The Panerai Radiomir was born out of a request from the Italian Royal Navy, aka the Marina Militare, during the start of WWII. The Italian Frogman Commandos needed a watch that was both water-resistant and legible in underwater conditions. The Radiomir was Panerai’s answer to this request, with the earliest prototypes being produced in 1936. Panerai addressed the legibility problem with an invention they created many years earlier. In 1916, they filed a patent for a luminous radium-based powder called Radiomir. This powder was used to make the dials of sighting instruments and other underwater tools more legible, and later found a perfect home on the dials of the Panerai Radiomir watches. It goes without saying that this powder is, of course, also where the model’s name originates. The numerals themselves were also designed to increase legibility. The classic Radiomirs models have large Arabic numerals at the 3, 6, 9, and 12 o’clock positions, with stick markers everywhere else, making it easier to distinguish the time in less-than-ideal underwater conditions. Lastly, Panerai instituted a “sandwich dial” which is composed of two disks – the top disk with cut out numbers that sits atop the second fully lumed disk. The illumination shines through the cutouts, and the depth of the top cutout aids in legibility. This was the beginning of Panerai’s long relationship with the Italian Navy. Interested in learning more about the brand? Read this article to uncover Panerai’s fascinating history.
What Makes the Panerai Radiomir So Desirable?
The Radiomir stands out among all other dive watches on the market with its unique styling, which strays far away from the prevalent Submariner-style formula of the mainstream “dive watch.” The Radiomir has a distinctive Italian design, and these models are a great way to add a dive watch to your collection even if they’re not typically your thing. It is also worth noting that the Radiomir tends to wear a bit more formally than most other sports watches, especially on an alligator strap. There will be opposing opinions about wearing a regular dive watch with a suit, but few will dispute a Radiomir with a matching pair of wingtip shoes.
Buying a Pre-Owned Panerai Radiomir
Going pre-owned is the best way to add a Radiomir to your collection. Considering the secondary market prices, it is certainly the most cost-effective way to do so. There is also a vast array of options to choose from when it comes to the slight variation of Radiomir models, from small seconds, to a sapphire caseback, to certain dial text variations. The devil is in the subtle details with Panerai, and if you are in the market for a Radiomir, Watchbox’s global inventory is the best place to start your search. For more context to consider when adding to your collection, see how the PAM 425 and PAM 449 stack up against one another when you read this article, “A Tale of 2 Watches.”
Discover a Variety of Radiomir Models
With a collection as compelling and historic as the Panerai Radiomir, there’s no shortage of options—from pieces with 10-day power reserves to watches with GMT functions, here are a few of our favorites:
PAM 232 Radiomir 1938 OOR Special Edition
Standing for “Out of Range,” these pieces are a part of Panerai’s limited micro edition release of discontinued or one-time special editions. In this case, only 1938 examples were released for one series in 2006, and it pays tribute to the original 1938 Radiomir with a sandwich dial and solid stainless steel caseback. Read this article for a complete review of the Out of Range 1938 Radiomir.
Radiomir PAM 338
For those who love titanium, this timepiece is for you. Featuring a 42mm titanium case, black dial and matching alligator strap, this dressy watch ref. PAM00338 is also equipped to display hours, minutes, and small seconds.
Radiomir Black Seal PAM 292
Robust and statement-worthy, the Black Seal PAM 292 is surrounded by a 45mm black ceramic dial, matched with a black dial and leather strap as well.
Radiomir 8 Days PAM 198 Platinum
Best labeled as a 45mm “unicorn,” this watch is considered by many to be a modern-day PAM grail watch. Its most compelling feature is its caliber XIV 8-day movement based on the Jaeger-LeCoultre cal. 877. Learn more about the watch when you read this review, “‘Grail’ Spelled P-A-M.”