Let’s talk about caliber P.5000 for a Moment. It’s a big motor: two mainspring barrels that you may easily see running in the two large stones, providing eight times of running time in 3hz/21,600 vph. The mainspring barrels operate in series, pushing torque via a really classically arranged going train, with the centre wheel observable via a large cutout in the plate. I guess technically speaking we would have to call this a 3/4 plate motion as the third wheel bridge isn’t actually a bridge in the typical sense of the word, but rather caused by producing the cutout. That cutout plus the shape of the major plate round the equilibrium give a very aesthetically pleasing, but still pragmatic impact, which is completely suitable for what was, after all, initially intended to be an instrument watch, plain and simple. The going train is organized so the fourth wheel is just opposite the crown, which is precisely where you would find it into a pocket watch, and if you want a tiny seconds dial in which it might happen to be in one of those Angelus pocket opinion powered Panerais all you have to do is run the fourth wheel pivot through the dial and place a hand on it (which was exactly what Panerai did with all the PAM 510).The balance, which is held in place by a really solid looking bridge, seems somewhat small for the movement but then again, that is probably only because the motion’s so big; in 15 3/4 lignes, or just about 35.7 mm, it is a pocket — watch rather than a wristwatch grade (unless you are in the bigger-than-average-wristwatch business, that Panerai manifestly is). Overall, we think it’s an impressive bit of work — we have used the term sturdy and sturdiness is very much the takeaway impression one has of the P.5000. Interestingly, incidentally, the P.5000 has a free-sprung, flexible mass equilibrium, which is a really wonderful touch, particularly at this price point — if you look closely at what looks like the regulator you will see that it is really not a ruler, but a stud carrier (in other words, the carrier for the stud to what the outer terminal of the balance spring is attached). The screws holding the balance bridge set up run through threaded kayaks on the bridge and may be used to adjust end-shake (the quantity of vertical “play” between the ends of the balance staff as well as the endstones of the shock-jewel assembly.
When two of the longest serving chief executives in Richemont’s stable of brands (namely Vacheron Constantin and Piaget) were retired earlier this year, speculation intensified that Panerai Watches 42mm Replica boss Angelo Bonati would soon step down. Mr Bonati reached retirement age in 2016, and has led Panerai for a remarkable 17 years, being the first and only chief executive of the brand since Richemont bought it in 2000.
Now it is official, according to an internal Richemont announcement earlier this week: come April 1, 2018, Jean-Marc Pontroue will become the next chief executive of Panerai, the watchmaker best known for its military inspired Luminor and Radiomir watches. Credited with having grown sales at Panerai some 20-fold and turning it into a global luxury brand, the 66-year old Mr Bonati will stay on for a few months to help with the transition.
Chief executive of Roger Dubuis since 2012, Mr Pontroue’s move is a major promotion, given that Panerai is a significantly larger company, with annual sales of SFr450m, compared to just SFr80m at Roger Dubuis, according to estimates by Swiss bank Vontobel.
Well regarded by insiders at Richemont, Mr Pontroue will report to Emmanuel Perrin, recently appointed head of distribution for Richemont’s watchmaking brands. However, according to insiders, Mr Perrin, a Richemont lifer whose uncle was once the president of Cartier, will eventually become chief of the watchmaking division, taking over the post vacated by Georges Kern.
While still enjoying strong sales and one of the best margins amongst Richemont watch brands, Panerai has lost some of its allure amongst diehard collectors (the “Paneristi”) in recent years. Consequently Mr Pontroue’s direction for the brand will certainly be one worth keeping an eye on.
Correction December 22, 2017: Mr Pontroué’s last name was misspelled in an earlier version of the article. We regret the error.