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It is the year of Radiomir and Alessandro Ficarelli, Panerai marketing director, tell us the details. “Radiomir gives us the opportunity to talk about the legendary history of the brand. In recent years, we have focused more on the Luminor and the Submersible.”
—Why now the Radiomir year?
—Last year we were with the Submersible underwater. We focused in recent years on the Luminor Due with the smaller Luminor watch, but it was time to re-establish our most historic collection which is the Radiomir. It is the first Panerai watch that was presented to the Italian Navy in 1935, so it gives us the opportunity to talk about the true story of the brand, the true value, because you don’t just buy a watch, you also buy the technical content and the historical content. It’s about telling stories. And that’s why this year’s motto is “Radiomir: A Legendary Story”.
“Is anything still under military secrecy?” The brand was not launched publicly until the ’90s.
—Until 1993 everything was hidden as a military secret. In fact, the first watch was introduced to the civilian public in 1993. So you have to consider that Panerai has this very long association with the Italian Navy, because even before producing watches for the Navy, Panerai developed instruments for them with the luminescent material of the Radiomir. And then, in 1935, there was the first prototype for the Italian Navy that was based on the Radiomir. and continued with watches that were developed and produced for military purposes only. In 1993, the first watches for the civilian public emerged with the launch of the Luminor, from the Marina, in a smaller size that was 44 and 42 millimeters, but it is something really recent. Today we could say that the Submersible is the watch for diving and Radiomir was considered the captain’s watchno. The strong historical association can be considered on the one hand, but also the sea legends watch because it is classic, elegant design.
—Panerai is patenting its own technology in gold, platinum, new recycled steel, etc. What about the luminescence? It is one of the keys of the brand originally.
—I was talking to some colleagues about the beauty of my work, and that is that I have a superpower. I know that future [risas]. I’m not a superhero, but at least we know what we’re releasing in ’24 and ’25 because we’re working on the 2026 collection right now. Panerai has always been a pioneer brand in terms of innovation. Taking new materials, such as luminescence, and new solutions. Radiomir, in the 90s, was used as a name to identify the box. But in the past, it was the name of the luminescent material because it was a “radio” and a “mirror” to see where the target was, made for the Italian Navy. So the name comes from this radium dust that was in the center. Radiomir was the name of the luminescent material that was later replaced in 1949 by LuminOr, that it was stretch-based, not Luminor. Today, we do not develop our own luminescent material. We work with a partner who is developing a very special and strong SuperLuminova for Panerai and other brands as well. That luminosity and the purity of the sphere are the main characteristics and it will also be one of our main focuses. So we’re going to introduce something special in the next few years about luminosity. And the luminosity underwater. The connection to history is key. What we do starts from the history of the brand.
—In the year Radiomir, the California was also reborn, now with a green dial and a 45 mm steel case with the new “Brunito” finish.
—Yes, actually, to the collection Radiomir 8 Daysincluding the California, we pay homage to the beauty of the passage of time. The idea was to present something with a strong historical and vintage design, but with a contemporary Italian touch and the burnishing gives us the opportunity in terms of finishing on steel. Something unique with PVD treatment, through physical deposition, and then each case is treated and brushed by hand. Each box has a unique appearance. Of course we give them a range of variation, but the beauty is this anthracite effect that is aging on the steel. The thing is to coincide a lot with the spheres, colors, darker gradient effect on the outside than inside and the color of the SuperLuminova. We have worked a lot on the details. The color blue is one of our “bestseller” today. The green, superdemanded.
—As for complications, after the Luminor Perpetual Calendar, you now have the annual calendar in the Radiomir. Why play with the complications in different families?
—In fact, we developed the calendar only for the Radiomir. It does not mean that in the future we will not have another calendar on another line. And that’s the same for the perpetual calendar. We released it 2 years ago for the Luminor. In the future it will also be available at Radiomir because you know, I know the future [risas]. PBut we were thinking of the perpetual calendar because it is a complication with the full calendar and we have developed this specific caliber. It’s a fantastic job that was done by the team of designers and the product manager in Milan, together with the engineer in Neuchâtel. They worked on the purity of the design. The idea was to have a complete calendar indicating the week, the day and the month. But instead of having the month for the dial, we put this disk in and it’s a jumping disk. It is very simple to use and a very smart piece. The beauty is that when it’s past midnight, you can go backwards or even forwards, so it’s very easy. So it’s an instant jump system that’s been patented by Panerai and it keeps the design of the watch very clean. Everything is controlled by the crown. Available in gold or platinum, the latter with this brushed burgundy dial. It is a dial color that we used for the first time. It is a very strong color. Everyone is in love. It’s very striking, it’s a very strong Italian color and we wanted it to be very special for this watch. We will have a more “fashionable” version in the future.
—This limited edition offers a visit to Rome in the Panerai experience program.
—A very limited watch, only 24 pieces associated with the experience that customers will live. The experience program is working very well. We create this strong association between clients and the house, and clients buy the experience because you didn’t just buy a watch. You create this unique bond, that emotion that customers will never forget. It’s not just selling a watch, it’s about living the brand in different ways: on social networks, on the website, which we will update in the coming months, or in the new building, which is more interactive, or in the world of parade. So the idea is to experience the brand and leave the brand at a next level compared to the past.
—And what about this great recycled steel project? Is it going to be the same for Radiomir, for the collection?
—Radiomir is already made in recycled steel and, step by step, the entire collection will move from standard steel to recycled steel. In standard steel, up to 50% is already recycled and recycling is up to 95%, with the least impact on CO2 emissions. PBy 2025, we will be transitioning our entire collection from standard steel to this new steel. And it will be the same also for recycled titanium and all other recycled materials. We continue a lot on the subject of sustainability. Not only in the product, but in the process, events, in whatever it is that we do, we have to be sustainable.
—Is the client valuing this mentality and sustainable actions of the brand? Is there no distrust in the solidity or functionality of recycled materials?
—Actually, recycled steel comes from steel scrap from the watchmaking industry, and in the end it is the same material, it is just scrap that, instead of throwing it away, is mixed with the other steel and then it is a pure material . So in the end, in terms of quality, resistance and technical characteristics it is exactly the same. And that’s what’s nice. The response from customers and the press is very positive, with the younger generation wondering why we didn’t do it sooner. There was a customer who told me that he hadn’t worn a watch for at least 10 years, and this is the first watch he bought. He was carrying the Submersible. He told me: “I am very proud of you, of what you are doing; You know, this is not a false story, this is reality. You are doing something really great for the planet. This is a cool watch”. This is important and the beauty of Panerai is that it opens up the ecosystem instead of applying patents. We invite everyone to use the same technology which for us was a great investment in terms of time and money. Panerai is a drop in the ocean, but if everyone is using sustainable components, I’m going to say that in the process it already means it’s not just a watch. On World Oceans Day this year, we pledged to collect 10 tons of plastic from the streets and oceans. It will be the entire Panerai team, in all markets, involving students, calling on the association. The goal is to do something concrete for the planet. We have our ambassadors and we continue to be UNESCO partners. We continue with a lot of activities as well and with associations in the Mediterranean. So it is key to act. It’s too late to talk, it’s time to do something for our planet.
—Will we see new partnerships with Luna Rossa and Prada?
—Luna Rosa is owned by Prada Pirelli, so in the end the agreement is with Prada and hence our association with Luna Rossa. Next year will be the final of the Copa América. This year they will do some regattas and we have been with the Luna Rossa team talking about the plan for this year. We will present an experience edition. youWe will have a customer experience with Luna Rossa next September. We will present more news also in the coming months and also in the coming years. So it’s a strong partnership where we share the same values. It is about the legends of the sea. Therefore, the link we have established has to do with Italianness, with performance, modern heroes and sustainability. So actually there is a very strong association in terms of territory and expression, just like our historical partner the Marina Militari. We don’t talk much about the Marina Militari, but we do a lot of activities and support them in positive initiatives, which are not related to the war at all. Also with Brabus our partnership will continue. If they are associated with the world of the sea, sustainability and are linked to our world, we will continue in the future.
The five new models this year from the Panerai Luna Rossa family.
—This year with Radiomir we do not see skeletonized pieces, but they have had a greater presence in their collections. The sandwich dial is back.
“We have complications like the tourbillon, which is a nice thing. In the end, the open bridge is the result of design engineering because it is a very detailed job in terms of engineering, you cannot skeletonize whatever you want. It’s not just a question of design, it’s also function. There is Lo Scienziato, the Minute Repeater, which is working very well. Also the Submersible with skeleton and automatic caliber, the entire Submersible collection has a caliber like this. Part of our offer includes skeletonized calibres. And we will have more skeleton calibres in the future because the demand is very high. It is not just a trend, but there is demand for these watches.