for many of us who love the history just as much as we love the Panerai watches, the books provide us with many hours of fascinating reading. In this thread I hope we can cover some important resources that help us understand a little bit about the background and history involving Panerai. I did not include other valuable resources such as special watch books (i.e. the Value of Time), catalogs, brochures, magazines, newsletters, etc., perhaps a separate post will cover these.
I added a few words about each book, if you want to add more, please feel free to chime in.
Topic 1 : History of the Panerai company, including (of course) some millitary history.
I Mezzi D'assalto
The first Panerai book I ever read (well,,,,looked at the pics and twisted the arm of my Italian buddy to translate) was part of the pre-V Special Editions Slytech package. Loads of history combined with historic pics and diagrams, all in relation with the Xth Flottiglia Mas. Unfortunately, its in Italian only, no English
. The quality of this book is not great, B&W pics and scans. Written by Marco Spertini and Erminio Bagnasco with a forward by Mario Arillo. This book exists in two color of covers, blue and green, both identical.
In 2002, 20 copies (blue cover) were issued by the company Calzoni, division Panerai Sistemi, to commemorate 50 years of the Gruppo Arditi Incursori.
Panerai Historia and Legendary Watches.
These two short, small, hardcover books were the main resource of understanding vintage and pre-V Panerai for many years. They include excellent summarized information with very good pictures as well. They were available as free hand-outs in the boutiques and later on 'Legendary Watches' was part of the package in special edition watches such as the PAM 249 and 232. Both were compiled by Giampiero Negretti and Published by Panerai. Panerai Historia, 84 pages; Legendary Watches, 75 pages.
The Panerai in Florence
This 3 piece Album set (limited to 500 copies) records a personal history of the brand from day one up to the Vendome takeover. And what better person to write this, than the man who was in charge since 1972, Dino Zei. The main book is the complete Italian text, while the second book is the English translation LESS the pictures. This makes reading a bit tiresome, as you must hold both books open in parallel (unless you're fluent in Italian). The 3rd book in this set isn't actually a book. Its a rather strange album that dedicated a page to each watch, tool, etc. While the vintage watch information is rather obscure and far from beeing accurate, the later info and especially 1993-1997 is priceless. This is the book that gave us the exact numbers, including serials of the entire 90's production. This book is a MUST READ and a substantial reference source. CLD Publishing, 186 pages (English); 278 pages (Italian).
Many remember this epic work, not because of the outcome (although this is an ultra high quality album) but from long time between its announcement, to the actual delivery. It was on Amazon without a release date for at least 2 years. This book was commissioned by Panerai to the famous journalist Stephan Ciejka, editor of the French horology magazine Revue des Montres. Apparently, Panerai decided eventually to complete the work using Giampiero Negretti and Simon De Burton. The book is kind of a remake of the Negretti book with a little history, watches and tools and up to modern Panerai. Picture quality is superb but nothing new from the history side (except the remark that Angelus movements 'may' have not participated in the diving missions of WW2).
The album discusses ventures of Panerai the company, including colaborations such as Regatta, Mike horn etc. It also acknowledges the development of in-house movements. Published by Flammarion, 33.5cmx33.5cm (13"x13")(!), 191 pages and 3.16kg (yikes, more than my daughters' birth weight...)
Topic 2 : Military History
Vintage Panerai - Watches with History
5 Watches, 4 combat diving servicemen with their personal history. 2 prominent collectors and pillars of the Paneristi community are behind this, Ralf Ehlers and Volker Wiegmann. This in the authors' own words, is a book by collectors for collectors. It doesn't get any better than this, its what passion is all about. Wait, it may actually get better; rumors say an expanded version is in the works. Written in three languages (German, Italian and English) and luckily, and unlike the Zei book, its simultaneous - 3 languages on every page. Published by the authors, 227 pges and completely sold out!
The daring missions of the Decima Flottiglia Mas as told by its legendary commander, Valerio Borghese. This is a must read testimony and biography concerning the very unit that changed combat swimmers history and who's courage and ingenuity was admired by Sir Winston Churchill. translated by James Cleugh, Published by the Henry Regnery Company and also by the Naval Institute Press (under the series 'Classics of Naval Literature), 262 pages.
The Black Prince and the Sea Devils
Not to be confused with the above, this is the same story but told from a more objective point of view and by a historian. The history of Borghese is very intersting and important in understanding the complex events that occured in Italy during WW2. Written by Jack Green and Alessandro Massignani, published by Da Capo Press, 284 pages.
Warriors From The Deep
A very nice history of three combat swimmers units - Italian, German and French, from the begining till this modern day. Very well written in album style, with many pics and documents. Author - Eric Micheletti, History and Collections press, 206 pages.
Topic 3: Watches, SLCs, tools and the sorts.
Vintage Panerai - The references
Ralf Ehlers and Volker Wiegmann nail Vintage Panerai with their epic work. This is the absolute MUST reference book for anyone that collects or loves vintage Panerai. Contrary to what some may think, it is not the intention of the book to determine what is 'correct' or 'incorrect'. It is just a database of many vintage Panerai watches, recorded over the years, and compiled in a way that makes sense (finally). The two most important breakthroughs from this book (IMHO) are (1) the timeline that is determined for the first time and (2) the corrolation between the serials and movement types of the 3646 case.
The quality of the ORIGINAL pics is outstanding and the whole presentation is very impressive. Published by the authors, 365 pages.
This book is incredible and one of my absolute favorites but unfortunately its in Italian only. The title means "Divers" and it has it all, the complete history of the Italian diver and the Italian navy from 1849-2009. Many pics and technical drawings of equipment (how about the blueprint of the Galeazzi knife?). Written by Fabio Vitale and Gianfranco Betro, Published by Editrice La Mandragora, 452 pages.
Midget Submarines of the Second World War
The author, Paul Kemp is a leading authority on naval history and formerly a staff member of the Imperial War Museum. Another of his books (not in my possession, on loan so no pic) - "Underwater Warriors" was the first English language book I ever read on this topic.
This book tells you all you ever need to know about SLCs. Italian, German, British and Japanese; They're all there. A nice bonus is a technical blueprint style drawing 1/24 scale, of the British X-Craft. Chatham Publishing, 125 pages.
Again, do feel free to comment, add and let us know about other books you like.
Cheers and best from the holyland,