From its origins in Florence in the 1860s, Panerai has been a name synonymous with innovation, and the careful balance of function with timeless design.
Proof in point: the signature cushion-case body, first designed for the commando frogmen of the Royal Italian Navy at the turn of the last century, remains a celebrated and prominent feature in the watchmaker’s contemporary collection.
Now part of the Richemont Group, who acquired Officine Panerai in 1997, the Switzerland-based luxury behemoth have taken this Italian gem and cemented its position in the international fine watchmaking market, and public consciousness to boot.
Testament to Panerai’s growing international status is the launch of their first ever stand-alone boutique in the UK, nestled alongside many of UK’s finest premium stores, at 30 New Bond Street.
The boutique, created by Spanish architect and designer Patricia Urquiola, is spread over two floors and is the brand’s second largest in Europe after the flagship – and original – site in Florence.
Urquiola has brought her trademark, almost understated, luxury aesthetic to play in the interior design, of which in the past she has been awarded the Gold Medal of Fine Arts from the Spanish Government and the Order of Isabella the Catholic from His Majesty the King of Spain Juan Carlos I.
A key feature is a circular cabinet in the centre of the store, where timepieces are displayed beneath a rotating glass with a magnifying panel – this complete the boutique’s somewhat nautical feel, which consciously provides a nice nod to Panerai’s oceanic past.
The 150 square-meter space also has VIP areas for quiet consultations and a full-time in-house watchmaker who can talk customers through the technical details of the brand’s finest watches. As well as give your beloved Panerai some TLC when required.
"We have been waiting for this moment for a long time" Angelo Bonati, Officine Panerai, outgoing CEO
Having a stand-alone store in London demonstrates both the strength of the UK watch market – which is outpacing the wider retail sector – and the power and appeal of the Panerai brand.
“We have been waiting for this moment for a long time and it is a way for us to show our confidence in the future of a market which is really important to us” Angelo Bonati, Officine Panerai’s outgoing CEO, revealed.
“It’s not just about showing the products” Bonati told design magazine Wallpaper, “I wanted a boutique that felt like you were at home, not at a shop – nothing too formal…. it gives us a chance to show everything that Panerai is, for new people to discover us.”
And in that, the boutique is a triumph, and a much welcome addition to the heart of the capital.
Here are two of our favourite new models from Panerai’s Luminor Due collection…
Panerai Luminor Due 3 Days GMT Power Reserve 45mm (PAM00944)
Panerai Luminor Due 3 Days 42mm (PAM00906)
The Panerai London boutique is now open at 30 New Bond Street, you can make an appointment via the Officine Panerai website.