Sunday, December 17, 2017

Panerai Mythbusters: Separating Fact From Fiction



Separating Fact From Fiction

There has been a great deal of false information spread throughout the world regarding the history of Panerai. I have been working with Jose from on separating the fact from the fiction, and over time I plan to update this story until it is complete.

How is it so much false information has been spread about vintage Panerai watch history? The answer is simple. The vintage Panerai watches began their life as a Classified Italian Military Secret. Many people and organizations have attempted to put together all the pieces of the Panerai history puzzle, and in doing so, with only about 50% of the pieces in place, they often guessed at what the missing pieces looked like.

While I understand this approach, my goal is to accurately add many of the missing puzzle pieces to complete a better picture. Over the next year or so, I intend to do a complete update on my story titled "The Complete History of Panerai—The World's First Professional Diving Watch." So this story will parallel that story.

Let's begin with a recent story, but first, allow me to introduce you to Jose from Jose was raised in Switzerland and in the photo below we see Jose on a recent trip to the U.S. Navy SEALAB Museum in Panama City, Florida.

Jose and I have been collaborating for some time now on both Rolex and Panerai history. The result of some of our collaboration are the two historical timeline posters seen below. Before I go into detail on the timeline poster I want to point out Jose made and beautifully laid out the posters. I contributed with historical facts, and by consulting on how I insisted some of the layout elements were structured, as well as adding subject content to better contextualize the timeframes.

The first timeline poster below covers the History of The Rolex SEA-DWELLER. If you examine the poster closely you will see on the left side, vintage Panerai watches that affected the development of the Rolex Submariner and SEA-DWELLER.

The next photo below is titled, "The Panerai Time Machine." This magnificent timeframe poster charts the REAL history of Panerai vintage watches. I highly recommend right-mouse clicking on the poster above and below, and opening them in a new window so you can check out the incredible high-resolution details.

Jose is what I refer to as a brilliant Horological Forensics Investigator. Jose and I often remind me of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, in the sense we have made so many discoveries together, and I have to say Jose is beyond brilliant.

The interesting thing about Jose is he appeared from out of the wild-blue-yonder and started pointing out all kinds of bizarre inconsistencies regarding vintage Panerai watches. In doing so, he seems to have had a strong effect on the resale value of collectible Panerai watches. Jose was so effective in his attack on manipulated vintage Panerai watches, that for the past year or so, we don't see any of the auction houses offering them for fear he might attack and discredit them.

False Myth #1

Orologgeria Svizzera 
was named Officine Panerai

The image seen below was originally published all over the web, including in my story titled, "The Complete History of Panerai." Jose from discovered it had been falsely manipulated.

Both the photo above and below are correct with the sign at the top of the image that says, "Orologeria", which means Watchmaking in Italian. Notice how in the upper image it says, "Officine Panerai" toward the bottom of the window? That is a fake sign and was the result of photo manipulation. It is profoundly ironic that whoever manipulated this image was dumb enough to use the Helvetica Typeface for the fake sign. 

Helvetica was introduced in 1957 as the official typeface for the London Underground and simply did not exist in the 1920s or 1930s. In other words, in the 1920s, there was no such thing as Officine Panerai, nor was there a Helvetica typeface. The term Officine Panerai was first used by Panerai in 1955 when they sought to patent compasses and depth gauges. The correct photo, which was taken in the 1920s can be seen below:

Notice this correct photo, in the same place, says "Orologeria Svizzera" which is correct, and when translated into English means "Swiss Watchmaking." As a matter of fact, the image below shows Giovani Panerai standing in front of his first Orologeria shop around 1860. According to Panerai "Giovanni Panaerai's shop also served as a workshop and Florence's first watchmaking school. 

The shop later moved to its current location in the Palazzo Arcivescovile in Piazza San Giovanni, having also changed its name to "Orologeria Svizzera" at the beginning of the twentieth century." If you look closely at the image below, you will notice an Omega sign in the wider window about a foot above Giovanni's head. The Omega brand was made by a company named La Generale Watch Company and was founded in 1848 in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland.

Giovanni Panerai is pictured below at a later date.

The photo below shows the Orologieria Svizzera shop around 1934, and notice there are now multiple brand name signs in the window including Vacheron & Constantin, as well as Longines, and ROLEX.

False Myth #2

The Anonymous Panerai Dial Models Were Made in 1936 & 1938

The second falsely perpetuated myth suggested the Anonymous Panerai dials were prototype dials made in 1936 and 1938. This is NOT true. They were both made in 1944, as seen in the illustration below:

Last week Panerai issued a press release saying the upcoming 2017 Panerai PAM00721 was based upon a vintage Panerai Reference 3646 that was made in the 1930s. This is simply NOT true. The watch in question was made in 1944.

An obvious question is how did this myth get perpetuated over the years? It turns out that there are several examples of Rolex made Reference 3646 models, with cases and movements from 1936 and 1938 that have these dials, but the watches did not originally come with these dials. Instead, they came with Type A dials, that were made out of riveted plastic, that easily lost their shape and were later replaced with anonymous dials as spare parts that were made in 1944. You can learn much more about this story and the truth about the Anonymous Panerai dials on Perezscope.

On a side note, the modern Panerai PAM00249 which is also pictured above in the illustration was introduced by Panerai in 2006 as a limited edition model that was limited to 1936 examples, of which I own and wear one. The PAM 249 is probably my favorite vintage-inspired Panerai homage of all time. Panerai claimed the reason they called it the Radiomir 1936 was because it was a based upon a Panerai 3646 prototype made in 1936, which simply is not true. Rolex patented what is now referred to as the California Dial on June 15, 1942 so it couldn't be from 1936.

The "California" Dial Nomenclature

Rolex Patent Application

June 15, 1942

Rolex applied for a patent for this dial on May 30, 1941, and the patent was granted on June 15, 1942, as seen in the patent application below. So where did the name, "California Dial" come from? 

The patent application pictured above, when translated from French to English says:

The object of the present invention is a timepiece dial. This dial is characterized in that it comprises hourly signs constituted by Roman numerals and others by Arabic numerals. 

The accompanying drawing shows, by way of example, four embodiments of the object of the present invention. 

FIG. 1 is a plane of the first embodiment. Figs. 2, 3 and 4 are small-scale planes, the second, respectively the third and fourth embodiments. 

The dial of FIG. 1 is a round dial with an hour circle with twelve signs, one for each hour. The signs for hours 10 and 11 and 1 and 2 are Roman numerals, those for hours 4 and 5 and 7 and 8 by Arabic numerals and those corresponding to noon6 o'clock3 o'clock and 9 o'clock, By simple geometrical elements, namely a triangle and three horizontal sticks.

It will be seen that this layout gives a clear and simple turn of the hours, easy to realize with luminous material and allowing an easy reading of the time especially for wristwatch boxes whose dials are relatively small. In fact, the fact that the Roman numerals occupy half the dial and the Arabic numerals the other, clearly distinguishes these two halves. In addition, the Roman numerals chosen are those which are the simplest to perform and the easiest to read.

In the other three embodiments, the hourly sign corresponding to time 5 is constituted by the corresponding Roman numeral and the hourly sign corresponding to 6 hours is constituted by a very short vertical line. In the embodiment of FIG. 2, the sign corresponding to noon is indicated by a vertical line, in that of fig. 3, by two vertical lines and, in that of FIG. 4, by a short stroke surmounted by a half-circumference. Of course, the aforementioned provisions could be applied to dials of a shape other than round and other arrangements would still be possible


The dial of the timepiece, characterized in that it comprises hourly signs co-located by Roman numerals and others by Arabic numerals. 


1. Dial according to claim 1, characterized in that it comprises: In addition, time symbols constituted by triangular geometrical elements.
2. The dial as claimed in claim 1, wherein the symbols corresponding to the hours 10 and 11 and 1 and 2 are constituted by Roman numerals.
3. Dial according to claim 4, characterized in that the signs corresponding to Hours 4, 7 and 8 are Arabic signs.
4. Dial according to claims 1 to 3, characterized in that the corresponding 5-hour sign is the corresponding Roman numeral.
5. Dial according to claim 1, characterized in that the remaining digits are constituted by geometrical elements.
6. Dial according to claims 1 to 3, characterized in that the sign corresponding to 5 hours is constituted by the corresponding Arabic numeral.
7. Dial according to claim 6, characterized in that the remaining signs are constituted by the geometric elements.

MONTRES ROLEX S. A. Mandataire A. BUGNION, Genève.

1943 Swiss Magazine Ad
Rolex Bubbleback

The image below is from a Swiss magazine that was published in 1943 and it shows a beautiful Rolex Bubbleback with a classic California dial, with Lake Geneva shown in the background. This watch was a harbinger for the magnificent art-deco design language that would evolve a decade later into the Submariner and GMT-MASTER.

False Myth #3

The Radiomir 1940 Case
For years now, Panerai had mistakenly use the term "Panerai Radiomir 1940 - Watches Collection", as seen below on to describe a case that was NEVER made until it was introduced in 1953. So these cases simply did not exist in the 1940s. Why does Panerai use this false 1940s taxonomy? Your guess is as good as mine. For historical accuracy sake, this case really should be called Radiomir 1950 Case.

False Myth #4

Vintage Panerai 3646 for "Presentation" Purposes

Panerai introduced two new models from their 2017 Special Edition Watches, which are referenced as the PAM 00685, and the PAM 00687. Panerai claimed these models were based upon two Panerai Reference 3646 Type A models, that were produced in the late 1930s." Specifically, they said, “…one of the most sought-after historic Radiomir prototype watches supplied by Panerai in the late 1930s to the Royal Italian Navy”.

Panerai further claimed these prototypes were made for presentation purposed from the late 1930s. If you look closely, these two new models have exhibition casebacks on the front of them, which makes zero sense???? Also, the exhibition caseback is engraved with "OFFICINE PANERAI", which as mentioned earlier in this story was first used in the mid-1950s, but NEVER used in the 1930s. You can read much, much more about this bizarre model on

For the record, the hands on these models are also historically incorrect, but I understand why Panerai uses these hands as they look great in my opinion. I think the watches would look a zillion times better with a standard bezel on the front.

False Myth #5

The Truth Behind The PAM 203

This is another bizarre case of mistaken identity. In 2005 Panerai introduced a special edition known as the PAM 203 which is seen below.

Panerai claimed in a published press release that these very special models featured a historic "NOS" (New Old Stock) Angelus 240 movements which were "supposedly" found in the old stock of the original company. Jose, from, was the first to discover the extreme discrepancy and puts forth rock-solid proof that this was not true.

In the future, I plan to expand this section considerably, and as previously mentioned, I plan to also complete a major update on my story titled, "The Complete History of Panerai."

The Truth

If you are wondering why I am writing this story, it is due to the fact that as a horological researcher and the worlds leading Rolex historian I want the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. To my way of thinking, since almost all the vintage Panerai watches were made by Rolex, they are basically Rolex watches—on a different day. When it comes to Panerai watches, I am a purist of sorts, so much so, I have been referred to by a top Panerai executive as being a 'Panerai purist.' 

As Jose so accurately articulated recently, and I am paraphrasing. He said when Richemont's predecessor, the Vendome Group purchased the Panerai brand in 1997, not much was known about Panerai's history, but in the time since then, a lot more pieces of the Panerai History puzzle have come together. It seems like Panerai themselves today are not really very interested in their own true history, but simply focused on selling watches.

So if Jose and I are correct with this conclusion based upon deep research, how is it the current Panerai is not aware of these facts and continues to release watches based upon false historical facts? It's a good question, and it has a lot to do with the Italian man pictured below, whose name was Giuseppe Panerai. Giuseppe Panerai was the grandson of Giovani Panerai and was born in Italy in 1903 and died at age 69 in 1972. Giuseppe Panerai's widow, Maria Panerai is still alive and well today and lives in the Villino Panerai in Italy.

Giuseppe Panerai was the man most responsible for developing all the amazing vintage Panerai watches with Rolex. Giuseppe had an interesting habit. He was a packrat of sorts, who never wasted material or threw out old stuff. 

To make a long story short, back in the late 1980s and early 1990s a few people got ahold of a lot of Giuseppe Panerai's equipment and spare parts and did some strange stuff with it, that ultimately may have led to the current state of falsely perpetuated Panerai history. In the future, Jose and I plan to release much more information on this subject, which will completely boggle your mind. I say this because it did so to me!!!

Jose and I are absolutely committed to getting as many of the historical facts as straight as possible. We also believe Panerai deserves to get its facts straight, and at least be aware of the fact they have made some historical blunders. Also, Jose and I agree that Panerai's true history is so amazing, it needs zero exaggeration.

In the future, I plan to significantly update my story titled "The Complete History Of Panerai: The World's First Professional Diving Watch." There is so much amazing previously undocumented vintage Panerai history, which Jose and I have discovered and plan to share in the future.

Update: January 5, 2018- Jose has recently focused his attention to outing manipulated vintage Rolex watches as seen in my story on titled, "The Perezcope Effect: There is A New Sherrif In Town-A Curious Case of a Missing Cosmograph."

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Sylvester Stallone Fall 1995

...Panerai Super-Coolness...

Sylvester Stallone

Fall 1995

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Conan O'Brien Driving with Tom Cruise

Conan O'Brien
Cruising with Tom Cruise

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Kevin O'leary

...Panerai Coolness...

Kevin O'leary

Shark Tank Venture Capitalist

"Mr. Wonderful"

Kevin O'leary is one of the main VC investors on the hit TV show, Shark Tank, and as we see below he wears a 44MM Luminar Panerai Base PAM000219.

Kevin O'leary, has a fascinating business mind, and in the video below, he shares much of his business insight.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Italian SLC Human Torpedo from World War II Illustration

Italian Royal Navy 
SLC Human Torpedo from World War II Illustration

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Pierce Brosnan After The Sunset

...Panerai Super Coolness...

Pierce Brosnan
An Amazing Career With Panerai Keep The Time Of His Life

Pierce Bronsnan's career achievements are awe inspiring, and he is certainly one of the coolest guys to ever wear a Panerai watch, as well as at least one of two actors who have played James Bond, that wear Panerai, the other being Sir Sean Connery. In the photo below, we see Pierce wearing on of his trademark Panerai Luminor watches.

After The Sunset

Luminor Marina Panerai 44mm
Reference PAM 00091

Pierce Brosnan is one of the great action/adventure actors of his generation. Brosnan not only starred as James Bond for several movies, but has been in some other great movies, including The Thomas Crown Affair, as well as After The Sunset. In After The Sunset, Pierce wore a Stainless Steel Luminor [Reference PAM 00091] as seen below. The PAM 00091 could easily be mistaken for the later PAM00297, and they are similar, but not the same reference.

After The Sunset  is an action/adventure/comedy move which debuted in 2004, and had an all-star cast including; Pierce Brosnan, Salma Kayek, Woody Harrelson and Don Cheadle. On could argue that the After The Sunset plot was based loosely on Cary Grant's original To Catch A Thief movie.

The photo below shows the Panerai Luminor Marina Reference PAM00091 model that Pierce Brosnan wore in After The Sunset.

The photo below shows Pierce Brosnan just hanging out in real life, wearing his Panrerai, which he wore in After The Sunset.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Panerai Watches How It's Made

Panerai Watches
How It's Made

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Robin Williams: Luminor Panerai Chronograph

...Panerai Super-Coolness...

Robin Williams

Panerai Luminor Daylight Chronograph
44MM PAM 00196

Robin Williams is considered to be one of the greatest comedic minds that ever lived. His early passing completely stunned the world, and many people dearly miss him. 

In the photo above we see Robin Williams pictured with fellow comedians, Jeff Goldblum and Billy Crystal. Robin Williams is wearing his Panerai Luminor Daylight Chronograph in the photo below.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Jon Hamm Luminor Panerai

...Panerai Coolness...

Jon Hamm
Luminor Panerai

Jon Hamm is the star of Mad Men, which just aired its last episode this evening. Mad Men is one of the most successful TV shows in history, and of course Jon Hamm looks very cool rocking his Laminor Panerai.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

SLC Human Torpedo Illustration

SLC Human Torpedo Illustration

Human Torpedoes Documentary