A passionate collector of Officine Panerai timepieces has assembled a collection of rare vintage watches and other items that help retrace the history of the Florentine watchmaker.
Now on display in Singapore in a purpose-built pavilion, the “History and Legend” exhibition contextualizes the diving timepieces with the display of the replica of a full-size “slowspeed” torpedo, also known as Siluro a Lenta Corsa (S.L.C.), on which the Italian Navy commandos would have carried out their missions, wearing specially-made Panerai watches and instruments, such as compasses and depth gauges.
First founded in 1860, Panerai came into its own in the late 1930s when it started supplying the Italian navy with diving instruments and luminous underwater watches. In 1936, it developed its first Radiomir model, and the exhibition includes an early Ref 3646 Radiomir from the late 1930s, fitted with a Rolex caliber manual winding movement. The large, pillow-shaped case with an easy-grip “onion” crown remains an icon of the brand today. The watch on show was one of a very rare group equipped for demonstration purposes with an engraved bezel and an engraved viewing back.
The exhibition also presents two rare vintage models, with the engraved Marina Militare on the dial, that are perfect examples of the Radiomir’s evolution towards the Luminor, characterized by its bridge-shaped device protecting the crown, and by solid strap attachments made from the same block of steel, replacing the wire lugs that were welded onto the case in the early models.
There is also a rare Radiomir Egiziano developed in the 1950s for the Egyptian navy. Larger than the classic Radiomir, it is distinguished by a case which is very different from the original, comprising a large rotating bezel with reference markers at 5-minute intervals. In the final versions (50 examples were made altogether), the case was polished rather than finished in matt steel, and the Radiomir dial was preferred to the Luminor.
The collection also includes several precision instruments from the 1950s such as compasses, torches, and depth gauges (all with “Radiomir” dials), which would have been used by the military.
Along with these vintage pieces, visitors to the pop-up space on Orchard Road can also see the latest Panerai timepieces that were presented at the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) earlier this year, including the new Luminor Submersible 1950 3 Days Chrono Flyback Automatic Titanio (PAM00615).
Guided tours are conducted daily at 3pm and 5pm and the exhibition will continue until September 6, 2015.