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Panerai - Interview with Jean-Marc Pontroué

Panerai Interview with Jean-Marc Pontroué

Sustainability and chronographs are front and centre for Panerai at Watches and Wonders. The brand is also launching its first collection for women, the Piccolo Due

Your Submersible eLab ID concept watch is 98.6% recycled materials by weight. This is one good-looking watch. What would it take to launch series production?
In a project on this scale, the main issue is the recycling, specifically industrialisation and the economic model. We’ve learned a lot from other industries. It took some of them ten years to develop an optimised ecosystem. If they can do it, there’s no reason why the watch industry shouldn’t. After two years spent working on the question, we’re delivering all the necessary ecosystem, with suppliers and protocols, during Watches and Wonders to any brand that’s interested. Sharing best practices is rare in the watch industry. Everyone can benefit: the planet, of course, and the industry, too. By increasing our size on this market, we can obtain lower prices for consumers.

Interview with Jean-Marc Pontroué

Submersible eLab ID © Panerai

In a similar and also more affordable vein, the Luminor Marina eSteel is made from recycled steel on a recycled PET strap. Is this in response to consumer demand or is Panerai genuinely engaged in environmental protection?
It’s a similar story to electric cars ten years ago. No-one believed in them at first and there was no real market. Of course, government incentives were a boost to investment. Why doesn’t the watch industry include sustainable development in criteria such as Swiss Made? We chose weight, with 98.6% of weight in recycled materials, as a metric that can apply independently of price, but if another brand comes up with a more pertinent standard, we’d be happy to get behind them. Ten years ago we worked with Mike Horn on an eco-responsible watch, with recycled materials accounting for 40% of its value. Mike was the first to alert us to the state of the planet, the first to say, “if there’s one brand that should be doing something, it’s Panerai.”

Interview with Jean-Marc Pontroué

Luminor Marina eSteel © Panerai

You’re putting bronze back in the spotlight with the Submersible Bronzo Blu Abisso in a 42mm case. Who is this watch targeting, would you say?
The Bronzo saga defies every rule of marketing! Firstly there’s a waiting list: you won’t find one in any store. Together with the PAM 968 Bronzo, launched in 2019, we’re limiting production of both models to 1,000 pieces a year. This scarcity is part of what makes it so desirable. For those customers who are able to purchase one, they have the reassurance it will never go down in value. The Bronzo Blu Abisso in a 42mm diameter has the potential to satisfy many more Paneristi, who may find the 47mm of the PAM 968 too large. We’re seeing an underlying trend for smaller Submersibles. It’s also the collection most worn by celebrities.

Interview with Jean-Marc Pontroué

Submersible Bronzo Blu Abisso © Panerai

You’re also introducing a Chrono Luminor Luna Rossa. How would you describe your America’s Cup adventure?
First and foremost, one that has people at its heart. Max Sirena, Luna Rossa’s skipper, is an extraordinary personality. We first met in the Milan boutique in 2018. He introduced me to the Bertelli family, who own Prada, and the partnership just followed on from there. You can’t imagine the enthusiasm in Italy. We discussed materials and innovation, hosted customer experiences, the entire crew got behind the project. They also taught us to look at what it means to be Italian from a different angle. Prada carries our watches in 30 of its stores, including in China where the brand has a strong following.

Interview with Jean-Marc Pontroué

Chrono Luminor Luna Rossa © Panerai

You’re treating chronograph wearers to a new movement in three versions of the Luminor Chrono, all with interchangeable steel bracelets and leather straps. Is this something the brand will be pursuing?
Panerai had yet to fully develop the chronograph segment, which is ironic for a sports watch brand. Our entry-level chronos are priced under €9,000. The Complicazioni versions can exceed €20,000. They also come in colours other than black, omnipresent until last year, such as white and blue which now accounts for almost half our sales.

Interview with Jean-Marc Pontroué

Luminor Chrono © Panerai

What’s your pick of the new releases for Watches and Wonders 2021?
I love the Luna Rossa chrono. It channels everything Panerai is today: its Italian identity, the contemporary chrono, the sandwich dial, the colour blue, the white indexes that really stand out. It’s the ultimate sports watch, fitted with our new strap in Luna Rossa colours that prefigures the next stage in our partnership with the Italian team.

Have you saved the best for last?

I certainly have! Women represent a quarter of our clientele and now, for the first time, Panerai is paying them serious attention. The 38mm Piccolo Due* is for them. It comes in precious materials with a mother-of-pearl or a coloured dial, a steel bracelet, a gold bracelet or a crocodile strap. So plenty of choice and this is only the beginning. The Due collection attracts 99% new customers and we expect this Piccolo Due to do the same among women.

*launching April 14, full details on WorldTempus


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Every Panerai watch is as unique as the story it tells. Since 1860 Panerai has produced high-precision instruments and watches, developed and created to meet the most rigorous military standards. Today the very essence of Panerai remains the creation of technological innovations and remarkable instruments, that draw inspiration from the epic exploits of past and, at the same time, explore new disruptive paths.

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