Panerai’s long association with the sea
The Florentine brand famously started out by supplying military-grade diver’s watches, named the Radiomir, to the Italian Navy during the Second World War. Today, it has carved a place for itself among the public, thanks to its collection of rugged and instantly recognisable timepieces, each of which riffs on the features of those early Radiomir models, from distinctive large cushion-shaped cases to luminescent Arabic numerals and indexes.
In recent years, Panerai has also made waves in the wider maritime world. In 2005, it launched the Classic Yachts Challenge, a series of five regattas held annually across the Mediterranean between June and September. It was so well received that, a year later, the brand added five more races to the international circuit. The Challenge has been going strong ever since, with the race coming to Cowes for Paneral British Classic Week in July.
It was during the first stage of the 2006 Panerai Classic Yacht Challenge that the brand’s then-CEO Angelo Bonati spotted a beautiful yet neglected boat moored in English Harbour, Antigua. He immediately recognised the famous Fife dragon on her hull, which marked her out as a splendid vintage sailing boat, even if she had seen better days. For Bonati, the boat had enormous potential: the classic ketch had been built in the renowned shipyard of William Fife back in 1936 – the very same year, incidentally, in which Panerai created the Radiomir prototype.
The iconic Eilean was discovered
Eilean, as Bonati discovered she was called, was built to order by two keen yachtsmen, the Fulton brothers, and launched in 1937 at Fairlie, in Scotland. Though she was built for cruising around the Clyde and the Scottish west coast, the threat of war was already looming and the brothers weren’t to enjoy her for long. After both men died in action, Eilean was bought by a Swede, who used her for racing, and then by a series of owners who deployed her in commercial charter work.
She changed hands again in 1964, when the lawyer Sir Hartley Shawcross – the lead British prosecutor at the Nuremburg Trials – bought her to spend family summers on, cruising around the Balearic Islands. The next owners raced Eilean in Antiguan Sailing Week, marking the start of her days in the Caribbean. It was here that she had her ultimate moment in the sun, when the ’80s band Duran Duran chartered her for their new music video. ‘Rio’ may have propelled the band to success, but Eilean’s fate was less rosy. Soon after filming, she collided with a ferry off the coast of Portugal, breaking her mizzenmast, and then sank in English Harbour while waiting for repair. When they dredged her up, it was only to discover mites had eaten through her masts and bowsprit.
Happily for Eilean, she caught Bonati’s eye, despite her state. He entrusted her to the Franceso Del Carlo shipyard, in Viareggio, where it took three years to restore herto her former glory. A team of skilled workmen spent 40,000 hours painstakingly bringing her back to life as accurately as possible, salvaging 60 per cent of her original planks, the ship’s bell, the anchor and the steering wheel in the process. Fittingly, Duran Duran and a restored Eilean were reunited at the 2010 Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta and, today, she is the ambassador for all of Panerai’s classic-yachting exploits.
Eilean competed in the Transat Classic race from Lanzarote to St Kitts in January, and sailed to London for two weeks at the end of June, where Watches of Switzerland were lucky enough to board her to meet Panerai’s newly installed CEO Jean-Marc Pontroué.
The Panerai Submersible
With Pontroué at the helm, the signature Panerai Submersible has been brought to the fore for 2019. Interestingly, all the new introductions are simply named Submersible, without the name Luminor preceding it, marking these new pieces out as part of a collection in its own right. That said, the Luminor’s legacy remains. Unveiled in 1950, it was characterised by its crown-protecting bridge to minimise accidental knocks underwater, its reinforced wire lugs, and its cushion-shaped case – the last of these an evolution of the original Radiomir case shape.
Panerai Submersible 42mm – PAM00683
- Steel model
- Sleek black dial and a black ceramic bezel
- Offset by luminous hour markers and dots on the dial
- Presented on a hardwearing black rubber strap that can be easily adjusted over a wetsuit.
- The iconic cushion-shape case remains, as does the trademark crown-protector at 3 o’clock
- Anti-clockwise rotating bezel with graduated scale
Explore the Panerai Submersible 42mm here.
Panerai Submersible Carbotech – PAM01616
- Highly innovative Carbotech material, a lightweight carbon fibre that’s lighter than steel and titanium, but still highly resistant to shocks and corrosion. It’s created by compressing together ultra-thin sheets of carbon fibre with a polymer called PEEK (Polyether ether ketone) at a controlled temperature and under high pressure
- Carbotech has an uneven matt black appearance which varies according to the cutting of the material; a result that each watch is unique
- P.9010 calibre with a three-day power reserve, with a date at 3 o’clock and a small seconds dial at 9 o’clock
- Blue luminious hour markers and dots on the dial
- Anti-clockwise rotating bezel with graduated scale
Explore the Panerai Submersible Carbotech here.