The ur-Panerai is the Radiomir, which in its original form was a very large, cushion-cased wristwatch with a radium dial, and which was worn most famously during World War II by Italian combat swimmers piloting so-called human torpedos. These were essentially midget submarines, operated by two men sitting astride the main cylinder which contained the propulsion and maneuvering systems. Both sides operated such submersibles – the British versions were known as “chariots” – and they were used to carry limpet mines under the surface to target enemy vessels.

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