Established in Florence by Giovanni Panerai in 1860, Panerai started out as a manufacturer of precision instruments rather than a watchmaker.

Panerai, as a watch brand, can be one confusing to grasp by many.

It has been around since the 1860s, but only released its first watch in the 1930s, right before the second World War. It is Italian in founding, but Swiss in making, marking it the only Italian brand in the world of high watch making.

It knows this, and wants to set things straight, especially among its Malaysian fans, with its first standalone boutique in the country in Pavilion KL.

In partnership with Swiss Watch Gallery, the Florentine watchmaker is proud to open its doors to its Pavilion boutique merely weeks ago. The launch was graced by the Managing Director of Panerai, Giacomo Cinelli, who walks us through what’s new with the brand, store and all.

Panerai managing director, Giacomo Cinelli

Italian design, Swiss technology

Established in Florence by Giovanni Panerai in 1860, Panerai started out as a manufacturer of precision instruments rather than a watchmaker. Its niche in making clocks eventually made it the city’s first watch-making school.

“Panerai was initiated in 1860 but the the first watch only came out in 1930, just before the second World War,” Giacomo tells. “This is because the Italian navy asked Panerai to come up with a watch that was specific for the commandos. Historically, we may be 200-300 years old, but our watches have only been around less than 100 years.”

To cater to the navy’s diving needs, Panerai created a watch that is water-resistant, shock-resistant and can illuminate itself in the darkness of many covert underwater missions. That’s how Panerai’s iconic Radiomir range of watches came about, one that has become synonymous with the brand today. Its self-illuminating dial is thanks to a special radium-based powder, a substance of such high visibility and excellent underwater adhesive qualities that the brand had it patented as a key element in Officine Panerai’s production.

The first Panerai Radiomir prototype

“Panerai was able to have all these three elements in one watch,” Giacomo elaborates. “The original all come with a self-illuminating dial that is painted with radium-based powder. Panerai is the only one using it.”

The first Luminor

The Radiomir made a complete evolution to become the Luminor in 1950 with the addition of crown-protecting bridge, most identifiable by the reinforced wire lugs created from the same block of steel as the case.

Italian ingenuity matched with Swiss technology makes Panerai, in Giacomo’s words, “a first” of such combination, “which makes it quite exceptional”.

Panerai’s new wave

Extending on its exceptional timepieces for the marine world, Panerai shines the focus on its Submersible range of diving watches at SIHH this year, premiering the Submersible Guillaume Nery and Mike Horn editions, among others.

With the appointment of a new CEO Jean-Marc Pontroué, the new watches aren’t just new timepieces – they mark the new dawn of Panerai that invites wearers to be part of the adventure the watches stand for.

The Submersible Mike Horn Edition 47mm

In the case of the Submersible Mike Horn Edition 47mm, two versions were released. One comes in the standard green-lume while the other in blue. The blue however, is limited to only 19 pieces and is twice the price of the green because it will grant the owner an invitation to join Mike Horn on a trip to the Arctic.

“Our new CEO has given a strong boost to the brand, a strong reconnection to its origin and driving the brand towards the future, connecting with the millenials with new communications,” Giacomo offers.

For the not-so-hardcore, the new store is a milder invitation to the world of Panerai. Designed with an ideal blend of tradition and of the future, the standalone boutique seeks to immerse clients in a sophisticated environment and invites them to discover the brand’s heritage, craftsmanship and technical expertise.

Panerai boutique in Pavilion KL

Before one even enters the store, one’s eyes are drawn to the the huge Luminor dial that serves as the centrepiece.

Milan-based designer Patricia Urqiuola paid homage to Panerai’s deep connection with the marine world with glass display cases shaped like military torpedoes,

In the centre of it all, quite literally, is a breathtaking rotating display complete with a built-in magnifying glass to hone in on the details of the watches on display.

(Slide left for more)

Before one even enters the store, one’s eyes are drawn to the the huge Luminor dial that serves as the centrepiece.

Milan-based designer Patricia Urqiuola paid homage to Panerai’s deep connection with the marine world with glass display cases shaped like military torpedoes, and glass walls that mimic the glossy waves of the ocean and the sparkling sunrays that hit them, among others. A big part of the store is also made of walnut wood and brass – elements heavily used in ships back in the day.

In the centre of it all, quite literally, is a breathtaking rotating display complete with a built-in magnifying glass to hone in on the details of the watches on display.

Panerai, as a watch brand, may be one that could prove confusing but its DNA is one that is as straightforward as it gets. It is made for the deepest, toughest depths of the ocean during a time when it is needed most, and that legacy lives on to this day with a spirit for adventure that is undying as its history is storied.

Learn more about the brand at the official website here.

 

(Photos: Panerai)

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