Giovanni Panerai opens his watchmaker’s shop on Ponte alle Grazie in Florence: serving not only as a shop and workshop but also as the city’s first watchmaking school, Officine Panerai’s history begins here. The shop later moves to its current location in the Palazzo Arcivescovile in Piazza San Giovanni, changing its name to ‘Orologeria Svizzera’ at the beginning of the twentieth century.
To meet the military needs of the Royal Italian Navy, which it had already been supplying with high precision instruments for a number of years, Officine Panerai creates Radiomir, a radium-based powder that gives luminosity to the dials of sighting instruments and devices. Reference to the name ‘Radiomir’ is documented in the supplement to the patent filed in France on 23 March 1916. The substance’s high visibility and the paint’s excellent underwater adhesive qualities immediately make the radium paste a key element in Officine Panerai’s production. The Radiomir patent will be the first of the many patents filed to mark Panerai’s history of innovation.
The actual production of the Radiomir models with the 1936 features takes place two years later. In order to implement the functions of the prototype, Officine Panerai makes a number of changes and starts producing a new Radiomir model with the following features: the use of overlapping plates for the dial, the upper part having perforated indices and numerals so as to make the radium paint more readable and luminescent; the wire lugs are made more resistant, comprising a metal bar folded at both ends and welded to the case middle. A further innovation that improves underwater visibility relates to the numbering of the dial, which has just 4 large Arabic numerals at the cardinal points and a series of indices, hour and minute hands, but without a small seconds hand.
A new self-luminous substance, Luminor, supersedes the radium-based paste. Tritium (hydrogen isotope) based, this compound is protected by the patent filed on 11 January 1949 under the ‘Luminor’ trademark. Officine Panerai draws inspiration from the name of its newly patented substance for its other historical model that follows the Radiomir watch – the Luminor.
The evolution from Radiomir to Luminor is completed. The Second World War having drawn to a close, the Florentine company continues the technical research begun at the start of the war, culminating in the development of the Luminor, characterized by the crown-protecting bridge, with reinforced wire lugs created from the same block of steel as the case, the cushion-shaped case as in the Radiomir 1940 and the flat, wider bezel. Nowadays the models with this case are known as Luminor 1950.
To celebrate the 70th Anniversary of its iconic Luminor collection the Italian watchmaker is offering a 70-year warranty, including all servicing costs, on its new Platinumtech Luminor Marina.
Not only does the price tag cover all running costs for what is essentially a lifetime of wear but Panerai has made its case from Platinumtech, an Platinum-based alloy created in the brand’s Swiss Laboratorio di Idee R&D centre for increased hardness and to better preserve the watch’s box fresh appearance over the years.
The watch has a date window at the three o’clock and a small seconds at the nine o’clock dictated by the three-day Calibre P.9010 automatic movement inside. and features an olive green sandwich dial finished with vibrant sunburst brushing, whilst a metallic ‘70 Year Warranty’ logo has been applied to the sapphire crystal caseback.
Panerai previously backed its 2017 Lab-ID Luminor 1950 Carbotech 3 Days with a 50-year warranty and servicing, clearly confident in the work it had undertaken to remove the need for liquid lubricants, the weak link in mechanical watchmaking and the reason watches need servicing like cars, from the movement of that watch.
That offer trounced all other warranties being offered in the watch industry (IWC offers the next longest warranty at eight years) so this new period only widens the gap. Of course with such a long period of warranty being offered (someone purchasing the Carbotech at launch will still have 46 years of warranty coverage) no-one has been able to test either the claimed longevity of the watch or the T&Cs of the warranty.
But that watch, which used a host of high tech materials including tantalum-based ceramic and DLC-coated silicon, came with a $53,470 USD price tag, so it can be assumed that at least some of the predicted future servicing costs were built into the price.
This new watch, however, uses a stock P.9010 automatic movement and, at $36,900, offers a considerable saving over its predecessor. This would appear to suggest that Panerai is either confident that one of its in-house movements will need minimal attention over a 70-year period, which frankly I’d doubt of any movement being made today, or that the brand has one again priced the watch to take into account potential future costs.
Priced at $39,600 USD the Panerai Platinumtech Luminor Marina comes in limited edition of 70 pieces and is available exclusively through its network of boutiques. Come into the beautiful and timeless world of Panerai.