This SIHH, Panerai introduced a slew of Submersible watches. Among the key ones three strike us as particularly interesting. All three are link to Panerai sponsored expeditions, viz extraordinary explorer Mike Horn, amazing free-diver Guillaume Nary, and Comsubin, the Diving and Commando Group of the Italian Navy. All three are available as a standard edition as well as a special “Experience” edition.
The Panerai Experience Limited Editions
The Panerai Experience is a masterstroke in marketing by Panerai CEO Jean-Marc Pontroué, by essentially shifting the focus on the watches into a unique proposition. Diving watches the ilk of the Panerai Submersible series are increasing becoming commodities, and differentiation becomes difficult. Of course, Panerai’s linkage to its unique history, design and the innovative use of materials is on the positive side of the product equation. But the experiential aspect, as offered by these special edition watches make them unique selling propositions with no competition.
Panerai, in the spirit of their founding with the Italian Navy and the spirit of adventure are already sponsoring several world class ambassadors, namely Mike Horn and Guillaume Néry. The marketing masterstroke is to combine the purchase of the limited edition watches to experiences with these top level professionals. An experience, essentially, which one cannot buy with money.
What are the experiences?
Mike Horn has two spirits: the free one, adventurous and determined to overcome every obstacle, and the other, his commitment to contribute to saving the planet he loves, making him an ambassador of what he has seen in the course of his decades of exploration. The limited edition version (19 examples) of the new Panerai Submersible Mike Horn Edition will offer its owners the opportunity to learn about these two spirits by undergoing an experience unique in the world: a few days of intensive training with Mike among the ice floes of the Arctic, a chance to put themselves to the test and to confront nature and its challenges, but also to become personally aware of the dangers to our ecosystem caused by the impact of humans.
Guillaume Néry is an extraordinary French free diver. The Submersible Chrono Guillaume Néry Edition is limited to fifteen examples, and the fortunate will be invited to Moorea, in French Polynesia, where Guillaume Néry lives.
There they will plunge into the depths of the ocean and experience the extraordinary emotions of diving while whale watching with the many-times world champion free-diver, who today is one of the greatest international ambassadors of the world of the sea.
And the Italian Navy connection is renewed with the new Panerai Submersible Marina Militare Carbotech™ . Limited to 33 pieces, the fortunate owners will take part in a training session with Comsubin, the Diving and Commando Group of the Italian Navy.
Hardly anyone who is not a member of this select award-winning circle can take part in this experience, which today Panerai is offering exclusively to its bravest and most passionate clients. The number of product examples being produced – 33 – is the same as the number of Gold Medals for Military Valour won by those who have been members of Comsubin in the course of its history.
Panerai PAM00985 Submersible Mike Horn Edition
The case, dial and hands
The case is the classical Submersible case. The case is large at 47mm in diameter but wears rather larger due to the crown guard (Panerai patented) and the large uni-directional bezel.
The benefit of the large case is strength. The case is made of EcoTitanium™, a material first introduced by Panerai. Though not owned by Panerai, EcoTitanium™ is a unique material which is made from recycled titanium and not from the exploitation of natural resources. The parts made of EcoTitanium™ are the case, the device protecting the winding crown, the bezel and also the back.
The dial is a sandwich style, typical of Panerai and generous amounts of blue Super-LumiNova® on the index markers and the large skeleton hands, which stand out strongly against the black dial. The regular edition uses green Super-LumiNova®. This is the first time Panerai is using this blue lume material.
Legibility is top rate, as the design optimises that aspect. All markings on the dial are large, a benefit of the large case, and very clear. Under dim lighting or under water, the luminous markers and hands are easily read. The lume is in a blue, and is used on the dial and the rotating bezel. This is the first time that Panerai is using a blue lume and is intended to remind one the sea. Perhaps the ideal colour for celebrating the love of Mike Horn and Panerai for this element.
The bezel operates well, each click satisfying and reassuring. The crown guard, which may be sometimes regarded as an affectation, does its job well and has a good feel as one operates it.
The movement: Panerai P.9010
The movement is sealed within the watch…of course, this is a timepiece which is expected to endure the hardships of real life adventure in extreme conditions. The case has a water resistant rating of 300m. The caseback is thus closed, and engraved with Mike Horn’s signature and an image inspired by the creatures which inhabit our seas.
Inside beats an automatic mechanical movement of Panerai manufacture. The P.9010 calibre is a workhorse movement. Robust and strong. And a modern design measuring 6.0 mm thick, 31 jewels, Glucydur® balance, 28,800 alternations/hour. Incabloc® anti-shock device. Power reserve is 3 days running on two barrels.
The movement is designed for robustness. As an example, the balance is fixed by a bridge with twin supports instead of the usual cock. The hours can be conveniently adjusted without interfering with the movement of the minute hand, due to a device which directly moves only the relative hand in jumps of one hour forward or backwards. This function is very useful when changing time zones or moving between summer time and winter time, and conveniently the adjustment of the hour hand is automatically connected to the date indicator.
The watch on its own is no slouch. The messages it sends with the use of innovative recycled and renewable materials is a very strong and convincing story. It looks very good. It is tough and built to endure the hardships of global exploration. And the movement within is a robust one. And unlike other desk divers, the owner will get to test this in the Artic conditions with Mike Horn. But for those who just love the watch, and can do without the experience, Panerai offers the PAM00984 for only S$29,300 (with GST), which is essentially the same watch but without the Mike Horn experience. And without some small details on the watch: the strap is black instead of blue, though still made from recycled PET. And the lume is green instead of blue.
Essentially, it is the combined experience in the Artic with Mike Horn makes this watch peerless. The premium over the non Experience equivalent is S$29,500 (with GST). Quite a large sum of money, but arguably, the days with Mike Horn in the Artic is an experience no amount of money can buy elsewhere. One which is unique and can truly be a life changing one. And justifies the entire cost of purchase. The watch, though is rather worthy, then becomes secondary. And this is the genius of this marketing campaign. Is this for everyone? Absolutely not. It is for the few who seek what is beyond a watch as a product, but as a means to an experience which can potentially be life changing.
At publication time, we understand that all the Experience watches are already spoken for. We think Panerai is probably offering these as a test, and guess that more of such experience based watches will come. So for those who desire such an exclusive offering will have to wait. We, for one will be awaiting in great anticipation.
Great review Peter, definitely an interesting proposition for the well heeled Panerai collector. I’d be very interested in a review of the new PAM 796. Being a sandwich dial, destro power reserve, it seems to offer a lot of PAM DNA for the asking price.