Giovanni Panerai was born in 1825 in Florence, which was the capital city of Tuscany at the time. In 1850, Panerai decided to open a small watch maker shop that was called G Panerai & Company. It was opened on le Ponte alle Grazie.
Eventually settled at Place San Giovanni after several changes of address, Panerai watches was taken over by Leon Francesco Panerai, the son of Giovanni. Leon married Giustina Toricelli in a marriage that eventually produced 4 Panerai children.
Giovanni Panerai passed away in 1897, with Leon Panerai being left to continue to run the company.
By 1907, the Panerai family business wasn’t just an outlet for watches: it had become a large spare parts provider, being a source for accessories and tools for extremely precise measurements that other watch makers needed. A workshop next to the store provided repair and assembly of watch parts that were shipped to the shop from nearby Switzerland.
By 1907, the Panerai Catalogue was the largest catalog in the watch industry, with a print base of 50,000 published around the world. It provided overviews of all the models that the Swiss watch industry manufactured, including Movado, Rolex, and more.
Guido Panerai partnered with Carlo Ronconi to work on the Radiomir objectives. Carlo was a relative and also a naval officer. By 1915, Panerai had patented the innovation that Carlo and Guido created, enabling them to deliver thousands of rifle, cannon, and torpedo objectives.
in 1917, Carlo Ronconi ceded his share to Guido Panerai who decided to use Radiomir to create dials and other fine instruments. New patents ended up being formally filed throughout Europe and the US.
It was at this time that a close collaboration between the Italian Navy and Panerai Watch began.
Leon Francesco Panerai died in 1918, which left Guido to take over the business. Guido worked with his son to design the Mare Nostrum Panerai model. Giuseppe, Guido’s son, was a driving force in devoting much of his focus to the supply of equipment to the Italian National Navy. In 1936, the Florentine business provided a highly secret Radiomir Watch for a project ordered especially for the 1st Italian Submarine Group.
Through the 40′s and 50′s, Panaerai provided a range of models to various Navies in the region, including the Egyptian Navy in 1950. In 1980, production of a titanium watch to withstand water pressures at 1000m began.
in 1993, Panerai offered limited civilian editions of the Luminor 44mm and the Mare Nostrum, which caught on with many high end watch collectors. In 1997, Officine Panerai was taken over by Groupe vendome Luxury, with new models being released to enrich the range of these mysterious watches of Italian commanders.
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