Panerai is a well-known luxury watch from Switzerland with an Italian heritage. It has an iconic design that differentiates it well from any other watch. But why are Panerai watches so expensive?
Panerai watches are expensive as they are Swiss Made watches, often made in limited numbers. Panerai also uses in-house movements with premium materials such as gold, platinum, and titanium. Panerai also has a brand image of luxury, exclusivity, and prestige, reflected in its pricing.
In this article, we will explore what makes Panerai watches so expensive in further detail. We also answer some common questions people always ask about Panerai.
We have also discussed what makes Longines watches expensive, so feel free to check that article out if you are keen.
What Made Panerai Watches Expensive?
Panerai watches become expensive as they are often made with expensive materials such as precious metals. Panerais are also Swiss Made watches, with robust and reliable in-house movements. Panerai also keeps a luxury, exclusive and prestigious image, hence the pricing.
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Panerai started as a watch workshop that eventually became a supplier of timekeeping and precision instruments to the Italian military during World War I. Panerai is also well known for developing dive watches with Rolex to support the Italian Marina Militare during World War Two.
It also supplied timekeeping instruments to the Egyptian military. Panerai started producing civilian products starting in 1993.
However, Panerai was repositioned as a luxury watch brand once the Richemont Group acquired it in 1997. Richemont watch group also owns many luxury watch brands such as A.Lange & Söhne, Cartier, Vacheron Constantin, Jaeger-LeCoultre, and IWC.
Panerai cultivates the brand image of luxury, prestige, exclusiveness, and class by associating itself with people, events, and media outlets that project a similar image.
This is why you can see Panerai ads on media outlets that the rich, high-class people consume, such as Wall Street Journal. Panerai’s close association with water and diving also made it sponsor the Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli America’s Cup sailing team.
Panerai also sponsors celebrities related to water sports, such as Olympic gold medallist swimmer Gregorio Paltinieri and French free-diving world champion Guillaume Nery.
Panerai also sponsors Indian cricket legend MS Dhoni and explorers like Jimmy Chin and Mike Horn.
Panerai also conducts placement exercises for their watches, which is why you can see Panerai watches being worn by actors in movies, such as Sylvester Stallone in Rambo (2008), Jason Statham in The Expendables (2010), and Dwayne’ The Rock’ Johnson in the movie Fast 5 (2011).
These marketing efforts need a lot of money, so the funds are raised by selling the watch at a high price.
Panerai has a habit of producing limited units of their watches, either intentionally or unintended.
Panerai likes to release limited edition models intentionally. Due to its limited units available, demands are high. This made the watch expensive.
Panerai also faces similar issues with Rolex in that the demands for some of the watch models are so high that they cannot produce enough to meet them. This makes sense as the production of Panerai watches requires hand assembly, and there could be only a limited number of certified watch masters to do so.
As a result, these watches have a long waitlist. With some Panerai models, it is no longer about the high price but whether you have the patience to wait for it.
Panerai watches are also made with premium materials that make them expensive.
Checking the watches on offer at its official website, Panerai listed materials such as gold, platinum, titanium, diamonds, alligator leather, etc.
These materials are rarely found in affordable watch brands, as they primarily use standard materials such as stainless steel or mineral crystal to keep production costs low.
Some of these premium materials are not just expensive, but they are also harder to work with. For example, titanium is light and robust, but they are harder to shape into watch cases when compared to steel.
All these eventually drove up the production cost of the watches. As a result, you see a higher price tag in the end.
All Panerai timepieces are also made in Switzerland. This alone would have made a significant difference in the watch’s pricing.
Not all watches can be labeled as Swiss Made, even if a Swiss company produces them.
This is due to Swiss Law, which states that a watch can only be considered Swiss Made if and only if the following conditions are met:
- Switzerland accounts for 60% of the total value of the watch’s production (design, manufacturing, parts, etc.)
- A Swiss movement is used in the watch.
- The watch is encased and inspected in Switzerland before being shipped.
This means that all Panerai timepieces are genuinely made in Switzerland and are of the high quality and performance that has come to be associated with Swiss timepieces.
Some brands play up their Swiss heritage, but their watches are manufactured in Asia. They also do not use Swiss movements—for example, Invicta and Festina.
Although Panerai watches are expensive, you can rest assured that the watch has been manufactured following the strictest Swiss standards and precision.
In-House Movements & Technology
Panerai is a watchmaker that develops its in-house movement and its proprietary technology.
Panerai’s movements are developed entirely in-house and are not modifications of other movements. Some watch companies are known to do this, for example, Longines, Hamilton, or Omega. The movements in their watches are usually modified ETA-based movements.
Panerai is also known for much proprietary technology, which they have patented under various trademarks:
CarboTech: CarboTech is Panerai’s way of using carbon fiber to make watch cases. CarboTech has a matted, uneven surface finish that makes every watch with a CarboTech case look different from the other.
BMG-Tech: BMG stands for Bulk Metallic Glass, producing watch cases that look like typical stainless steel but with higher hardness and less weight. The BMG Tech watch case also has stronger corrosion resistance and better shock and magnetic field resistance.
Is Panerai More Expensive Than Rolex?
In general, Rolex is more expensive than Panerai. However, some Panerai models of the same type might have a higher selling price than Rolexes. Rolex also tends to have a higher resale value compared to Panerai.
If we take an example, the PAM00692 from the Submersible collections is priced at around $44,000. It is essentially a diver watch. The most expensive Rolex Submariner configuration, in a 41mm case with white gold, is around $37,000.
However, Rolex has a lot of other models that are more expensive than Panerai. Rolex also offers many more watch designs than Panerai, which seems to focus primarily on dive watches.
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When it comes to resale prices in the used market, Rolex tends to do better than Panerai. Despite both brands having cultivated a cultish following and collectors, Rolex is much more popular.
As a result, Rolex tends to have a higher demand in the used market than Panerai.
What Is So Special About Panerai Watches?
Panerai is the most popular luxury watch with a unique and very recognizable design. Panerai is also Swiss Made, with in-house movements and a strong following, helping it to keep value well. It is an excellent alternative to Rolex.
Panerai has a strong history and heritage with water, from first producing timekeeping devices for the Italian navy and marines to being heavily involved with water sports. This explains its focus on dive watches.
Panerai’s divers are also large, chunky, and have a style of design that makes them distinct from other divers. You can look at a watch from a distance and immediately recognize that it is a Panerai.
Panerai’s large and chunky size also suits those who love watches that ‘scream’ for attention. Not many luxury watchmakers cater to this market, as many tend to go with the ‘understated luxury’ design style.
Panerai also has a large following and a strong community of collectors, which may help with its resale value and collectability.
Does Panerai Hold Value?
Panerai watches hold value well, although some other watch brands could do better. This is because Panerai’s following and used-market demand are not as large as other popular luxury brands like Rolex. Panerai is also less recognized as a watch brand than Rolex or Omega.
Panerai watches have a long history, but they are relatively new in the luxury space. Its parent company Richemont only started rebranding Panerai as luxury Swiss watches in 1997 after acquiring the company.
Therefore Panerai does not have an extended timeframe to prove that it holds its value well, unlike Rolex, Patek Philippe, or Audemars Piguet. This makes people less likely to view Panerai as an investment timepiece than Rolex.
However, Panerai has shown signs of being worthy of investment, as demands for their watches are growing while keeping supply constant and steady.
Price appreciation for watches works similarly to many other things. If demands go up and supply remains constant, prices go up.
As Panerai becomes more and more popular, demands will go up. If Panerai continues with its current production volume and habit of releasing limited units for models, it will naturally help drive up prices in both new and used markets.