Nautical by Nature

Panerai’s latest collection isn’t just promising the spirit of high-seas adventure, it’s actually dropping you in the deep end.

Aspiration and high-end watches go hand in intricate hand. Indeed, what you wear on your wrist tells people not just who you are, but who you aspire to be. Wear a certain watch, and you’re a part of man’s first mission to the moon. Wear others, and you’ll conjure the savoir-faire of a British secret agent, the determination of history’s greatest diver, or the impossible cool of cinema’s finest pool shark. Companies have whipped up as many of these kind of promises as there are ways to tell time, yet rare is the watch that actually delivers on one.

Both promising and delivering is Panerai’s new Submersibles series: three watches inspired by the storied brand’s heritage and packaged with the real experiences and characters they evoke.

The Submersible Guillaume Néry, a limited edition of 15 pieces comes with an invitation to dive with the world champion of freediving in French Polynesia

For example, those who purchase Panerai’s new Marina Militare Carbotech won’t just get a dive watch designed in collaboration with the Italian Navy, they’ll get the real-life experience of training alongside COMSUBIN, the Italian Navy’s equivalent of the U.S. SEALs. As you might imagine, gathering more than three dozen willing and able customers who can afford the Marina Militare Carbotech’s roughly $40,500 price tag, and then flying them halfway around the world to train in the choppy waters off the Italian peninsula alongside real candidates for Italy’s most elite naval outfit is not without complications.

“Our head of retail is a little nervous,” says Panerai spokesperson Aileen Schiro. “It’s the first time COMSUBIN has let the public into their operations. That was the most difficult to coordinate, as I understand it. A big part of their work is sea rescues. People get stuck, it’s very very rough water. There’s pirates, it’s scary stuff. They helicopter in and drop in to do rescues. Skydiving. So the experience embodies all of that. It’s very authentic.”

Those unwilling or unable to experience that level of authenticity can still enjoy the timepiece itself, of course. Each watch in the collection comes in two versions: a special edition that comes with the experience and one without. For the COMSUBIN piece, there were 33 experience editions available, one for each of the gold medals of valor the unit has received in its history. Each one has a unique carbon fiber dial that’s both lighter than titanium and stronger than steel to help the watch withstand pressures up to 300 meters in depth. The design also incorporates a new luminescent aspect: The dial’s markers are made with blocks of lume that have been 3-D laser-cut. Finally, each case features the engraved image of either a frogman or a diver on the reverse. (As with the rest of the collection, these have sold out, though the success of this first edition might lead to more in the future.)

The purchase of the Submersible Marina Militare Carbotech allows for 33 owners the opportunity to train with the COMSUBIN, Commandos of the Italian Navy for a few days.

The collection’s other two watches take similar cues from the brand’s existing partnerships with intrepid characters. Staying with the naval exploration theme, the second piece is the Submersible Chrono Guillaume Néry Edition, which takes its name from the record-breaking free diver and photographer. Those who purchase one of the 15 available experiences—one for each world record Néry has broken—will be offered the chance to visit French Polynesia to dive with the man himself while staying at his house. (The Néry, similar to all experience-based pieces in the collection, retails for just shy of $41,000.)

The experience is timed so that divers will witness nearby whale migrations, with or without the guidance of an elite diver. “A big part of the area is an eco-preserve,” Schiro says. “Getting the visas to go in is very difficult.” As part of the purchase process, interested parties had to commit to be available on the trip’s predetermined date. (One presumes a certain level of physical fitness might be useful as well.)

The watch itself, designed with Néry’s input, is appropriately sporty, with white luminescent markers that remain visible even in the pitch blackness of a deep dive. There’s a unidirectional bezel for timing dives, and the back is engraved with the “126”—the record-breaking number of meters Néry dove underwater on a single breath. The experience edition also includes an etching of Néry himself, along with the island of Moorea, the site of the customer’s guided adventure.

The final piece is a collaboration with adventurer Mike Horn, the first person to explore both the North and South poles in the same year. The experience on offer here allows buyers to join him on his amphibious, glacier-climbing expeditionary sailing ship, The Pangaea, as he navigates the ice floes of the Arctic. (If the timing works out, guests will also witness the Northern Lights.)

Though the experience is limited to 19 people, all who opt for just the watch will get something rather unique. Horn’s timepiece reflects the explorer’s committed environmentalism: the straps are made with recycled plastic materials, as is the packaging, which is itself recyclable. The Submersible Mike Horn Edition is also the first chronometer be made with a form of aeronautical-grade recycled titanium. It’s also subject to extreme-weather robotics testing designed in part by Horn itself. The result is sporty, sleek, and durable—a suitable piece for no matter where your personal adventures take you.

Created by Panerai for explorer Mike Horn, the Submersible case is made from EcoTitanium, a world premiere new material introduced by the Panerai “Laboraatorio di Idee” with a strap made out of recycled plastic.

Fair Winds and Following Seas

Alex and Miles Pincus chart a course with Panerai and the new Panerai Luminor Due aboard Brooklyn’s Pilot

Photographs by Doug Young
Fashion styled by Justin Arroyo

Created for the Italian navy in 1950, Panerai’s Luminor was built for function above all else. Every element of its now iconic silhouette was designed for underwater excellence: the hefty, water-resistant case; the oversized, luminescent numerals; the crown-protecting lever. Unfortunately for Italian sailors, Panerai hasn’t been part of the official navy uniform for some time, but the watches still retain the rugged good looks (and focused engineering) that ensured each timepiece would withstand the rigors of life and combat at sea. Therein lies the ironic allure of today’s diving watches — they seduce with the promise of adventure, bringing some high seas swagger to civilians, even if the only diving most see is a few feet off a yacht.

Still, the bulky proportions that made the Luminor so beloved by sailors aren’t always compatible with life on land.  Panerai’s new streamlined Luminor Due offers a solution. It refines the brand’s classic dive watch down to its essence, resulting in the thinnest timepiece Panerai has ever produced. Its sleek, minimalist lines have all the hallmarks of the original, translated elegantly to scale. It easily pairs with suits (and not only those of the neoprene variety.)

Like all great designs, the streamlined Luminor Due is a master study in proportions. Two case sizes are on offer.The 42mm version is just 10.5mm thick, while the 38mm  model (the smallest diameter in Panerai history) comes in at 11.2mm thick. Both feature the new OP XXXIV automatic movement, driving a traditional date function and offering three-days of power reserve, a hallmark of the collection and its maker. For those customers and collectors who favor traditional Panerai sizing, the Luminor Due is also available in 45mm, equipped with a GMT function.

Beyond its versatile sizing, the new Due introduces a range of fashion-minded dials and straps. The latter come in a variety of colors, including a baby-blue alligator skin pattern and a handsome mint-colored leather, which are easily swappable. The message here is clear: This watch isn’t just for seafarers (or men, in general) anymore. While still resolutely sporty, the Luminor Due makes Panerai’s distinctive look more wearable for those who prefer taking to the water with a cocktail in hand.

The new Panerai Luminor Due can be configured with a variety of straps.

Which is precisely the spirit that inspired brothers Alex and Miles Pincus to open a fleet of nautical canteens in Manhattan and Brooklyn.(They also opened a seafood restaurant in New Orleans, called Seaworthy, in partnership with the Ace Hotel.) After growing up as avid sailors in Louisiana, the brothers were living in New York and “kept coming back to the premise that one of the best things about having a boat is sitting dockside and having a drink. “We just kept mulling it over, like ‘How great would it be to have a boat that you can enjoy without having to commit?’” says Miles.

At that time, Alex was working as an architect, Miles as a professional sailor and boat restorer; together, they set about refurbishing a historic schooner that would become Grand Banks, their breezy (and boozy) outpost docked in the Hudson River along Manhattan’s TriBeCa. Pilot, a racing schooner dating back to 1924, which now serves customers while floating off Brooklyn Bridge Park, followed soon after. “These boats have a history that new boats can’t even begin to touch,” says Alex, “It’s like a vintage, mechanical watch versus a brand-new smartwatch.” As both watch enthusiasts and men that divide their time between land and sea, the Pincus brothers sat down with Watch Journal to discuss the new Luminor Due and finessing the style out of the maritime lifestyle.


The Luminor Due 

How did you get into watches?

A: I studied architecture and I’m very into design. For a while, I really didn’t get watches. Then my friend took me to Analog Shift; I started looking around and realized that [watchmaking] is its own discipline of design with so many subtle ideas that are being worked through. I got obsessed, scanning all the watch blogs for what would be my first serious watch. I ended up getting a vintage Seamaster from the year I was born.

M: For a while, I really loved my watch — I have a Submariner — and thought it’s great, it’s simple, it’s nautical. Then when I got attached to my cellphone, I thought ‘Why do I need this? I’m checking the time on my phone’. I hadn’t worn it for about a year and a half but I put it on the other night and, with a little bit of a wind, it was back in business. That’s pretty impactful. Like, this thing is going to keep on going.

A: The first watch I ever got was my grandfather’s from the 1920’s: a really beautiful dress watch, really thin, with a couple diamonds and rubies on it. It definitely has not seen it’s moment in the resurgence of watch styles yet. When I’m 90, it’s gonna look really cool.

Do you guys generally share the same tastes, as far as style?

M: We often dress alike, which is terrible and funny at the same time. Like, we’ll show up at the same meeting with the same shirt on.

A: We both are reasonably nautical by default. I would say my general fashion aesthetic is ‘Don’t look like an asshole.’ It’s not much more complicated than that. We’re usually working on boats, so you wind up dressing a certain way. You have to do physical work but you also have to look presentable to be dealing with people in a restaurant.

M: It’s a funny look you have to choose because it’s always super hot out during our peak hours. Sometimes you’re dealing with management, sometimes you’re in the bowels of the boat fixing something.

Given how varied your days are, what do you look for in an everyday watch?

A: Something that’s comfortable, something that’s extremely durable.

M: My wrist will literally bang into a thousand things a day.

A: We’re walking around a lot of tight quarters on a boat, so you have to have something that’s resilient and fits well and is functional.

M: That, and not exceptionally heavy.

Alex and Miles Pincus aboard their bar/restaurant Pilot docked in Brooklyn.

Sounds like you could be describing the new Luminor Due. What did you think of it?

M: It feels great, super thin. It sat on the wrist really nicely. It’s a great watch for working on a boat. Even though it’s so thin, it doesn’t feel insignificant.

A: It’s a nice balance between having a big presence on the face and a thin, light feel on the wrist. I don’t wanna wear a monster on my wrist…[like I said,] I don’t wanna look like an asshole. Honestly, though, I’d rather be subtle in everything I do from watch to clothes to lifestyle.

I imagine that balance, between mechanics and appearance, is something you both know a lot about, having transformed boats into restaurants…

M: It’s definitely a balance we’ve grown into through the years. We showed up in 2014 with Grand Banks and the day we opened had a 200-deep line down the pier. It’s a big challenge to overcome, having a compact space with very limited water, electrical, you name it. We’ve had to be very creative about how we make it comfortable and familiar for people but still authentic to the boat and the idea we’re trying to present.

A: It’s actually a lot like a watch: we have a constrained space and there are certain components that aren’t going away.

M: It needs to tell time and it needs to fit in this big of a space…

A: And there are all these different moving parts that we need in order to function. It could be a Frankenstein, or it could feel natural like ‘Oh, of course, it always looked like this’. It takes a lot of consideration to get to that point. Like, a watch doesn’t all of a sudden look graceful and simple. So many decisions go into every little thing to make it feel effortless. We learned a lot with Grand Banks, tried to improve on that [at Pilot], and put that experience into a full renovation of Grand Banks to make all of the little pieces work together even better. By the time we do the next boat, we might have it down.

Montauk Oysters “A Kiss From the Sea.”

Q&A: Guillaume Néry (Panerai)

Freediving champion Guillaume Néry has explored the depth of the unknown, and in it found the limits of humanity.

\

How did you get into freediving? What attracted you to the sport?

I discovered freediving by chance, doing a challenge with a friend on the bus to school. We were just trying to hold our breath the longest. I was 14 years old, and this was an experiment to [find] the limits of my body. That was fascinating to me. Because I was living in Nice, by the Mediterranean Sea, I decided I should try [doing it] underwater. It was much more interesting than just holding my breath on the bus! I fell in love with this feeling of going down deeper and deeper, like I was discovering an unknown planet. Today, the quest of the unknown, the exploration of human limits—these are still my passions. But lately I’ve [used] freediving for reconnecting with my own body, getting this harmony between the body, the mind, and the water. I don’t need to compete or break a record to experience it. Every time I go underwater, it feels like a moment of peace and happiness, whatever the time or the depth. Of course, as an athlete, I like world record attempts or world championship dives. I have prepared for so many hours, days, weeks, months, and you just have one chance to make it perfect. That’s the most challenging part. Freediving is all about relaxation, letting go, but it’s very hard to relax when you know you are about to attempt the deepest dive ever. In the end, the most enjoyable thing is when you can forget about all that, and just focus on the great feeling of gliding in the water.

What benefits does a good diving watch provide while you are underwater?

The watch is the only thing from my life on land that I bring with me into the deep. The watch becomes a link between my aquatic and outside life. The watch is a kind of symbol of the time passing, and when I am underwater on a single breath of air, life is time! I have to trust my body and the watch that [measures] the time I spend underwater. A good diving watch should be big enough so that you can easily read the time, but also not to heavy so that it feels like a part of your body. On top of that, I try to share the passion of the underwater world with the larger world, so aesthetics plays a huge role when people film me or take pictures of my dive. I try to be very careful in my movement underwater, to be graceful as I truly believe it helps the efficiency, and I want to wear the best outfit. The watch needs to have the best design and look that will combine my quest of aestheticism and performance. Today, I have found the watch that meets my expectations.

Do you ever get frightened before, or during, a deep dive?

Freediving is known to be a dangerous sport, but in reality we are doing a very safe activity. The main rule is: never freedive alone. I am always surrounded by my team when I am training or taking part in a competition. But, of course, sometimes you can experience the unexpected, and you have to be trained to deal with unpredictable situations. In 2015, I was trying to break my fifth world record, attempting a dive at -129 meters. The organization made a mistake on the rope measurement, and I dove at -139. It was of course too deep, and I lost consciousness a few meters from the surface [during the ascent]. It could have been very serious. I recovered after few days, because I was in a very good shape. But the deepest dives are not always the most dangerous. The main danger is overconfidence. It’s very important to stay humble and remember that we, as humans, are very vulnerable and small in this world, especially when we are deep down, like a small drop of water lost in the middle of the ocean.

Blood Moons & Moon Phases

End of times? Let’s go shopping!

With the so-called “blood moon” happening tonight due to the longest lunar eclipse of the century, prophecies and conspiracy theories are predicting the worst. Now might be the perfect time to arm yourself with an extraordinary moon phase. Lasting an impossible to believe 103 minutes, the next total lunar eclipse of this length won’t occur again until 2123.

Feel the pull and predict your lunar energy within the confines of a dazzling complicated timepiece. Charge it now, enjoy, and wait for a new day to dawn. Visible from every country on earth except the US, at least you’ll be able to gaze upon wristwatch magnificence.

A round-up of some of our Moon phase favorites:

Patek Philippe Annual Calendar Moon Phase Ref. 5205G
Rolex Cellini Moonphase

A. Lange & Söhne Saxonia Moon Phase
IWC Portugieser Perpetual Calendar 
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar 
Vacheron Constantin Overseas Ultra-Thin Perpetual Calendar
Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Moon
Panerai L’Astronomo Luminor 1950 Tourbillon Moon Phases Equation of Time GMT