Test Bench

Radiomir 1936 - 47mm

A watch destined for a few, fortunate collectors

The Watch Quote™ - December 11th, 2006

An absolute legend for enthusiasts of Officine Panerai is back again. After 70 years, the model created in 1936 for the 1st Submersible Group has become one of the most fascinating and historically influential of the current Panerai collection.

It is a watch which celebrates the birth of wristwatch manufacture under the Panerai name, faithfully recapturing the aesthetic lines of the prototype developed in response to the request made by the Royal Italian Navy in September 1935 for a luminous underwater watch for divers.

Panerai Radiomir 1936 under the looking glass

A short history

It was a turning point for Officine Panerai, which had specialised for many years in the manufacture of an impressive series of instruments with outstanding technical content, covered by the provisions of military secrecy: as well as mechanical calculators for launching torpedoes and self-luminous devices for night gunnery, Officine Panerai made underwater compasses and mechanical depth gauges.

These were instruments which had to be of the very highest quality, in that they had to provide maximum reliability and accuracy during missions. The same constructional principles were applied to the watches. The prototype of March 1936 was followed by ten further examples, used in various exercises to test the effectiveness of its water-resistance and the perfect legibility of its time indication under all conditions of use. The most prominent of the innovations introduced by this 1936 model, which brilliantly passed all the tests it underwent, was the use of Radiomir, a special luminous paint consisting of zinc sulphide, radium bromide (the source of the name ‘Radiomir’) and mesothorium. The distinctive feature of the case, cushion-shaped in keeping with the style in vogue in the 1930s, is its large size, the diameter being 47 mm, while the black dial displayed an interesting combination of baton hour markers and Arabic and Roman numerals.

Savoir-faire and technology

These unusual aesthetic details are repeated in the Radoimir 1936, a watch created in a limited series in steel (1936 units) and in platinum (99 units). Beneath the crystal made of Plexiglas, a material very similar to the Perspex plastic originally used by Panerai which has excellent transparency combined with great resistance to atmospheric agents and acids, the dial maintains the air of mystery of its famous predecessor; it carries no inscription, being anonymous as was the custom with products being tested by the special services. This avoided the risk of the manufacturer being identified and thus becoming vulnerable to possible actions of sabotage or spying if a watch should fall into enemy hands during wartime missions. The hour and minute hands of the Radiomir 1936 are turned by the Panerai calibre OP X, a hand-wound movement which operates at 21,600 vibrations/hour.

On the wrist

It’s impossible to go unnoticed, but then again, that’s hardly the object of the exercise, when you’re wearing such a timeless piece on your wrist. The most important thing to remember is that Radiomir 1936 generates nothing but positive and rather pleasant reactions. So what’s the point of depriving yourself when you know that the price of success is just 4,800€.

Technical specifications

Case:In three parts, diameter 47 mm, in steel with polished finish, with removable wire link strap attachments fixed to the case by small screws (Officine Panerai patent). Personalised screw-down winding crown. Plexiglas® crystal 2 mm thick
Back:Steel, screw, with sapphire crystal window
Water-resistance:To 30 metres
Movement:Hand-wound mechanical, Panerai calibre OP X, 16 lignes, 17 jewels, 21,600 vibrations/hour, Glucydur®, balance, Nivarox® I balance spring, Incabloc® anti-shock device, “swan neck” regulation of the active length of the balance spring. Power reserve of 56 hours, Côtes de Genève decoration, blued screws
Functions:Hours and minutes
Dial:Black with luminous triangular index, baton hour markers, Roman and Arabic numerals
Strap:In natural hand-sewn leather, the inner part made of hypoallergenic material, personalised steel buckle sewn to the strap
Production:Series limited to 1936 units
Retail price:4.800 € TTC
Distributed from:December 2006
Others versions:Case in platinum (reference PAM00262), strap in hand-sewn leather, personalised white gold buckle sewn to the strap. Unique edition of 99 units (29,000 €).

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Opinion of The Watch Quote

Panerai watches have always been timeless. Men and women alike will fall for our Radiomir 1936 at first sight. Wide and open, it emanates sobriety and class, and is both refined at all times and in all circumstances. The rounded profile of the plexiglass gives a real presence to the 1936 piece, as well as being supremely comfortable to wear and easy to read. ?The decision to buy such a watch is not to be taken lightly. More than just a simple investment, owning an Panerai collector means you are entrusting the management of your time to a brand for which performance rhymes with sobriety and elegance.

Strong points
  • Design
  • Personality, character
  • Price
  • Limited edition
  • Immediate collectors’ item

Weak points
  • Limited edition

Our rating: *****

We would like to thank Panerai France for their invaluable assistance in enabling us to share our passion with you.

Thierry Castagna / The Watch Quote™
Photos Luc Virginius

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