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Novelties for 2020 represent the best of Panerai, and the three cover watches of our U.S. edition clearly illustrate why. This Luminior Marina trio, the black dial PAM01312, blue dial PAM01313, and the white dial PAM01314 represent the purest examples of these historical models’ executions. While it might be impossible to choose between them, the new white sandwich dial of the PAM01314 represents a first for Panerai in this particular colorway, a total knockout.
All three incorporate the P.9010 in house movement, one of Panerai’s best with a three-day power reserve, offering hours, minutes, small seconds, and date. The trio comes in at USD 7,700 each, offering a lot of bang for the buck—Italian “sprezzatura,” Panerai style. With a renewed focus on innovation, 2020 has been a tremendous year for the Luminor.
“I have discovered a universal rule which seems to apply more than any other in all human actions or words; namely, to steer away from affectation at all costs, as if it were a rough and dangerous reef, and to practice in all things a certain nonchalance (sprezzatura) which conceals all artistry and makes whatever one says or does seem uncontrived and effortless.”
The above comment is from Baldassare Castiglione, the Renaissance-era author, in his famed Book of the Courtier. He is expounding on the fashionable concept of sprezzatura, the Italian art of understatement. Castiglione proposed that everything one does should appear relaxed and confident, and that this ideal can best be achieved avoiding the superficial, while practicing a studied type of elegant detachment. He is, essentially, describing the very essence of inner cool.
It should come as no surprise that Castiglione was Italian. Nearly five centuries after he espoused the virtues of sprezzatura, the concept remains deeply ingrained in his nation’s sense of style. So much so that men (and women) there still strive to emulate its ineffable magic, carefully curating details—an unfastened strap, an unbuttoned sleeve, an uneven tie blade—as to appear carefree.
This same elusive trait explains the appeal of Panerai. The beloved watchmaker—founded in Italy, of course—makes everything about the craft seem easy, look simple, and feel special. Its design hallmarks, like the pairing of an oversized case to a minimalist dial, or a utilitarian crown guard next to a supple leather strap, capture an unforgettable incongruity of beauty and toughness without fuss. Signore Castiglione would approve.
At the same time, careful work behind the scenes has enabled Panerai to evolve into a fully-fledged lifestyle phenomenon. A look back to the brand’s distinguished military ties reveals its core DNA, workmanship in the service of durable and deliberate timepieces, while today it continues to push the boundaries of possibility in design and materials. Macho celebrity envoys like Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger initially helped put Panerai’s modern offerings on the map. Still, it’s the hardcore fan base, the Paneristi, that gives the business a not-so-quiet enthusiasm, inviting collectors of all stripes, all around the world, into the fold.
“Everything about the look and design of our watches, both in their first iteration back in 1930, but also today, speaks of boldness and innovation. For many, the name has also come to represent a community,” says Jean-Marc Pontroué, the affable 55-year-old Frenchman who was named CEO of Officine Panerai in 2018. “Panerai is a brand that has always inspired adventure, daring, and an important historical connection to Italy and the sea.”