Initially the company specialized on manufacturing of precision instruments and watches on commission of the Royal Italian Navy. At present day, Officine Panerai has established a prestigious reputation as one of the most renowned haute horlogerie brands concentrating on the production of highly technical sports watches.
The story of the brand dates back to the year 1860 when Giovanni Panerai, the family business founder, established his first watchmaking shop in Florence.
In the period of 1890-1900, grandson of the brand's founder - Guido Panerai - managed to expand the family business. The company concentrated at producing high precision mechanisms. The remarkable reputation of the brand made the Royal Italian Navy ask the company to become its official supplier of timekeeping devices.
In 1900, as though to mark the turn of the century, the Panerai workshop moved to the Piazza San Giovanni site in Florence. At present day the site represents the location of the exclusive Panerai boutique.
In 1938 the Panerai Company produced Radiomir watches for the Italian Navy. The timepieces had a large cushion-shaped case measuring 47 mm in diameter.
The peculiar features of the first Radiomir watches were wire loop strap attachments welded to the watch case. The construction was also supplemented with a screw-down crown. The luminous dial guaranteed easy readability underwater under reduced light conditions. In the heart of the timepieces there were beating hand-wound mechanical movements supplied by Rolex.
In the 1940-s, the watchmaking company highlighted its history by the creation of the first Luminor watch. The timepiece boasted remarkable water-resistance - down to a depth of 200 meters. This advantageous characteristic was guaranteed due to a special locking lever device fixed to the watch case.
A 200-meter water-resistant timepiece represented a great achievement for that time. The company patented the innovative device in Italy in 1956, and then in the USA in 1960.
Other Important Achievements
In 1956 the Egyptian Navy asked the Panerai Company to develop a large-sized Radiomir watch powered by an Angelus movement. The timepiece provided an 8-day power reserve and featured a scale with 5-minute intervals for measuring immersion times.
In 1980 the Panerai Company developed a prototype titanium watch. The specially designed timepiece boasted the ability to stand a pressure equivalent to a depth of 1000 meters.
In 1997 Officine Panerai became part of the Richemont Group that acquired Panerai range of timepieces, compasses, torches and depth gauges.
The year 2001 marked one more highlight in the history of the company - it opened the first boutique at the brand's historic site in Piazza San Giovanni in Florence. The following year Panerai opened a manufacturing base in Neuchatel and the first boutique in Asia located in the Prince's Building in Hong Kong. The story was continued by the opening of the Panerai boutique in Portofino in 2003.
In 2004 Officine Panerai enlarged its famous Radiomir collection with the 8 Days model. The new model of the brand paid tribute to the company's past, having re-interpreted it in the most innovative way. The timepiece was supplied with a mechanism which the company's specialists had already experimented with. As a result, there appeared a hand-wound 8-day autonomy movement.
Panerai in-house movement
In 2005 the Panerai company established its boutiques in Shanghai and Los Angeles. The year marked one more significant achievement of the brand - it revealed the first Panerai in-house movement - the caliber P.2002. The mechanism represented a hand-wound mechanical movement with 8 days autonomy.
Nowadays Panerai timekeeping creations enjoy great fame among watch connoisseurs who appreciate precision mechanisms and distinctive design.
Look through the selection of most accurate Panerai watches: