Understanding Panerai Watches

It’s very difficult to miss a Panerai among a sea of watches. Its massive case and trademark crown guard easily makes it a stand out in the horological crowd.

Because of this, all Panerais tend to look the same to the untrained eye. But the truth is, Panerai actually has a ton of variations to choose from and that can make it tricky for a first time Panerai buyer.
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Here’s a handy guide for budding Paneristis out there:
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Panerai’s Four Main Case Styles
The most defining characteristic of Panerai watches is its case shape. At first glance it may seem as if there are only two types, but there are actually four.
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Radiomir
The Radiomir is the first model of Panerai. Its case is curved and rounded, and the main difference is that it doesn’t have the crown protector and has thinner, “wire” lugs. This makes it a little dressier than the Luminor types.
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case sizes: 42mm, 43mm, 45mm, 46mm and 47mm
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Luminor

The Luminor comes with the curved and rounded case but this time with the crown protector. It’s the most modern looking of the Panerai cases due to its straighter edges.

case sizes: 40mm, 44mm

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Luminor 1950

The Luminor 1950 is the same as the Luminor in front, but the differences become clear when viewed from the side and the back. The sides sweep back more gracefully and in most models, the acrylic crystal is domed.

case sizes: 44mm, 47mm

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The Ferrari is more niched and appeals mostly to Ferrari and motoring fans, than Panerai collectors. They do not come with the crown protector, and instead comes with a very large, textured crown.

case sizes: 40mm, 45mm

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Panerai’s Distinct Characteristics
The brand has enjoyed continuous success since it was opened to the public in 1993; and that makes it prone to counterfeiters. Here are more traits that make a watch unmistakably Panerai:
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The Sandwich Dial
They are outfitted with “sandwich” dials, where the green luminescent background is sandwiched between the dial’s surface and the mechanisms under the dial. There are variations of this such as the “sausage” dial where the numbers and lume are raised, and the “painted” dial, where the lume is painted on.
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The Numbers
Panerai watches have numbers on its case back that are used to determine details about the watch. The actual reference number of their watches, which begin with PAM followed by 5 numbers (e.g. PAM00537), do not actually appear on the case. The numbers on the back refer to the following:

 

* Case Number – line beginning with OP
* Serial Number – line beginning with BB
* Year Designator – beginning with a letter, that corresponds to its production year. A corresponds to year 1998, and so on.
* Production Number – indicates its number out of the total number of models produced.

As with buying any watch, it is best to be familiar with the particular reference that you want to buy, and the distinct characteristics and features of that model, to ensure that you are getting a genuine timepiece.
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SEE MORE OF THE WATCHES IN OUR VIDEO:

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PHOTO CREDITS: Panerai (Sandwich Dial) Photo by Daniel Zimmerman [CC BY 2.0] via Flickr, Panerai Ferrari Photo by newlifemoda_men on Instagram
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