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How To Tell What Panerai You Have

Luminor Panerai: Marina MilitareIf you want to know how to tell what Panerai you have, you may have difficulties if you have an untrained eye. One way to tell what kind you have is to look at photos of the various types on if you have a newer watch. If you have an older one, you can look at to see if they have one that matches.

If you are a first time purchaser of the Panerai brand there are a few things you should note about this watch.

The Paneria watch brand has been around since the inventor of the watch, Giovanni Panerai, opened his shop in Florence Italy, 1860.

In 1993, Panerai started selling the brand to the general public after catering to the Italian Marine forces for over a century.

History and defining features:

The different types of Panerai watches are tremendous with the historic Radiomir prototype made in 1936 being the first Panerai.

Luminor Panerai: AutomaticCreated for the “Frogman Commandos of the Royal Italian Navy” on the eve of the Second World War this Panerai watch retains its distinct features of:

  • Large, cushion-shaped steel case (47mm)
  • Luminescent numerals and indices
  • Wire lugs welded to the case
  • A hand-wound mechanical movement
  • Water-resistant strap long enough to be worn over a diving suit.

Just 10 of these were made that year. However, by 1940 after three upgrades, (1936, 1938 & 1940), Giovanni began focusing on his latest Panerai watch- the Mare Nostrum in 1943 and the Radiomir was replaced by the Luminor in 1949.

Radiomir PaneraiThe Luminor featured a crown-protecting bridge, with reinforced wire lugs created from the same block of steel as the case, the cushion-shaped case, as in the Radiomir 1940 and the flat, wider bezel. The models with this case are called the Luminor 1950.

All present day Panerai are derived from these two prototypes: the Radiomir which is now the Luminor and the Mare Nostrum. Their distinguishable features being the distinct shape of the case, the crown lock and the dial details.

Real or Fake Panerai

The Panerai was designed to be water resistance and is still know for this factor demonstrated by the catchy slogans used such as Dive into time or From the Depths of the Sea. But not every Panerai sporting the basic features is the real McCoy.

  • The Oscillating weight is decorated with logo, number and caliber. The absence of these features mean it is a fake
  • A true Panerai has a clear stamp with the name of the watch and the model number
  • It has a clean laser encrypted serial number and water resistance indication. The detail engravings of a fake have a low quality to it with much smaller writing.
  • The buckle has smooth edges with a signature rounded buckle which is stainless steel platinum gold or PVD
  • Surprisingly, gold-plated materials are an indication that it is a fake.
  • There is usually a small and neat reference mark on the buckle.
  • Genuine and high quality leather hand stitched in details, its counterfeit, will be machine made.
  • The lugs on an original Panerai are slightly twisted or angled – for a better grip and avoid any loose edges. The lug was designed so the leather sits less than a millimeter away from the hardware, the ultimate protection from ware on the leather.
    On the fake watch, you’ll find extreme wear on the leather, as well as flat lugs with no curve.
  • A small handled lock which opens when the watch needs to be wound or have the time changed. The handle is usually clean and smooth identical to the curve of the crown.
  • How it is attached and the details of the locking system are crucial to distinction.
  • The counterfeit’s handle is of low quality either too long or short, misaligned and shabby looking
  • The crown on an authentic Panerai is flat to accommodate having the watch wound without changing the time and unlocking the handle.The fake crown can’t be reached under the crown protector.
  • A Panerai boasts a mono-push button to start and stop the activity of the chronograph, located on the opposite side of the crown. However on the counterfeit models, there are two buttons (both of low quality) one for start and the other reset.
  • An authentic Panerai will glow brightly for several hours after being exposed to light, even when left in the dark for a long time, because of the Luminova used on the dials or Tritium for older models.


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