Giovanni Panerai opens his watchmaker's shop on Ponte alle Grazie in Florence: serving not only as a shop and workshop but also as the city's first watchmaking school, Officine Panerai's history begins here.
1860 - 1936: THE ORIGINS
OPENING OF THE OFFICINE PANERAI WORKSHOP
Giovanni Panerai opens his watchmaker's shop on Ponte alle Grazie in Florence: serving not only as a shop and workshop but also as the city's first watchmaking school, Officine Panerai's history begins here. The shop later moves to its current location in the Palazzo Arcivescovile in Piazza San Giovanni, changing its name to "Orologeria Svizzera" at the beginning of the twentieth century.
OFFICINE PANERAI FILES THE RADIOMIR PATENT
To meet the military needs of the Royal Italian Navy, which it had already been supplying with high precision instruments for a number of years, Officine Panerai creates Radiomir, a radium-based powder that gives luminosity to the dials of sighting instruments and devices. Reference to the name "Radiomir" is documented in the supplement to the patent filed in France on 23 March 1916. The substance's high visibility and the paint's excellent underwater adhesive qualities immediately make the radium paste a key element in Officine Panerai’s production. The Radiomir patent will be the first of the many patents filed to mark Panerai's history of innovation.
THE FIRST RADIOMIR PROTOTYPE
On the eve of the Second World War, Panerai creates the first prototypes of the model now known as "Radiomir" for the frogman commandos of the First Submarine Group Command of the Royal Italian Navy. Today's Radiomir retains many of the prototype’s features: a large, cushion-shaped steel case (47mm), luminescent numerals and indices, wire lugs welded to the case, a hand-wound mechanical movement, and a water-resistant strap long enough to be worn over a diving suit. The Navy's historical archives record that just ten prototypes were produced in 1936.
1936 - 1993: PANERAI FOR THE ROYAL ITALIAN NAVY
RADIOMIR, A CONSTANTLY EVOLVING MODEL
The actual production of the Radiomir models with the 1936 features takes place two years later. In order to implement the functions of the prototype, Officine Panerai makes a number of changes and starts producing a new Radiomir model with the following features: the use of overlapping plates for the dial, the upper part having perforated indices and numerals so as to make the radium paint more readable and luminescent; the wire lugs are made more resistant, comprising a metal bar folded at both ends and welded to the case middle. A further innovation that improves underwater visibility relates to the numbering of the dial, which has just 4 large Arabic numerals at the cardinal points and a series of indices, hour and minute hands, but without a small seconds hand.
RADIOMIR 1940 CASE
The Royal Navy’s requirements become even more specific: the watches have to remain underwater in extreme conditions for long periods. Therefore, their resistance to extreme tension must also be guaranteed. The lugs are reinforced to meet these needs and made from the same block of steel as the case for better underwater resistance. Some of today's models bearing the "Radiomir 1940" name have a cushion-shaped case made with edges that are more pronounced on the sides, a general reshaping of the individual parts and a cylindrical, tubular rather than conical, winding crown. The Radiomir 1940 Special Edition models presented at the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie 2012 draw inspiration from these features.
Officine Panerai presents the prototype of a model specifically designed for deck officers: the Mare Nostrum, a two-counter chronograph. It is thought that only two or three of these watches were ever made, and all that remains of them are some photographs and a single example discovered in 2005. The research and planning for one of the fundamental steps in the Florentine brand's design began in the early 1940s: the crown-protecting device, a sort of steel half-moon designed to prevent infiltrations of water into the case and to protect the crown seal from the stresses of winding.
RADIOMIR IS REPLACED BY LUMINOR
A new self-luminous substance, Luminor, supersedes the radium-based paste. Tritium (hydrogen isotope) based, this compound is protected by the patent filed on 11 January 1949 under the "Luminor" trademark. Officine Panerai draws inspiration from the name of its newly patented substance for its other historical model that follows the Radiomir watch - the Luminor
The evolution from Radiomir to Luminor is completed. The Second World War having drawn to a close, the Florentine company continues the technical research begun at the start of the war, culminating in the development of the Luminor, characterized by the crown-protecting bridge, with reinforced wire lugs created from the same block of steel as the case, the cushion-shaped case as in the Radiomir 1940 and the flat, wider bezel. Nowadays the models with this case are known as Luminor 1950.
OFFICINE PANERAI DEVELOPS THE "EGIZIANO"
Panerai develops a Radiomir watch known as the "Egiziano" for the Egyptian Navy. It is characterized by its exceptional size (case diameter of 60 millimetres) and strength: it has great water resistance and a marked bezel for calculating immersion time. The patent for the crown-protecting bridge, which previously appeared in Panerai prototypes and supply documents provided to the Italian Navy, is filed in the same year, thereby becoming the distinguishing mark of both the Luminor models and of the DNA of the Florentine company's bran
A YEAR OF TRANSITION FOR OFFICINE PANERAI
Giuseppe Panerai, son of Guido, dies. The management of the family business, along with the Italian Navy supply contracts long covered by military secrecy, passes to engineer Dino Zei, who changes the company name from "G.Panerai & Figlio" to "Officine Panerai S.r.L.", the name that had appeared on the very first models. Another chapter in Officine Panerai’s production relates to the instruments created for and supplied to the Italian Navy for many years - compasses and wrist depth gauges, as well as pressure compensation underwater torches providing greater resistance in the depths of the sea.
1993 - 1997: PRE VENDÔME
THE FIRST OFFICINE PANERAI COLLECTION
Officine Panerai presents a collection of three series of limited edition watches to the public: the Luminor, the Luminor Marina and the Mare Nostrum, which draw inspiration from the historical models created for Second World War commandos, and which immediately become highly sought after items for many collectors and enthusiasts. The presentation of the collection takes place in September 1993 on the Italian Navy cruiser "Durand De La Penne", with a ceremony attended by Duke Amedeo D'Aosta.
OFFICINE PANERAI BECOMES A MAJOR PLAYER IN THE FINE WATCHMAKING MARKET
The Richemont Group (then Vendôme Group) acquires Officine Panerai, with the consequent opening of a select distribution network in Italy. The following year sees its debut on the international fine watchmaking market. The collection comprises two models: the Luminor and the Luminor Marina in three versions. The Mare Nostrum version, previously presented in 1993, is re-launched in a new version with a narrower bezel, a screw-down case back and motion-work outside the hour circle
2001 - 2002: THE INTERNATIONAL LAUNCH
OFFICINE PANERAI: RETURN TO THE ORIGINS
After a meticulous refurbishment, Panerai's historic boutique is reopened. A restyling of the original Piazza San Giovanni premises in Florence, following the acquisition of the family shop by Officine Panerai. This artisan’s workshop is a meeting point for brand collectors and enthusiasts, who can find not only pieces from the current collection, but also special edition watches and special productions that Panerai reserves exclusively for its boutiques.
OPENING OF THE PANERAI MANUFACTURE IN NEUCHÂTEL
This year is a milestone for Officine Panerai, with the opening of the Panerai Manufacture in Neuchâtel, Switzerland. Fine Swiss watchmaking, exclusive design and know-how come together in a single location where planning, development and continuous research offer new technical and functional perspectives. Officine Panerai also opens up to the Orient with its first Asian boutique, located in the prestigious Landmark Prince's Building in Hong Kong.
2005 - 2016: PANERAI MANUFACTURE
OFFICINE PANERAI'S FIRST IN-HOUSE MOVEMENT
Officine Panerai launches its first in-house movement, the P.2002: a hand-wound calibre with GMT function and an eight-day power reserve, as in the Angelus movements used in the 1940s. The calibre takes its name from the year in which Officine Panerai inaugurated its production plant, a tribute to the watchmaking art of the Florentine brand.
OFFICINE PANERAI PRESENTS NEW IN-HOUSE CALIBRES
Three new calibres designed and developed in-house by Officine Panerai are presented: the P.2003, the P.2004 and the innovative P.2005. The P.2005 has an elegant tourbillon that has been tailored by the Florentine company, making the tradition of this fine watchmaking complication its own and at the same time innovating the device. In fact, the cage housing the balance wheel and the escapement rotate on an axis that is not parallel to the balance wheel axis, but instead is perpendicular to it. Unlike traditional tourbillons in which the cage completes one rotation per minute, the cage of the Officine Panerai tourbillon completes one rotation in thirty seconds.
OFFICINE PANERAI LAUNCHES THE P.9000 AND P.2006 IN-HOUSE CALIBRES
Officine Panerai presents the P.9000 and P.2006 movements. Both calibres were developed and produced by the Florentine brand. The P.9000 calibre, primarily characterised by a 72-hour power reserve, is mounted on a series of Luminor 1950 and Radiomir models, while the P.2006 is an evolution of the P.2004 single-button chronograph calibre with the addition of a split-second function controlled by a second button at 10 o'clock.
OFFICINE PANERAI AND THE PASSION FOR THE SEA
To celebrate passion for the sea, Officine Panerai acquires and restores Eilean, the 1936 Bermudian ketch built in Fife's legendary shipyard. It takes three whole years to bring Eilean back to the sea and to its original beauty, thanks to the expert restoration by the Francesco Del Carlo shipyard in Viareggio. After 40,000 hours of work, Eilean's launch ceremony is held at the Sailing Section of the Italian Navy in La Spezia on 22 October. The attention of the Florentine brand's enthusiasts' is captured by the re-edition of the "Egiziano", the model Panerai designed for the Egyptian Navy in 1956.
A TRIBUTE TO GALILEO GALILEI
On the occasion of the 400th anniversary of his first celestial observations, Officine Panerai dedicates a triptych of exceptionally complex models to the Tuscan genius, Galileo Galilei: L’Astronomo, Lo Scienziato and the Jupiterium clock. Panerai's Jupiterium model is a planetary clock with perpetual calendar which shows, from a geocentric perspective, the positions in the celestial sphere of the Sun, the Moon and Jupiter with the so-called Galilean Moons, i.e. its four main satellites, now known as Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto, observed for the first time by Galileo Galilei in 1610, thanks to the invention of the telescope. Officine Panerai launches the in-house P.999 movement and the first Panerai Composite watch at the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie.
OFFICINE PANERAI PRESENTS THE BRONZE WATCH
Officine Panerai presents the Luminor Submersible 1950 3 Days Automatic Bronzo, using for the first time an element which owes its charm to the aged look it develops over time, and that has always been evocative of the sea world to which Officine Panerai is historically linked. This year also sees the creation of the P.3000 in-house calibre, expression of the watchmaking art of the Florentine brand. Officine Panerai opens its thirtieth boutique in Bal Harbour, Florida.
A TRIBUTE TO THE PAST: PANERAI PRESENTS TWO RADIOMIR MODELS WITH THE HISTORIC 1940 CASE
Officine Panerai re-proposes the exclusive, historically inspired case with two special edition Radiomir 1940 models. Unlike the prototypes and the models in production at the end of the 1930s, some historical Radiomir models produced in the 1940s had a case in which the lugs did not consist of a welded steel wire but were made from the same block as the case and were therefore more solid and more resistant. The new Radiomir 1940 models re-propose this special case with a classic 47-millimetre diameter, together with other elements inspired by historical models: Plexiglas® to protect the dial, the circular, rounded bezel, and the cylindrical crown. The Plexiglas® trademark is not owned by Officine Panerai.
THREE NEW IN-HOUSE MOVEMENTS MARK THE CONTINUING DEVELOPMENT OF OFFICINE PANERAI
Officine Panerai launches three new in-house movements: the P.9100 calibre, the first Panerai automatic movement with chronograph flyback function, the sophisticated P.9100/R with regatta countdown and the P.5000, a new hand-wound calibre with eight days power reserve. The new collection also presents the historically fascinating Radiomir 1940 case and a new range of Submersible watches. At the Salon de la Haute Horlogerie in Geneva, Officine Panerai is also presenting the Pocket Watch Tourbillon GMT Ceramica, a remarkable pocket watch in ceramic.
OFFICINE PANERAI NEW MANUFACTURE OPENING
Officine Panerai opens its new Manufacture in Pierre-à-Bot, on the hills of Neuchâtel in Switzerland. The new building houses in a single location all the highly specialized skills involved in fine watch-making, combining the excellence of Italian Design and the tradition of Swiss-made Technology. Since 2002 - when the first Panerai Manufacture was opened - Panerai has 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 introduces the P.4000 calibre, an in-house automatic movement distinguished by its off-centred oscillating weight; a perfect synthesis of design and highly sophisticated watchmaking technology.
OFFICINE PANERAI REOPENS IT'S BOUTIQUE IN HONG KONG CANTON ROAD
Panerai officially reopens its Boutique in Hong Kong Canton Road, now the largest boutique of the Brand in the world. Compared to all the other Panerai boutiques, the Hong Kong boutique is unique, with a distinctive external facade consisting of panels of undulating aluminium, fitted with a large wall clock with the characteristic Panerai dial.
During the same year the P.1000 in-house movement is launched, a calibre immediately recognizable as a Panerai masterpiece from both the technical and aesthetic points of view. A demonstration of the extraordinary expertise required to develop such sophisticated mechanical movements created by Panerai with an overall thickness of only 3.85 mm.
PANERAI LAUNCHES THE RADIOMIR 1940 MINUTE REPEATER CARILLON TOURBILLON AND THE NEW LUMINOR DUE CASE
Panerai launches the Radiiomir 1940 Minute Repeater Carillon Tourbillon. Technically the most complicated watch ever made by the Panerai Manufacture in Neuchâtel, provided with the exclusive tourbillon regulator and the remarkable double minute repeater mechanism chiming either local time or a second time zone with the particular ability to sound every hour, every ten minutes, and every single minute with a sophisticated system of gongs and hammers.
Still in 2016 the new LUMINOR DUE collection official launch represents a new chapter in the history of Panerai. A new case, faithfully inspired by the lines of the classic Luminor of the 1950s but subtly redesigned, makes its entrance into the history of Officine Panerai. P1000/10 and P.4000/10 in-house movements, the thinnest automatic calibres developed by the Panerai Manufacture, equips this new collection.