Officine Panerai: Durability meets finesse.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Officine Panerai is Italy’s most exquisite ambassador in the world of watch making were the country famous for its adoring food culture and influential designs has remarkably dismal presence. The suspected name that would roll of people’s tongues when discussing Italian watches is Armani which has a popular and widely available assortment of luxury/jewellery watches priced at more accessible levels than Cartier’s similarly spirited watches.
Because Armani is a designer brand, a chauvinistic opinion would be that their watches are well decorated faces concealing forgettable and rather primitive technical underpinnings. Whoever holds such negative stance against Armani watches, or designer watches in general, are deemed justified in their judgemental attitude. Removing the back plate of a designer watch using a screw driver will in 9 out of 10 times reveal a battery-powered quartz movement possessing the same complexity and opulence can of sweet corn. Designer watches fulfil their manifest purpose of satisfying the consumer demand for a time keeping instrument produced by a company with a reputable and well respected track record in art and fashion. Isn’t those two the most decisive factors during an elaborate search for the right watch -- attractive looks and the ability to count 24 hours? Only the wealthy and successful can afford to swipe the magnetic strip a heavily used AMX Platinum car in exchange for a mechanical wrist watch that belongs to the cachet of engineering spectacle by the flavours of a Daytona, Royal Oak or Patrimony Contemporaine. But who except Richard Branson and NASA astronauts can admittedly convince us and themselves that their Omega Speedmaster professional has experienced any environment that even remotely emulates the atmospheric pressures in space or zero gravity? Even the hazards of lime scale deter watch collectors from admitting their watches to accompany them into the bathroom for a foamy lavender scenting session in the bathtub. Social status and self rewards ranks amongst the prominent driving forces behind the purchase of a dream watch, though for many true hearted wrist watch devotees it’s a personal matter of affiliation. Loyal customers of fine time piece can sit for hours and passionate exchange information and opinion about the most intricate and tiny details about a watch.

Parallel with story of rival Swiss and French rivals, Officine Panerai(or more commonly known as Panerai) have ancestry in engineering innovation. Founded in Florence in 1860 by Giovanni Panerai it took a long 30 years for the now Richemont Group owned watch manufacturer to attain the excellence that yielded a new direction for the company, to become an office manufacturer of nautical instruments by appointment of the Royal Navy of Italy. This was a pivotal customer for a family business that overnight was attributed an essence for existence and for continuation of watch making pursuits. Not limited to time pieces, Panerai developed a vast array of equipment for the navy ranging from torches, depth measurement devices and telescoping peripherals for weapons and artillery. Despite the widened business activities the core product of devoted time was watches which had a high weight of importance during the first half of the 20th century when the accuracy of watches varied to the same degree as the dreadful British weather has this summer.
The expectations were enormous and the testing of the watches was scrutinising. Not only were Panerai watches expected to deliver invaluable time keeping accuracy sought by the Royal Navy, but they had to embody the durability the treacherous and demanding conditions on board ships hammered by powerful Mediterranean waves. However, the adversary of underwater conditions posed the biggest challenge for Panerai which had to develop watches that could comfortably operate under immense pressure at sea depths even Michael Phelps wouldn’t dream of conquering. Certain Panerai models can be taken to staggering depths of 1000 meters below sea levels. With functionality propelling the watch maker forward in the arms race of the WW1 and WW2, design had to follow the pioneering course of function. Easy to read as instrumental gauge, the praised and visually fetching Luminor watch has a large face decorated with few modest details that sum up to a powerful and distinct appearance that cannot be mistaken for another watch. It’s an incredibly compelling watch available in cases measuring 40mm or 44mm in diameter depending on the model.

Indicative of the name, the dials illuminate in the dark bringing to life the pragmatism of the watch’s usability during dark and cold underwater sea expeditions. Patented just like the chemical alchemy illuminating the dials is the distinguished crown protected by a bridge. Serving as a water sealing protector of the case, the bridge has an incorporated lever for releasing the crown into a position for adjusting time and date. A purposeful and intelligent solution that add an empowering sense of authority to watch originally dedicated to the purpose of assisting brave naval soldier. The Luminor series is a display of masculinity in a package oozing of finesse while devoid of excess in offensive angular lines seized by the increasingly successful Hublot big bang. Panerai has designed a watch of grace and reserved handsomeness powered by Swiss-made in house movements that have aided the Italian navy at sea up until this very day. Contradicting in appearance by blending the commanding impression of a large watch with the tamed round contours and lines, the Luminor and the more formal Radiomir series are masterful displays of watch designs guaranteed to make the barer notable respect in choice of watch.