Back in the day, before the Richemont Group (then Vendôme) had acquired, or perhaps even heard of Panerai diving replica watches UK, the brand’s few models were simply curiosities of interest to two types of collectors: those who amass military watches and all-embracing Rolex aficionados. It was obscure if not quite unknown, and price guides from the mid-1980s show Panerais with the kind of values that would, today, stop your heart from beating. As in: You couldn’t give ‘em away.
Panerai’s cheap fake watches UK appeal for military watch collectors is obvious: Prior to 1993, they were made solely for assorted navies’ underwater teams, including the Italy’s and Germany’s saboteurs during WWII, while both the Egyptian and Israel forces — you gotta love the irony — commissioned Panerais in the 1950s. As for Rolex collectors being cognisant of the brand prior to 1993, the connection is Rolex’s involvement in the early case design and manufacture, with Rolex-marked, Cortebert-based movements used to power certain models.
In 1993, when the brand was brought back to life under the aegis of Dino Zei, the production was severely limited, with only a handful of faithful-to-the-original Luminors and Marinas. Mainly Italian collectors were targeted, so it was by accident that Sylvester Stallone would learn of the brand and put it in the map.
Oddly, Zei and Co also reissued a model that had never actually been produced because of wartime conditions, unlike the Luminors and Marinas. It was based on drawings in their files and used neither the Luminor nor the earlier Radiomir cases: The Mare Nostrum, the company’s first-ever chronograph. Panerai Firenze (as some call the pre-Richemont incarnation) created a 42mm facsimile of the drawings in their archives that survived the 1966 flood in Florence, given the identification of Ref. 5218-301/A.
It was fitted with ETA 2801 movement fake watches and Dubois-Depraz module that looked the business: Two sub-dials, two pushers, chunky case, its raison d’être being a timepiece for deck officers. Despite serial numbers that suggest otherwise, it is believed that under 500 were actually produced, including all the variants.