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1860 - the foundation of Panerai workshop Giovanni Panerai founded a watch shop in Florence: this watch shop was not only a shop, it also was a factory, moreover, it was the first watchmaking school in the city. The history of Panerai just began. This watch shop changed its name to Orologeria Svizzera(Swiss watch shop) in the early 20th century, and then it was moved to Palazzo Arcivescovile of Piazza San Giovanni, and there is still the Florence headquarters of Panerai so far. Giovanni Panerai 1916 - Panerai registered patent for Radiomir At that moment, Panerai had become a supplier for Italian Royal Navy and provided high-precision timing devices to them. According to the requirement of the military, Panerai produced Radiomir, and it was a luminescent material that was based on radium and it served as luminous coating of instruments and dial. Relevant document of the name "Radiomir" can be found in the appendix of patent file filled in France on 23 March 1916. This luminescent material which was based on radium became an indispensable material in the process of Panreai's production immediately for its high visibility and excellent adhesivity in the water. The patent of Radiomir became the first patented technology researched and developed by Panerai, and Panerai's long innovative history started from here. Brevet'd Invention 1936 - the first Radiomir prototype On the eve of World War II, Panerai developed the first Radiomir prototype and provided it to frogman army of Italian Royal Navy First Submarine Group Command. Many characteristics of this watch are remained up to now: large stainless steel pillow-shaped case(diameter of 47mm), luminescent digital and hour markers, wire lugs smoothly extending from the case, hand-wound mechanical movement, wide extended waterproof strap that could be worn on the outside of diving suit. According to the record of naval historical archives, Panerai produced only 10 prototypes in 1936. The first Radiomir 1938 - Radiomir, a watch with continuous evolution Radiomir that inherited the characteristics of prototype of 1936 was put into mass production until two years later. In order to make this prototype play its function better, Panerai made several improvements and established a brand new Radiomir. The brand new Radiomir had features as follows: two-layered dial, the upper dial possessed hands and hour markers to enhance readability and luminescent properties of radium coating, wire lugs became harder and more durable, both ends were equipped with metal bars that were welded in the middle of case. The underwater visibility of dial was also strengthened, and the four cardinal points had four striking Arabic numerals and other hour markers, hand indicators and minute hand, but without small second hand. Dials 1940 - Radiomir 1940 Case The requirements of Royal Navy became stricter: wrist watch must be able to withstand the prolonged test of worst condition underwater. Thus, it must have strong durability. In order to meet the requirements, lugs must be reinforced and integrally molded with case to improve waterproofness. Nowadays, some Radiomir 1940 were equipped with pillow-shaped case with more obvious edges on the sides, and the average size of individual parts were modified and cylindrical(but not conical) winding crown. Radiomir 1940 Special Edition that was released at SIHH 2012 drew inspiration from these features. Radiomir 1940 1943 - Mare Nostrum Panerai launched prototype that specially was designed for the orderly Naval civilian officer: Mare Nostrum two-counter chronograph. It is said that it was only produced two or three at that time, so now people just can see some photos of them, and only one of them was found in 2005. Penarai started researching and developing this watch preliminary in the 1940s. Semilunar steel crown protective device could prevent seawater from entering the case and also protect the crown seal from damage for the stress of winding. Mare Nostrum 1949 - Radiomir was replaced by Luminor Luminor could be self-luminous, and it replaced original radium coating. Tritium (isotope of hydrogen) based compound was registered patent on 11 January 1949, and its registered trademark was Luminor. Having inspired by this new patent, after the launch of Radiomir, Panerai developed and launched its another classic watch - Luminor. Luminor registered patent 1950 - Luminor 1950 Case The evolution from Radiomir to Luminor was finished. After the finish of World War II, Panerai continued its technical research that was started at the beginning of the war and perfected the development of Luminor. The new Luminor was unique for its crown-protecting bridge, and wire lugs were improved and integrally molded with case, and its case inherited pillow shaped case and flat, wide bezel of Radiomir 1940. Now Luminor 1950 is equipped with this case. Luminor 1950 1956 - Panerai developed Egiziano Panerai developed a Radiomir named Egiziano for Egyptian Navy. This watch had large size(case diameter of 60mm), it was firm and durable, it possessed excellent waterproofness, in the meanwhile, it was equipped with marked bezel to calculate diving time. The unique design of crown-protecting bridge that earliest appeared in Panerai prototype as well as was recorded in Italian naval archives in the same year became classic style of Luminor and symbolic feature of Panerai. Structure Chart of Crown-Protecting Bridge 1972 - the year of transition for Panerai Guido's son, Giuseppe Panerai died. Engineer Dino Zei took over the family business of Panerai, and renamed company's name from G.Panerai & Figlio to Officine Panerai S.r.L., and this name had appeared in the initial several watches. In the meantime, Panerai was still secret supplier of Italian navy. Panerai provided and developed relevant equipment for Italian navy for a long time, including compass with excellent water resistance, depth gauge that was worn on the wrist and pressure compensation underwater torches, etc, and this also opened a new historical chapter for Panerai. Compass watches 1993 - the first Panerai limited series Panerai launched three limited editions to public: Luminor, Luminor Marina and Mare Nostrum. The inspiration of them were derived from military watch that was produced in World War II, and many collectors and panerai fans eagerly bought these three watches. This series was formally represented in September 1993 on the Italian Navy cruiser "Durand De La Penne", and Duke Amedeo D'Aosta attended the ceremony. Maiale 1997 - Panerai played an important part in the high-class watchmaking market The Richemont group(then Vendôme Group) acquired Panerai and then opened distribution network in Italy. In the next few years, Panerai was budding in international high-end watch market. This series includes two kinds of watches: Luminor and three Luminor Marina. Mare Nostrum was previously presented in 1993, and it was re-launched in a new version with a narrower bezel, a screw-down case back and motion-work outside the hour circle. Luminor Marina 2001 - Panerai returned to the origins Panerai's boutique in Florence Piazza San Giovanni was reopened after meticulous renovation and decoration. This boutique is a meeting place for Panerai fans and collectors. In addition to providing general watch series, it also has collected rare special edition watches. Panerai's boutique 2002 - Panerai established watch factory in NEUCHÂTEL of Switzerland It was a milestone year for Panerai. Panerai integrated precise Swiss watchmaking technology and unique design with exquisite craftsmanship. Furthermore, with continuous technical research and development, Panerai constantly put new technology and a variety of functions into the product design. Panerai was also brave in opening up the Asian market, and it opened its first Asian specialty store in the prestigious Landmark Prince's Building in Hong Kong. Panerai's factory in NEUCHÂTEL 2005 - the first home-made movement of Panerai Panerai's first home-made movement P.2002 was launched in the international markets: this hand-wound movement possesses functions of dual timezone and power reserve to 8 days, and it was similar to Angelus movement of the 1940s. This movement was named after the year that Panerai set up its factory to pay homage to this wrist watch brand of Florence. P.2002 2007 - Panerai launched brand new home-made movements Panerai launched three brand-new in-house movements that were designed and developed by themselves: P.2003, P.2004 and innovative P.2005. P.2005 was installed specially-made and graceful tourbillon of Panerai, which was integrated with its precise and complicated watchmaking traditions perfectly as well as innovated its device. In fact, the frame of balance wheel and escapement that rotates around the axis are not parallel to balance wheel axis, but instead they are perpendicular to it. Unlike traditional tourbillon, Panerai tourbillon structure completes a rotation per 30 seconds, and tradition tourbillon structure completes a rotation per minute. P.2005 2008 - P.9000 and P.2006 Panerai launched P.9000 and P.2006 self-made movement. Both of these two movements were developed and produced by Panerai. Luminor 1950 and Radiomir were equipped with P.9000 movement with power reserve to 72 hours, and P.2006 was modified from P.2004 single push piece chronograph movement, and it was added function of split-seconds which was controlled by the second push piece at 10 o'clock position. P.2006 2009 - the infinite passion for the ocean In order to express its love for the sea, Panerai planned to rebuild Eilean, the 1936 Bermudian ketch that was built by the legendary Fife shipyard. Panerai spent 3 years in repairing Eilean. With the help of consummate skill of Francesco Del Carlo shipyard of Viareggio, Eilean regained its former glory. After the completion of more than 40000 hours of restoration, Eilean's launching ceremony was held at the Sailing Section of the Italian Navy in La Spezia on 22 October. The re-edition of Egiziano represents the love of Panerai for this watch. Egiziano was specially produced for the Egyptian Navy in 1956. Eilean 2010 - to pay tribute to Galileo In order to pay homage to the first great invention of Galileo 400 years ago, Panerai established three watches to commemorate this Tuscan genius: L'Astronomo, Lo Scienziato and the Jupiterium. Panerai's Jupiterium prototype is a planetary watch, according to the principle of gravity, its calendar shows the relationship between the sun, the moon, the Saturn, and the other Galilean moons, especially the four main satellites, now known as Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto. Thanks to the invention of the telescope, Galileo found the Galileo satellite in 1610. Panerai launched its P.999 home-made movement and first Composite watch at SIHH. Luminor Panerai 2011 - Panerai launched bronze watch "Luminor Submersible 1950 3 Days Automatic Bronzo" is a limited edition launched by Panerai, and Panerai applied retro element to it for the first time, especially marine element which has a profound origin with Panerai. P.3000 home-made movement that launched by Panerai in 2011 is the further representation of Panerai watchmaking technology. Panerai set up its thirtieth specialty store in Bal Harbour, Florida. Luminor Submersible 1950 3 Days Automatic Bronzo 2012 - Radiomir 1940 Case Panerai relaunched its unique and classical case, and two special edition Radiomir 1940 watches. Unlike the prototype watches and watches produced in the late 1930s, some Radiomir watches produced in the 1940s possessed lugs which did not consist of traditional welded steel wire, but they were integrally molded with the case and therefore they were more solid and had better waterproof. The new Radiomir 1940 reused classical dial with diameter of 47mm, and its inspiration was derived from other features of historical watches: dial with Plexiglas® protection, rounded bezel, and the cylindrical crown. The Plexiglas trademark is not owned by Panerai. Radiomir Panerai 2013 - three brand new home-made movements symbolized sustainable development of Panerai Panerai launched three brand new home-made movements: Panerai's first P.9100 automatic winding movement with chronograph flyback function, the sophisticated P.9100/R movement with regatta countdown function, and P.5000 hand-wound movement with power reserve to 8 days. The brand new series also presented charming Radiomir1940 case and new model of Submersible. At SIHH, Panerai also presented the Pocket Watch Tourbillon GMT Ceramica, a remarkable pocket watch in ceramic. P.9100 automatic winding movement 2014 - the opening of brand new Panerai watch factory Panerai opened its brand new watch factory on the hill of Pierre-à-Bot in Neuchâtel, Switzerland. This new factory gathers all highly specialized skills that advanced watchmaking related to in one place, and it integrates excellent Italian design with Swiss traditional manufacturing technology. Since 2002, Panerai opened its first factory, and it successful developed a full range of in-house movements with watch functions at the highest levels: from the GMT to a complete range of Chronographs, from the extended Power Reserve to the unmistakable Panerai Tourbillon. In 2014, Panerai launched P.4000 movement. The characteristic of this home-made automatic winding movement is its eccentric rotor, it integrates exquisite design with highly sophisticated watchmaking technology perfectly. New factory on the hill of Pierre-à-Bot
In 1936, four years before World War II, the war atmosphere was very fierce in Eurasia, arms race between Axis and Allies was fierce extraordinarily. As the Axis powers of Italy, Panerai faced a major test this year, If failed to get this off, the position of defense suppliers could be described as precarious seat. Since 1990, Panerai has supplied Italian Navy with optical and diving precision instruments, such as depth gauge, underwater compass, adjustable torpedo timing device, etc. But underwater military watch order was a big challenge for Panerai at that time. Although Panerai had the experience of watch repair and parts assembling, but to producing a strict military watch was difficult for Panerai regardless of movement, case, optical and structural strength. In response to war requirement, the Navy divers needed a very accurate, waterproof and big luminosity timer. 3646 California Dial Therefore, when the first special watch was sent to the Italian Navy submarine force headquarters in 1936, the history of Panerai was completely rewritten in the latter decades. This ancestor Panerai was known as the 3646 California Dial, it needed to deconstruct deeply, we must first understand its manufacturer, the Swiss senior watch making brand Rolex, when Panerai took over this task, it known that to complete the mission it must have a strong foreign aid. While the neutral state Switzerland was a required place, because Axis and Allies confronted each other and blocked the military resources of opponent, Panerai could only choose a neutral partner, Swiss happened to be the leader of watchmaking, it was a godsend. Rolex was already an experienced watchmaking giant in the 30s, it has produced the first Oyster watch across the English Channel. Around 1935, this special case with two-section fonts has been used in 31mm Rolex watch series. It was known as the California Dial. The upper with Rome, the latter with Arabic numerals. Took notice to the similarity of hours and minutes hand with 3646, 6152 series of Panerai. Rolex 31mm California Dial The design of Rolex dial, the crown and the convex glass in the same period. Rolex in 1935 The design patent of California Dial for Rolex in the early 40s. Rolex in the 40s The sister brand Tudor still produced California Dial until modern times. Rolex Tudor Came back to the question, when Rolex received the task which Panerai entrusted, it of course adopted the newest case design in the factory. Rolex The Italian Navy needed a large dial, so the diver could easily read, Rolex selected the 47mm diameter design of pocket watches. Rolex 47mm Dark depths needed a strong luminescence, Panerai successfully used phosphorescence of zinc sulfide and the mixture of radiumbromide and thorium to make the Radiomir strong glowing material in 1910, from the first 3646 California Dial, Radiomir has been continued until the late forties, and latter, the low-level radioactive and high-brightness Luminor that invented by Panerai replaced it. Rolex 47mm Rolex used blue steel as the hand material, now, Cartier, Frank Muller and other advanced watch brands still used blue steel. Rolex Blue Steel Hand This movement design of pocket watch naturally was used for the 47mm 3646 California Dial. Movement of 47mm 3646 California Dial The 17 jeweled 35mm large movement. Rolex 3646 Movement The case back was engraved with the Panerai Military ID 3646. Rolex 3646 Case Back Panerai 3646 California Dial passed through the Italian Navy stringent tests, it officially became a military watch in 1938, the second 3646 appeared in 1938, still with the 47mm dial, and the markers were the big font of 3, 6, 9, 12 (that is the current SE pam21 & 232 Panerai design) Panerai 3646 Cushion-Shaped This 47mm large watch used the dense welded design, the strap was processed by oil immersion, it was tensile and waterproof. Because it was the first military prototype, the production was small, if you can find a good one in the modern market, it would cost more than a million. Panerai 3646 Panerai re-edicted this antique design pam 249 in 2006, to commemorate this historic moment in 1936, pam 249 was with a limited production of 1936 pieces and 99 pieces of Platinum pam 262.
The brief origin of Radiomir and Luminor: In 1915, Panerai was supplied "RADIOMIR RONCONI" for military. The "RADIOMIR", a kind of light-emitting material based on Radium, was used for the luminous coating of the instruments and watch dials. Because of its high radioactivity, the Radiomir coating was gradually replaced by self-luminous material "Luminor" during the WWII. In 1916, Panerai registered patent for "Radiomir". In 1936, the first Radiomir prototype watch was published. In 1949, the Radiomir was replaced by Luminor, which was registered patent in January 11, 1949 and the registered trademark is just "LUMINOR". In 1950, Panerai finished the watchcase design of LUMINOR, and that watchcase is used in contemporary LUMINOR 1950. The biggest difference between Radiomir and Luminor is that Radiomir is equipped with conical screw-down winding crown and screw back while the Luminor is complimented by the crown bridge(registered trademark), but they are both using the distinguished cushion shape watchcase which ensured a particularly high degree of water-resitance.