Giovanni Panerai (1825–1897) opened up his first watch shop in Florence, Italy in 1860. Giovanni’s grandson Guido Panerai (1873–1934) expanded the watch shop “Orologeria Svizzera” and took over his wife’s family business, a mechanical workshop. In 1915, Guido Panerai invented gun sights that were illuminated by a radium-226/zinc sulfide powder enclosed in small, hermetically sealed vessels.
Radiomir, the name for the radium-based luminous mixture is derived from “radio mire”, which is Italian for “radium sights”. Panerai became an official supplier to the Regia Marina (the Royal Italian Navy), supplying a variety of technical equipment and precision instruments.
All Panerai watches, except for the GPF 2/56 were designed and manufactured by Rolex SA using pocket watchmovements made by Swiss manufacturer Cortébert. The main driving forces behind the production of the first professional diving watches were Hans Wilsdorf of Rolex and Giuseppe Panerai.
Panerai on MrWatchMaster: