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No brand is more directly linked to a single historical epoch than Swiss-Italian Officine Panerai. Although founded in Florence, Italy in 1860, Panerai’s golden era as horologer to the Italian Navy special-forces spanned the years from 1936 to the early 1990s. Only available to civilians since 1993, their watches are celebrated in the modern era for functional purity, historical design inspiration, and unpaid appearances on the wrists of major sporting, political, and entertainment figures like Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Explore our pre-owned suite of watches from this luxury brand, available in various styles, complications, and functions.
Exquisite, unique designs have resulted in many calling Panerai watches “art in motion.” These timepieces have become popular among the most discerning watch enthusiasts, boasting recognizable design and component cues like cushion-shaped cases, large crown guards, quality in-house calibers, and water resistant functions. Additionally, the brand’s rich history and ties to the Italian Navy satisfy collectors who have a sweet spot for the past. Whether you’re looking for a pre-owned Luminor model or a limited edition piece, our suite of Panerai watches is comprehensive and impressive. If you’re interested in learning more about the brand’s history, be sure to read this article about the History of Panerai. Or, shop for similar models when you explore our sweeping collection of military and dive watches.
The Panerai Watch: History
In 1860, Giovanni Panerai founded the Officine Panerai company, serving as a watchmaking school, repair workshop, and showroom. By 1900, the company was under the leadership of Guido Panerai, Giovanni’s grandson. At the time, the brand was known for creating timepieces that were the perfect combination of Italian design, Swiss technology, and a passion for the sea. Soon, the brand became the official supplier of timepieces and precision instruments like deck dials to the Royal Italian Navy. In 1916, they even created Radiomir to meet the navy’s needs—this radium-based powder gave luminosity to dials, and its high visibility and water resistant adhesive qualities quickly became a trademark element to Paneria’s lineup. The initial Panerai watches produced in the Florence based workshop were released between1938 and 1970, with most of them being provided for the Italian Marina Militare. By 1970, the company no longer provided watches to this organization, which is when it began to make changes and offer watches to the civilian market.
Civilian Market Debut
Dino Zei became the first non-Panerai to lead the company since its inception, and from 1972 to the early 1990s, he directed the brand to focus on other opportunities like dive tools, aerospace components, and radio equipment—this endeavor nearly made their watchmaking efforts end. However, 1993 marked a pivotal turn in Panerai’s history as they recalled their legacy in the military watch space. During this year, they drew inspiration from their catalog of tactical watches and prototypes from the past, delivering the first branded consumer watches in their 133-year history. Since then, Panerai has been considered a luxury watch brand all around the world, providing exquisite timepieces synonymous with elegance and prestige. If you’d like to learn more about the brand and its important turning points, read this article that details 8 Things to Know About Panerai.
Explore Panerai Collections
Collectors and enthusiasts revel in Panerai’s history and hallmark characteristics like the iconic cushion-shaped cases, luminous hands and indices for enhanced readability, and exquisite in-house calibers. Plus, many of their models are offered in various complications like second time zone, chronographs, tourbillon, and minute repeaters. Learn more about some of their most profound collections and discover stand out models that feature water resistant elements and impressive power reserves.
When one thinks of Panerai, the Radiomir is often the first model that comes to mind. This robust diving watch with a bold crown and distinct shape is both simple and complex with a subdued dial design and precise functionality. Radiomir was a product of a request from the Italian Royal Navy who needed a watch that was both water resistant and legible under water. In 1916, Panerai filed a patent for the radium-based luminous powder Radiomir, and used it to enhance readability of sighting instruments and underwater tools. Later, the powder’s name lent itself to this collection’s name. Today, enthusiasts can marvel at various iterations including the suite of Radiomir 1940 pieces—home to the Minute Repeater Carillon Tourbillon GMT.
Aiming to modernize the traditional marine watch, the Luminor is an evolution of the Radiomir. Although both have a cushion-shaped case and simple dial, the most distinctive difference is in the crown-protecting bridge. The Luminor model’s recognizable crown guard protects it against impacts and jolts, keeping the crown firmly pressed into the case and enhancing its water resistance. Stainless steel versions are the most prevalent in this collection, but collectors can also find rose gold, titanium, and ceramic versions. Additionally, Luminors come in various complications like tourbillons and second time zones. Browse our curated collection of Luminor models, or discover the updated Luminor 1950 suite.
For a more elegant take on the Luminor model, fans of a classic dress watch may opt for a Luminor Due. Its case is a bit flatter and size offerings are perfect for those with a smaller wrist. Like other Panerai watches, these also feature the cushion-shaped case and are available in stainless steel, gold, and rose gold versions.
Officially released in 2011, the Submersible revitalized the brand’s diving watch category and became a collection of its own. This modernized version of the Luminor is sturdy, durable, and designed to be immersed in water. It features a crown-protecting bridge, unidirectional diving bezel, and water resistance up to 300m, making it a highly sought after piece for seafarers and explorers. Some stand out models from this collection include the Submersible Bronzo, CarboTech™, and BMG-Tech™.
What Makes Panerai Watch So Appealing?
This brand is highly desirable because it exudes exclusivity. This company only created timepieces for combat forces for many years, and only recently began making a shift to the civilian market. Today, Panerai watches are in high demand, with vintage options being extremely desirable since they were never actually sold to civilians as new pieces. Also, collectors who value simplistic designs and robust functionality love this brand’s model offerings and style options. Get the Insider’s Guide to Panerai Straps to learn more about how the aesthetic fits into the everyday.
Why Buy a Pre-Owned Panerai Watch?
Purchasing a pre-owned Panerai watch from WatchBox offers several advantages. First, collectors may avoid the depreciation of buying new. Plus, we offer a wide array of models and styles including limited editions and pieces that are no longer in production. As the leading platform in buying , selling, and trading watches, we also guarantee the authenticity and quality of each piece, making sure every watch is thoroughly evaluated by our team of in-house experts.
Frequently Asked Questions About Panerai
Why is Panerai so expensive?
The history, exclusivity, and quality of a Panerai watch plays a large part in their market value. An extraordinary level of craftsmanship and detail goes into each piece’s design and production—plus, the brand’s watches were not available to the consumer market until the 1990s, making them highly-sought after by collectors today.
Is Panerai better than Rolex?
Panerai and Rolex are both renowned luxury watch brands and boast the same level of quality and craftsmanship. For collectors who prefer military watches with leather straps, they may opt for a Panerai piece while those looking for a stainless steel tool watch may prefer a Rolex. Choosing between the two brands has everything to do with preference and nothing to do with quality.
How much do Panerai watches cost?
Luxury watch prices on the secondary market are always prone to fluctuations due to factors like condition, boxing, and official documentation. However, it’s a great place to find near-mint condition pieces at a more affordable price point. Currently, our inventory of pre-owned Panerai timepieces range in cost from $4,950 to $22,950. Prices also vary based on model and material.
How do you tell if a Panerai is fake?
Authentic Panerai watches feature a clear logo, movement number, and caliber engravings. Also, an original piece has an encrypted serial number and water resistance indication. Lastly, the lugs are a clear sign of authenticity as real pieces have slightly angled lugs and fake pieces have flat ones. To learn more about spotting counterfeit watches, read this article about red flags when buying a watch.
Where is the serial number on a Panerai watch?
Most often, the serial number on a Panerai can be found on the caseback.
Why should I buy a Panerai watch from WatchBox?
Since launching in 2017, WatchBox has been the leading platform in buying, selling, and trading pre-owned luxury timepieces. We have pioneered the digital transformation of the watch industry and leverage a thorough authentication and evaluation process—every Panerai piece is inspected by our in-house team of watchmakers, technicians, and refinishers before it is presented for sale. If a watch requires any repairs, our team is also able to provide full service with factory-sourced parts, offering Panerai collectors a peace of mind.