The No-Nonsense Italian Watch That Collectors Love

That special glow: The Panerai Luminor, initially a military model, has become an investment asset.

April 3, 2023  |  Joshua Hendren

Seventy-four years after its creation, the Luminor — the flagship model of Italian watch brand Panerai — is still a hot commodity. The distinctive cushion-shaped timepiece has been garnering serious attention from collectors, says Daniel Yi, chief marketing officer at Bob’s Watches in Newport Beach, California. Vintage models from the 1940s and ’50s, along with a smattering of limited-edition runs, have emerged as sought-after investment assets, he reports.

Notable for its crown-protecting bridge, integrated lugs, and glow-in-the-dark display, the Luminor traces its origins back to 1949, when Panerai secured a patent for a luminous tritium-based compound. Initially only available to the military, the model made its public debut in 1993 and has since attracted some influential wearers. Actor Sylvester Stallone sported a PAM5218-201/a in the 1996 film Daylight and even gifted a Luminor Marina to fellow action star Arnold Schwarzenegger, who wore it in Eraser that same year.

Today, there’s a collector base for ’90s Panerai watches associated with Stallone, says Yi, though that’s not the only draw. “Panerai used to use Rolex movements in some models back in the 1940s, and those are some of the most collectible.” Models with movements by watchmaker ETA, such as the PAM111, are also highly valued, he relates, as are those from before Panerai’s 1998 acquisition by the Vendôme Group (now the Richemont Group).

All of these elements have fed the Luminor buzz on the secondary market. A global community of aficionados known as Paneristi seek “specific models that are either not available new…or were discontinued years ago,” says Yi, adding that pre-owned Luminors go for about $4,500 to $7,000.

Some dealers have expressed concern over the Luminor’s affiliation with World War II Axis forces, he notes. “Buyers will need to go to a trusted source, as there are so many factors to take into consideration.”

Image: Panerai Luminor Chrono Regatta Verde Militare.(Panerai)


The No-Nonsense Italian Watch That Collectors Love

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