Panerai Collections Explained

Created to meet the needs of the Italian Navy in the early 1900s, Panerai watches did not reach a mainstream audience until 1993, when they began to offer their collection to the public.

By 1997, Panerai had reached success. Acquired by the Vendome Group (and later on, the Richemont Group), they had moved their production to Switzerland, and over the years transformed into the luxury sport watch company that it is today.

A huge part of Panerai’s success is their highly recognizable design blueprint, which remains faithful to the original Italian designs of the early to mid-20th century and sticks to the paradigm of robust luxury.

While this has paved the way for Panerai watches to become some of the most recognizable watches ever, it can also be difficult for new collectors to grasp the difference between their designs, which are far more diverse than ever before.

 

With that, here’s our simplified guide to Panerai’s main watch collections.

 

Radiomir
Panerai Radiomir 45mm Black Seal Ceramic Mens Watch PAM00643 / Panerai Radiomir 47mm 3 Days Steel Mens Watch PAM00721

 

RADIOMIR

Today’s Panerai Radiomir references the brand’s earliest military watches from the 1930s. The term “Radiomir” was derived from the luminous radium-based paint compound that Panerai used to make the dials glow in the dark.

The defining characteristics of the original Radiomir watches were: a massive 47mm cushion-shaped case, an oversized onion-shaped crown, a simple dial with luminous hands and indexes and a water-resistant strap long enough to fit over wetsuits.

Of these, the case shape and crown are still found on today’s Radiomir; while the case size has been expanded to 42, 45, 47, and 48mm.

 

Radiomir 1940
Panerai Radiomir 1940 42mm Rose Gold Mens Watch PAM00513

 

RADIOMIR 1940

The Radiomir 1940, as its name suggests, is a tribute to the modified versions of the Radiomir released in the 1940s. Panerai changed the Radiomir’s lugs from thinner wires welded onto the case, into broader lugs made from the same block of steel, for stronger resistance to elements underwater.

The corners of the case are also more pointed than those of the previous models; and the winding crown is cylindrical, rather than flared or onion-shaped.

 


 

Luminor
Panerai Luminor Marina 8 Days Left-Handed Mens Watch PAM00796

 

LUMINOR

Just like the Radiomir, the original Luminor watches got their name from the luminescent paint compounds used on their dials. In 1949, Panerai switched from radium-based paint (which is now understood as being highly radioactive and toxic) to Luminor, a safer tritium-based paint that is also more luminous.

In 1950, Panerai released the Luminor – a case characterized by its crown-protecting bridge, wire lugs created from the same block of steel as the case, a 47mm cushion-shaped case similar to the Radiomir 1940 and a flat wider bezel.

When Panerai watches became available for sale to the public in 1993, designer Alessandro Bettarini (Panerai’s chief of mechanical engineering at the time) created the modern Panerai Luminor. He brought back the crown-protector bridge and the Luminor name from the archives, but with a smaller 44mm case.

 


 

Luminor 1950
Panerai Luminor 1950 3 Days GMT 44mm Blue Dial Watch PAM01033

 

LUMINOR 1950

In 2002, Panerai introduced the Luminor 1950 case in the form of the Luminor PAM 127.  A homage to the original Panerai combat ref 6152 created in 1950, it reprised the original 47mm case, the highly domed crystal protecting the dial and of course, the now iconic crown protecting device. What was supposed to be just a limited edition watch became a resounding success, and laid the groundwork for today’s Luminor 1950 collection.

The Luminor and Luminor 1950 may seem identical from the front, but viewed from the side, the differences reveal themselves. What sets the Luminor 1950 apart from the Bettarini designed Luminor case is a a domed, taller crystal and a crown guard device marked “R.E.G. T.M.”

 


 

Luminor Due
Panerai Luminor Due 3 Days 42mm Ivory Dial Mens Watch PAM00906

 

LUMINOR DUE

Launched in 2018, the Luminor Due line (due being the Italian word for two), is a slimmer, smaller and fancier take on the Luminor. Positioned as elegant and dressier alternatives to the robust Luminor models, its restrained proportions open up the Panerai line to a new audience, who are looking for more wrist-friendly case dimensions.

Luminor Due watches also have much lower water resistance (30 meters), which categorizes them more as dress watches rather than dive watches.

 


 

Submersible
Panerai Luminor Submersible 42mm Black Rubber Strap Mens Watch PAM00683

 

SUBMERSIBLE

Originally part of the Luminor collection, the Submersible line was segregated as a dedicated line of dive watches in 2019. What sets them apart from other Panerai watches is that they come equipped with standard dive watch requirements – such as water resistance of up to 300 meters and unidirectional rotating bezels. In sum, they are actually dive watches, as opposed to luxury watches inspired by diving.

 


 

With this simplified guide, we hope you you’ll be able to distinguish between Panerai models, and be on your way to becoming a true Paneristi. Explore our collection of Panerai watches at SwissWatchExpo.com

 

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