The History of Panerai can be divided in 3 main eras: the original ‘Officine Panerai‘ times from 1930s to 1950s, the ‘Pre-Vendôme” era from 1993 to 1997 and the ‘Vendôme‘ and actual configuration, under the control of the Richmont Group (since 1997). The brand may have undergo several owners, what doesn’t change is the style and the popularity of the timepieces. In order to pay tribute to the rich history of Panerai, the french auction house Artcurial will hold a dedicated auction with not less than 100 watches, including some of the rarest and more collectible examples of PAMs.
Panerai was founded by Giovanni Panerai in 1860 in Florence, Italy. For years, it supplied precision instruments to the Italian Navy, originally equipping the frogmen commandos. The projects conceived during this period, such as the Luminor and Radiomir watches, were concealed for years, regulated by military secrecy, until the brand was acquired by the Richemont Group in 1997, and was subsequently launched on the international market. The very first prototype of a watch by Panerai appeared in 1936, the Radiomir was born. To celebrate the brand, Artcurial will auction 100 of the best watches ever created by Panerai and here are the highlights of this sale.
A 1956 Egyptian Radiomir ‘Egiziano‘ 8 days
This one is certainly among the rarest, more collectible and more desirable watches ever produced by Panerai. It was supplied to the Egyptian Navy in 1956. If most of the Panerai are large watches (45mm to 47mm), this one is massive. It has a 59mm case and an exceptional robustness. It can also be recognized from its rotating bezel, with pearls every 5 minutes, used to calculate the time spent under water. It is also quite unique because of the crown protection that has been introduced that same year (patent registered in 1956), one of the distinctive features of the future Luminor models. Inside ticks a Angelus caliber that boasts the famous 8-day power reserve and a small second at 9. The dial uses the classical sandwich construction and typical 3-6-9-12 font. This particular watch may look familiar as it has been reissued in 2009 under the reference PAM 341.
It is a very rare bird (50 examples made) and only 5 of them had been auctioned during the last 12 years. The one here shows signs of use, with patinated hands and dial. However the case is very well conserved. For that reason, it is estimated at an impressive 100,000 € – 150,000 € (120,000 $ – 170,000 $).
A Marina Militare ref. 6152-1
This 1950s Officine Panerai Marina Militare is certainly the most familiar to Paneristi. If you take a close look at it, it is at 99% similar to a modern Luminor. The 47mm case, the sandwich dial, the hands, the lugs, the crown protection… All the classical elements of a Panerai are here. The reference 6152 introduced the Luminor case, with the strap attachments made from the same block of steel, replacing the wire lugs of the Radiomir-styled case. This 47mm watch houses a Rolex Cortebert movement. The crown is of course protected by the iconic patented bridge.
This example comes in a stunning condition and, extremely rare, with its original box and a Panerai Compass. In the last 10 years, less than fifteen of these watches have sold at auction. Considering the pedigree, rarity and package delivered, it is estimated at 80,000 € – 150,000 € (100,000 $ – 170,000 $).
A Panerai Radiomir PAM 021
We’re now moving to the modern ones, with certainly one of the most collectible examples of an actual Panerai: a platinum Radiomir PAM 021 limited to 60 pieces. This is one of the first watches made under the ‘Vendôme / Richemont‘ era (1997 to present); the first platinum watch with a vintage Rolex movement and the one made to commemorate the 60 years of the first prototype delivered to the Italian Navy (in 1937), after the 10 first prototypes made in 1936.
This watch, numbered 30 to 60, presented a classical 47mm Radiomir case, fully mirror-polished and with wire-loops attachments. It comes with a vintage Rolex manual movement (a.k.a. Cortebert). The package also includes the original box and certificate of authenticity. It is estimated at 80,000 € – 150,000 € (100,000 $ – 170,000 $).
A Mare Nostrum Radiomir PAM 300
Another (very) modern but very rare watch, made in 2011, but already a real collector: the chronograph Radiomir Mare Nostrum PAM 300. We already presented you this watch on Monochrome, not because we’re huge fans of the 52mm steel case but mainly because it comes with one of our favorite movements, the Panerai caliber OP XXV, also know as the vintage (superb) Minerva 13-20 – that can be found in several other Panerai such as the Radiomir 1940 Chronograph or the Montblanc Meisterstück Heritage Pulsograph.
This 99-piece limited edition pays tribute to a similar watch created in 1943, during WWII, a chronograph with two push buttons, known by the name of Mare Nostrum, designed for deck officers in the Navy (just two or three prototypes would have been made at this time). The Panerai Radiomir Mare Nostrum PAM 300 here comes with box and papers and is estimated at 40,000 € – 60,000 € (50,000 $ – 70,000 $) which is just an incredible price for a watch aged of only 3 years.
A Panerai Luminor 1950 8 days PAM 203
This PAM 203 is another example of the incredible prices that modern Panerais can reach. We are talking about a watch made in 2005, far from being able to catch the vintage status. However, it has already been named collectible by the Paneristi. The main reason is that it comes with the 8-day power reserve vintage Angelus movement and a look that is totally faithful to the original 1950s Radiomir: sandwich dial with 3-6-9-12 indexes, 47mm cushion case made of steel, massive lugs and crown protection, small second at 9 and ‘8 Giorni Brevettato’ inscription at 3 (8 days pattent).
Because of this movement (original Angelus SF240 calibers of 16 lines from the 1950s were used for this PAM 203) and a production limited to 150 pieces, this watch is estimated at 50,000 € – 80,000 € (60,000 $ – 90,000 $), which proves that collectible watches are not necessarily vintage ones.
Artcurial will hold this auction in Paris on the 8th of December 2014. The full catalog is not available already, but check out this page for updates. 100 lots had been selected, with estimations between 2,000 € and 100,000 €.