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Panerai Watches

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About Panerai watches

Panerai watches are best known for their unique, oversized design and superior craftsmanship. Bob's Watches offers a number of stylish used models for sale at the absolute lowest prices. The Swiss brand has developed some of the finest timepieces on the market. Browse the collection to find a luxury watch that fits your style and needs.

Every watch brand needs to stand out from the crowd. Be it through size, shape, style, materials, or mechanics, each company must be memorable. Love or hate it, this watch company is one of the most striking brands on the market. It is impossible to trademark a case shape or diameter range, but if it were allowed you could bet your bottom dollar that Panerai would have locked-up the oversized cushion case many moons ago.

The brand was founded in Italy as Officine Panerai in 1860, but it would take almost a century for them to reach the international prominence that it enjoys today. The watches are best known for their unique, oversized design and superior craftsmanship. The Swiss brand has developed some of the finest timepieces on the market.

History

Little is known about Giovanni Panerai (1825-1897) other than the fact he gave his name to Italy's most famous brand. As well as opening the premier watch store in Florence, they also established the city's first watchmaking school, conducting lessons within his little store.

The brands venture quickly gained status within Florence and his company's reputation grew. As such, an expansion was required. To oversee this, Giovanni Panerai handed the reigns of his company to his grandson Guido in 1890. Guido, who seems to have been blessed with a high degree of business acumen, relocated the school/store to its current location (on the Piazza San Giovanni). Following the turn of the 20th century, he renamed the store "Orologeria Svizzera" and started a second company called G. Panerai e Figlio, bringing the mechanical workshop of his wife's family into the fold.

G. Panerai e Figlio became the official supplier to the Regia Marina (the Royal Italian Navy). This agreement began the long and lauded relationship between the two institutions.

In 1916 Guido Panerai invented Radiomir – a radium-based luminant that enabled his brand's products to be used in low-light conditions, and, ultimately, underwater. This was a useful development for the diving tools already made by the company, but when applied to watches it would become one of the most significant developments in the brand's long history.

Twenty years later, in 1936, they received a special commission from the Italian Navy. What followed was the delivery of the very first models bearing the Radiomir name to the Frogmen of the Italian army. It was a massive timepiece, measuring 47mm across. Its enormous size meant it was incredibly robust, and thus, boasted excellent water resistance for the day, as well as a wide, clear and uncluttered dial treated with Radiomir compound so that it could be read at night. With the advent of the sandwich dial, the Radiomir began to resemble the model that is still part of the brand's core collection to this day.

The watches were of excellent quality, thanks in large part to the majority of the brand's collection being manufactured by Rolex SA and fitted with pocket watch movements made by Cortébert, which was one of the best-regarded movement makers at the time.

The brand continued to innovate throughout the 20th century, filing a patent for a new, tritium-based luminant known as Luminor in 1949. Cases were slowly improved, with increased water and shock-resistance being the brand's primary concern. With the addition of the now-iconic "crown-protecting bridge" launching with the first Luminor collection in 1950, the brand's overarching DNA was set. However, many years would pass before these models we now take for granted would be made available to the public.

Following the death of Guido Panerai in 1972, the company was passed down to Dino Zei. Zei continued the brand’s relationship with the Italian Navy but instead focused production on diving instruments such as underwater flashlights, depth gauges, and compasses. It wasn’t until the early 1990s that Panerai would return to watchmaking in force.

1993 saw the launch of three models based on the brand's glory days from WWII. The Luminor, the Luminor Marina, and the Mare Nostrum were so well received that the Vendôme group (later Richemont) decided to buy the brand in 1997 and propel it to international prominence.

In 1998 Richemont took complete control of the Vendôme Luxury Group, placing the repositioning of the company as a serious luxury brand at the forefront of its plans. Three years later in 2001, a meticulously renovated boutique was opened on the Piazza San Giovanni – the site of Guido’s famous store – and the brand was presented anew to the world. What followed was a decade of intense internalization.

A vertical production plant was established in Neuchatel in 2002 to create the brand's first in-house movement, and this dream was realized in 2005. Panerai named its very first self-made caliber the P.2002 to commemorate the year the production facility responsible for its creation first opened its doors.

WHAT IS SO SPECIAL ABOUT PANERAI WATCHES?

Panerai watches have become very popular the past 20 years mostly because of celebrities like Sylvester Stallone, John Mayer, and Arnold Schwarzenegger who started wearing the brand mostly because of their oversized look. The brand has a very unique style as well and has a historical military connection that always seems to resonate with watch enthusiasts. Early on, the Company relied on other watch and movement manufacturers to build their watches. In fact, some vintage models have a Rolex movement. But it was only in 1993 that the Company started making its own watches for the consumer market with the launch of three limited edition styles: the Luminor, Luminor Marina, and the Mare Nostrum. They are highly sought after timepieces among collectors.

Industry Icons

Often, when brands have been around for as long as Panerai, it is easy to get bogged down in catalogs upon catalogs of "classic models" that you just can't bear to omit from an "Icons" list. Luckily for us, this brand has kept things simple. Despite a huge number of modern references, endless special editions, and the minutest tweaks on old designs rolled out as new watches, the collection is about as digestible as it gets.

The real icons of the brand range are the Radiomir and Luminor 1950. The Submersible and Luminor Due ranges that emerged in the 21st century form a huge part of what the company produces today, but they are less relevant to the history of the brand and lack the heritage of the older two families.

The most classic of the companies watches is the Radiomir. With its oversized cushion-shaped case, and iconic sandwich dial with Arabic numerals at the cardinal points interspersed with stick markers, this simple hour-and-minute-only watch is the epitome of Italian design spirit. The welded wire lugs and hand-wound movements are charmingly anachronistic and form the basis of a love affair that has existed between watch and wearers for generations now.

The immense collectibility of the pre-1993 Radiomir and Luminor watches comes down to their immense scarcity (as well as their timeless cool making them infinitely more desirable in 2019 than Guido could ever have predicted when he first put pen to paper). The oftentimes obsessive pursuit of these rare pieces has given rise to a collector's enclave known as the "Paneristi" (named after a website dedicated to the brand).

The knowledge and passion shared by Paneristi the world over distinguishes this group as one of horology's most hardcore. So well thought of is this assembly of aficionados, Panerai not only acknowledged the group’s existence but also went as far as to help the group celebrate their 10th anniversary in 2010 by releasing a special edition model built to Paneristi specifications. A luxury brand would rarely make such a gesture, but it was a perfectly fitting move given the almost familial relationship between firm and followers.

Price Range

The price of these watches has risen steadily over the last 20 years in line with the brand's popularity and increasing mainstream appeal. An active network of global fans has driven up interest accordingly, and the palpable passion of the Paneristi gives the brand excellent representation on the ground floor.

While the average retail cost of a simple Radiomir model is now in the region of $10,000 (with most models running between $8-12k), the entry point is a very appealing $4,200 for the Radiomir Base Logo 45mm, which has the added bonus of being one of the cleanest and most wearable designs.

The Luminor collection has a similar average price, and entry point, with the Luminor Base Logo being the least expensive option, with a retail price of $4,900. The rose gold Luminor 8 Days GMT 44mm tops out the core collection at $28,800, while the limited edition Luminor Tourbillon GMT 47mm represents the brand's most premium offering with a stunning retail price of $149,000.

The smallest range in the catalog (in terms of pieces and size) is the Luminor Due collection. Utilizing the brand's slimline movement technology comes at a cost, with the retail point of entry being $6,000. With fewer complications to choose from within this family, the top-end price only reaches $25,500 because the case is made from solid rose gold. The most expensive steel model in the Luminor Due series is a surprisingly accessible $14,300.

The Submersible models start at $8,700 and run up to $26,700 for references in the core collection, with the limited edition models reaching as high as $41,000.

HOW MUCH IS A PANERAI WATCH?

Popular Panerai Models ( high to low ) Current Price (approx.) Features
ORO ROSSO PAM717 22,495 USD Luminor Oro Rosso 8 Days (limited edition 50 pieces)
LUMINOR PAM671 22,495 USD Bronze (47mm) w/ unidirectional rotatable bezel
PANERAI PAM786  15,495 USD Stainless steel (44mm) w/ smooth bezel and PVD coated 
LUMINOR PAM601 14,494 USD LUMINOR 1950 8 DAYS "EQUATION OF TIME"
RADIOMIR PAM735 10,495 USD Titanium w/ polished bezel (45mm)
LUMINOR PAM617 10,295 USD TITANIUM 47MM LIMITED EDITION
Luminor 1950 3 Days  ref. PAM00372 7,000 USD Hours, minute, 3-day power reserve
Luminor Submersible Automatic, ref. PAM00024 6,000 USD Automatic, small seconds, date, rotatable bezel
Luminor Marina ref. PAM01005 4,300 USD Small seconds, 56-hour power reserve
Radiomir Black Seal ref. PAM00380 3,800 USD Small seconds, 56-hour power reserve
Radiomir ref. PAM00753 3,500 USD Hours, minutes, 72-hour power reserve

Partnerships and Ambassadors

One of most visible event partnerships of recent years was with the 35th America's Cup. For the 2017 event, the brand created a series of limited watches based on its Luminor collection. Five timepieces, with functions ranging from a time-only automatics to a flyback chronographs in materials such as steel, titanium, and ceramic marked the occasion.

Where the company really excels, is in forging long-standing relationships with brand ambassadors that capture the true spirit of the brand. While many luxury watchmakers align themselves with high-profile celebrities, they instead chooses to establish connections with luminaries in fields of athletic exceptionalism. Adventurers, explorers, and endurance athletes make up the current stable of Panerai spokespeople. These individuals and units actively communicate the suitability of the timepieces in question for the environments in which they ply their trade.

Chief among their ambassadors is explorer Mike Horn, whose frequent collaborations during a 15-year association with the brand are sought-after collectibles. Horn is known for his indomitable spirit and missions such as reaching the North Pole in the complete darkness of winter and climbing peaks over 8,000 meters without oxygen. One of his many memorable mottos is, "if your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough."

Alongside Horn, French free-diving champion Guillaume Nery proudly sports a Submersible model on his frequent forays beneath the waves. Able to dive to depths of 126 meters on a single breath, Nery's incredible physical tools and ability to withstand pressure make for a perfect partnership with the brand known for its robust timepieces.

Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker and renowned National Geographic photographer Jimmy Chin adds an artistic element to Panerai's selection of standard-bearers. As an accomplished professional climber, Chin displays a huge amount of substance behind the style of his artistic endeavors. He is, perhaps, the most emblematic of the modern brand that manages to tread the line between a never-say-die tactical tool watch and an elegant example of Italian flare mixed with Swiss manufacturing precision.

Comsubin stands for "Comando Raggruppamento Subacquei ed Incursori" and is a 33-strong crack division of the Italian Navy. Founded 100 years after Panerai in 1960, the Comsubin are the custodians of the remarkable legacy of the Italian Naval Assault Divisions, which covered themselves in glory during WWII. These men are trained to complete supposedly impossible missions and are expects in underwater operations.

The Comsubin practice all manner of diving techniques, ensuring their ranks can use old and new equipment, and are experienced in saturation diving, unlike any other Navy in Europe. Their utter dedication to excellence, along with their direct ties to the Italian Frogmen that gained their branch so much recognition in the second world war makes this ultra-specialist unit ideal Panerai ambassadors.

What Model to Buy

When it comes to buying your first Panerai, the choice is all about personal preference. The Submersible collection is attractive for its modern, sporty design and increased dive functionality (thanks to the presence of a unidirectional rotating bezel). The Luminor Due collection has sympathetic diameters and thicknesses making it an exceptional option for a more dress-oriented timepiece. And for those looking for something more traditional, both the Radiomir and Luminor offer classic and historic designs with a wide assortment of different options and complications.

Many people lust over Panerai watches for years; however often such passion is seldom attached to a particular model or reference. The brand occupies unusual territory within the luxury watch industry in that its aesthetic is entirely its own. A watch from the brand does not look like anything else, and so the passion of many collectors and enthusiasts is not for one specific model, but rather it is for the brand itself and that immediately identifiable aesthetic.

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Bob's Watches is an independent watch dealer and is not sponsored by, associated with and/or affiliated with Rolex, S.A. Bob's Watches only sells pre-owned Rolex watches and provides its own warranties on the watches it sells. Rolex, www.rolex.com, is under no obligation to warranty-service watches sold by Bob's Watches. Rolex Datejust, Rolex Day Date President, Submariner, Presidential, Explorer, Sea Dweller, Super President, GMT Master, GMT, YachtMaster, Prince, Milgauss, MasterPiece, Air King, Cosmograph Daytona, and PearlMaster are all registered trademarks of the Rolex Corporation ( Rolex USA, Rolex S.A.) To buy a new Rolex watch, please visit rolex.com for a list of authorized Rolex dealers near you.
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