Best Panerai Watches To Buy In 2021
Officine Panerai makes some of the most recognisable watches on the market today. Not one to cram its dials with over-complicated complications, the Italian watchmaker prefers to take a more minimalist approach to design.
Panerai was founded in Florence, Italy in 1860 by then-35-year-old Giovanni Panerai. The original shop was located at the iconic Ponte Alle Grazie bridge, but when his grandson Guido took over the business just 30 years later, it was relocated to Piazza San Giovanni, one of the main public squares in the city. Presumably, there would have been more foot traffic passing by.
It was Guido who was responsible for developing the Radiomir material (and subsequent nomenclature) in 1915 and shortly after, Panerai was commissioned to make diver’s watches for the Italian Marine Military. These watches were made in collaboration with Rolex and were huge, coming in at 47mm, a diameter still used today. Radiomir and Luminor were both replaced with a new Superluminova material due them exhibiting radioactive properties.
Panerai watches have secured a special place among the world of horology due to their impeccable build, use of innovative materials and their general aesthetic. A true icon. We’ve rounded up 10 of the coolest models currently available, although shortlisting so few was no easy task.
This Radiomir GMT rocks a stunning blue dial, chosen to represent the “intensity of the blue of the sky and the sea”. Panerai deliberately chose to make the outer portion of the dial darker than the inner, to help make the markers even more legible. A GMT hand (the one with a more defined arrowhead) shows the time in a second time zone, along with am/pm indication on the sub-dial at 9 o’clock and it’s powered by the company’s P.4001 in-house calibre, which boasts a three-day reserve, along with an indicator for remaining power, viewable through the open caseback. The 45mm case is finished in AISI 316L stainless steel, chosen for its anti-corrosive properties.
Luminor Base Logo
The Luminor Base Logo represents the entry-level point into the world of Panerai. Up until 2018 it relied on a third-party movement, but two years ago it was gifted the hand-wound P.6000 in-house calibre with three-day power reserve. You don’t get the sandwich dial design of more expensive models and as a result, the luminous material is painted onto the hands and markers instead, and this may be a dealbreaker for some Panerai fanatics. For others, however, a 44m Panerai watch for a smidge over $7,000 is shockingly good value.
While the Luminor Due continues the Panerai trend of large cases (in this case 42mm) it bucks it by slimming down to just 4.2mm, tiny by Panerai’s proportions. This model is finished in Panerai’s proprietary Goldtech material, which sees 18K gold married together with copper and platinum to both add more intense colour and to help minimise the effects of oxidation. While you can get it with a black dial, we’ve chosen the white-dial model as we feel is better complements the gold colouring, lending itself to more formal occasions.
Luminor Luna Rossa Chrono Flyback
The Luna Rossa Chrono Flyback was produced to commemorate Panerai’s partnership with the Italian Luna Rossa America’s Cup yacht racing team. It rocks a similar black red and white colour scheme as the yacht and benefits from the P.9100 calibre, Panerai’s first automatic movement with a chronograph function. The flyback function also means the chronograph can be restarted without having to stop it first. Add in a 3-day power reserve and you’ve got one good-looking and seriously capable timepiece.
There’s no ignoring the fact that this Submersible Chrono is huge at 47mm, but Panerai has countered the sheer size by opting for a titanium build to keep it as light as possible. Its design can be traced back to Radiomir Panerai produced for the Egyptian Navy in 1956 (although that model was a gargantuan 60mm). Like the Luminor Luna Rossa, this Submersible uses the P.9100, which has its chronograph function activated by way of two pushers on the left side.
Luminor Marina Carbotech
Another model here that utilises a proprietary material, this time, Carbotech. Formed by binding together several thin layers of carbon fibre, the resultant product is stronger and lighter than both ceramic and titanium. It also, combined with the blue accents, gives this Luminor Marina a stealth-like appearance not many other watches can match. The P.9010 calibre allows for independent hour-hand adjustment – leaving the minute hand stationary – along with a small seconds counter and date window.
Luminor Marina Carbotech
The Radiomir GMT Power Reserve is very similar to the Radiomir GMT featured at the top of this list. But where the latter model indicates the amount of power reserved in the spring through the open caseback, this Power Reserve model shows it on the dial instead. Otherwise, they’re virtually the same watch. The movement is changed to the P.4002 (instead of the P.4001) although unsurprisingly it’s derived from its sibling and still manages to be one of Panerai’s thinnest at 4.8mm. And of course, we had to choose the iconic black and beige colour finish, there’s nothing better.
Panerai Watches FAQ
Are Panerai watches a good investment?
Yes. Panerai watches are built to last and are considered a good investment. The company only uses high quality materials and it shows in their products, making them a must-have for watch collectors.
How long is Panerai warranty?
Your Panerai watch is guaranteed against manufacturing defects for 24 months starting from the date you purchased it. This does not cover wear and tear or damage by inappropriate handling.
How to spot a fake Panerai watch?
One usual difference between an original and a fake Panerai watch is the GMT hand. The original reaches the outer edge of the dial, while the counterfeit is much shorter. The steel quality of a real Panerai is also shiny and bright compared to the fake ones.