In Conversation With Jean-Marc Pontroue, CEO Of Panerai

In Conversation With Jean-Marc Pontroue, CEO Of Panerai On Its Heritage, Limited-Editions & More

30 Dec 2023 |
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Panerai has a history of creating watches with a strong vintage aesthetic, and some critics argue that the brand leans too heavily on its historical designs. We caught up with Jean-Marc Pontroue to discuss this and more! 

THM: There may be discussions around whether Panerai strikes the right balance between paying homage to its heritage and pushing the boundaries of original design. What are your thoughts on this? 

Jean-Marc Pontroue: I believe that everything we do has to have a profound respect for our invaluable intangible history. We skilfully balance innovation and our rich heritage through several key pillars.


We are known for pioneering new materials and precision movements, reflecting our commitment to innovation and technical expertise. This dedication extends to the exclusivity and technicality in our sports watches, where functionality and durability meet high-end craftsmanship, appealing to those who seek excellence in sports and life.

Our design philosophy is deeply rooted in our rich artistic and cultural legacy, creating an unmistakable aesthetic. We are committed to mechanical sophistication, combining stylish design with traditional watchmaking, and our innovations pay homage to our maritime history.

An example is the Radiomir California PAM01349, an exciting timepiece launched this year featuring never-before-seen details from the Maison. This was the first time ever that a California dial was crafted in 45mm, historically always produced in 47mm, while its colour in green made the watch a collector worthy piece.


Inspired by Ref 3646 from the archives of the Maison, the Panerai California Dial is characterised by alternating Roman and Arabic numerals, bar indexes, and a minute track. The hours 10, 11, 1, and 2 are marked with Roman numerals, while those for hours 4, 5, 7, and 8 are marked with Arabic numerals, resulting in a dial where the two different types of numerals distinguish every half.

With a case set in Brunito Steel - a brand-new finishing and first-ever in the history of Panerai, the timepiece showcases a characteristic antiquated look, accentuating its appeal to watch connoisseurs in search of authenticity and storied timepieces.


THM: Panerai releases numerous limited editions, and opinions vary on whether this strategy enhances or dilutes the brand's exclusivity. Some argue that the numerous limited editions make certain models less special, while others appreciate the variety. What do you have to say about this? 

Jean-Marc Pontroue: Panerai’s strategy of releasing limited editions is designed to balance exclusivity with variety. While some may feel that numerous limited editions could lessen the specialty of certain models, we believe it enhances the brand's appeal by offering diverse and emblematic timepieces.


Each limited edition expresses our unwavering passion to innovation and technicity, aiming to cater to different tastes and preferences of our clientele, thus enriching the Panerai experience without diluting the brand's exclusivity. An example is the Limited-Edition Luminor Chrono Flyback PAM01498, which offers an emblematic model featuring a striking design and complex mechanism.

Exemplified by its advanced mechanical chronograph movements, the Panerai Luminor Chrono collection is a testament to the Maison’s ongoing dedication to technological innovation and the exploration of novel materials.


In particular, the PAM01498 is a limited edition in only 200 pieces worldwide. Typified by Panerai’s automatic P.9100 calibre, this watch features a flyback chronograph, a complex mechanism that allows instantaneous resetting of the chronograph with a single push of the button, offering precise timekeeping and enhanced ease of use.


Encased within a 44mm ceramic case, the PAM01498 offers a striking design. Ceramic, known for its robustness and scratch-resistance, ensures that the watch can handle the rigors of daily wear while maintaining an elegant aesthetic. Complementing the front, the open case-back offers a glimpse into the intricate workings of the P.9100 calibre, resenting a spectacle for horology enthusiasts. Consistent with the watch’s specs is its water resistance of up to 10 bars (100 meters), enhancing its usability in diverse environments.

THM: Panerai has evolved its image over the years, moving from being primarily associated with military divers' watches to a more diversified collection. This evolution has both passionate supporters and critics who may debate whether the brand has maintained its identity. Do you agree?

Jean-Marc Pontroue: Evolving classic and well-loved lines such as our historical models carries its own set of challenges, chiefly striking the delicate balance between honoring the rich heritage that defines Panerai while simultaneously pushing the boundaries of innovation. However, it is precisely within this space of duality, where history meets innovation, that Panerai thrives. Our legacy, cemented over years of constant improvements, grants us a solid foundation to build and reimagine. The process of revisiting classic models and injecting them with modern innovations allows us to showcase the depth of our craftsmanship and innovation, incorporating the latest technological advancements while maintaining the soul of the original designs.


THM: What is the impact of social media today, given that one social media post led the entire industry to question the reputable watch auction? 

Jean-Marc Pontroue: The impact of social media in today's context, especially in incidents like the one affecting the watch auction industry, underscores the importance of authenticity in everything we do at Panerai. While recognizing the power and influence of social media, we stay true to our core pillars and values. Our approach combines a strong belief in our brand's heritage and integrity with an awareness of the dynamic nature of modern communication platforms.

Panerai Boutique at Jio World Plaza Mumbai_03

This is why all our ambassadors and friends of the brand are chosen because they embody the spirit of Panerai: from Mike Horn’s independent and adventurous spirit to Jeremy Jauncey’s contemporary entrepreneur attitude, we endorse people who have been able to push their physical and creative limits in the same way Panerai has historically pushed innovation and research to consolidate its position as a pioneer in the watch industry.


THM: With India projected to have the world's 3rd largest population of high net-worth individuals by 2026 and a growing number of boutiques, how can Panerai further tap into this promising but highly competitive luxury timepiece market?

Jean-Marc Pontroue: The Indian market is crucial in Panerai's global strategy due to its rapidly evolving landscape and significant growth potential. We are reinforcing our commitment to this dynamic market by opening our third store in India in Mumbai. This new boutique is designed to offer the same premium experience that our customers relish in Europe and the USA, reflecting our anticipation of the rapidly evolving luxury landscape in India. 

Panerai Boutique at Jio World Plaza Mumbai_01

Panerai’s goal is to express the key aspects of our brand, including our heritage and peculiar DNA, maritime legacy, and technical innovation: by leveraging these strategic insights, they aim to maximize our exposure in India, creating a strong foundation for continued growth and adapting to the unique dynamics of this vibrant market.