Unitas probably deserves more credit for “upsizing” modern wristwatches than any other movement. How so? Depending on whether you credit the global adoption of larger timepieces to IWC’s Portugieser, reintroduced in 1993, or the Panerais reborn at the same time, you will either disagree violently with this assessment or accept that the return of Panerai’s Marina and the Luminor injected the very steroids that influence us to this day. As both brands are now owned by the Richemont Group, it matters not which you choose as the instigator: it’s a win-win situation for that mighty conglomerate, but my money is on the Panerai.
Simply put, and with all due respect to IWC, there are far more Panerais out there than there are Portugiesers, and the Florentine watches are certainly better-known beyond the confines of watch connoisseurs. While the first-generation, military-issue Panerais used Rolex/Cortebert or Angelus movements, the 1990s reissues other than the Mare Nostrum chronograph housed the Unitas 6497. Hence, one might posit that it was this very calibre that powered the trend toward larger watches.