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Feature: The best 15 Panerai watches

There’s no mistaking a Panerai when you see one. Their unique design codes such as the large cushion-shaped cases and highly legible sandwich dials command the room, and its heritage is fascinating. From WWII covert military operations to a 1990s resurgence led by Sylvester Stallone, the Panerai story has captivated watch lovers the world over. Indeed, the brand even boasts its own tribe of superfans called the “Paneristi”. We’ve rounded up 15 of our favourites including several iconic Luminor and Radiomir models.

Lo Scienziato Luminor 1950 Tourbillon GMT Titanio PAM00578

There’s little point in revealing the intricacies of a watch when the case itself is the size of a dime. That’s why Panerai’s large cushion cases are perfect for skeleton movements, letting the wearer fully appreciate what’s “under the hood”. In the case of this titanium Luminor GMT model, it’s a one-minute tourbillon and three serially arranged spring barrels that provide a huge 144-hour power reserve. Only 150 pieces of this were ever made.

Radiomir GMT Alarm PAM00098

Why don’t more watch brands pair up these two much-loved complications? To us, a GMT feature with an alarm makes for the dream traveller’s watch. Especially when you’ve lost your phone and require a wake-up call. And who wouldn’t prefer the tactile buzz of a mechanical alarm to an irksome electronic jingle? This model has bags of charm, and even the wire-style lugs are a nod to Panerais of old, even if they’re now safely screwed in, rather than soldered on.

Radiomir California PAM01349

Some of the very earliest Panerai watches from the 1930s featured a California dial—half Arabic and half Roman numerals—like the one on this model. So, you could say it’s in the brand’s DNA. This manual-wind Radiomir—unveiled to instant acclaim at Watches and Wonders 2023—stands out not only for its bottle-green gradient dial but its stainless-steel case with a patinated finish that looks like nothing else on the market.

Radiomir 1940 Equation of Time 8 Days Accaio PAM00516

An equation of time watch is pure showboating that harks back to the horological dark ages of sundials and measures the slight difference between mean solar time and true solar time. On this Radiomir, the function is presented in linear fashion above 6 o’clock—a simple display for a technically challenging function that’s very rare. Its mammoth eight-day power reserve is also useful, especially for those who wear several watches on rotation.

Luminor Egiziano PAM00341

If you’re a committed member of the Paneristi—the collective name for the brand’s most zealous fans—you might be familiar with the rare vintage “Egiziano” (“Egyptian”) model made in the 1950s for combat divers of the Egyptian navy. Examples in good condition easily fetch six-figure sums at auction, but if that’s out of your budget, Panerai launched this faithful re-issue in 2009. Warning: its case is a humungous 60mm.

Luminor Due PAM01248

Panerai was at the vanguard of the outsized watch trend a couple of decades ago. Indeed, certain models were too big for anyone who didn’t have wrists the circumference of some people’s thighs. The 38mm Luminor Due answered the prayers of slim-wristed Panerai fans, with this particular version standing out thanks to a beautiful ivory-coloured sunburst dial. Note, however, that with these smaller models, you do have to contend with a lower water resistance.

Luminor 1950 Regatta Flyback Chronograph PAM00526

Any watch brand with a proud maritime heritage needs a dedicated yacht watch, one that features a regatta countdown timer. Panerai excelled itself with this technically brilliant Luminor chronograph model, although something this complex requires many additional components that enlarge the movement. As such, you’re looking at a case that’s 47mm wide and as thick as a fillet steak. If it’s serious wrist presence you seek, this won’t let you down.

Radiomir 1940 Chronograph Oro Rosso PAM00519

From its rose-gold cushion-form case to the perfectly balanced California dial, this limited-edition chronograph is pure design harmony. Panerai is known for its high-tech watches, especially when it comes to using innovative materials for its cases, but this watch revisits the mid-20th century when even the most utilitarian watch was brimming with elegance. It runs on a modified manual-wind Minerva movement.

Panerai Submersible Forza Speciali PAM02239

Panerai owes its very existence to the Italian navy for whom it made dive watches and instruments. This Marine Militare chronograph in DLC-coated titanium nods to that chapter of its history by paying tribute to Italy’s Special Forces. While we can’t be certain this watch is made for snipers, the subdials are in the style of a marksman’s target and the text in the upper left of the dial reads: “Time to target”. There’s also a camouflage version.

Panerai Luminor Submersible PAM00507

Known as the “Bronzo”, this limited-edition automatic Luminor Submersible model has the appearance of a battle-hardened seafaring warrior thanks to its use of brushed bronze for the case and bezel. Bronze is renowned for acquiring a unique appearance as it ages—although admittedly not everyone wants a watch that looks like a souvenir from the Titanic. Unlike the previous Bronzo (the reference PAM382), this piece boasts a power reserve display between 4 and 5 o’clock.

Luminor Black Seal PAM00076

Like some old pocket watches, this watch’s crystal is protected with a flip-up lid, hand-engraved with an image of a twin-manned torpedo—used during World War II by the Italian navy for amphibious warfare. Beneath the lid you’ll find a classic black dial featuring a date aperture and small-seconds subdial, with a miniature image of the manned torpedo. The word ‘Blackseal’, referring to the navy divers who wore black wetsuits and therefore resembled seals, appears above 6 o’clock.

Luminor Submersible PAM00193

Ever heard of a battery-powered Panerai? While this titanium watch runs on a Swiss mechanical movement, it’s also fitted with an electronic depth gauge, allowing divers to measure their distance below the surface via the arrow hand that reads off a scale around the outside of the dial. The automatic movement has achieved COSC certification, while the battery-powered depth gauge module has been independently tested and certified by the Swiss Federal Office for Metrology (METAS).

Submersible Tourbillon GMT Luna Rossa 45mm Experience Edition PAM 01405

Released at Watches and Wonders 2024, this limited-edition model was made in partnership with the Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli team and elite sailing event, the America’s Cup. It marks the first time a tourbillon has featured in a Submersible. Its case is fashioned from Carbotech—a composite material based on carbon fibre, a nod to the components that form the foundation of the Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli team’s vessel.

Submersible S BRABUS Blue Shadow Edition PAM 01241

Panerai joins forces with German luxury mobility brand, BRABUS, for this striking limited-edition piece that combines the best of both brands. Inspired by the luxury superboat BRABUS Shadow 900 Deep Blue Signature Edition, this dive watch is designed to be worn on the waves. With a whopping 47mm titanium case, this rugged piece boasts a bezel made of Carbotech—a carbon fibre-based material—and a skeleton dial with BRABUS branding. It’s powered by the in-house P.4001/S calibre.

Mare Nostrum 5218-301/A

This special Mare Nostrum chronograph was one of the first wristwatches Panerai released to the civil watch market in 1993, making it a sought-after “Pre-Vendome” model. “Pre-Vendome” Panerais are pieces produced before the watchmaker was purchased by the Vendome group—now known as Richemont—in 1997. This model will delight Paneristis looking for a neo-vintage piece from their favourite watchmaker. It boasts a blue dial and tachymeter bezel with a matching shark-skin leather strap. It’s powered by the hand-wound ETA calibre 2801-2.

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