Giovanni Panerai (1825-1897) opened a small watch shop in Florence, Italy and thanks to his close ties with a few famous Swiss manufacturers, started to specialise in the art and technique of assembly. His grandson Guido Panerai later succeeded in making the “Officine” the official supplier to the “Regia Marina” (the Italian royal navy) for watches and precision instruments. At the time, watches designed and assembled by Panerai had Swiss movements, some of which were from Rolex! The brand was known for its research into luminescent materials for its dials and for military aiming devices. The Radiomir was obtained by mixing zinc with radium bromide. A watch called Radiomir was launched in 1938, fitted with the famous luminescent dial but also with a strap that could be worn over diving suits. The brand later replaced Radiomir with Luminor, which was based on tritium. This substance in turn also gave its name to a famous collection of Panerai watches. In 1997 Officine Panerai was taken over by the Richemont group. Its headquarters remain in Italy but its production is based in Neuchâtel, Switzerland.