Panerai – Radiomir 1940 3 Days Acciaio 47mm & Luminor 1950 3 Days Acciaio 47mm

Officine Panerai introduces two special edition timepieces; both feature a distinctive brown dial that tells a fascinating story of the brand which revolutionised the legibility of wristwatches in the dark and underwater.

Radiomir and Luminor, which today identify the cases, originally referred to the two luminous materials created to achieve the legendary visibility at night or underwater which have always been a feature of the dials of Panerai watches. It began with the invention of Radiomir: this was a powder based on radium, patented by Guido Panerai in 1916, to make luminous gun sights and other optical devices exceptionally visible in the dark.

Radiomir 1940 3 Days Acciaio 47mm

It was Radiomir which was used on the dial of the first ever Panerai watch in 1936, and for several years this remarkable luminous substance was one of the closely guarded military secrets which enabled the commandos of the Royal Italian Navy to carry out their extraordinary missions in the depths of the sea at night, equipped with instruments specially created by the Florentine watchmaker.

In the 1940s people were concerned about the radioactivity of radium powder and therefore in 1949 Panerai patented Luminor, a new luminous substance based on tritium, some 20 times less radioactive.

The replacement happened gradually, because some of Orologeria Panerai’s clients preferred the unrivalled visibility of Radiomir even after the invention of Luminor, and this explains why some watches were produced using this substance even in the 1950s. At a distance of several decades, it is the colour of the dial which tells this story about Panerai’s exceptional luminosity.

The effect of the radium-based powder – and also to a lesser extent that based on tritium – has been to bring about a change in the colour of the dials of some vintage watches, transforming the original black into a characteristic brown, which helps to make each of these models unique and different from all the others.

Two new Special Editions, made in 1,000 examples each, draw inspiration from this detail to appeal to lovers of the history of watchmaking: the Radiomir 1940 3 Days(PAM00662) and the Luminor 1950 3 Days(PAM00663).

Radiomir 1940 3 Days Acciaio 47mm

Among the clients of Panerai who asked for a Radiomir watch, after the Luminor patent application, was the Egyptian Navy, which for the first time in 1954 turned to the Florentine watchmaker for the supply of a special series of diver’s watches designed for frogmen.

It was this request which gave rise to one of the most fascinating watches in the history of Officine Panerai, known to collectors by the reference 6154 and the name “Egiziano Piccolo”– to distinguish it from its famous successor, the Egiziano of 1956 – and today it is presented again as a Special Edition: the new Radiomir 1940 3 Days.

Radiomir 1940 3 Days Acciaio 47mm

Originally no more than 30 or 40 examples of the Egiziano Piccolo were produced, making it one of the most sought after vintage Panerai watches, and the new Radiomir 1940 3 Days is a faithful re-creation of it, updated to meet the current standards of high quality sports watchmaking.

It uses the Radiomir 1940 case in the historic size of 47 mm in diameter, today made of AISI 316L stainless steel with a polished finish. The lugs are formed from the block of the case itself. The winding crown is cylindrical and the profile of the watch is particularly elegant with the sharp edge of the case band.

The other Special Edition created by Officine Panerai is the new Luminor 1950 3 Days. In this model, the same brown dial is fitted in a Luminor 1950 case, immediately recognisable by the bridge-shaped device with its locking lever which exercises a light pressure on the winding crown to protect it from accidental shocks and to help ensure the watch’s water-resistance.

This device had certainly been invented and used even earlier, perhaps even before the end of the 1940s, but the patent application was only lodged as late as 1955, probably delayed because of the military secrecy imposed by the Italian Navy.

 Luminor 1950 3 Days Acciaio 47mm

The new Luminor 1950 3 Days has the Luminor 1950 case of AISI 316L stainless steel, in its first historic version: the one with a diameter of 47 mm, its cusped shape reminiscent of the cases of the first Radiomir watches.

 Luminor 1950 3 Days Acciaio 47mm

The distinctive, original element of both these new models is the brown dial, its colour inspired by that of the vintage watches which have undergone the discolouring effect caused by the luminous material.

The substance used today to achieve exceptional night visibility, typical of all Panerai watches, is Grade A Super-LumiNova®, applied to the incisions made in the dial corresponding to the classic,  large markers which indicate the hours.

To protect the dial, the crystal is made not of sapphire glass but of lightly cambered Plexiglas®, as in the vintage examples where the crystal was made of polymethylacrylate. The hands too reproduce those of the period Panerai watches and the OP reference is engraved between the lugs, exactly as it was in the historic models.

Through the sapphire porthole on the back of the new Special Editions, the hand-wound P.3000 calibre, entirely made in the Panerai Manufacture in Neuchâtel, can be admired. Accurate, durable and reliable as befits a Panerai movement, the P.3000 has two spring barrels which enable it to accumulate a power reserve of three days and it is here presented for the first time with a new appearance.

The structure of the movement is now protected by four brush-finished bridges, including the one with twin supports which in a particularly stable manner secures the balance oscillating at a frequency of 3 Hz (21,600 vibrations per hour).

The P.3000 calibre also has the useful device which enables the hour hand to be swiftly and accurately adjusted forward or backward, without interfering with the running of the minute hand.

Both models are supplied with a Ponte Vecchio strap in brown leather with visible ecru sewing, the heat engraved OP logo and a tongue buckle in polished steel personalised Panerai.

The elegant wood box in which the two new Special Editions are supplied also contains a spare Plexiglas® crystal. The watch is water-resistant to 10 bar (equivalent of a depth of about 100 metres).

Technical details

RADIOMIR 1940 3 DAYS ACCIAIO – 47mm (PAM00662)

LUMINOR 1950 3 DAYS ACCIAIO – 47mm (PAM00663)

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