In 1916, Officine Panerai filed a patent for what would become its most regarded watch ever created, The Radiomir. Developed to meet the demanding needs of The Royal Italian Navy, the “Radiomir” received its namesake from the radium-based powder that gives luminosity to the dials of sighting instruments and devices. Manufactured under top-secret classification, the first ever prototype was produced in 1936 for the frogman commandos of the First Submarine Group Command of the Royal Italian Navy just before the start of World War II.
Today’s modern iteration of the Radiomir retains many of the original prototype’s features including a cushion-shaped steel case, large luminescent Arabic numerals and indices, wire lugs welded to the case, a hand-wound mechanical movement, and a water-resistant strap long enough to be worn over a diving suit of the coveted frogmen. By adding the new device that protected the winding crown, some Radiomir watches became water-proof up to 200 meters, an amazing achievement for the early 1940’s.
Available for auction exclusively on Dial + Bezel, the Radiomir Black Seal you see here – dubbed the PAM 183 – comes from the brand’s HISTORIC collection which was specially produced as an ode to Panerai’s storied past.
The watch features the unmissable, classic 45mm steel Panerai case, wire lugs, and black “sandwich” dial (which is indeed juicy but sadly, not edible). The original box and Panerai papers are also included.
The PAM Radiomir 183 takes its cues from the original 1936 “Panerai 3646″. Originally produced by Rolex, and subsequently modified by Panerai for combat use, the 3646 was designed to ride into battle with the combat swimmers of the Italian Navy’s “Decima Flottiglia MAS,” the first amphibious elite forces.This Radiomir Black Seal is the brand’s tribute to those original watches and the men who fought in battle with these luminescent beauties strapped to their wrists.
This example was previously sold on Dial + Bezel and is now being relisted for sale by the winner of that auction.
Panerai’s classic, cushion-shaped 45mm case is on full display. Impeccably designed with regard to its historic 3646 predecessor – first produced as a pocket watch – the stainless steel case offers both functionality and durability with rounded smooth edges throughout. The watch also features an “onion” crown and stylish exhibition caseback allowing for full view of the Unitas 6497 movement and jewels. Overall the case is in good condition showing only normal signs of wear with no implicit damage or scratches.
The Dial and Hands
Produced with luminescence top of mind, the PAM 183 can light up the night and is occasionally dubbed as a wrist torch! The watch features a black “sandwich dial” which, as its name suggests, utilizes a layering, or “sandwich,” technique. The dial includes two individual disks with the bottom layer holding the luminescent material in recessed indexes while the top layer has index cut-outs to allow the lume to shine through. The result is the effortlessly cool stencil effect shown in the large Arabic numerals denoted at 12, 3, and 6 o’clock, as well as the highly-lumed hour and minute hands. The small seconds subdial is at 9 o’clock.
Also prominently placed front and center on the dial is the “Black Seal” mark alluding to the heroism of the Italian combat swimmers nicknamed “black seals” for their nocturnal camouflage gear.
Packed into the 183 is a Unitas 6497 movement. The COSC-certified chronometer movement is a true manual-wind, equipped with a stellar 56-hour power reserve. Panerai engraving, circular-grained drivetrain wheels, and fire-oxidized blue screw heads are all on display in the crystal exhibition caseback.
The watch comes on a replacement strap that was purchased from Panerai.
|Location||New York City|
|Model||Radiomir Black Seal|
|Movement||Manual Unitas 6497|
|Case Material||Stainless Steel|
|Band Material||Leather Strap|