You know me and Panerais: I love the look, but I think it’s played out. Take a look at this wild-looking Panerai prototype made in 1984.

The brand didn’t take off until the 1990s but before then Panerai made instruments for the Italian Navy. In the early 1980s, an engineer unearthed old plans for an original Panerai and built a prototype. The brand didn’t take off until Japanese collectors started clamoring for original Panerais and the company saw an opening. The rest, as they say, is wildly overpriced history.

Quoth Hodinkee:

A first batch of watches – the Luminor and Mare Nostrum models – was built in Switzerland. The second production run of watches was built entirely in Italy but the company fell into financial difficulty and was soon sold to the Vendome Luxury Group. Bettarini worked with Panerai for a few more years designing the new timepieces, by then getting famous thanks to the interest of Sylvester Stallone.

By John Biggs

John lives in Brooklyn and has loved watches since he got his first Swatch Irony automatic in 1998. He is the editor of WristWatchReview.

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