This article is part of our Watches & Wonders 2021 coverage. To see all articles in this series, click here
Strategic vision, passion for product and multifaceted commercial experience: they are the internationally recognized qualities that led to Jean-Marc Pontroué’s appointment as Panerai CEO in April 2018.
“I won’t change the way Panerai produces its watches. I’ll change the way our customers engage with experiences through Panerai watches” Pontroué says. Intrigued by the historic slogan of the Florentine watchmaking Maison — “Laboratorio di Idee” — Pontroué honors the traditions of the Brand, with innovation as its hallmark.
On the communications front, Pontroué emphasizes the universe that inspires every Panerai product, the realm of modern heroes. And commercially, omnichannel strategy and bolstered e-commerce are key targets of his attention. In our latest article, we chat to him about the brand, his key pieces and the launches from watch fair Watches and Wonders.
Delighted to be speaking with you today and thank you so much for agreeing to take part in this interview. Please can you tell our readers a bit more about yourself and the role you play at the brand?
Thank you for having me here with you today. I have been the CEO of Panerai since 2018. Generally speaking, I set the vision for the brand and manage the overall business strategy of the brand.
How would you introduce Panerai as a brand, and describe the collections to a new watch collector?
Panerai has a really unique history, supplying watches exclusively to the Italian navy and combining Italian style with Swiss savoir-faire. Ever since I joined Richemont in 2000, I’ve been fascinated by this unique brand with its DNA.
We have 4 collections, Radiomir inspired by the very first Panerai watch made. The Luminor collection – our most iconic featuring the crown-guard. The Submersible collection our diving collection and finally the Luminor Due collection which is a thinner, refined version of the Luminor.
In your opinion, what sets Panerai apart from other timepiece brands?
What sets us apart is our Laboratorio di Idee which is essentially the ideas hub for all our new products, experiences, research. It’s the lab where the magic happens. Panerai is known amongst other things for its use of different materials, indeed we have patented many including Carbotech™, Sportech™ and this experimentation & creativity starts with the Laboratorio di Idee.
Panerai also has its own fan-base community called the Paneristi, without a doubt a unique feature of the brand. The group have been around for about 20 years & members are based all over the world. They have annual gatherings which take place in a different city each year. They’re our great friends of the brand.
In your opinion which is the most significant collection or piece from Panerai and why?
The piece that has certainly had the most hype is the Bronzo. It’s the most sought-after collection piece, and we only make a very limited quantity. First launched in 2010, we were the first to make a diving watch made from Bronze and our clients loved it.
Which is your favourite ever piece from Panerai, and why?
I really like the bigger watches, so the Submersible 47mm Luna Rossa piece is a favourite. It uses parts of the Luna Rossa boat which I love.
Which piece or pieces, would you recommend to our audience in order to start building their Panerai collection?
This one’s easy, our most iconic piece is a great place to start. That’s the Luminor Marina PAM01312. It embodies the Panerai brand and is our most popular watch.
As Watches & Wonders Geneva is upon us, can you tell us a little more about your new launches at the fair? Which piece is a personal favourite, and why?
Personally, I really love all the novelties we are launching, particularly because of how they have been conceived and the fact that we are using new materials that no one has ever seen before.
But the one that melts my heart is the Chrono Luna Rossa, which reminds me about the importance of Chrono in Panerai’s history, but also about our strong partnership with Luna Rossa sailing team, and that’s the reason why the dial is enriched with red and white details.
Finally, looking even more toward the future, what are you most excited about for Panerai in 2021?
I am most excited about our ecological efforts. Last year we announced that our packaging would be from 100% recycled material and now we are going a step further and creating the first watch made from recycled materials. Its case, sandwich dial and bridges are composed of EcoTitanium™, a recycled titanium alloy that is lightweight aerospace-grade metal made of more than 80% pure recycled content. We are passionate about sustainability & environmentalism – it’s one of the pillars of the brand & is adopted not only in our new products but also our offices & ways of working.
For more information on the new launches at Watches & Wonders and to register your interest, please visit our websites
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