Whilst there is a multitude of exquisite Italian watches on the market, Panerai has developed a strong following and reputation as one of the finest watchmakers. It has a long pedigree, dating from the 18th century - 1860, bringing a perfect fusion of Italian design and Swiss technology.
The two Panerai homage watches we’re covering below are the Panerai Luminor and the Panerai Radiomir. Both classics with a rich and interesting history with the Italian army.
Not sure how to tell the difference between the Luminor & Radiomir? This video from Time + Tide should help:
Many of us love luxury watches. They add style, make a statement and allow us to admire their mechanical beauty.
Even if we can’t afford them - we still like to learn about them in the hope that one day we’ll have the funds to purchase them. Until then, we may have to rely on homage watches to satisfy our desire to build out our watch collection.
Enter Panerai homage watches.
I understand homage watches are not for everyone. I really do. Some will argue that there is no substitute for the original. Period. Others will argue that so long as the homage watch is sufficiently different from the original, that is ok. Others are fine wearing a watch that is as close to the original as possible.
Wherever you sit on this spectrum, it is not for me to censor you. I think the watches below cover every type of homage watch buyer.
With that out of the way, here are my picks for the top 5 watches that pay homage to Panerai.
The Parnis Marina Militare 44mm is your first choice if you’re after a homage watch that takes many design cues from the original Panerai Luminor.
The oversized crown guard in particular is something that many Luminor fans are instantly drawn to. It has a classic look that distinguishes it from similar watches, whilst its price makes it an affordable choice for the masses.
Parnis has maintained reinforced mineral glass on the dial, something that matches Panerai's style from every angle. The stainless-steel body with matte finish offers the finesse that many watches at this price-point lack. Moreover, the Italian leather strap holds the two ends of the dial firmly, also making it hard for the band to come off easily.
Lack of wide-scale marketing and a limited collection are a few of the reasons why Parnis is still an underrated brand. However, collectors are slowly understanding their value as a homage watch manufacturer.
The Parnis Marina Militare Panerai homage features a 44mm case, similar design to the Luminor, accurate timing, and date function. A nice bonus is that it comes standard with automatic movement.
Grab this watch if you want the iconic features of a Luminor at a price that you can afford.
Do you like watches with matte-finish dials? If so, the Megir Low Fly Chrono, economically priced at around US$40, may serve you well. It's also one of the most lightweight in this list, helping to nail form & function requirements.
The genuine Nubuck leather strap adds an understated look, which keeps focus on the face and crown guard. Which is really what you want from a Panerai Luminor homage.
The Megir Low Fly Chrono features the iconic clasp-type crown guard. You can adjust the date and time of this watch by opening the guard. It has a simple, elegant face that is a little angular but with some nice contrast.
Those who tend to hit their watches on the sides of furniture and fixtures may find good protection with this watch. This is the ultimate tribute to Panerai watches as they also have a similar clasp style crown guard. Plus, the Megir makes use of Hardlex mineral glass to protect the face. The glass looks crystal-clear from all angles.
Megir has also paid attention to the size of this watch's diameter. Unlike other larger, chunky models, the 44mm size is a good size for many potential buyers.
The Spinnaker Hull with California dial is one of the few Panerai Radiomir homage watches you will find.
Whilst the Radiomir was the first watch produced by Panerai for the Italian Navy, it was surpassed in popularity during the 1990's after Sylvestor Stallone wore a Luminor in the hit movie Daylight. The distinctive Luminor design has remained the most popular Panerai ever since. This has limited the number of watchmakers that are also producing Radiomir homage watches.
Similar to the Radiomir, the Spinnaker Hull features a vintage cushion case. The Californian dial (a mixture of Roman and Arabic indexes) is a great throwback to the earliest Radiomir's that were created during the 1930's for the Italian Navy.
The self-winding Japanese automatic movement offers quality and precision without needing too much adjusting. The soft leather strap fits comfortably on the wrist, but it does need some wearing in to overcome initial stiffness.
The Spinnaker Men's Hull California 42mm can resist up to 100 meters of water and the mineral crystal dial window provides crystal clear viewing.
The second hand is included in the main dial, rather than as a secondary seconds dial like the newer Radiomirs. I'm okay with small modifications like this as it's clear that Spinnaker has not tried to take every Radiomir feature. Rather they have taken inspiration from a classic Radiomir design and created a classy and elegant watch in its own right.
The 2056BK from Peugeot watches is another Luminor inspired watch worth considering if you're after the iconic Panerai inspired crown guard.
Cars and watches have a great history together. But, don't confuse this watchmaker with the French car manufacturer by the same name. They are not related.
That is not to say the Peugeot Sport 2056BK would look out of place on a wrist driving through the French Riveria. It absolutely has that iconic, classic look.
The dark, stainless steel and matte finish work very well together, all the while giving subtle nods to the Panerai Luminor. The adjustable, soft calfskin leather strap is simple, but more than adequate.
This model comes with free battery replacement and also has the backing of a lifetime warranty. That means you shouldn't need to spend much more on this watch once you've added it to your collection. And at an affordable price, this represents great long-term value.
The SO&CO New York Men's 5022.2 SoHo Day and Date Watch provides class, comfort, and performance - all that you'd expect to find in a Panerai Luminor. But, this comes in an affordable package available to everyone.
The stainless-steel case comes with polished round bezels and a black-matte dial. This watch also comes with the iconic crown guard, a clear giveaway that it is indeed a Luminor homage. The SO & CO label is engraved on the crown guard.
With reliable and fuss-free Japanese quartz movement and a leather calfskin band that sit's comfortably on the wrist.
The 100m water resistance is a nice touch for a watch at this price-point. Many others in this list fail to provide the same level of resistance, giving it a solid edge in the water.
Priced at around $60, the Megir Low Fly offers a minimalist design that looks high-end. You can get a feel for how a $8,000 Panerai PAM 344 would look on your wrist, but for a few dollars. Making it an incredibly affordable Panerai alternative.
For those on a slightly higher budget, we recommend the Parnis Marina Militare, which, while being genuinely affordable (approx $150), brings you about as close as you can get to the Luminor.
Finally, those looking for a Radiomir homage and have a slightly higher budget, should consider a Spinnaker Hull California as a worthy addition to their watch collection.