For many of us, Panerai is seemingly a more recent brand – so why am I bringing them up on Historical Horology Sunday? Well, there’s our first fact – they’ve actually been around since 1860 (making gauges for sea vessels), with the first watch prototype showing up in 1936.
Of course, prototypes have to be tested, and these went through a rather interesting process:
It wasn’t until March 1936 that the Panerai Radiomir prototype got its first field test with the commandos of the Italian Navy deep under the Mediterranean sea. The most important requirement besides being water resistent, of course, was to be legible in the murky waters. Having passed the test, the Radiomir was produced in 1938 in a series of 10 for the naval assault forces, a division of the Italian Navy’s Submarine Command.
The men in the naval assault forces had to have guts and grit as they rode slow-speed torpedoes, called Siluri a Lenta Corsa (S.L.C.) in Italian, with two operators on the vessel. There were essentially human torpedoes, referred to as “pigs”, doing reconnaissance in freezing muddy waters.
Definitely a rich history here to the brand. Have you ever been curious as to why the various models are referred to as PAM and then a model number? That’s a pretty simple one – PAM stands for Panerai Movement Number.
If you’d like to learn more about some specific models, like the California and Radiomir, head one over and read this article at the Longitude blog.
All photos courtesy of Longitude