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In Conversation with Jean-Marc Pontroue, CEO of Panerai

The Watches Of Switzerland Group 3 minutes

Delighted to be speaking with you today and thank you so much for agreeing to take part in this interview. Could you introduce yourself and explain what is it you currently do?

I have been the CEO at Panerai since 2018. Since then, I have been fully focused in unlocking the potential of the brand. In this respect, I believe that mechanical watchmaking is a fundamental and central aspect of our business. Fine watchmaking is our DNA and we are constantly striving to improve and innovate our mechanical movements. At the same time, we also believe that technological innovation is essential. We are always seeking out the most advanced technologies to improve the performance and durability of our watches.

Our philosophy is to combine Italian design, fine watchmaking and technological innovation to create high-quality timepieces.

How would you describe Panerai to someone who has been introduced to the brand for the first time?

Founded in Florence in 1860 as a workshop, shop and subsequently school of watch-making, for many decades Panerai supplied the Italian Navy and its specialist diving corps in particular with precision instruments. The designs developed by Panerai in that time, including the Luminor and Radiomir, and were launched on the international market only after the brand was acquired by the Richemont Group in 1997.

Today Panerai develops and crafts its movements and watches at its Neuchâtel manufacture. The latter are a seamless melding of Italian design flair and history with Swiss horological expertise. Panerai watches are sold across the world through an exclusive network of distributors and Panerai boutiques. Today Panerai mission is designing innovative reliable instruments empowering modern heroes.

Panerai has 4 collections: Luminor, the essence of the Brand, characterised by its iconic crown-protecting device. Submersible, the diving line developed for modern heroes with bold designs & high-tech materials. Luminor Due, a thinner, contemporary version of the original Luminor. Finally the Radiomir, our most classic line & symbol of Italian elegance, named after the luminescent material patented in 1916.

What can you tell us about Panerai’s newest releases the Radiomir Quaranta? What was the inspiration behind these pieces?

The Radiomir Quaranta are a faithful homage to the legendary history of Panerai. A contemporary reinterpretation of the Maison’s first-ever watch bringing the look of the navy divers of the 1940s to today’s watch connoisseurs. Iconic details and precision are embodied in a collection expressing the discreet Italian elegance of the Maison’s roots and Swiss know-how.

Who would you say these timepieces appeal to the most?

Quaranta which means forty in Italian, stands for the 40mm case size that defines the Collection’s essence - a contemporary adaptation of the 47mm size of the original Radiomir created some eight decades ago. Measuring 10.15mm in thickness, the watch case is the thinnest in the entire Panerai’s range, proposing a versatile silhouette for all genders and occasions. Panerai also offers a variety of interchangeable straps to complement different personalities and modern lifestyles.

Can you explain Panerai’s latest exhibition at Watches and Wonders for those who haven’t seen this, what was the inspiration behind the design?

This year, the Panerai booth at Watches & Wonders was connected to the brand’s passion and deep connection with the marine universe and inspired by Eilean, an iconic 22-metre Bermudan ketch built in 1936 that the Maison discovered in 2006 and lovingly restored in 2009. The new Radiomir collection is, indeed, a tribute to Panerai’s legendary history, showcased in the booth by maritime elements:, teak deck-like flooring, boat ropes, brass details and majestic white sails appearing to billow in the wind.

Which piece or pieces, would you recommend to our audience in order to start building their Panerai collection?

The Luminor is our icon, so I would start from a piece like the PAM01312 which embodies the DNA of Panerai. Or the new Radiomir Quaranta of course which opens up the doorway to the world of Panerai fusing the vintage design with a contemporary style. Why not try the PAM01292, perhaps with a white dial, which, thanks to the PAM Click Release System™, can be personalized with a number of new colourful straps making the watch suitable for any occasion.

Can you share what inspires Panerai and its pieces?

Panerai remains faithful and true to its heritage. We take inspiration from our archives, they are indeed a window to our past, our history, hence our accomplishments. This is especially shown in the new releases this year. However, we always keep an eye open towards the present, with a vision rooted in technological research and development carrying on our tradition of pioneering innovations.

Explore the Panerai Radiomir Quaranta at Watches of Switzerland.

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