You aren't a Navy frogman—and you don't play one on TV—but when you're deep-sea fishing off Nantucket Island, reef diving in the Caribbean or attempting to ice bodacious waves on the South Shore of Oahu, you need a watch that's going to perform as if you are one. Enter the Radiomir 1936 from Panerai.
Released in December, the Radiomir 1936 is a limited-edition watch that pays tribute to Panerai's history and to its long-standing relationship with the Regia Marina, Italy's royal navy. It was the first wristwatch developed by Panerai and the most influential timepiece the company has ever manufactured.
But the story doesn't start in 1936. It starts in 1860, when Giovanni Panerai established the company in Florence. Before long, his luxury timepieces were the talk of Italy. By the 1890s, Panerai's grandson, Guido, had the company ready to roll into the twentieth century, agreeing to manufacture precision instruments for the Regia Marina. Over the next 50 years, Panerai would make instruments in a large range from underwater compasses and depth gauges to mechanical calculators for launching torpedoes.
In 1936, the Italian navy had a special request: a luminous underwater watch, both durable and reliable, for its divers. Panerai had already spearheaded the technology of luminous dials and sighting devices. Uniting that bit of chemistry and the company's watchmaking expertise, the Radiomir 1936 was created.
Seventy years later, the Radiomir 1936 is faithful to the original. It features a 47-millimeter case that screams active man and a black face with luminous Arabic and Roman numerals and luminous hour and minute hands known as the California dial. The watch is manually wound, but it has a power reserve of 56 hours and is water resistant to 30 meters.
The Radiomir 1936 is a limited-edition series, with 1,936 units available in stainless steel (pictured, $5,800 each) and 99 units in platinum (price to be determined).