Giovanni Panerai (1825–1897) founded Officine Panerai in Florence, Italy in 1860. By 1900, under the leadership of the founder’s grandson Guido Panerai (1873–1934), Officine Panerai had become an official supplier to the Regia Marina (the Royal Italian Navy), supplying watches and precision instruments. Panerai watches of this time consisted of cases designed and manufactured by Panerai and movement made by Swiss manufacturers including Rolex SA. In 1993 the company ceased to provide watches to the Marina Militare and moved to launch its products to the civilian market. The actor Sylvester Stallone spotted and bought a Panerai Luminor in a jewellers in Rome in 1995 to wear during shooting of the film Daylight. Stallone ordered a small batch of such watches with his signature on the case back, called Slytech, offering some as gifts to friends. This hugely influenced the resurrection of the brand. The brand’s rising popularity caught the attention of Richemont, which acquired Officine Panerai in 1997. Following the acquisition, Richemont rebranded Panerai as a luxury watch brand and increased prices accordingly. Panerai has four major lines of watches, Historic, Contemporary, Manifattura and Special Editions. Most watches are produced in a limited run (normally of 500, 1000, 2000 or 4000 units) and carry an issue number on the case back. Panerai makes many watches as either limited or special editions, intentionally producing fewer watches than the market demands in order to maintain an image of exclusivity, which allows it to command a high price. Retailers may only receive a few limited edition pieces each per year and there are long waiting lists for popular models.

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