Watches: Time Trials
The racetrack in northern Italy where Ferrari has tested each of its new Formula One cars for the last 34 years recently hosted another Ferrari debut: Ferrari Engineered by Panerai, a new line of sporting wristwatches. The collaboration between the Italian watchmaker and Ferrari, which two years ago dissolved its 10-year-long union with Switzerland’s Girard-Perregaux, has produced bold timepieces that are recognizable to Panerai fans yet bear the imprint of the car company.
As the licensor, Ferrari had final say on the designs, which distinctly reference its cars. Subdials recall the dashboard gauges, winding crowns and chrono pushers are knurled knobs also derived from dashboard details, and the deployment buckle is cast to resemble the sleek lines of a Ferrari viewed from above.
Ferrari Engineered by Panerai includes 11 models divided into two collections: Granturismo and Scuderia. The Granturismo dials feature renderings of Ferrari’s prancing-horse logo underscored with the Ferrari name, while each Scuderia dial bears the black-and-yellow, prancing-stallion Ferrari badge. Each line includes a Solotempo with date indicator, a GMT (which indicates a second time zone), and COSC (Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres) certified Chronograph and Rattrapante chronograph models. Panerai produced the OP XVIII automatic movements by modifying Valjoux 7750s. Prices range from about $5,300 for stainless steel models to about $21,800 for a pink gold chronograph. The special-edition piece—a GMT powered by Panerai’s recently introduced, in-house, eight-day manual movement in a pink gold case—will cost $26,500. The new Ferrari collection will be available this summer through Panerai boutiques, authorized dealers, and Ferrari stores, though not at Ferrari automobile dealerships.
Panerai, provider of watches for Italian navy divers from the early 1900s until the 1960s, is known for its rugged 40 mm and 44 mm Luminors and for its more refined Radiomirs, which are distinguished by their tapered crowns. The new collection displays the watchmaker’s characteristic oversize styling, with cases measuring 45 mm, but the Panerai name can be found only on the casebacks and guarantee cards. The message is simple: This is a Ferrari watch. “Ferrari and Panerai have connoisseurs in common,” explains Panerai CEO Angelo Bonati. “It’s not only Ferrari owners, but passionate collectors—the same target as Panerai owners, but a larger one.” Panerai will produce approximately 7,000 Ferrari watches, which is more than the annual output of Ferrari cars.
Some Paneristi (a term for Panerai fanatics, derived from Ferraristi) may question whether a licensed collection such as this one will dilute the exclusivity of the Panerai brand, but at least one collector has no such concerns. “I applaud Panerai for taking a risk with this line,” says John Backus, a venture capitalist from Virginia. “Panerai has a very successful business—their demand outstrips their supply, so they didn’t have to do this. Any departure poses a risk for the brand, but there is logic here: Both are Italian, both are rugged in a sense, and both are exotic.”