Panerai’s showing at Watches and Wonders Geneva 2022 carries on from where the watchmaker left off the year before as they reaffirm their commitments to sustainable watchmaking. After revealing the Panerai Submersible eLAB-ID concept watch and the introduction of its recycled steel alloy known as eSteel last year, Panerai is firing on all cylinders as it launches the Submersible QuarantaQuattro eSteel and made a proud declaration to move its production from regular steel to eSteel by 2025. WOW’s Contributing Editor, Asaph Low caught up with Alessandro Ficarelli, Chief Marketing Officer of Panerai, who shares his views about eSteel, the importance of communication with clients and the motivation behind Panerai’s new partnership with Watchfinder & Co.
First off, congratulations on the amazing novelties. Which collection do you personally like the most?
It’s like asking who is my favourite child you know but jokes aside, I’m wearing the Submersible Luna Rossa which I love as we speak. The Submersible is one of my favourites, the Carbotech (PAM01232) if not the Bianco version (PAM01226). Its (PAM01226) combination with the green strap reminds me of summer!
Sustainable watchmaking is Panerai’s direction moving forward. How will Panerai communicate this effectively and accurately to clients?
We are upgrading our website to have the sustainability pages on the landing page. Roughly two years ago we removed the instruction leaflets, this year we are presenting a new packaging box made from recycled materials. Products are just the tip of the iceberg of what you see, it’s also communicating processes, people, the building as well as ambassadors such as Mike Horn. Our sustainable or Ecologico framework as we call it internally extends from the organisation to our subsidiaries.
What are some challenges Panerai faced when working with Steel?
We started first with the EcoTitanium with Mike Horn a few years ago and we realised we’re able to manufacture and machine some recycled titanium. The challenges of eSteel are having to rework, purify and add the same quality standards as regular steel. The purer steel gets, the harder it is to machine with our tools as the machining heads get damaged easily. The number of rejects rate is quite high but we are improving along the way. We are declaring by 2025, we will move all the production of standard steel to eSteel which is made from 95 per cent recycled steel.
When Panerai is planning for new products, how do you guys strike a balance between listening to the customer’s needs and wants versus pushing the brand’s vision?
This is a very good question. When we present sustainable products, the new generation is asking why we didn’t do it before? We listen to our customers. The Submersible QuarantaQuattro is the result of the client-centric philosophy of Panerai. We are getting more feedback, data, and information than ever before about what our customers want or are looking for through our boutiques and digital presence. Also, we need to respect the DNA and aesthetic codes of Panerai, so we create evolutions and even reduce the average size. We have the 38mm Luminor Due now and are communicating directly with ladies which in the past didn’t exist. Even if Panerai’s history is about masculine watches or instruments made for the Italian Navy, in the end, we have the brand stretch to reach out to clients who are attracted by the Italian side of the brand, the Italian lifestyle and the mix of Italian and Swiss watchmaking luxury.
The Paneristi is one of the most renowned watch communities, how does Panerai continue to engage this group and more importantly reach out to new customer bases?
Just this morning I had a meeting with the gentleman who created Paneristi 21 years ago and an Italian Paneristi reached out to me during my commute. Now we are more client-centric and it’s reflected in our availability via email, Whatsapp or other social media platforms. Our CEO Jean-Marc Pontroue brought about this new philosophy too and answers everyone because we have nothing to hide and with this transparency, we can talk openly. We accept the feedback from clients, we listen, listening is key and we do our best to build the brand and develop our objectives.
What is the motivation behind the new initiative with Watchfinder & Co.?
Everyone realised in recent years the secondhand market is growing, especially the guys behind Watchfinder & Co. It’s about participating in the secondhand market to know your customers, the data and insights we get from it are invaluable. If a customer sells a Panerai, what do they buy? Is it a new Panerai or another brand? Also, it meets our objectives of sustainability as we give a second life to the watches. A customer can sell his Panerai for new watches which we offer to Watchfinder’s London, Geneva and Paris boutiques. Sustainability is not only about recycling material but activating the secondary economy and trading is one of those activities.
Panerai is working on many exciting collaborations, the most recent being with Brabus. What are certain considerations Panerai takes when it comes to picking the right organisations to work with?
In the instance of Brabus, we both shared an objective to reduce the environmental impact and came together with ideas and solutions. The Submersible Brabus Edition is based on the Brabus Shadow 900. Our main partner is with Luna Rossa for the America’s Cup, about sailing and performance, so we thought we could have something similar with Brabus and their speedboats. Along the way, we realised we have many shared clients who like Brabus and Panerai, and they want something unique.