Panerai Radiomir by Rolex
Watch & Bullion28 October 2015 | 3 min read
Panerai has a fascinating and colourful history woven in with the history of Rolex and the Royal Italian Navy. The first Panerai diver, the “Radiomir,” was put together by affixing wires onto a Rolex pocket watch’s casing, using its inner mechanism, and introducing the signature glowing face. The Radiomir would become the watch of choice for the Royal Italian Navy throughout World War 2.
Introducing: Panerai Radiomir Rolex ‘Type D’
This vintage Radiomir ‘Type D’ from 1950 that we originally had for sale and are reviewing today was in exceptional condition considering the production date. Exceptionally well-preserved for its age, this rare watch showcases the craftsmanship and ingenuity that epitomize Panerai and Rolex’s legacies.
The story of Panerai’s vintage Radiomir series is one of innovation and precision. From the 1930s to the 1950s, Panerai collaborated with Rolex to create the Radiomir watch models specifically designed for the Royal Italian Navy’s underwater missions. The series was manufactured in several iterations, labeled A through G, featuring unique characteristics and a blend of Panerai’s distinctive design and Rolex’s engineering know-how. The Panerai Rolex Radiomir ‘Type D’, comes with a sandwich construction with a nude dial. This design choice ensured the watch’s legibility under various lighting conditions, making it an ideal instrument for the Royal Italian Navy divers.
Things to look out for
Rolex does not explicitly sign the A and B series of the Radiomir; instead, they bear the ‘Oyster Watch co’ signature. However, the C and D types showcase a more evident collaboration between the two watchmaking giants. They signed ‘Rolex SA’ on the inner side of their case back.
Another distinguishing feature of the C and D types is the serial number engraved upon the reference number, in contrast to the A and B series, which have the opposite arrangement. The A, B, C, and D types also share the use of Rolex movements – the Calibre 618 Cortébert – signed ‘Rolex 17 rubis’ on the central bridge and ‘Fab Suisse’ on the barrel bridge.
The later E, F, and G series of the vintage Radiomir deviate slightly from their predecessors. These timepieces only have ’17 rubis Fab Suisse’ engraved on the central bridges. At the same time, the Rolex signature is reserved for non-military editions.
This subtle shift in design and branding reflects the evolution of the partnership between Panerai and Rolex and Radiomir’s transition into the civilian market.
The Panerai Rolex Radiomir is not only a testament to the collaborative spirit between these two legendary brands but also a tangible link to a pivotal moment in horological history. It offers a unique opportunity for collectors and enthusiasts to own a piece of this storied past.
The ‘Type D’ is emblematic of the dedication to excellence and the pursuit of innovation that defines both Panerai and Rolex. Given its production date, its exceptional condition is a testament to the lasting quality of these two brands’ creations. The vintage Radiomir series represents an important chapter in the histories of Panerai, Rolex, and the Royal Italian Navy. The ‘Type D’ is a shining example of a functional tool watch.
The Panerai Rolex Radiomir ‘Type D’ from 1950 is a remarkable timepiece that embodies the intertwined histories of Panerai, Rolex, and the Royal Italian Navy. As an exceptionally well-preserved example of the vintage Radiomir series, the ‘Type D’ is a tribute to the innovation, craftsmanship, and partnership that have defined these iconic brands. Collectors and watch enthusiasts alike can appreciate the rich history and extraordinary quality this rare timepiece represents.
Today, Rolex Radiomir watches have become sought-after collector’s items, with rarity and historical significance adding to their allure. Owning a piece of this lineage is a matter of pride for aficionados and a tangible connection to the rich tapestry of the watchmaking world. The Panerai Rolex Radiomir serves as a reminder of how collaboration can lead to the creation of truly exceptional products.
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