OFFICINE PANERAI: HISTORY AND EVOLUTION
Panerai's history marks time itself. It's roots can be traced back to when it was the exclusive supplier of high-precision instruments to the Royal Italian Navy in the early nineteen hundreds. Today, with more than a century of watchmaking expertise, Panerai is renowned for its well-crafted timepieces that are an effortless union of impeccable Italian design and renowned Swiss technology. Here we explore the history and evolution of Panerai.
Giovanni Panerai first opened the doors of Officine Panerai in Florence serving as a showroom, workshop and the city's first watchmaking school. The shop was later moved to Palazzo Arcivescovile in Piazza San Giovanni, changing its name to "Orologeria Svizzera" at the beginning of the twentieth century.
Additionally, they supplied the Royal Italian Navy with high precision time-keeping instruments. To respond to the military needs of the Royal Italian Navy, Panerai created Radiomir, a radium based powder that gives luminosity to the dials of sighting instruments and devices. Essentially, they have high visibility in the dark and exceptional adhesive qualities underwater making the radium paste a key element in Officine Panerai's production.
On 23 March 1916, Panerai filed a patent for Radiomir. Two decades later, with World War II looming, Panerai created the first prototype of the model now known as the "Radiomir", designed expressly for the frogman of the First Submarine Group Command of the Royal Italian Navy.
Panerai pioneered advances in luminescent materials through the unveiling of the Luminor in 1949. Luminor was a new self-luminous substance that used Tritium to achieve its effect. After filing the patent on 11 January 1949, Officine Panerai drew inspiration from the name of its newly patented substance for its other model, which today is one of the most iconic models in the fine watchmaking world - the Luminor collection.
In 1972, with the passing away of Guido Panerai, the business passed to another family member, engineer Dino Zei, who changed the name from G.Panerai & Figlio to Officine Panerai S.r.L.
In 1993, the brand shifted towards producing timepieces for civilian use and released three limited edition watches: the Luminor, the Luminor Marina and Mare Nostrum, which have made a clear mark in the watchmaking world and are till date highly sought after by the watch collectors and enthusiasts alike.
In 1997, Officine Panerai was acquired by Richemont Group (then Vendôme Group). The initial collection featured Luminor and Luminor Marina in three versions along with the re-launch of Mare Nostrum with few updates in key design.
Officine Panerai came full circle as their historic boutique underwent restoration in Piazza San Giovanni premises in Florence and opened its doors in 2001. The year 2002 marked the opening of the Panerai Manufacture in Neuchâtel, Switzerland. In 2005, Officine Panerai unveiled its first in-house movement, the P.2002, a hand-wound caliber with GMT function.
Combining an Italian flair for design and Swiss-made precision, it is no wonder that Panerai is one of the most coveted by watch enthusiasts.
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