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How were the genuine Panerai watches produced from 1935/6 until to 1992, the models of the replica version, produced from 1993 to 1997 and the models of the present historic and special editions collections of the first re-edition, produced from 1997 on and now on the market?
The case, first at cushion and then with the actual look, was in stainless steel, polished or brushed, with a 47, 57 or 59 mm (if including the typical "L" bridge"), diameter. The loops, were first at wire and then took the actual look. The dial was in black-brown colour brass, but in some models the index were pierced with below a soaked plate with a luminescent substance, like the new Luminor 1950 47mm, pam 127.
The first prototype, ref. 2533 (1935/6), had the index at 12-3-6 and 9 o'clock, while after, ref. 3646 (1940), took the actual look with the introduction of little pipes. At first they were made with radium (Radiomir) and then with the safer tritium (Luminor) for the nightly brightness. The winding crown, was first at screw (Rolex) and then (1955) the typical "L" bridge was introduced (it is now a registered mark!). The handles were at stick covered by bright material (radium or tritium).
See the interesting article of Francesco Ferretti, about the genuine Panerai's watches case-back's engraving Click here.
The movement (hand wound) was a Rolex 16", on a Cortebert cal. 618 ebauche, or an Angelus cal. 240 with an 8-days of power reserve (recognizable thanks to the dial of the small seconds was at nine o'clock). The strap was in leather, it was clear brown, with a big stainless steel buckle. The glass was in perspex. Thanks also to the screwed case back (in some watches for demonstration it was also transparent) the watch was guaranteed until 100 or 200 m (if with the bridge) in depth.
Some special models were produced: the Luminor "Destro-Left Handed", for the left-handers and the Mare Nostrum, for the officiers (both in very few units, only 2 each one!) and then the "Egyptian" Radiomir for the Egyptian Navy, with the I ed. (1954, ref. 6154, 47 mm in only 36 units) and with the most famous II ed. -Big- (with the 59 mm polished steel case, due to the transparent greenish glaze varnish furnace cooked, the graduated with index rotating bezel, the brown dial and 8 days power reserve). It's reference was gpf 2/56 where gpf stands for Guido Panerai & Son, 2 for Egyptian Radiomir second edition and /56 for the year 1956. In fact, in 1956 only 50 units of this special Radiomir were produced.
Altogether from 1936/8 until to 1992 about 2,000 watches were produced, above all for the (Royal) Italian Navy.
In the '60 and then in the 80's were realized two 1000 m in depth prototypes of 54 mm and 47 mm, respectively with the aluminium and the titanium case and with the Rolex hand wound and the Eta automatic movement.
The history of the (Royal) Italian Navy has been object of some movies of italian production, like, for example: - L'affondamento della Valiant-, -I sette dell'Orsa Maggiore-, -Arditi Incursori-, -Mine in vista (1940)-, -Uomini sul fondo (1941)-, -Alfa Tau (1942)-, -Marinai senza stelle (1943)-, -I fantasmi del mare (1948)-, -Siluri umani (1952)-, -Mizzar (1953)-, -Uomini ombra (1954)- and -I ragazzi della Marina (1957)-.
The Luminor Marina, ref. 5218-203/a, has been utilized by A. Schwarzenegger in the movie -Eraser-, while the Luminor Submersible Slytech ed., ref. 5218-205/a, has been utilized by S. Stallone in the movie -Daylight-.
In 1993/4 the first re-edition (not including the "Mare Nostrum") (only 1,229 units + 20 prototypes) was produced, followed in 1995 by the two special editions for S. Stallone (the "Slytech" editions; Luminor Submersible and Luminor Daylight, only 200 units + 12 prototypes) and in 1996 by the two second serials of the Luminor (ref. 5218-209, 12 units) and of the Luminor Marina (ref. 5218-210, 2 units), alls with the (hand wound) movement Unitas-Eta cal. 6497 (See also the "History" and the "Movements" pages).
Were produced also some prototypes like the Luminor with the twim lever for the Israeli Navy, the Luminor -Destro- (Left Handed) and the Luminor Pvd Yellow Gold (See the IV Meeting page in the Events and News Section).
In 1997 the O. Panerai's (now Panerai Sistemi) brand and watches line was bought by the Vendome Group, now Richemont (Cartier) belonging to the Rupert family (South Africa). From then the second and present re-edition (now called "historic" collection) was produced with a limited and numbered edition from year to year (ex. only 1,000 units in 1997) and the six special editions in 1998, in 1999, in 2000, in 2002 and in 2003 have been produced (PAM 21, PAM 36, PAM 82, PAM 127, PAM 172 and PAM 195).
What are the differences between these models and the original ones? (Only for the present "historic" collection).
The case, with a 44 mm diameter (47 mm for the Radiomir "Replica", Pam 21 only and 47 mm for the Luminor 1950, M. Militare and 8 Days), now is in polished stainless steel AISI 316L, which in the past was also available in Pvd Steel (Physical Vapor Deposition: Steel + Nitrate of Titanium) (Pam 195), but also in titanium, in platinum (Pam 21), in tantalum (Pam 172) and for the left-handers (L. Marina Destro-Left Handed, with the steel-pvd steel and the titanium case, but from 2003 is available only with the steel case).
The dial is now available tobacco-brown (Pam 21 and 203), or black (steel/pvd steel), brown-black (titanium also Pam 36) and blue (titanium only Pam 82) with the written Swiss, or black (Pam 127, 172 and 217) with the written Swiss Made, or white with the written Swiss Made and the different index. Index and hands before were tritium treated (T Swiss T or T Swiss Made T, on the dial), while now are "Super Luminova" treated (L Swiss L or L Swiss Made L, on the dial), more safe but less bright in time than the tritium (See the luminescence in the "Glossary" page).
The movement (hand wound), is an Unitas-Eta cal. 6497 (See also the "History" and the "Movements" pages) with the certificate of chronometer (Cosc) (See also the "Glossary" page) only for the models Luminor Marina (L. Marina-OP Logo/Serial OOR/20th F. Ferretti, L. Marina Destro-Left Handed and L. Marina Militare), Luminor 1950 and (L.) M. Militare Destro-Left Handed, Luminor Marina Tantalium and Radiomir Black Seal (recognizable thanks to the dial of the small seconds at nine o'clock). 
The strap is now available in leather (black or brown)-(steel), calf (L. 1950) and in alligator (titanium, (L.) M. Militare and (L.) 8 Days)(ever with another one in "high tech" of spare) with the buckle who has taken, from 1998, the typical "L" bridge shape. The glass is in sapphire, while thanks also to the screwed case back, the watch is now guaranteed until 300 m in depth, even if is tested until 400 m in depth.
Some special models with diamonds are now available by request, like the 44 mm hand wound steel Luminor (PAM 30-31-32-33-95-130-131 and 148).
From 2002, all the historic collection Luminor models have the transparent case back and the Unitas 6497 Eta hand wound movement improved which became from OP I to OP X (L. Base) and from OP II to OP XI (R. Black Seal, L. Marina, L. Marina Destro-Left Handed and now also on the Luminor 1950, (L.) M. Militare and on the Luminor Marina Tantalium) (See also the "Movements" page and the certificate No. 00092/ETA).
From 2004, on the Luminor and L. Marina steel models, historic collection, the L bridge is now in brushed steel, instead of polished steel, while the titanium models have the black dial, instead of brown.
Moreover, has been realized a 2004 limited edition of the Luminor Base in 500 units (Pam 0) and of the L. Marina in 1,000 units (Pam 5) with the Logo OP and another, the Serial OOR (Out Of Range Model), of the Luminor Base (Pam 2) in 100 units and of the L. Marina (Pam 61) in 80 units with the covered case-back.
One of the models of the historic collection, the L. Marina, ref. Pam 1-111

Therefore, now there are the following models of the historic and of the special edition collections:
1)  Radiomir "Replica" (PAM 21), produced in 1998 in only 60 units, with the tobacco dial, the 47 mm platinum cushion case, the wire loops, the "genuine" Rolex/Cortebert cal. 618 hand-wound movement and the two case backs: one transparent and the other in platinum. It is guaranteed until 30 m in depth;

2) Luminor "Marina Militare" (PAM 36), produced in 1999 in only 200 units, with the brown dial, the 44 mm titanium case, the hand-wound movement OP II and the transparent case back;

3) Luminor "Marina Militare A. Vespucci" (PAM 82), produced in 2000 in only 300 units, it had the blue dial, the 44 mm titanium case, the hand-wound movement OP II and the case back with engraved the shape of the Italian Navy training-ship A. Vespucci.

Also these two Luminor Marina Militare special models have the hand wound movement and they are guaranteed until 300 m in depth even if are tested until 400 m in depth;
4) Luminor "1950" (PAM 127), produced from 2002 to 2004 in only 1,950 units with the "genuine" 47 mm steel case, the black -sandwich- dial, the "genuine" op ardillon buckle, the transparent case back, the hand-wound movement OP XI and it is guaranteed until 100 m in depth;

5) Luminor "Marina Tantalium" (PAM 172), produced from 2003 to 2005 in only 300 units with the 44 mm tantalum case, the black dial, the tantalum buckle, the transparent case back, the hand-wound movement OP XI and it is guaranteed until 300 m in depth;

6) Radiomir "Black Seal" (PAM 183), produced from 2004 on with the 45 mm steel case, the black -sandwich- dial, the "genuine" op ardillon buckle, the transparent case back, the hand-wound movement OP XI and it is guaranteed until 100 m in depth;

7) Radiomir "8 Days" (PAM 190), produced from 2004 on with the 45 mm steel case, the black -sandwich- dial, the transparent case back, the hand-wound movement OP XIV and it is guaranteed until 100 m in depth;

8) Luminor "Marina -Fans Panerai OP Logo-" (PAM 195), special edition 2003, produced in only 200 units with the 44 mm pvd steel case, the black dial, the case back (with individual engraving of the name of the owner) and the dial with the op logo, the hand wound movement OP XI and it is guaranteed until 300 m in depth;

9) Luminor "Base" (PAM 000), 44mm steel case, black dial and covered case-back with the Logo OP, 300 metres, hand-wound mechanical movement cal. OP I, Unitas-Eta 6497/Top, 16 ½ lignes, 17 jewels, 21,600 a/h and power reserve 41 hours, with hours and minutes. Black calf strap with another rubber strap;
10) Luminor "Marina" (PAM 005), 44mm steel case, black dial and covered case-back with the Logo OP, 300 metres, hand-wound mechanical movement cal. OP II, Unitas-Eta 6497/2, 16 ½ lignes, 17 jewels, 21,600 a/h and power reserve 41 hours, Cosc certificate, with hours and minutes and small seconds. Brown calf strap with another rubber strap.

 

 

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