It was 1936 when the initial prototypes of the Radiomir, history’s first professional underwater watch, were created by Officine Panerai at the request of the Italian Navy for its commando units during their heroic operations.
The Radiomir has evolved over its 75 years, retaining all of its original aesthetic features, but with improved quality and performance thanks to the use of outstanding materials and exclusive movements, all designed and produced by the Officine Panerai manufactory in Neuchâtel.
Today, the Radiomir comes in three new versions, all of which share the hand-wound P.3000 movement with three-day power reserve, yet stand out for their use of three different precious materials – white gold, pink gold and platinum – and for the three different dials that tell the story of the evolution of this iconic luxury sports watch.
The name Radiomir derives from the special, highly luminous paste which Panerai had already patented by 1914. In fact, the Italian Navy not only required a simple timepiece, but also a real professional instrument that was mechanically reliable and water tight for up to 30-40 metres of depth. The dial of the watch had to be easy to read, both in complete darkness as well as in the murky waters of the ports where the commando units often operated, and the Radiomir paste, subsequently used with a special dial structure, proved to be the best solution.
The watches made for the Navy were distinguished by their large diameter, cushion-shaped case, their crown and screw down case back, which ensured water resistance far superior to that required and was unrivalled by other existing models at the time.
The first dial mounted on the watches for the commando units was probably the same one used today on the Radiomir 3 Days Oro Bianco – 47 mm (PAM00376): its design is unique for its alternating index markers, Roman and Arabic numerals, all originally in Radiomir paint.
The other dials were developed shortly after, the most mysterious of these undoubtedly being the one found today on the Radiomir 3 Days Platino – 47 mm (PAM00373). It is impossible to reconstruct the origins of this dial with any great precision, but it was most likely developed to try out the “sandwich” structure, one of Officine Panerai’s exclusive innovations, created to guarantee maximum night time visibility.
The sandwich dial is made of two thin metal plates containing a layer of paste whose luminosity is visible through the upper plate, perforated in correspondence with the index markers. The index markers on the dial of the Radiomir 3 Days Platino – 47 mm have a more minimalist feel, with small round index markers incised on the upper plate, alternating cardinal points with single stick index markers at 3 and 6 o’ clock and double stick index markers at 12 o’ clock.
The third type is the most highly featured dial on all subsequent Panerai models and is also used today on the Radiomir 3 Days Oro Rosa – 47 mm (PAM00379). This type of dial provides maximum visibility and clear readability in all conditions of light, which is probably why it was preferred over the other two dials for subsequently developed watches. Its high luminosity is owed both to its sandwich structure as well as the size of the Arabic numerals at the four cardinal points and the long stick index markers between them. The large numerals and index markers mean a considerable amount of luminous particles can emit light, making for exceptional visibility in the dark.
Radiomir Special Edition Set
Officine Panerai has created eleven special Radiomir Special Edition Sets that present all three watches (Radiomir 3 Days Platino – 47 mm, Radiomir 3 Days Oro Bianco – 47 mm, Radiomir 3 Days Oro Rosa – 47 mm) together inside a special wooden box. These exclusive sets created by Officine Panerai, made in a different colors, contain the three watches with the same serial number (from 0 to 10), documentation and three additional Plexiglas crystals.
The Radiomir Special Edition Sets are on sale only in Officine Panerai boutiques in Italy, France, the United States, the Middle East, China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan. The three watches may also be purchased separately.
Thanks for the info Jorge and TZ.