Officine Panerai - Watchmakers extraordinaire: How did this historic watch brand come to be known as one of the leaders in horology?
When you hear the word “Panerai”, the first thing that comes to any watch connoisseur’s mind is the robust build of the watch, just like most of the celebrities who swear by this horological masterpiece. Sylvester “Sly” Stallone was one of the first movie icons to endorse Panerai watches, and Arnold Schwarzenegger and “The Rock” Dwayne Johnson continued the legacy.
But it’s not only men, Panerai has also won the hearts of women as well. Heidi Klum is often spotted wearing her favourite Panerai Radiomir, and Liz Hurley too, loves her trusty Panerai Luminor Contemporary.
So what drives this incredible passion that makes Panerai so popular with even the most discerning horologists across the world? To understand that further, let’s take a look at how Panerai started its journey into horology.
Back in the early 19th century, Panerai was a company which produced only technical equipment like depth gauges and compasses and was also the Italian Navy’s major supplier for nautical instruments.
In 1935, Panerai chanced upon a deal with the Italian Navy to produce diving watches for them. Because they didn’t have prior experience in making dive watches, Panerai took the help of the leaders in horology at that time, Rolex. Soon in collaboration, they started producing proper diving watches handcrafted especially for the Navy, that came to be known as “Radiomir”. This name was derived from Panerai’s proprietary radium compound.
The universal appeal that Panerai has achieved could be tied to Panerai’s history with the Italian Navy, which primarily led to its unpretentious image. Owning a Panerai is almost like owning a historical masterpiece that has seen a world of adventure.
Did you know that Panerai was one of the first watch brands to benefit from the amazing power of the Internet? It was fans and watch lovers across all over the world who drove the company’s online presence to amazing heights. Watch community sites, where loyal fans exchanged information on products and availability drove the sales to a whole new level.
It was in 2000 that Paneristi.com, a watch community site was launched, that had several thousand members spread globally. Panerai fan forums grew like never before and soon became a worldwide phenomenon, known as “Paneristi”.
From an initial production that estimated less than 2,000 watches between 1993-1997, after the online word spread, Panerai production grew to more than 70,000 units per year by 2013.
Fast forward to this today, Panerai has grown to offer a wide range of watches based on their historic models, to varying degrees. While Radiomir and Luminor continue to remain the core masterpieces, there are various models now, with different metals and higher horological complications.
With the public profile and the volume of watches Panerai produced, growing to an unprecedented level in the recent years, it is without a doubt the horological history of Panerai which is the main contributing factor to its universal appeal.
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