Officine Panerai has had a long journey on the water - and quite a smooth one till 1993. After that, it has been pretty exciting...
By: Soumya Jain
Posted on: March 10, 2011
As I entered the VIP Lounge of the recently held India Art Summit for my interaction with the officials from Officine Panerai, I was filled with quite awed at how the watch brand had come a long way from being the official watch for the Italian Navy only to an international cult brand.
Started in 1860, Officine Panerai had to face the reduction of the military budget in the early 1990s, as the Italian Navy then was its sole and exclusive client. Therefore, in 1993, it commissioned about 1000 watches from suppliers and sold them.
In 1994, Sylvester Stallone was working on a movie and wanted to see a different watch - one that was linked to the military – to suit his persona in the movie. He saw this Panerai watch and immediately said “this watch is a star”. He used it in his movie. And he also commissioned a few hundred watches with the name Sly-Tech as a gift for his friends! This was probably the big moment of Panerai’s introduction in the ‘civilian’ market.
This watch brand has come a long way today. Its Luminor, Luminor Marina and Radiomir models are a hit. To understand the brand and its current philosophies better, we interviewed Milvin George, Regional Brand Manager, Panerai on their recent SIHH beauties, their support of art and other fields, and the Indian market.
LuxuryFacts: Can you tell us a bit about the collection you launched at SIHH this year?
Milvin George: In terms of materials, we have introduced bronze this year - a material which immediately evokes the world of the sea with which Officine Panerai is historically associated.
The new Luminor Submersible 1950 3 Days Automatic Bronzo – 47 mm has a case made of bronze which, as well as being resistant to the corrosive action of sea water and atmospheric agents, has a high structural strength and an appearance which completely preserves the warm shades of the original while acquiring the aged appearance which is a feature of this material. With the passage of time, bronze forms a patina due to its reaction to external agents (air, humidity, heat and wear). It does not alter the properties of the material but is rather a sign of its ageing, making each example unique and personalized.
At SIHH 2011, we also presented Panerai Composite, a special synthetic ceramic, produced by a process of aluminum ceramisation, which is remarkable for its lightness, ductility, hardness and strength. The cases of the new Luminor Composite Marina 1950 3 Days Automatic - 44mm and the Luminor Composite 1950 3 Days - 47mm are all made of Panerai Composite.
We have also added the new P.3000 movement to our collection this year. This is a hand-wound mechanical calibre with a power reserve of three days, distinguished by two spring barrels, 13.2 mm balance wheel, solid structure with largebridges and an exceptional size (16½ lignes in diameter, 5.3 mm thick), reproducing a classic size of period Panerai models.
LF: How important is SIHH for the brand? Does the high level of interest in the brand at the fair translate into sales as well?
MG: Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) enables Panerai to premiere latest watches, craftsmanship and technique, patiently acquired expertise, and controlled innovation - the result of often years of intensive research and development. SIHH is important because it enables us to share our unique world with leading international retailers.
LF: Your watches are always sporty. Any plans to change the look and image of your watches in the future?
MG: Panerai can be identified as a luxury sports brand. However, some of the models have a classical look like the Radiomir collection. Panerai had developed a hand-wound mechanical movement, P.999, in 2010, which has the characteristic of being very thin and has been introduced in the Radiomir case.
LF: How important is the India market for the brand?
MG: India is considered an emerging luxury market which is becoming a significant part of our portfolio. The Indian customers are of a young age (25-45) and are seeking superb quality, exclusivity and uniqueness when it comes to watches and have big appreciation for luxury goods. There is no doubt that there is a significant demand in the Indian luxury market. Panerai watches fully meet the expectation of the Indian customer
LF: Where does India Art Summit fit in your scheme of things? What made you sponsor an art event?
MG: Panerai’s partnership with the India Art Summit is yet another expression of our passion and appreciation for creativity and novelty across mediums. Panerai’s expertise in the creation of original movements and the essential, refined design of the Panerai watches further justifies our partnership with the India Art Summit – a platform to recognize and support excellence in the field of art.
LF: Is there any other field apart from yachts and art that you support or plan to support?
MG: Officine Panerai associated with worldwide exhibitions on Galileo Galilei and the 400th anniversary of his first celestial observations. Panerai did a Tribute to Galileo Galilei, in the name of the common Tuscan ancestry and of a love for science and innovation, and dedicated an ‘astronomical’ triptych in 2010, made up of three exceptionally sophisticated models: the Astronomo (Luminor 1950 Equation of Time Tourbillon Titanium – 50 mm), the Scienziato (Radiomir Tourbillon GMT Ceramic – 48 mm) and the Panerai Jupiterium planetary clock.
Officine Panerai is also the sponsor of Mike Horn’s new mission. This celebrated South African explorer left the Principality of Monaco in May 2008 on an expedition lasting four years. In several stages his journey will take him to all the continents including Antarctica, with the intention of sharing awareness of the current state of our planet and making the public aware of this important problem. The name of the expedition is ‘Pangaea’ and, in accordance with the motto of the expedition ‘Explore, Learn, Act’,
Mike Horn will not restrict himself to observing but will be actively involved in trying to make our planet a better place.
LF: What can we expect from the Panerai stable this year? Anything new you can tell us about?
MG: Continuous innovation, reliability, exclusivity and ultimate retail experience