Spotlight on India’s luxury watches

Panerai watches: Made for the open seas

Free diving in French Polynesia or an Arctic exploration with Mike Horn? Panerai’s CEO Jean-Marc Pontroue steps up watch marketing with Submersible ‘experiences’

It is a little over a year since Jean-Marc Pontroue, 54, took over as CEO at Panerai, and he has already shaken things up at the 159-year-old company owned by Richemont. Visual communication is paramount and the Paneristi (or Panerai faithfuls) are being wooed by expeditions to extreme destinations on social media. The sporty, masculine vibe of the legendary Italian watchmaker is being reinforced and he has identified four model categories – Radiomir, Luminor, Luminor Due and Submersible. This is to ensure that each has a dedicated target group and specific movements, materials and price points. However, with his focus on the Navy-bred dive watch (with its own collection now, apart from its parent Luminor family, it is truly the year of the Submersible), he has several models out and says the line will get priority with new materials and innovations. In addition, the Guillaume Néry, Mike Horn or Marina Militare special editions introduced at the SIHH Geneva watch show in January have extraordinary experiences built into the purchase, from free-diving with whales in French Polynesia to Arctic explorations. They come with a tag of 40,000 euros plus (approximately ₹31.36 lakh), and are limited to 15 (Guillaume Néry), 19 (Mike Horn) and 33 (Marina Militare) numbers. Clearly, the former CEO of Roger Dubuis knows how to make an impact.

The sharp-suited CEO has been busy in India, too. As new Panerai boutiques were launched across the word over the last year, Mumbai got its second store. Also, for fans used to seeing the cushion-shaped heavy-duty watches on Hollywood celebrities like Sylvester Stallone, Pontroue had a surprise. In December 2018, cricket icon Mahendra Singh Dhoni was roped in as their ‘modern day hero’, and has since starred in social media campaigns, sporting the PAM00424 Radiomir California 47mm, among other models. It is a shout out to the 1936 prototype that equipped the commandos of the Italian Navy. The Paneristi love it, of course, and Pontroue is tracking what they have to say on their forums. “This group of people can tell you more about Panerai history than I’ll ever know even if I stayed 20 years in the company,” he says, adding, “They have very interesting points… Will I please everybody? No, it’s impossible.” Excerpts from an interview with the CEO:

Jean Marc Pontroué_CEO_portrait4

Jean Marc Pontroué_CEO_portrait4  

EcoTitanium cases to watch straps from recycled PET — tell us about material innovations this year.

We will keep pushing R&D for innovative and revolutionary materials, not only to keep up with the times, but to be ahead of [it]. In 2019, the year of the Submersible, both with case material and dials, Panerai will keep using high tech materials such as BMG (a metallic glass that is stronger and lighter than steel), Carbotech, DMLS (3D printing) Titanium and Forged Carbon, to name a few.

Has your strategy of dividing the watches into four families (Radiomir, Luminor, Due and Submersible) worked in India?

It is working well! Today you need to simplify the lives of your customers. Like you simplify lives of your readers. If it’s too complicated to read, your readers will get exhausted. If they watch something on TV, and it’s boring, they will switch to their phone. Don’t forget that customers have the choice to change if it is too complicated to understand.



What is the real purpose behind the unique Submersible ‘experiences’?

We want to connect our loyal customers to Panerai’s DNA of heroism and adventure: free diving in French Polynesia with Guillaume Nery; training with the Italian Navy Commandos; and Arctic exploration with Mike Horn. Each experience is unique, emotional and spectacular. We are taking customers to the next level, offering them something that money cannot buy.

What role do influencers play and have they changed, from the days of Sylvester Stallone?

Panerai has been worn by stars such as [Arnold] Schwarzenegger and Stallone, Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham. What have they got in common? They are all sports lovers. The spirit of sport is part of the Panerai identity and you can tell it from its brand ambassador, the explorer Mike Horn and the freediving champion Guillaume Néry. We appeal to contemporary heroes.

Available on, and Panerai boutiques in Delhi and Mumbai.

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Printable version | Feb 22, 2020 1:56:06 PM |

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