Panerai watches are among the most unique and recognizable timepieces in the world. Their size and shape set them apart, along with the brand’s signature rounded crown guard. Don’t let the funky appearance fool you, though. Panerai has a legitimate history that originates in Italy, includes a run through the Italian navy, and decades of unique, innovative designs. The Panerai watches we see today, as different as they are from the originals, have roots that can be traced directly back to the first dive watches developed by the brand.
In 1997, Officine Panerai became part of the Richemont Group, which currently houses other legendary watch brands such as Vacheron Constantin, IWC, Jaeger LeCoultre, and Piaget. Though its original boutique and heritage remained Italian, it opened a factory in Switzerland. The company says that this was the point at which its planning, development, and continuous research come together under one roof.
In 2005, Panerai’s first in-house movement, the P.2002, was developed. The hand-wound caliber featured a GMT function and an eight-day power reserve. Not long after, in 2007, Panerai presented three new in-house movements: P.2003, P.2004, and P.2005. The 2005 featured an elaborate tourbillon complication, which is when the cage housing the balance wheel and escapement rotate on an axis that is not parallel to the balance wheel axis. Panerai’s tourbillion was unique, in that it completed a rotation every thirty seconds instead of the one rotation per minute that was standard in most tourbillons.
In the years since then, Panerai has engineered several more movements with impressive technical specifications, and has continued expanding its presence on the world stage. Today, the company offers four main collections: Submersible, Luminor, Luminor Due, and Radiomir. However, no matter the collection, Panerai’s timepieces are faithful to their history and the company’s roots. There are still several dive-ready watches in the Panerai catalog, along with dressier watches that are suitable for use in almost any situation.