The historic maison looks to the past to plan for the future
Just last month, Panerai re-inaugurated its headquarters at the Piazza San Giovanni in Florence. This time around, the maison decided to include a museum to take visitors across its history.
The place is also Panerai’s flagship store, though now it houses displays that resemble rectangular portholes, giving the impression that you’re looking into the deep. Each porthole holds a display of Panerai’s collections: the Radiomir, Luminor, Luminor Due, and the Submersible.
The undersea theme fits right into Panerai’s strengths, having been named the official watch supplier of the Regia Marina (Royal Italian Navy) in the 1930s. For a time, the Italian marines were issued specially developed timepieces that were extremely water-resistant and highly legible even in the water.
That alone might already have given Panerai enough material for a museum, but of course there’s more. The Maison’s history stretches as far back as 1860, when Giovanni Panerai opened his workshop in Florence. And all of this is on display in Florence. Encased in glass and bronze, Panerai is showing off some of its historical pieces, and visitors can trace the development of the brand—from old technology to more modern innovations.
“We have not changed anything. It was enough to remove the patina of the decades. Beauty that was once obscured now shines in all its originality,” says Alvaro Maggini, Creative Director of the brand.
This look into the past intends to drive Panerai’s ideals forward: to create a sense of adventure alongside its craftsmanship. The brand is planning to echo part of the flagship’s design across its boutiques as well.
“The flagship store in Florence, including the unique features of the museum, will guide the aesthetic development of all our spaces,” says Panerai CEO Jean-Marc Pontroué.
If you happen to be planning a visit to Florence, the Panerai museum is also issuing passports that look like Italian travel documents. Only, with the Luminor 1312 dial on the cover and Pontroué’s signature as the seal.
Pontroué is encouraging people to visit the two other iconic Panerai destinations in addition to the flagship. The first is the manufacture in Neuchâtel, Switzerland, where the watches are made. The other being the Bermudan ketch, Eilan—a historic boat restored by Panerai and moored in Venetian waters. There, you can have the passports stamped, completing the journey from the past to the present.