Panerai has its beginnings in Florence, where Giovanni Panerai, a businessman, craftsman and innovator, opened the city’s first watchmaker’s shop in 1860. Combining Italian design and Swiss horological perfection, each year Officine Panerai – part of the Richemont Group since 1997 – re interprets its 150-year-long passion: the creation of high precision timepieces with a strong identity rooted in distinction, aesthetics and function.
- 1860: Giovanni Panerai opens a watchmaker’s shop in Florence: a store which is also a workshop, not to mention the city’s first watch-making school. Initially located on Ponte alle Grazie, the Orologeria Svizzera, as it was called, later moves to its current premises, inside the Palazzo Arcivescovile in Piazza San Giovanni.
- 1916: Guido Panerai registers the first of many patents to mark Panerai’s long history in innovation. To meet the military requirement of the Royal Italian Navy, for which it has already been a supplier for a few years, Panerai creates Radiomir, a radium-based powder for making sighting instruments and dials luminous.
- 1936: On the eve of the Second World War, the instruments developed by Panerai for the Royal Italian Navy take on an even more strategic role. The prototype of the Radiomir watch is created for the underwater exploits of the Command of the First Submarine Corp, with many of the features which still distinguish it today: a large steel cushion-shaped case (47 mm), luminous numerals and markers, wire loop strap attachments welded to the case, a hand-wound mechanical movement, a wide water-resistant strap, long enough to be fastened over the diving suit.
- 1938 – 1949: The Radiomir watch is subjected to a series of innovations aimed at improving its performance: the new sandwich dial is made more luminous and easier to read; the strap attachments become more resistant and are made from the case itself; and the distinctive lever bridge device is invented, secured with screws to protect the crown. Thanks to these innovations which make it more resistant and watertight, the new Panerai watch becomes the first underwater model (to depths of 200m) in the history of horology. At the same time, radioactive Radiomir is replaced by Luminor, isotope of tritium-based hydrogen, patented by Panerai for the first time in Italy in 1949.
- 1943: Officine Panerai presents the prototype of the first Panerai chronograph, the Mare Nostrum, designed for deck officers.
- 1956: Panerai develops an underwater Radiomir watch of exceptional size and solidity for the Egyptian Navy, known as the “Egyptian”, fitted with a marked bezel for calculating immersion times. In the same year, the patent is registered for the crown protecting the bridge which becomes the trademark of the Luminor models.
- 1972: Giuseppe Panerai, son of Guido, dies, and the management of the family business, along with its position as supplier to the Italian Navy still covered by military secret, is handed over to engineer Dino Zei, who creates the “Officine Panerai” trademark.
- 1993: The first commercial collection by Officine Panerai: three limited edition models inspired by those created for Second World War navy commandos.
- 1997: Officine Panerai is acquired by the Richemont Group (then Vendôme), which establishes a network of qualified distributors in Italy.
- 1998: Officine Panerai is launched on the international market.
- 2002: Opening of the Officine Panerai Manufacturing Facility in Neuchâtel, Switzerland.
- 2005: International launch of the first Panerai movement, P.2002: a hand-wound calibre with GMT function and 8-day power reserve, inspired by the Angelus movement of the 1940s.
- 2007: Officine Panerai presents three new calibres entirely conceived and developed in-house: P.2003, P.2004 and P.2005, with an innovative tourbillon escapement.
- 2008 – 2009: Launch of the P.9000 and P.2006 movements. Presentation of Eilean, the Bermudian ketch built in 1936 in the legendary Fife boatyard, purchased and restored by Officine Panerai.
- 2010: Launch of the P.999 calibre and Panerai Jupiterium, a tribute to the 400th anniversary of the first celestial observations made by Tuscan genius Galileo Galilei with his telescope.
- 2011 – 2012: Launch of the P.3000 calibre and of the first watch in bronze. Presentation of the vintage case inspired by the Radiomir of the 1940s.
- 2013: Officine Panerai presents the new P.9100 and P.9100/R in-house movement, featuring the Regatta Countdown function. Launch of the P.5000 in-house movement, hand-wound with eight days power reserve.
Officine Panerai Today
The Panerai trademark is a unique combination of the brand’s tradition, Italian design and fine Swiss craftsmanship. Each new model expresses authenticity, creativity and passion: values renewed year after year in the new Panerai collections and deep-rooted in Florence and in the world of sea.
Each Panerai watch is produced at the company’s Manufacturing Facility in Neuchâtel, Switzerland. Officine Panerai produces, designs and develops the movements and cases for its watches in house, with assembly carried out at the factory which is also responsible for the quality control of each and every stage of production. The company office is in Milan where communication activities and product development control take place.
Panerai watches are sold exclusively through an International network of specialised authorised retailers and in Panerai boutiques that not only carry all the brand’s luxury watch collections, but also offer their clientele the exclusive chance to buy limited edition products.
Official website: http://www.panerai.com/en/