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Panerai Watches

The journey of Panerai dates back to the year 1860. That year, the founder Giovanni Panerai established the first-ever outlet of Panerai watches. He set up the shop in Florence, at Ponte Alle Grazie. To this day, the site of the first shop remains significant. It was a landmark event in the history of horology since this was Florence's first watchmaking institute. Since 1860, Panerai has grown in leaps and bounds. Panerai launched its Radiomir line inspired by wartime needs. Part of the reason behind the line's success is that these watches were meant for war, and consequently performed amazingly in everyday situations. Since 1936, the Panerai Radiomir has been the most iconic watch from the house of Panerai. Watch lovers and collectors around the world love this collection for its unmatched capability and stunning looks. 

Panerai Radiomir originated out of the challenges the Italian Army was facing in the 1930s. It all started in the year 1935. That year, the Italian Royal Navy was undergoing tests and trials of underwater assault weapons. The need of the hour was a reliable and precise diving watch. Panerai did not shy away from the opportunity to showcase its ability. With the Italian Royal navy, they engaged in the development of tools that would facilitate secret underwater missions.

The navy standards were tough to match. As a result, most of the diving watches that came in for trial were rejected. From the archives of the Royal Italian navy, we know that the piece which ultimately met the standards came in 1936. Giuseppe Panerai approved some prototypes for what would later become Reference 2553. It was built on a base delivered by Rolex-Geneva, and Panerai worked on that base to give the watch its final shape. The first Panerai Radiomir was born this way, yet this was still a prototype and not what would later be widely known as the Panerai Radiomir. That happened 4 years later.

Panerai Radiomir Reference 3646

After reference 2553 in 1936, came reference 3646 in 1940. Ref. 3646 would go on to become world-famous as the original Panerai Radiomir. In fact, even modern-day Panerai Radiomir's draw most of their stylistic and design elements from the original Panerai Radiormir Reference 3646.  

Desing of the first Panerai Radiomir

The watch made a name from the very beginning for its rather big size and chunky features. it was extremely appealing to the military aesthetics. It had a case diameter of 47mm, which was not commonly found in most dress watches of the time. The dial was also stunning. It had luminous numbers and indexes. The wire tugs were welded to the body of the case. The movement that powered the watch was a Cortebert/Rolex 618 caliber. At the time, it was used pocket watches. With the straps, Panerai used tanned leather. It was both extremely durable and water-resistant. With all these elements designed to perfection, the Panerai Radiomir quickly established itself as a work of genius.  

A regular supply of Panerai watches

Panerai watches were only regularly supplied after the initial stylistic and design elements were taken care of. After that, the watches were supplied to Regia Marina. At that point, there were some additional modifications, supervised by Guiseppe Panerai himself. He made use of two overlapping discs, anodized aluminum, and perforated indexes to make the watch more legible in actual battle situations. The layout also underwent a redesign. 4 big Arabic numerals were added along with 8 indexes. 

Panerai's contribution to the Royal Italian navy

Post the second world war, the requirement of the Royal Italian navy was even more streamlined. To match the need of the hour, Panerai developed two new watches. In 1954, reference 6152 and reference 6154 were put to trial. These two watches would go on to become the inspiration behind the tremendously successful Radiomir 1940 line. The case of these watches was made of single blocks and was fit with fixed handles. They also introduced the tubular cylinder, which would replace the previously used conical cylinder. After a bunch of improvements and developments, reference 6152 was relaunched as the definitive model of the Radiomir line. 

For years after its development, the Panerai Radiomir was exclusively supplied to the Royal Italian Navy. People had to wait till 1993 to see the success of Panerai watches in the commercial market. 

It all started when Guido Panerai passed away. The responsibility to run the company fell to the shoulders of top engineer Dino Zei. He had a different vision for the brand and its future. Under his leadership, the company started toying with new business models. In 1993, as a result of these new business strategies, the first luxury watch by Panerai was made available to the general population. 

The Panerai Luminor and Panerai mare Nostrum were two watches that gained immediate popularity. As soon as they were launched to the market, word of their impeccable looks and performance spread. 

1997: The new generation of Panerai Radiomir

The new generation of Panerai watches was born in the year 1997. This new collection drew its inspiration from the original models of the 1930s. Among the most popular models from this era was the Panerai Radiomir PAM 210. Then in 1998, Panerai participated for the first time in the International Haute Horlogerie market. They brought three models in their collection. These were the Panerai Lumnor and Panerai Luminor Marina in three different models. After this event, Panerai's reputation as a luxury watchmaker was solidified. The 1997-98 models were inspired by the original Radiomirs, yet they were quite different in many ways. They designed their iconic shapes and designs and started making watches with smaller case diameters. More and more people came to know about the greatness of Panerai watches, and it was soon a global phenomenon. 

2004: The Panerai Black Seal

The Panerai Black Seal deserves a special mention for being arguably the greatest watch from the Radiomir collection. Launched din 2004, this watch is a tribute to both the original Panerai watches of the 1930s and the brave navy officers who wore them. The name 'black seal' comes from the fact that these marine soldiers would wear pitch black suits for covert underwater missions. The radium of the original Panerai Radiomir watches helped them see even in darkness. Every watch from the Black Seal collection carries the signature 'Black Seal' inscription on it. it is, without a doubt, one of the best watches created by any watchmaker anywhere in the world.

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