Jean-Marc Pontroué : CEO Panerai

LUMINOR DUE 38 (PAM755-1600)

You have just taken the helm of Panerai and done a world tour of its subsidiaries : could you share your first impressions ?

Panerai remains a strong brand with a story we can continue writing. It has been part of the Richemont group since 1997 and is well organized, able to rely on its subsidiaries, more than 80 boutiques and one of the world’s finest retail networks. In immersing myself in the company, I have been lucky enough to benefit from the feedback of hundreds of people, retailers and journalists as well as Paneristi. Panerai is fortunate to have this group of enthusiasts in many countries, who meet and talk about the brand in an extremely passionate way. This community provides a wealth of commentary that must be analyzed, because of course we cannot do everything. The outside vision I bring helps us pinpoint certain areas that deserve accelerated development, whereas others should perhaps be given less importance : this is all part of a brand’s normal evolution.

Doesn’t this community expect more innovation from Panerai ?

That’s one of the areas to be amplified. Panerai is an innovative brand that already has its own Ideas Laboratory and we plan to give it fresh impetus. Its Italian identity must be conveyed first of all through creativity, and notably through technical innovation in terms of both movements and materials. The disruptive side of its nature that put Panerai on the map of this industry must be reinforced, as it was with the BMG-Tech, Carbotech and Bronzo materials that had a strong impact when they were introduced last year. I wish to perpetuate this legend, as exemplified in the Lab-ID launched last year.

Have the recently launched slimmer Luminor Due models proved as successful as expected ?

Definitely. Their success stems from the fact that they are a means for Panerai to address a new client base, generating a high acquisition rate among women, young people and Asian customers who had not so far taken much notice of the brand. The Luminor Due will in fact become a line in its own right. Panerai had previously offered only two lines – Luminor and Radiomir – that have now been split in two so as to clarify the range now comprising four collections : Radiomir, Luminor, Luminor Due and Submersible (previously part of the Luminor line). Special emphasis will be placed on the Submersible

What are your priorities for 2019 ?

The product side of things is very important, as you will have grasped. Nonetheless, with an iconic brand such as Panerai, there is relatively little room for maneuver since we mustn’t destroy anything and the evolution must be respectful of the past while remaining subtle so as to ensure continuity. In parallel, it’s important to rekindle the magic of our two emblematic destinations : Florence and Neuchâtel. With its boutique featuring a distinctive architectural context, Florence embodies the history of Panerai and we will introduce several special series dedicated to this location. In Neuchâtel, we are going to add a theatrical touch to the Manufacture by creating a lounge area, as well as offering an authentic experience with a crash-test model enabling clients to see for themselves how robust our watches are when they fall. We also plan to make more of our Ideas Laboratory with a secret room and create our own Hall of Fame with all the celebrities who wear our watches – something Panerai has never highlighted. All this untapped Panerai potential will be leveraged.

Is Panerai’s maritime DNA still as powerful as ever ?

The maritime theme definitely remains a priority in terms of products, as well as for our nautical ambassador, the classic yacht Eilean. The sailboat will continue competing on the classic race circuits in the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, such as the Panerai Classic Yacht Challenge, as well as meeting the public by docking in places such as Miami, London and St. Barts.

Will you have to choose between classic wooden sailing yachts and the high-tech America’s Cup speed machines that you also sponsor ?

Fortunately not, because Eilean is to Florence what an America’s Cup race is to Neuchâtel. We will in fact soon be announcing new partnerships with spectacular races. These regattas are platforms that serve as sources of inspiration for new materials and new experiences. Panerai will draw on its history as represented by the boutique in Florence, the Eilean and the Radiomir, while enriching it with all that must drive the future of the brand and its creativity with regard to our watches.

Brice Lechevalier is editor-in-chief of GMT and Skippers, which he co-founded in 2000 and 2001 respectively. He has also been CEO of WorldTempus since it joined the GMT Publishing stable, of which he is director and joint shareholder. In 2012 he created the Geneva Watch Tour, and he has been an advisor to the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève since 2011. Also closely involved in sailing, he has published the magazine of the Société Nautique de Genève since 2003, and was one of the founders of the SUI Sailing Awards in 2009 and the Concours d’Elégance for motor boats at the Cannes Yachting Festival in 2015.

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