It all began in 1860 with Guido Panerai. He opened the first shop for watchmakers in Florence that also doubled as a school for burgeoning watchmakers. Offering an instantly recognisable case design mirrored with an extremely focused brand DNA, Panerai is perhaps one of the few brands that has survived and prospered despite its very focused creations. Panerai has chosen not to attempt to market themselves to the entire market, rather creating one of the most loyal followings in modern horology, often known affectionally as Paneristi. The real beginning of the brand began in 1916 when Radiomir was developed, a Radium based powder that presented incredible luminous properties that proved useful for the Italian Navy, to whom Panerai had already been supplying precision instruments. A few years later, the watches were created in a more regular production but most notably two discs were layered upon one another in a "sandwich" fashion that would allow the Radium to be even more visible. The now iconic bridged crown guard is patented in 1956, around the same time Radiomir is superseded by a newer luminous element; namely, Luminor, giving birth to Panerai's second family. This next generation of timepieces uses the stronger case structure requested by the Italian Navy but now also this new crown guard system thus laying the blueprint for the iconic design we are familiar with today. The Seventies saw the brand leave the family for the first time and officially rebranded as Officine Panerai. At this point, their main business still focused on supplying the army with precision instruments including compasses and depth gauges besides the timepieces. It was not until 1993 that the brand was unveiled to the general public on board the cruise liner, Durand de la Penne. The incredible popularity of this launch saw the brand build such popularity in a short time that the Richemont Group (then Vendone Group) purchased Panerai in 1997 adding to their already strong stable of high end marques, and also immediately creating a selected distribution within Italy. The extra power afforded by being part of this group saw a worldwide distribution implemented soon after to match demand and to much evident success.