Panerai started out as a maker of military timepieces for the Italian Royal Navy. In 1916 it invented Radiomir, one of the first high-visibility substances used on timepieces. The ensuing patent marked the first innovation of many for the brand. After years of service supplying Italian Navy divers, it wasn’t until 1993 that Panerai released its first collection for the public, with the Luminor, the Luminor Marina and the Mare Nostrum. The brand’s not-so-subtle case sizes have made its timepieces divisive among Fine Watch enthusiasts, although this has never affected the uncompromising style for which it’s known.
Since its first collection, the brand has grown exponentially and its online community of Paneristi is a true demonstration of what ‘brand love’ really means. Eager to channel this love, and have a true Paneristi opinion, we caught up with Khalil, owner of PaneraiCentral Instagram page, to get his views on each of the timepieces on the list.
To keep things simple, we won’t be differentiating between new/older models (except for special/limited editions). So, for example, a Panerai Radiomir 3 Days will be classed as that, irrespective of dial colour, material or type of strap. As the hashtag has been used over 1.6 million times and each image must be reviewed individually, we calculated percentages from a sample size of 2,500 images to determine which are the most popular watches across the whole hashtag.
So without further ado, in descending order, here are the most popular #panerai watches on Instagram.
Panerai Luminor Marina (PAM111)
Percentage of total: 10.68%
History: The Luminor Marina PAM111 is the base timepiece for almost every Panerai fan. Its roots are as historic as they come. While making watches for Italian Royal Navy divers, Panerai was asked to add a sub-seconds hand. This re-incarnation shows a level of historical significance beyond just style and iconicism; it throws back to a time when watches such as the Luminor were an integral tool in keeping troops (or divers) alive.
Why: The PAM111 is one of the most accessible and simplest timepieces the brand has ever released. If you ask a Panerai fan to suggest a ‘gateway’ piece to becoming a Paneristo, he will probably suggest you take a look at this model. A true icon for the brand, its construction makes it almost indestructible. It has a 300-metre depth rating and looks amazing with everything from a morning suit to a wetsuit.
Community opinion: What can you say about the 111? It’s one of the classics and has remained that way throughout the years. This Luminor Marina features a clean dial with just the sub-seconds as a feature. No date and nothing fancy, it is Panerai to the core and that’s the main reason people look at it as one of the great entryways into the Panerai world. If you are looking for your first Panerai, the 111 is a great place to start and has become a staple for a lot of collectors.
Panerai Luminor Base Logo 3 Days
Percentage of total: 7.52%
History: Panerai’s second release for this year’s SIHH (the first being the Panerai Luminor Due 3 Days Automatic Acciaio 38mm from our most recent ‘Only Time Will Tell’ video, linked in the intro) and also the farewell piece from CEO Angelo Bonati, the Luminor Base Logo is a thing of beauty. Bonati, who built Panerai’s presence from the ground up in the mid-1990s, goes back to his early days at the brand. The 44mm Luminor is so symbolic to Panerai that you’d be hard pressed to find a fan (or foe) of the brand that doesn’t recognise the piece.
Why: The trademarked crown guard, the thick cushion surrounding the bezel, and the luminous dials have come to define the brand. All these things combined are emblematic of both the Luminor as a timepiece and of Panerai itself. A big trend of SIHH this year was the affordability of luxury watches and the expansion of entry (or base) level timepieces, hence the Luminor Base’s popularity on Instagram.
Community opinion: Along with the 111 and 112, the Base Logo series has been the perfect entry point into owning a Panerai. The iconic Panerai logo is the perfect complement to a simple dial. There is nothing fancy about this piece, which is the epitome of a tool watch. For anyone looking for that clean and classic Panerai look, the Base Logo is a great choice.
Panerai Radiomir 1940 3 Days Automatic
Percentage of total: 5.68%
History: Released in 2016, this was the very first Radiomir 1940 to feature a white dial: a welcome addition to the line-up from a brand famous for its dark dials. Adding to the list of firsts, this is also the first ever automatic calibre inside a Radiomir 1940 model.
Why: White dials on Panerai watches were at one point considered ‘taboo’. These are dive watches, after all. Now less of a novelty and more a modification of a classic, this edition of the Radiomir shows how Panerai can create truly beautiful dress watches without compromising its identity or aesthetics.
Community opinion: When Panerai released the 1940 case a few years back, it introduced a great line of pieces that have a slightly slimmer profile, and can work well as a dress watch compared to a lot of the other models that ride a bit higher on the wrist. A lot of people were into the classic Radiomir look but weren’t the biggest fans of the wire lugs that make changing straps a bit fiddly – and changing straps is one of the things Panerai fans love most about their watches! The 1940 case is a nice evolution with solid lugs and slightly different features. You also got the introduction of the micro-rotor automatic movement which keeps the watch thin and manageable.
Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 3 Day Automatic 42mm
Percentage of total: 3.2%
History: The Submersible is well-known for its size, with cases measuring 44mm and even 47mm. This is key to the popularity of the 42mm: shaving just 2mm off the case makes a huge difference on a small wrist. When Panerai released the 42mm in 2017, it showed it was listening to what customers want.
Why: This timepiece was a clever move from Panerai. The Submersible is pure Panerai aesthetics, but a lot of fans with smaller wrists were put off by the large case diameters. Not any more!
Community opinion: Diving is at the core of the brand’s legacy, hence you have to have a Submersible in your collection if you can. In the early years, there were a lot of 44mm Submersibles in the line-up but they eventually went the way of a larger case and most Submersibles became 47mm, which is a bit too large for most people. Introducing a couple of new 42mm Submersible really opened up the Panerai watch to a new group of fans. The brand introduced a steel version, the PAM682, and an amazing red gold version, the PAM684. Both have been a big hit, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we were to see more versions of a 42mm Submersible in the future.
LAB-ID Luminor 1950 Carbotech 3 Days
Percentage of total: 2.56%
History: The brand focused heavily on new materials and technical advances at SIHH 2017 and the LAB-ID, released at the fair, was the culmination of this innovation. The brand is so confident in this revolutionary timepiece that it comes with a 50-year warranty. This is partly thanks to the fact that it needs no lubricant or oil of any kind. The Carbotech case is matte black and very light for its size: at 49mm, this is as big as anything Panerai has ever made.
Why: We mentioned the size. At 49mm, the timepiece is as big a presence in a room as it is on the wrist. But isn’t that the point? A watch like this is made to be shown off, hopefully for the next 50 years or more. Granted, it comes with a hefty price tag but the wow factor of technical precision and innovation has meant people have warmed to the model on Instagram and reposted images, even if they can’t own it themselves.
Community opinion: The LAB-ID is a fantastic piece, thanks to some amazing technology and materials. It looks like a Panerai to begin with, but once you dig deeper you start noticing a lot of things that take it to another level. The use of nano technology for the ultra-black dial, and that the Panerai name and LAB-ID are etched into the sapphire as opposed to the dial are just a couple of innovative moves. The fact there is no oil or lubricated components in the movement means you get a watch that doesn’t need to be serviced and comes with a 50-year warranty. 50 years! Only 50 pieces have been made. That plus the fact they cost around €50,000 each makes this watch pretty much impossible to own. So you can see why this futuristic LAB-ID has earned a cult following among Panerai fans.