since clients can customize their timepieces. However, this watch generally costs around 395,000 USD.

Entry-level models, such as the Radiomir Base Logo and Radiomir Black Seal Logo, sell for between 3,400 and 3,900 USD. If you'd prefer a watch with a second time zone, be prepared to spend anywhere from 9,300 to 13,000 USD. Prices for a Radiomir with a gold case fall between 14,000 and 17,500 USD.

Features of the Panerai Radiomir

  • A cushion-shaped case in stainless steel or gold
  • In-house calibers, some with a tourbillon, GMT function, and minute repeater
  • Case sizes ranging from 42 to 49 mm

Luminor: A Diving Watch with a Distinctive Crown Guard

The Luminor collection is an evolution of the Radiomir. Both models share a cushion-shaped case and clean dial. The most noticeable difference is the massive crown-protecting bridge that guards the Luminor's crown against impacts and jolts. It also keeps the crown firmly pressed into the case, keeping water out of the delicate interior.

Stainless steel is the most prominent material in the Luminor collection. However, you'll also find models in rose gold, titanium, or ceramic. Furthermore, there is a wide array of complications to choose from. This includes models with a tourbillon and a second time zone in addition to a flyback chronograph or equation of time. There are even watches for lefties with their crown on the left-hand side.

Simple models like the Luminor Base Logo change hands for as little as 4,200 USD. More complex watches like the Luminor GMT Power Reserve or the Luminor 8 Days GMT with an impressive eight-day power reserve cost between 7,100 and 9,700 USD. There's also the Luminor Equation of TIme 8 Days GMT, which requires an investment of roughly 17,000 USD. For another 3,300 USD, you can call the Luminor Regatta Chrono Flyback your own. You'll have to dig quite a bit deeper in your pockets for highly-complicated special editions like the Luminor L'Astronomo Tourbillon Moon Phase Equation of Time GMT. As its name implies, this timepiece boasts a second time zone, an equation of time function, a tourbillon, and a moon phase indicator that also shows sunrise and sunset times. Prices for this model begin around $219,000.

Features of the Panerai Luminor

  • Cushion-shaped case in stainless steel, gold, titanium, or ceramic
  • Distinctive crown-protecting bridge
  • In-house calibers, some with a tourbillon, flyback chronograph, or second time zone

Luminor Due: An Elegant Dress Watch

The Luminor Due is an elegant take on the classic Luminor. Its flatter case makes it a fantastic sporty dress watch. At 38 to 45 mm in diameter, there are also plenty of options for smaller wrists. The three-hand models with a small seconds dial at 9 o'clock are available in stainless steel or rose gold. Alligator leather straps hold these timepieces securely on the wrist.

Depending on the size, plan to spend between 5,100 and 8,300 USD for a stainless steel model. The gold editions are much more expensive, at 12,000 to 20,500 USD.

Features of the Panerai Luminor Due

  • Cushion-shaped case in gold or stainless steel
  • Suitable as a flat dress watch
  • Distinctive crown-protecting bridge
  • Sizes ranging from 38 to 45 mm, possible women's watch

Submersible: A Diving Bezel and Modern Design

The Submersible collection is a modern version of the Luminor. It also features Panerai's characteristic crown-protecting bridge. However, unlike the Luminor, this timepiece comes with a unidirectional diving bezel. With 300 m (30 bar, 984 ft) of water resistance, the Submersible is also suited for diving.

Applied dot and line indices add a fresh touch to the dial. Panerai also turns to contemporary materials for the case. In addition to classic stainless steel, you'll also find titanium, ceramic, and carbon.

Three-hand models cost between 8,200 and 14,000 USD, depending on the size and material. On the other hand, the Submersible with a flyback chronograph demands anywhere from 13,000 to 27,500 USD.

One of the most spectacular Submersible models is the Submersible Bronzo. Its 47-mm case is made of bronze and will develop its own unique patina over time, making every timepiece truly one of a kind. Anticipate prices of around 23,000 USD for a never-worn example.

Features of the Panerai Submersible

  • Cushion-shaped case in steel, titanium, ceramic, bronze, or carbon
  • Diving watch with unidirectional rotatable bezel
  • Water-resistant to 300 m (30 bar, 984 ft)
  • In-house calibers, some with a GMT or flyback function

Tradition Since 1860

Panerai dates back to 1860 when Giovanni Panerai opened a small watchmaking workshop and school in Florence, Italy. However, because all original documents from this time were destroyed in a flood in 1966, it's difficult to reconstruct the company's exact history. What we do know is that the company's sign bore the words Orologeria Svizzera (Swiss watchmaking) in the early 20th century.

Initially, the company focused on importing and selling Swiss watches from companies like Jaeger-LeCoultre, Ulysse Nardin, Vacheron Constantin, and Rolex. In order to keep import taxes as low as possible, the watches were delivered disassembled. Once the components reached the workshop, they were reassembled and adjusted by professionals who had trained at Panerai's watchmaking school. The brand's customers included prominent, rich Florentines as well as the Italian royal family.

Working with the Royal Italian Navy

Panerai has been a supplier to the Italian military since 1910. As first, they sent them pocket chronographs. Between 1910 and 1914, Panerai worked on developing glow-in-the-dark devices together with Lieutenant Carlo Ronconi. The solution was a radium-based luminous material. The term Radiomir first appeared in 1916 on a French patent. The word itself is a portmanteau of the Italian words radio (radium) and mira (sight). In the years that followed, Panerai would deliver compasses, barometers, bathometers, underwater lamps, and other instruments to the Italian military.

Over the course of the 1940s, Panerai developed their iconic crown-protecting bridge. It remains an unmistakable trademark of every Luminor model to this day. Panerai invented the luminous material Luminor in the late 1940s. This material is made from tritium and replaced radioactive Radiomir.

Panerai's Success

Large and distinctive luxury timepieces define Panerai. Their consistent designs and unique crown-protecting bridge have transcended generations and are immediately recognizable to any watch enthusiast. These watches further impress with their functionality and easy-to-read dials. They were designed to meet military standards and demands; more recently, action stars like Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger have helped these watches achieve cult status. The company received new financial resources after joining the Richemont Group in 1997. Thanks to these funds, doors were opened to new marketing and technological possibilities. This eventually led to the creation of Panerai's first in-house calibers. Today, Radiomir and Luminor are no longer pure military watches: They're beloved by city dwellers, creative minds, star cooks, and managers of all kinds.