No other brand other than perhaps Rolex, Audemars Piguet or Patek Philippe has such a dedicated and loyal fan base. This cult brand of Italian origin enjoys a superb reputation. Founded in 1860 in Florence, Italy, Panerai became the official supplier to the Italian navy. The instantly recognizable oversized case design is a hallmark of this cult brand. Often produced in very limited runs, Panerai watches are renowned for selling way above their recommended retail price.
Panerai has four major collections; Historic, Contemporary, Manufacture and Special Editions. Most watches are produced in a limited annual run of around 500 units, and carry an issue number on the case back. Since 1997, Panerai has issued one to several Special Editions each year.
1993 was the breakout year for Officine Panerai when it created a numbered series in a limited edition of models aimed at the civilian market: Luminor, Luminor Marina and an edition of the Mare Nostrum chronograph. What really spurred the worldwide popularity of the brand was actor Sylvester Stallone's admiration for the Panerai collection and subsequent personal request to have Panerai produce a special edition to use during the shooting of the movie Daylight. Since 1997, Richemont (then Vendome) has steered the brand to ever increasing heights of popularity and, more importantly, improved manufacturing quality. Today, Panerai is a true manufacture, designing and engineering movements from the ground up. Since 2005, Panerai has successfully launched several new movements - the P.2002, P.2003, P.2004 and P.2005 (the numbers representing the year of design kick-off). 2009 saw the introduction of the P.9000 movement. In 2010, Panerai presented the P.999 calibre now used in many of its recently launched watches.
The majority of Panerai watches come in 40 and 44mm sizes.