Panerai’s rich heritage of producing precision instruments for the Italian military spans over a century. The journey began in 1916 when Guido Panerai patented the Radiomir, a revolutionary substance that emitted a glow in the dark thanks to its radium base. This invention set the foundation for Panerai’s legacy.
The Radiomir prototype was presented in 1935, and over time, the sandwich construction of the watch evolved to include two superimposed plates. The design also incorporated improvements such as a crown-protecting device and a new luminous substance called Luminor. These advancements were kept secret as military secrets, as the Radiomir was exclusively produced for the military until the early 1970s.
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In 1996, Officine Panerai made its entry into the commercial watch market. They launched three collections in limited editions, including the 44mm Luminor and Luminor Marina watches and the 42mm Mare Nostrum chronograph. These timepieces were presented in 1993 at the La Spezia military harbor, marking Panerai’s transition into the luxury watch industry. The acquisition by the Vendome Group (now Richemont Group) in 1997 further propelled Panerai’s development.
Panerai’s history continued to evolve with the reopening of their historic boutique in Piazza San Giovanni and the establishment of the Panerai Manufacture in Neuchâtel, Switzerland. This fusion of fine Swiss watchmaking and Italian innovation became the driving force behind Panerai’s contemporary developments. The brand’s commitment to research, strategic partnerships, sustainability, and empowering modern heroes has allowed them to project into the future with confidence.
One notable initiative is the use of eSteelTM, a next-generation metal obtained from pre-consumer recycled steel scraps, with up to 95% sourced from various industries, including the Swiss watchmaking industry. This approach significantly reduces CO2 emissions and promotes sustainability. Panerai has also partnered with the IOC-UNESCO to develop solutions aimed at creating a more sustainable and equitable society.
First ever 45mm size for the California Dial
In terms of a new interpretation of the Panerai California Dial, the brand introduces the Radiomir California PAM01349. This timepiece stands out by offering a California dial in a 45mm size, a departure from the historical 47mm size. The green color of the watch adds to its appeal as a collector’s piece.
Inspired by Ref 3646 from Panerai’s archives, the Panerai California Dial features alternating Roman and Arabic numerals, bar indexes, and a minute track. The dial design uses Roman numerals for hours 10, 11, 1, and 2, while Arabic numerals mark hours 4, 5, 7, and 8. This arrangement creates a distinctive aesthetic where each half of the dial is characterized by different numeral types.
The case of the PAM01349 is set in Brunito eSteelTM, a new finishing introduced for the first time in Panerai’s history. This finishing gives the timepiece an antique look, appealing to watch enthusiasts who appreciate authenticity and history. Each case is meticulously hand-finished to achieve a seasoned appearance, ensuring that every watch possesses a unique character.
The eSteelTM case undergoes a PVD (Physical Vapor Deposition) process to create an intentionally weathered effect. The cushion-shaped 45mm case, slim wire lugs, and hollowed green dial with shaded texturized creativity further enhance the vintage appeal. The Super-LumiNova® coating illuminates the iconic California indexes in beige, which emit a green glow in the dark. The dial’s vintage aesthetic is complemented by metallic blue hands and a domed sapphire crystal reminiscent of the early Plexiglas® crystals used in Radiomir watches developed for the Italian military. The watch also features a cone-shaped crown, a design element that distinguishes the Radiomir collection from other Panerai timepieces.
The PAM01349 comes with a supple calf leather raw-cut strap in dark brown, featuring contrast stitching and three-point seams. An exclusive detail unique to this timepiece is the hot-printed inscription of ‘G. Panerai e Figlio,’ the exact phrase found on the signage of the original Panerai workshop in Florence, adding a touch of heritage to the strap.
Powering the Radiomir California is the hand-wound P.5000 calibre, known for its eight-day power reserve. This long power reserve, a distinctive element of Panerai’s DNA, was historically vital for the brand’s timepieces used by underwater commandos of the Italian Navy. The open case-back in sapphire crystal allows the wearer to admire the iconic 8-day movement, showcasing Panerai’s commitment to reliability even in extreme conditions of use.