A diving watch’s mission is clear: to tell the time underwater. That’s somewhat of an understatement of course – constructing a mechanism capable of horological accuracy that functions and is legible at extreme depths is no easy task, but it’s something that Italian-Swiss watch brand Officine Panerai has been perfecting for well over a century.
The brand was founded in Florence in 1860, and became so renowned for its expert craftsmanship and technical expertise that it was approached to design what became the Radiomir timepiece for the Italian Navy in 1936 and was drafted to create naval watches for the frogmen in the Decima Flottiglia MAS during WWII.
Nowadays, Officine Panerai’s diving watches function less as a wartime tool and more as a sophisticated and practical accessory. And indeed they are still employed by proper divers, too. One such man is the French free-diving champion and Officine Panerai ambassador Mr Guillaume Néry, who has broken four world records – including the deepest free dive in history to a depth of -139m. His favoured timepiece is the brand’s Luminor Submersible 1950, which is modelled after the commando watch styles of the decade. Crafted in at Officine Panerai’s manufacture in Neuchâtel, the Luminor is somewhat of a tour de force, complete with a hermetically-sealed winding crown, and made with brushed titanium which renders it resistant to corrosion and prevents damage from external shocks. Water resistant up to 300m, the watches heritage in undersea adventuring isn’t lost on the diver. “[Panerai] represents my world,” Mr Néry says. “It has a strong relationship with the sea and my quest is discovering the sea, so I’m very proud to be part of this team.”