The Panerai Radiomir is one of the oldest diving watches out there, having first appeared back in 1936. Panerai originally developed this model for the Royal Italian Navy, which meant its existence was initially kept strictly behind closed doors. The radium-based luminous material – the model’s namesake – that lit up the dial was a particularly important attribute for military use. The shroud of secrecy surrounding the Radiomir wasn’t officially lifted until 1995 when Panerai began offering this watch to the wider public.
At first glance, the Radiomir has little in common with most diving watches; for instance, a typical diving bezel is nowhere to be found. Its nearly square pillow-shaped case, two-hand format, and large round dial are more reminiscent of a dress watch than a modern diver. Moreover, the conical crown and thin lugs add a certain retro charm to the overall look
Another distinctive feature of the Radiomir is its two-layer sandwich dial. The upper layer has cutouts for the indices and numerals, allowing the luminous material on the lower layer to shine through. This construction gives the dial – available in black, white, brown, olive green, and blue – a subtle 3D effect.
The watch is available with both automatic and manual-winding movements, some of which stem from the company’s own production lines and others that are based on ETA/Unitas calibers.
Panerai Radiomir S.L.C. 3 Days
The Radiomir S.L.C. 3 Days ref. PAM00425 is one of the collection’s most popular models on Chrono24. Its 47-mm polished stainless steel case is water resistant to 100 m (10 bar, 328 ft), and the manual in-house caliber P.3000 provides the timepiece with a 72-hour power reserve.
This model stands out due to its so-called black S.L.C. dial with line indices at 3, 6, 9, and 12 o’clock and dots in between. According to Panerai, this dial was originally found on a prototype created for the military in the late 1930s and never made it to mass production. You can also find this dial on the Radiomir 48MM ref. PAM00577. This model is technically the same as the ref. PAM00425 but has a 48-mm, black ceramic case, giving it a more contemporary look.
Other Popular Radiomir Model
Models with the moniker “Black Seal” are likewise popular among Radiomir fans. The name is a reference to a unit of elite divers in the Royal Italian Navy that has been equipped with Panerai watches for many years.
A favorite model from this line is the Black Seal Logo ref. PAM00754. With a 45-mm stainless steel case, it is one of the collection’s smaller watches and, thus, more accessible to a wider audience. Next to its smaller size, the Black Seal differs from the S.L.C. with its typical Panerai dial design featuring large Arabic numerals at 3, 6, and 12 o’clock and line indices in between. The 9 o’clock position also varies between these two models, with the Black Seal featuring a small seconds subdial here. Lastly, this watch gets its power a different caliber, namely the manual P.6000 with a 72-hour power reserve.
If you can do without a small seconds, check out the Radiomir Base ref. PAM00753. This model has the same 45-mm polished stainless steel case and shares the same P.6000 caliber; however, it lacks the subdial at 9 o’clock – a large luminous numeral stands in its place.
The Radiomir Black Seal 8 Days ref. PAM00609 is yet another interesting variant. As its name suggests, this watch has an impressive power reserve of eight days. This is made possible by two coupled barrels in its movement, the in-house caliber P.5000. The energy is sufficient to keep the watch running for a full week when fully wound.
Radiomir With a Chronograph and GMT
You can also find Radiomir variants with additional complications. The GMT function is especially popular among frequent travelers, allowing them to keep track of two time zones at once. This feature can be found on the Radiomir GMT ref. PAM00657, for example. The watch boasts an additional central hand that displays the time in a second time zone. In contrast to conventional GMT watches, many of which feature a 24-hour GMT hand, the additional hand on the Radiomir circles the dial once every 12 hours. The small seconds at 9 o’clock doubles as an AM/PM indicator to ensure the wearer knows the correct time elsewhere. Across the dial at 3 o’clock is a date window. The Radiomir GMT is powered by the P.4001 caliber, an in-house automatic movement with a 72-hour power reserve.
Another popular complication is the chronograph, i.e., a stopwatch. This function appears in the Radiomir Rattrapante ref. PAM00214. This watch is equipped with a so-called rattrapante or split-seconds chronograph, which enables the wearer to track multiple time intervals. This complication uses two chronograph seconds hands – one above the other – which initially start together. If you take an interval time, one hand stops while the other continues on. A modified Valjoux 7753 caliber, which Panerai calls the OP XVIII, powers the Radiomir Rattrapante.
So you like the look of the Radiomir but want something a bit bolder? Take a look at the Panerai Luminor. The Luminor is the Radiomir’s successor. It boasts the same dial design and pillow-shaped case; however, the Luminor has more prominent lugs and, above all, a distinctive crown guard. This not only protects the crown from bumps but also ensures an additional degree of water tightness.
Prices and Performance of the Panerai Radiomir
If you’re looking to call a Panerai Radiomir your own, you can save a significant amount of money by buying on Chrono24. Prices for mint-condition models are generally 20-30% below the manufacturer’s list prices. You can get pre-owned watches for even cheaper, depending on their condition.
Many Radiomir models enjoy decent value retention. Prices for the Black Seal Logo, for instance, have remained steady for the past 12 months. Prices for the S.L.C. 3 Days have appreciated slightly over the same time period. The same pre-owned watch in good condition that cost roughly $5,500 in December 2019 was demanding about $6,500 a year later in December 2020. Other models, such as the Radiomir GMT, are several hundred dollars cheaper than a year ago.