Horological brand Panerai has a long-standing connection with the ocean. During the Second World War, the Florentine house supplied top-secret military-grade diver’s watches, named the Radiomir to the Italian Navy. Today, it has earned a reputation for creating functional and instantly recognisable timepieces that echo those early Radiomir models. These range from distinctive large cushion-shaped cases to luminescent Arabic numerals and indexes.
In 2019, the brand streamlined its offerings into four distinct collections: the rugged Submersible, the celebrated Luminor, the daintier Luminor Due, and the imposing Radiomir. With their unisex appeal, we think Panerai is the perfect brand to consider this Christmas, and its watches look just as at home underwater as they do on dry land.
Panerai is focusing on its Submersible collection in 2019. In fact, all its latest introductions are simply named Submersible, without the name Luminor preceding it, marking these new pieces out as part of a collection in its own right. The Submersible models strongly echo the Panerai Luminor, which was first unveiled in 1950. It features a crown-protecting bridge to minimise accidental knocks underwater, reinforced wire lugs and a cushion-shaped case. These are the last of an evolution of that aforementioned original Radiomir case shape, supplied to the Italian Navy.
In recent years, Panerai has broken the mould and experimented with avant-garde materials, as seen on this new 47mm Submersible Carbotech, which is cast in Panerai’s brand new, highly innovative Carbotech material. A carbon fibre that’s lighter than steel and titanium, but still highly resistant to shocks and corrosion, it’s created by compressing together ultra-thin sheets of the material with a polymer called PEEK (polyether ether ketone) at a controlled temperature and under high pressure. The watch houses the P.9010 calibre with a three-day power reserve, powering a date at 3 o’clock and a small seconds dial at 9 o’clock. As you’d expect from a diver’s watch, it’s water-resistant to 300m (£15,200).
Defying the decades
The Luminor Marina is perhaps one of Panerai’s best-loved models. It was one of three limited-edition models the brand launched when it began selling watches to the public back in 1993, alongside the Luminor and the Mare Nostrum. Early Luminor Marina models were 44mm in diameter, and housed the brand’s OP II hand-wound movement, powering hours, minutes and a small-seconds indicator at 9 o’clock. This year, Panerai has unveiled new Luminor Marina models in both 44mm and 42mm. This 44mm model is cast entirely in brushed steel, with a silver vertical-brushed dial, a date window at 3 o’clock and, of course, the Luminor Marina’s distinctive small-seconds indicator at 9 o’clock (£7,200).
Cuts both ways
While large watches are undoubtedly in Panerai’s DNA, the brand proved it can cater to more unisex tastes with the Luminor Due, which it unveiled in 2016. The watches in this collection are iconic Panerai timepieces, but with a modern twist that is set in Goldtech™ and blue dial. These watches have a‘tool-watch’ appeal for which Panerai is famous for, but boast a more slimline silhouette that appeals to both men and women. This automatic model’s 38mm case — the smallest Panerai watch — and bezel are both cast in polished Goldtech™. Unlike standard gold, it’s made with a percentage of copper that imbues it with an intense red hue. It also contains platinum, which prevents the metal from oxidising, extending the lifetime of the watch. A sleek sun-brushed black dial and a black leather strap complete this model’s sophisticated look (£13,000).
If you’re looking for that signature Luminor case (think cushion-shaped, prominent lugs, raised bezel, and most importantly, the crown guard – a registered trademark of Panerai), this Luminor Due GMT Power Reserve model is a very Panerai-esque 45mm. It’s made from lightweight titanium and features a blue sun-brushed dial, beneath which ticks the automatic P.4002 movement powering a date window, power-reserve indicator and a small-seconds indicator (£10,200).
Panerai also offers a range of more than 70 additional straps in different colours and materials to suit a range of tastes and styles, adding extra versatility to your purchase. Inspired by those used in the first Panerai watches, which were wide and long enough to be worn over the wetsuits worn by Italian Navy commandos, they combine elegant design with high performance. Look out for the models that feature Panerai’s Interchangeable Strap System, which means you can use a special device to change the strap and the bracelet with absolute simplicity and precision.
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