This year Panerai celebrated the 70th anniversary of the Luminor patent, which refers to tritium and the post-war period. But in this editorial I am not going to retrace the glorious and stormy history of the most important Italian watchmaking brand since the literature in this regard is very rich and profound. Rather, I want to straddle a slow-running torpedo in an attempt to sabotage some clichés about the Manufacture and to sink the battleship of the most hostile fundamentalisms.

 

Now, as many of you readers will know, the international Panerista community has a strong sense of identity which translates into a certain intolerance for everything that is marketing-oriented and fashionable. "Tourists" are called the jocks who flaunt Panerai as an aperitif or in any case considered "felons". This proud and noble approach often degenerates, unfortunately, into a traditionalist extremism that rejects every product coined by the brand that does not obsessively reproduce the original stylistic features; to the point of criticizing with verve even a piece dedicated to them, as happened at the Radiomir created this year by the company for the 20th anniversary of the paneristi.com site. The brawl between purists and post-modernists, let's call them this way, exists in many product sectors. For a porschista who is indolent to contemplate his brand new Cayenne diesel, there will be the "real porschista" who will disgust it, stating that a diesel van will never be a "real Porsche". Quid est veritas? The fundamental misunderstanding arises from the fact that certain brands have acquired semiotic, symbolic and cultural values ​​such as to make us forget that they are commercial companies that sell a product. The Florentine brand has floated in this muddy ambiguity since 1997, the year of its acquisition by the Vendome group, today Richemont. By working on subtraction, we arrive at a fundamental rhetorical question: Should Panerai try to broaden the audience of potential customers, or should it be concerned with honoring its genesis and its people with philologically respectful references to orthodoxy, neglecting commercial tactics? Sometimes the two visions could work in harmony and only the cynicism and managerial ineptitude of those who brutalize the field in their hands nullify its joint potential, as happened in Italy with Lancia. But it is clear that if Panerai had only listened to the Paneristi, it would have gone bankrupt a long time ago and reduced to military nostalgia for a flea market. Today, however, it is one of the most recognizable brands in the world - in a world where recognition is everything - which has a turnover of around 900 million Swiss francs and which has managed to preserve an enviable expressive and engineering coherence, with increasing emphasis on a marked seaworthiness and on extreme disciplines, without disgracing themselves in fashionable drifts and constantly refining themselves in the micromechanical quality. Going into detail about what has been done well, but could have been done better in the last twenty years abundant by the Group in which the brand is embedded ... would be idle, yet it should be clear that Officine Panerai, born in 1972, from 1993 ago timepiece for civilians and is no longer covered by military secrecy.

 

 

A fundamentalist Panerista would like to see only warlike Luminor / Radiomir steel, 44 or 47mm, come out of the Manufacture (even if, if you want to be pedantic, only the Radiomir 3646 waged war with the Regia Marina, however, animated by Cortebert Rolex movement and with a beautiful crown on the crown), manual calibers finished with the bodywork pliers, closed caseback, black dials, hours, minutes and testosterone. Without understanding that Guido Panerai & Son, the laboratory of those instruments they evoked, did not reply: on the contrary, it invented, innovated. As it strives to do today, thanks to a research on materials that is unparalleled among the Richemont Group houses. And always in the wake of the custom of the time, with repeated homages, sometimes significant, sometimes just pleasing, but always compliant. Today's Radiomir 425 SLC, for example, with a glorious “pig” plunging into the darkness of the dial, is in fact the faithful reinterpretation of the 2553 produced between 1936 and 1938 as the first prototypes of military diving watches.

 

The Luminor Marina Limited editions presented at the “connected” Watches & Wonders and celebrating the 70th anniversary of the patent can be perceived as spectacular examples of experimental watchmaking or fluo flashes suitable for tattooed rappers, but they are consequential and unprecedented at the same time. The Super-Luminova Panerai that illuminates them (too much), is, mutatis mutandis, dazzling like the Luminor of the past, without the epidermal hassle of radioactivity, while Fibratech and Carbotech are more efficient than raw steel and so captivating as to make you almost forget that reprehensible “Warranty 70 Years” engraved on the caseback. But if the pyrotechnic tribute is considered a tacky decision by the marketing office, the more introverted Luminor Logo 44mm is still available, as hard and laconic as the connoisseurs like.

 

 

If the Luminor 2 was welcomed by Paneristi as the last nail in the coffin of virile integrity, the current collections therefore still have many references in the catalog that should satisfy the most male and uncompromising admirers. The Pam372 and 422 are powerful examples of military rigor. 914 and 915 do not lend themselves to ranting, having translated the foreignphile written "8 days", criticized by the excellent former CEO Angelo Bonati, in "8 days", exquisitely Italic almost like "Cazzomir". The “Pirata” 590 is the most successful of all, in its fusion of references to the famous 203 and calculated negligence.

 

Looking more carefully at the Radiomir, for which I have a predilection, if there are references on sale - such as the 685 and 687 - that would have been at ease also on Luigi Durand de la Penne's wrist, there have been others who could slip with studied rudeness under a solaro suit. In this regard, if the Pam740, in gold, California dial, was already a feast for the eyes and for the fingertips, the real magic flowed from 336 with wire lugs, brown dial and very refined P.999 caliber with separate bridges: a piece that I romantically imagine on the wrist of Commander Junio ​​Valerio Scipione Ghezzo Marcantonio Maria. But even the 574 powered by the solid Manufacture P.1000 caliber, now available in the collection at the somewhat demanding price of 7.400 euros, is just the right sport for every day.

 

The idea of ​​creating a dress watch signed by Officine Panerai was undoubtedly appreciable, but the company made the wrong model. Certainly the Bettarini case and the crown protecting bridge are the most recognizable expressive topoi for the “civil” clientele of all continents, nevertheless, the Radiomir was better suited to the purpose. A guaranteed Luminor waterproof to a depth of just 30 meters is a joke, as it makes the ingenious bridge with cam clamping lever, designed to withstand the stresses of the sea depths, a mere facade effigy that can be peeled off even by a dip in the pool. If for a woman it can go - and the 38mm on the female wrist is really pleasant - on a man the yet thin and mechanically evolved Luminor 2 ... makes a bit of a tourist of the brand with the map in hand. The splendid cushion case of the Radiomir, even better if with flush lugs, on the contrary, by resizing the diameters below 42mm and with the use of precious metals, would have given life to an authoritative dressy Pam. The 198 in platinum reduced to 40 millimeters could have been the most pertinent choice as a launch model. But I am sure that not even a commercial operation of this style would have been digested by the penalty takers: “If I want an evening watch, I certainly won't buy a Panerai”; "No ladies' jewels, thank you".

 

Considering myself a decent collector of vintage Cartier, if I told the Paneristi what I think of the new Santos in Pvd, or even just the Caliber divers, I would even take the Taliban from them. Just to make it clear that if we talk about other Maison it is customary to say that they "dare", that they "rejuvenate", that they "interpret the times"; when, on the other hand, attention falls on the Panerai changes, it is said that they "betray tradition". In reality, fundamentalisms aside, you can make ugly watches or beautiful watches. The recent 1314 and 655, which have little to do with the most unshakable pragmatism (white, automatic, transparent caseback), are splendid timepieces. And it would also be on the wrist of a Panerista.

 

If I say Sub, what comes to your mind? The Submariner ?! I'm out of balance: the Submersible is the best diver in the world under 10 thousand euros. The new Azzurro, available only online in accordance with the digital times in which we exist, should be a source of pride for any watchmaker patriot. The company can only be criticized for a somewhat hairy operation, which most people have overlooked, namely the replacement of the fine P.42 caliber on the 9010mm with the more ordinary P.900, without any appreciable pruning of the price list. I had a 682 - which I often regret - and there was no competition there for the same price. The Bronze - more expensive and more demanding in size - which still mounts the P.9010, generates physical arousal in sensitive men, and plays with the Omega PloProf as the most charismatic professional in the world.

 

Therefore, deepening the mechanical solutions, so insignificant and salottiere for the Paneristi people, it is difficult to complain about the Richemont management. Officine Panerai is one of the companies that have invested most in new calibers and since the birth of the Neuchâtel Manufacture in 2002 - inaugurated with the 2002-day manual winding P.8 - development has been constant. For those who understand a little of industrial micromechanics, today it is difficult to decisively prefer Rolex to Panerai. If Rolex still stands out in chronometry and has a slight qualitative advantage in terms of overall workmanship, it is certainly more limited in terms of engineering solutions, as Lo Scienziato 1950 Tourbillon Gmt clearly demonstrates.

 

Two final words about chronographs, which I find superfluous in the Submersible collection: in the past, only the Radiomir Split-Second 147 with Vénus 185 caliber, for which I was about to go crazy, and not even the patrician Mare Nostrum 716 stole my heart. never kidnapped, but I recently tried the 654 with a canvas strap on my wrist and it's almost as intoxicating as a William Fife ketch. The Luna Rossa Regatta 1038 with caliber P.9100 / R is very remarkable in terms of performance, which uses the technical fabric of the sails to give shape and a characteristic mottled gray color to the dial - like the whole collection dedicated to the Italian boat by Patrizio Bertelli and all the Prada Racing Team.

 

In conclusion, in my opinion Officine Panerai has achieved in the last 23 years an appreciable fusion between military DNA and bourgeois refinement, between a rough professional vocation and sundeck flourishes, between a Florentine laboratory and a Swiss manufacture. A pimp the right fusion, which still allows to sell about 80 thousand watches a year and who knows how many straps. Leaving everyone, natives, tourists and ladies, ample gratification in the catalog with the addition, persevering over the years, of a hypnotic anthology of special editions. A young and wealthy heterosceptic of uncertain birthplace who exhibited his Panerai worsted in some zero kilometer riparian cocktail could never penetrate the cellular compartmentalization of the Flotilla or undermine its honor: it would be just a funny sea bug on the diving suit.