What is the difference between a Panerai Radiomir and a Luminor? Well, you might say that the Luminor was an evolution of the Radiomir. Here is the story as I understand it. There may be some inaccuracy and some of this is myth, but here it is. Back in the 1930’s, Panerai began making wristwatches for the Italian navy frogmen. Panerai had already been expertly making underwater gauges and instruments and now they applied this know-how to underwater watches. I believe they were using Rolex movements in those first models, which were 47mm in diameter. The name Radiomir came from the luminescent material, made with radium, that was used to make the numerals glow in the dark. According to legend, some frogmen began getting radiation sickness from wearing the early Radiomir http://www.watchfeed.co/.
Around the year 1950, Panerai patented a new luminous substance called Luminor and the Luminor line of watches was born. Later came the patented crown-protector device which now easily distinguishes the Luminor models from the Radiomir. Around the mid-1990’s, Panerai was no longer producing watches for the navy. They started selling Luminor models to the public in very limited numbers and their appearance in Sly Stallone’s film, Daylight, boosted popularity and gave Panerai watches cult status. I believe that some Radiomir models were only introduced later as “limited” or “historic” models. The visible difference between the Luminor and the Radiomir is the case. The Luminor have a thicker case with that signature crown-protector while the Radiomir have slimmer cases with an exposed crown.
You get the point. Even if my facts are a little muddled, you see that the very early Radiomir morphed into the Luminor. Then, much later, the Radiomir was reincarnated as a somewhat more vintage or retro timepiece. Today, the two model lines have different cases, but similar dials and movements. In fact, many Radiomir and Luminor models share the very same movement. For example, Panerai’s hand-wound P.3000 movement powers the Luminor PAM00372 and also many Radiomir, including the new PAM00514. The automatic caliber P.9000 movement powers the Radiomir Black Seal PAM00388 as well as most of the Luminor 1950, including the PAM00312 http://www.watchfeed.co/replica-panerai-c-20.html.