Panerai History

1860, Giovanni Panerai founder of the family business, opens the first watchmaker's shop in Florence on the Ponte alle Grazie and establishes contact with the most prestigious and longest established Swiss watch manufacturers.

1873, Guido Panerai established the company’s high precision mechanical engineering division and became an official supplier to the Royal Italian Navy. Later on, the company was renamed Officine Panerai.

1900, The name Orologeria Suizzera appeared on the door of the shop. Specializing in Swiss watches over the years it becomes one of the most respected and prestigious distributors of Rolex and Patek Philippe watches in Italy. Their store next to the Duomo in Florence still stands.

1934, Upon the death of their father Guido Paneari, Giuseppe and Maria took over the firm. Giuseppe devoted himself almost entirely to overseeing the military equipment division, while Maria focused on the watch shop.

1935, Officine Panerai designed and manufactured a series of underwater instruments, torches, wrist compasses and wrist depth gauges, designed for the commandos, assault swimmers and divers of the Italian Navy.

1936, The Permanent Commission supplied a Radiomir wristwatch to the Commander of the 1st Submarine group. A single prototype of this watch was made.

1938, Another one off piece this time, a single presentation example of a new prototype watch, with a 12 sided bezel engraved Officine Panerai Brevettato Patented Officine Panerai was produced.

Unique in its design, it had a transparent caseback, enabling the movement to be seen. As with all of the early Panerai watches, both of these watches used Rolex movements, cases were also made by Rolex and were, in fact, nothing more than oversized versions of the early Oyster watches cushion cases.

However, they differed in one major aspect they were designed to be opened with a wrench rather than the conventional milled oyster tool, making them the only Rolex oyster watches ever made without a milled back.

1943, Officine Panerai presented the prototype of the Mare Nostrum chronograph a notable development because the lever and bridge protecting the winding crown was fitted to the Radiomir for the first time.

1949, A patent was granted for Luminor, the luminous material used on the celebrated Luminor dial of the watch of the same name.

1950, Panerai military division kept busy.

1954, The Italian Navy placed an order for the supply of torches and thirty patented diver’s watches. Each watch cost 75,000 lire, at a time when a typical Rolex Submariner sold for 67,000 lire.

1956, A special model was commissioned for the Egyptian Navy, which proved quite popular. Officine Panerai subsequently assembled this watch in small production runs of about 30 pieces each to supply orders from several Mediterranean navies.

1956, Maria and Giuseppe Panerai were granted an Italian patent for the lever device, a distinctive feature of Panerai watches.  Despite their durability and high quality, Panerai watches were not marketed to the general public. As a result, they were produced in small quantities and vintage Panerai watches are very valuable today.

1980, A prototype titanium watch was produced, designed to survive a pressure equivalent to a depth of 1,000 meters 3,280 feet.

1992, Officine Panerai produced a limited re-edition of the Luminor and Mare Nostrum models. The Mare Nostrum chronograph never went beyond the prototype because World War II came to an end. Now it was re-designed and went into series production. Needless to say, the re-issued watch was met with great enthusiasm and sold out immediately.  This series of events convinced Panerai that the luxury watch market would embrace their unique products. They were entirely correct and Panerai watches emerged as a much-desired status symbol.

1997, The Vendome Luxury Group acquired Officine Panerai and challenged the firm’s designers and watchmakers to introduce new models. Thanks to an extensive marketing effort, the official watch of the commandos of the Italian Navy gained international recognition and took its place in the pantheon of fine watches.

1998, Panerai presented three new watches with automatic mechanical movements the Luminor Panerai GMT with second time zone indication, the Luminor Panerai Submersible professional diver’s watch, and the Luminor Panerai Power Reserve with winding indication.

1999, The Luminor Marina Automatic 40mm watch debuted at the International Salon of Haute Horlogerie SIHH in Geneva. The base model has a steel bracelet, while the chronograph is an innovative version made of titanium and steel.

2005, The Radiomir 8 Days GMT watch is confirmed with the introduction of the Manufacture Collection, a family of watches which exclusively uses 100% made in Panerai movements. This collection respects the Panerai standards robustness, high technical quality and a unique, distinctive aesthetic impact.

2006, Presented at the SIHH Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie SIHH in Geneva, the new watch collection engineered for Ferrari. The appearance of the Ferrari watches is strongly influenced by the aesthetic lines of the cars, in a continuous cross-reference between the watch and the details of the engine and bodywork. There are two collections Granturismo and Scuderia.

2007, Ten years after the successful launch of the brand, Panerai is proud to announce three more calibers P.2003, P.2004, P.2005 completely designed, engineered and produced by the Panerai Manufacture.
Presently is interesting to note that Panerai watches are highly regarded by divers and watch enthusiasts alike. Panerai watches are durable and precise, destined to power creations of the future.