This holiday season I received a pretty spectacular gift – a piece of military history. You see, I’ve always admired Panerai’s hertiage mainly because of the family ownership (much like my history with Shreve & Co). It wasn’t until I got to experience the Luminor first hand and learn of its military heritage that I knew it was a must-have for my watch collection. The Luminor along with its predecessor the Radiomir, was a top military secret up until the 1990’s and accompanied Italian Navy frogmen on their underwater missions during World War II. The two models were and still are the first true diver’s watches known to the industry.
Watchmaker Giovanni Panerai opened the company’s first workshop in Ponte alle Grazie, just outside of his hometown of Florence, Italy, in 1860. Not much is known about Giovanni – except for his relationships with prestigious watch makers, like Rolex, who provided movements for his timepieces and clocks. Giovanni’s connections became vital in creating a name for the Panerai brand. In fact, the company was contracted to develop ship clocks for the Regia Marina (the Royal Italian Navy) throughout the 19th century.