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Think Leader: Jean-Marc Pontroué, CEO of Panerai

Elevating form and function, Officine Panerai is known for its fusion of Italian design, Swiss technology, and a passion for the sea. Given its history of supplying the Italian navy and its diving corps with innovative instruments, the brand is decidedly cutting edge, marrying past and present by paying homage to its roots but continually seeking new materials and creating avant-garde timepieces like the stylish New Submersible Bronzo. Here, Panerai CEO Jean-Marc Pontroué reveals the company’s vision and most recent innovations.

When a guest visits the Officine Panerai Manufacture in Switzerland, what is the most common comment about meeting the master watchmaker?
Our guests are always surprised to find out that the average watchmaker at the factory is in their 30s. I believe this sets the foundation to understand Panerai. We have an important history, yet we are not an antiquated company; on the contrary, the Maison’s path towards sustainability and corporate social responsibility brought up-to-date outputs, including the Neuchatel Manufacture, an eco-sustainable facility with industry-leading, custom robotics and one of the most advanced quality control testing systems.
 
Officine Panerai supplied the Italian Navy and its specialty divers with precision instruments. How does this translate to today’s Panerai timepieces?
Panerai’s DNA of heroism and adventure, together with the special relationship with the sea world, still permeate Panerai products today. This year we are focusing on our Submersible Collection, specifically founded as a collection for professional diving and extreme sports activities.
 
The new Panerai Submersible Luna Rossa watch will be on the wrists of the Luna Rossa Sailing Team led by Massimiliano “Max” Sirena. What makes this new watch an industry standout?
We are very proud of Panerai and Luna Rossa’s partnership. It expresses all the values to which our brand is so strongly linked: technical innovation, Italian excellence, love of the sea, and boldness. The result of such a well-mixed collaboration is a diving watch that is water-resistant to a depth of 300 meters (30 bar). Its case is made of carbotech, an innovative material based on carbon fiber and introduced into the world of high quality watchmaking by Panerai. The watch’s strong personality is further defined by a rotating bezel for calculating the duration of a dive (also made of carbotech), and the dial has a special texture concealing a fascinating secret: pieces of the sails of the Luna Rossa have been applied to it.
Additionally, the small seconds hand at 9 o’clock and the central hand indicating the second time zone which, when set up, will enable the start time of the races of the 36th America’s Cup to be followed, even if they are taking place on the other side of the world.
 
What is today’s most innovative material when it comes to watches? What has been new to the master watchmaker’s design and innovation?
Panerai has always been a leader in the use of innovative materials: BMG-Tech, carbotech, and the use of bronze. This year we have gone the extra step, being the first in the industry to use Eco-Titanium, a material obtained not from the exploitation of natural resources but from recycled titanium. Panerai’s approach stands firm through our “laboratorio di idee” claim. Our goal is to be positioned as a brand that is both innovative and continues to contribute to 21st-century watchmaking.