Panerai’s oldest watch design gets some serious new updates.
These days, the Panerai model most people are familiar with is the Luminor, which is considered the quintessential Panerai: it’s got a sandwich dial, it’s got the famous Panerai crown guard… It was also the first commercial model that Panerai offered to the public when the brand was revived back in 1992.
But the Radiomir is where everything began for Panerai. Actually, Radiomir wasn’t actually a watch: it was a radium-based luminescent substance, designed for lighting weapons sights. The first Panerai watch – a chunky military diver’s watch first supplied to the Italian Navy in 1935 – took its name from the substance… And thus a legend was born.
The modern Panerai Radiomir pays homage to those original Panerais made for the Italian military (although modern Radiomirs don’t use radium for their lume). With its chunky cushion-shaped, crown guard-less case; wire lugs and ultra-legible sandwich dial, it’s an exercise in minimalism.
Well, it used to be, at least. For Watches & Wonders Geneva 2023, Panerai has decided to have a bit of fun with the Radiomir, unveiling a smattering of new models that offer playful twists on the Radiomir formula while also paying homage to the brand’s history.
Radiomir Annual Calendar
First up, we have the Radiomir Annual Calendar: the first annual calendar complication watch Panerai has ever introduced. See what we were saying earlier? An annual calendar complication is the opposite of minimalism – it’s one of the most sophisticated complications in watchmaking.
Yet the same time, the Radiomir Annual Calendar is one of the most readable and straightforward annual calendar designs ever – it’s a quintessentially Panerai take on the annual calendar.
It’s pretty elegant, actually. The current month is displayed on an external moving disc, indicated by a fixed arrow to the right of the day-date window at 3 o’clock. It’s also a ‘jumping month’ – that is, at every month change, the disc turns in one go, changing instantly. It can also distinguish between 30-day and 31-day months, with only one setting needed a year (at the end of February).
Measuring up at 45mm, there are two variants available: a polished Goldtech model with a blue dial and blue alligator strap, and a platinum model with a burgundy dial and black alligator strap. Both are boutique exclusives.
Radiomir Otto Giorni
For the purists, Panerai has also introduced two new Otto Giorni models, which feature funky ‘aged steel’ 45mm cases that make them look like 80-year-old watches. The concept of ‘distressing’ products isn’t new – it’s de rigueur for skinny jeans and guitars, for example – but it’s not something you see very often in the luxury watch world. We think it’s sick, though.
The material, which is called Brunito eSteel, is actually hand-finished (or should that be hand-scuffed?) meaning each watch is completely unique. The aging effect, interestingly, is actually achieved by a PVD treatment. As the name implies, it’s a variant of Panerai’s innovative eSteel, a proprietary stainless steel alloy that incorporates recycled materials.
Also as the name implies (‘Otto Giorni’ means ‘Eight Days’ in Italian), these watches feature a manual-winding movement with an impressive 8-day power reserve. We often talk about mechanical watches being ‘weekend-proof’ – that’s straight-up ‘week proof’.
Two variants are available, a blue and a brown version, both of which feature dégradé dials and calf leather straps made by famed Italian tannery Cuoio Toscano. The watch is water-resistant to 100m, but you probably wouldn’t want to go diving with those lovely leather straps…
Panerai has also brought back their cult-favourite ‘California’ or ‘error-proof’ dial, which combines Arabic and Roman numerals as well as bar indexes. Panerai didn’t invent the California dial but it’s a design that’s intimately associated with the brand, and one that we’re a fan of.
This new Radiomir California is the first to be housed in a 45mm case (traditionally, they’ve been 47mm) as well as the first in green. Green watches are all the rage, don’t you know. It also features no Panerai branding, save for the Officine Panerai logo on the crown. It’s a subtle flex.
Under the hood, it’s identical to the new Otto Giorni, sharing the same movement and Brunito eSteel case. It’s mounted on a brown Ponte Vecchio calf leather and like the Radiomir Annual Calendar, it’s a boutique exclusive.