Panerai's range of watches it currently makes is simplistic. On the one side, you have the Luminor, which features the iconic patented locking crown mechanism. You also have the Luminor Due, which shares the same philosophy as the regular Luminor collection but is slimmer and dressier. Then, for those who want something sportier, you have the Submersible, which looks like a beefier version of the Luminor range. That's not a surprise. This range of watches used to be called the Luminor Submersible, although now it's not. The patented locking crown mechanism is the part that stands out the most on these three watches. Finally, you have the odd one out, the only collection of watches Panerai currently makes which aren't somehow derived from the Luminor range. These watches are called Radiomir.
As with all of Panerai's watches, there's a history to the Radiomir. The watch's name stems from Panerai's early history of making watches and other instruments for the Royal Italian Navy and its scuba divers. They needed equipment which could be legible under water where light is limited. To do this, Panerai created Radiomir, a luminescent substance that glows after exposure to bright light. It was one of the first examples of glow-in-the-dark paint, if not the first. Panerai first used it on its technical equipment in 1916, and it came to their watches in the 1930s. Radiomir was a technological marvel at the time, but it should be remembered that it is radioactive, and care should be taken even when handling vintage Panerai watches today, as they may still be radioactive.
In 1949, Panerai made its next leap into the world of glowy things on watches, with a new paint formula that still had all the luminescent properties required but didn't slowly poison anyone. This new substance was called Luminor, where the current watches get their name. Luminor was used on watches such as the 60mm diameter Egiziano Grosso from 1956, which Panerai remade in 2009 as the L'Egiziano PAM00341. The locking crown guard seen on Luminor models first appeared as a fully-patented design on the Egiziano Grosso as well. Anyway, back to the Radiomir.
The Radiomir range of watches today represents the oldest of Panerai's designs. The basic design of the Radiomir has Panerai's signature cushion-shaped case that bulges outwards at the edges slightly. It also has the welded wire lugs as seen on older watches, although one or two seriously complex Radiomir watches use thicker, wider lugs. Also, except for said seriously complex models, the Radiomir range of watches features almost no complications other than a date feature, as is the case with the Radiomir OP6623 we have for sale at the time of writing. Even Panerai's subtle GMT function is apparently too complex here. Notable exceptions to this rule include the limited-production Minute Repeater Tourbillon GMT PAM00600 and the two 2023 Annual Calendar novelties. Panerai has previously made Radiomir watches with complications, and if that's something you're interested in, we urge you to get in touch so we can help you find one at a great price.
The Radiomir is as straightforward and no-nonsense as you can get, and it's one of the reasons why Panerai watches are highly sought after. Sure, some people see them as a little plain, but their rugged simplicity and subtle case shape make them stand out in a crowded collection.
Whether you choose the OP6623, or any other Radiomir models, you can be sure that you're getting a quality watch made by a company that cares about its history and future. Our favourites include the PAM0021, PAM00687 for its signed bezel and radiation-burn dial colour and the PAM00424 for its 'California dial'. The California dial models came about from the early days of Panerai's watches. The story goes that in 1936 Panerai's design engineers couldn't decide whether to use Roman or Arabic numerals on their dials, so they made a prototype dial which had both on and asked the Italian Royal Navy (Panerai instruments couldn't be bought by the general public at the time and were only special issue pieces) to decide which numeral style they preferred. The Navy responded that they liked the dials as they were, with half Arabic and half Roman numerals, so that's how they were delivered.
As you can tell, even though we're predominately Rolex specialists here at Watches of Wales, we have a soft spot for Panerai. It seems many collectors agree, which is one of many reasons why Panerai's watches are highly sought after.
If you're interested in purchasing a Panerai, or any other pre-owned luxury watch, please do get in touch and we'll endeavour to source one for you, assuming we don't have one in stock already. Our website is continually updated as we buy and sell all kinds of watches. Don't worry if we don't have the watch you want in stock. We buy and sell a lot of watches, so another one is bound to come around, but you can always contact us, and we can help you source the perfect timepiece for your collection.