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Panerai: From the beginning to Sylvester Stallone

Great classics usually have one thing in common - they are only changed carefully and are therefore clearly recognizable in fractions of a second. The diving watches of the Italian company Officine Panerai belong to these classics. Find out everything you need to know about watches with the distinctive crown protection.

To be honest, Panerai timepieces are not technical marvels with fancy functions or innovative mechanics - the first in-house movement was even launched in 2005. The great success of the brand - which is one of the top 30 luxury watch brands in the world today - is based on the unmistakable design of the watches and an exciting success story. Both the Royal Italian Navy and Hollywood actor Sylvester Stallone play a major role in it.

At the beginning

The history of Panerai begins in 1860, when Giovanni Panerai set up a watchmaker with a workshop and business on the Ponte alle Grazie in Florence. The small family business primarily manufactures nautical instruments such as depth gauges and compasses for the Italian Navy. Over time, numerous patents in the watch and optics sector were added. In 1890, great grandson Guido Panerai took over the company and renamed it from “Orologeria Svizzera” to “Officine Panerai”.

The cooperation with the Navy will continue and Panerai will initially manufacture its high-precision timepieces exclusively for the Italian Navy. In 1938 the company approached the company with the order to produce a diving watch that could withstand high water pressure and enable the time to be read even in the dark. In addition, the watch should be extremely reliable.

The requirements were very high and at the time Panerai could not meet them alone. The result was a wristwatch with a Rolex movement and a dial with the luminous material “Radiomir”: the Panerai Radiomir.

Radiomir and Luminor

The dial of the Radiomir was specially developed by Panerai and equipped with the fluorescent substance "Radiomir", which Guido Panerai had patented in 1915. The watch of the same name Panerai Radiomir was unmatched easy to read under water and in poor lighting conditions and was initially only carried by a special command of the Italian Navy under strict secrecy.

radium As a radioactively charged substance, it has the property of shining for a very long period of time without further charging (artificial / daylight). However, the intensity of the luminosity diminishes over the years. The situation is completely different with the non-hazardous Luminova and Superluminova luminescent materials used today. Their pigments only glow when they are first exposed to a light source, regardless of whether it is artificial or daylight.

Panerai Radiomir 8 Days titanium manual winding


From 1950 the radioactive and therefore health-hazardous substance radium was replaced by the new Luminous material Luminor, a substance based on tritium and the watch name accordingly in Panerai Luminor changed. Only later did it become apparent that tritium is also radioactive. Therefore today is exclusively Superluminova - a completely safe phosphor - used. The watch case of this further developed timepiece also received the one that is characteristic of Panerai watches to this day Half-moon bow to protect the winding crown. This is dominantly attached to the right side of the case and ensures water resistance. In 1993 the Panerai Luminor and Luminor Marina were first produced for free sale.

In the following model, Luminor Power Reserve, the bump loops are milled from a steel block as part of the housing, thus ensuring maximum tensile strength for extreme conditions under water. Instead of the conical one, this model has a cylindrical winding crown - all typical features of the Luminor line.

Panerai Luminor Power Reserve


The Italian luxury watches from Officine Panerai have retained many of their features since their inception: a large cushion-shaped case (case size of a spectacular 47 millimeters), a reduced design, fluorescent numerals and markings, a mechanical movement and a waterproof strap of sufficient length to fit the watch to be able to wear over the diving suit.

The brand's watch models can still be basically divided into two lines: “Radiomir” and “Luminor”. And if you wear a Panerai on your wrist, you can be sure that it will be recognized as such at first glance.

Panerai and Sylvester Stallone

With the beginning of the 1970s, analog instruments and timepieces were increasingly being replaced by electronic ones, which noticeably collapsed Panerai's sales market. But the company survived this crisis. The manufacture has belonged to the Swiss luxury goods group Richemont Group since 1997 and has developed over time into a coveted luxury watch brand.

But what does actor Sylvester Stallone have to do with the renewed success of these Italian watches? In the 1996 film “Daylight”, Stallone wore a wristwatch from the Italian brand that was clearly visible at his own request Officine Panerai, more precisely the Luminor Logo model with the reference 5218/201-A, which triggered a real boom on diving watches. In other movies, too, Stallone wore a watch from the Italian luxury brand on his wrist from time to time and helped the then still rather unknown watch manufacturer to its popularity. In his honor, some models bear the words “Daylight” or “Slytech” (Sly is Stallone’s nickname). From then on, other Hollywood stars, including Arnold Schwarzenegger, were occasionally seen in their films with a Panerai on their wrist.

Panerai now produces its watches and movements in Neuchâtel, Switzerland, combining Italian design and tradition with the finest Swiss watchmaking. At the historic location of Orologeria Svizzera, a Panerai boutique has been located since 2001 after a careful renovation, a meeting place for collectors and lovers of the brand.

Those who would like to call a Panerai their own and perhaps even belong to the sworn community of fans (Paneristi) can discover various models from the “Radiomir” and “Luminor” lines in our online shop at www.watch.de. In our shop in Stuttgart-Mitte we would be happy to advise you personally on your desired model. Come by and try what the sturdy diving watch with the distinctive crown guard feels like on your wrist.

We are looking forward to your visit!