My list includes a spot for the Panerai Radiomir Black Seal replica watch – a watch that, in my opinion, is one of the finest designs of the 20th century. It represents all the qualities I look for in a watch – a rich brand and model history, an iconic design, harmonious proportions, and fine finishing. And of course it looks and feels fantastic on the wrist. The brand has been steadily building a fanatical following in the last 20 years, which has transformed the marque from a boutique Italian manufacturer of military instruments into a powerhouse Swiss watch brand.
The Radiomir line, itself representing the genesis of the mens fake Panerai watch brand, is often overlooked in favour of its more popular stablemates. And I, for one, think this is unfortunate. When most people think Panerai, they general think of the Luminor. With its distinctive “device protecting the crown” (seriously, that’s what it is officially called) and chunky squared-off case, it has become the prototypical military style watch and the design most associated with Panerai along with the related 1950 case style.
Panerais in general have become a phenomenon in the current watch market. The popularity of Panerais has become such that base models and limited editions are scarce and can command significant premiums, to the point that the brand often unseats Rolex as the king of residual values. Rolex provided the rugged mechanism and their expertise in waterproofing, while Panerai developed a special radium luminescent paint that ensure high visibility in all conditions. Hence “Radiomir” – Panerai’s name for their radium mixture.
Based on a Rolex pocket watch and utilizing a Rolex movement and case, the Radiomir was introduced as a prototype diving watch in 1936. Panerai, a watch and instrument making operation based in Florence, was looking to develop a specialized watch for Royal Italian Navy divers. The Swiss-made fake Panerai watch had to be durable, watertight, and easily legible underwater.