In the world of luxury timepieces, a few brands have emerged as industry leaders thanks to their impressive records and exquisite designs. Swiss brands are perhaps the most popular but excellent products are being produced elsewhere in the world. Italy is a great example. The country is known for high fashion, fast cars, and sophisticated tastes. All of these are embodied by Panerai which is their answer to big brands like Omega and Rolex. Founded in Florence by Giovanni Panerai in 1860, the company makes an impressive line of watches with reliable movement and premium prices.

Humble Beginnings

It all started in a small mechanical shop. It was the business of his wife’s family that Panerai eventually took over. Back then, he supplied all sorts of mechanical equipment and precision instruments. The biggest client was the Royal Italian Navy which needed technical gear for their navigation across seas. He worked closely with Swiss manufacturers to produce pieces that were meant to be used by the military and some professional diving clients. Soon, this workshop was able to make diving instruments that were small enough to be worn on the wrist yet tough enough to withstand the immense pressure under the waters.

From Technical to Commercial

In the 1970s, Panerai shifted its focus from the military to the civilian market. The change was meant to improve profitability and reduce development costs. Richemont acquired the company in 1993 and continued the march towards the commercial space. Panerai was marketed as a luxury brand with prices to match. Although the business headquarters is in Italy, the manufacturing arm is based in Switzerland where they get most of their precision parts. They have a strong partnership with Rolex which provide them with dials, among other components. Their marketing lines include Contemporary, Historic, Special Editions, and Manifattura.

Panerai also has key partnerships with other iconic brands including Ferrari. The carmaker is known for producing some of the most iconic sports cars in history. Being two of the top names in Italian design, this joint effort made a lot of sense. Panerai entered the picture when its rival Girard-Perregaux ended its contract with Ferrari back in 2005. The two collaborated on a series of watches that came in two lines: Scuderia and Granturismo, named from the carmaker’s own vehicle lines. There are eleven models in all that bore the Ferrari trademark. They had prices ranging from $5,000 up to $30,000.