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Panerai - The Material World Of Panerai

Panerai The Material World Of Panerai

The Florentine brand tells its story through material innovation.

I have a confession to make. I used to think that all Panerai watches were the same. How wrong I was. I take it back — I take everything back! On the surface, of course, there are particular aesthetic codes that recur very strongly throughout the Panerai collection, unlike other brands whose collections vary widely in style and design. But a full appreciation of Panerai is not something that stops at the surface.

The 2020 releases from Panerai are all from the Luminor family, with the majority coming from the sub-collection Marina. What distinguishes them is their innovative use of material, an approach that goes all the way back to Panerai’s origins as an instrument supplier of the Italian Navy. 

Key among these innovations is the material known as Fibratech, of which a primary ingredient is basalt. Yes, basalt, the volcanic rock. In terms of geological mineral classification, basalt is an igneous rock, which means it was formed by cooling molten lava until it achieved a solid state. You can see where this is going — if basalt started in molten form, it can be melted again.

Fibratech is a composite material (in very much the same way that carbon fibre or fibreglass is) consisting of a binder and fibres of basalt. These fibres are created by heating basalt to its melting point and then extruding it into very thin, flexible strands. Similar processes as those used in carbon fibre composites can be used to manufacture basalt fibre composites. Although the material itself is not new, Fibratech marks the first time that this material is used in watchmaking. It is showcased in the PAM01663, the Luminor Marina Fibratech 44m. The watch is paired with a bezel of Carbotech, which we featured a few months ago in a technical material analysis article.

The Material World Of Panerai

Luminor Marina Fibratech 44m © Panerai

Thanks to basalt’s copious presence in readily accessible deposits (it is the most common volcanic rock on the earth’s surface), Fibratech can be considered as a more sustainable or eco-sensitive alternative to other materials that require lengthy processes for extraction or industrial synthesis. This environmental focus is also shown in the PAM01036 Luminor Luna Rossa GMT 44m, with a recycled dial made from the technical fabric of the Luna Rossa team’s sail. 

The Material World Of Panerai

Luminor Luna Rossa GMT 44m © Panerai

Driving the message home is the PAM01108 Submersible EcoPangaea Tourbillon GMT 50mm Mike Horn Edition, a horological behemoth limited to a five-piece edition, made in steel recycled from the drive shaft of the yacht at the centre of the environmental study, known as the Pangaea Expedition, led by explorer Mike Horn. The PAM01108 comes with two straps, one of which is made from recycled PET plastic, and is presented in a special box, also made from recycled plastic. According to our conversation with Panerai’s product director Alessandro Ficarelli, the eventual goal is to produce a timepiece entirely from recycled materials.

The Material World Of Panerai

Pangaea Tourbillon GMT 50mm Mike Horn Edition © Panerai

Other significant material innovations that have featured in previous Panerai releases include Goldtech, an 18k red-gold alloy that is resistant to the colour fading seen in most copper-gold alloys; Carbotech, the carbon fibre composite with superior mechanical properties to other carbon fibre composites; DMLS titanium, which involves advanced applications of powder metallurgy and laser sintering. These materials are used in the new PAM01112 Luminor Marina Goldtech and the PAM01662 Luminor Marina DMLS, the latter of which also uses a bezel of Carbotech for a visually captivating contrast of dark textures.

The Material World Of Panerai

Luminor Marina Goldtech © Panerai

The Material World Of Panerai

Luminor Marina DMLS © Panerai

Celebrating the original innovation of Panerai is a trio of boutique exclusives, the PAM01117 Luminor Marina DMLS, the PAM01118 Luminor Marina Carbotech and the PAM01119 Luminor Marina Fibratech. Apart from using the three most recent high-tech materials of Panerai, these three watches are distinguished by their extensive incorporation of Super-LumiNova, from established mainstays such as the hands and fan-favourite “sandwich” dials to new integrations such as on the dial rehaut and the crown-locking bridge. These three watches are produced in a series of 270 pieces each, and are guaranteed for an incredible 70 years, in acknowledgement of the 70 years since Panerai was awarded their patent for their luminous material — known as Luminor.

The Material World Of Panerai

Luminor Marina DMLS, Luminor Marina Carbotech and Luminor Marina Fibratech © Panerai

 

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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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