— World Replica Watches had the opportunity to visit the new Panerai Manufacture set in the hills above Neuchâtel, in a modern building that combines the latest cutting-edge technology with an environmentally responsible approach.
Last week WorldTempus was invited to Neuchâtel with a select group of journalists to discover the new Manufacture of Officine Panerai. New building, new energy, same high standards! Construction was completed at the end of 2014, but it was not until now that the company finally opened its doors to the press. Frédéric Dreyer-Gonzales, Director of the Research & Development Department, welcomed us bright and early, introduced us to the history of the brand, took us on a tour of the 10,000 m2 facility and invited us to step into the shoes of a watchmaker for a few moments.
Orologeria a Firenze
The story began in Florence, in 1860, when Giovanni Panerai opened the city’s first watchmaker’s shop. The shop still sits in the same location in the heart of the Italian city, under the name Officine Panerai, although it is a little bigger today. Panerai, part of the Richemont Group since 1997, is now recognised as one of the world’s foremost luxury sports watchmakers.
Swiss technology – Italian design
Although the company’s design department remains in Florence, Italy, where it draws inspiration for future timepieces from the company archives, the other departments have been brought together in the new building in Neuchâtel. All of the skills and resources necessary for the development and production of fake Panerai watches and movements, which are now made entirely in-house, are under the same roof. Around 260 staff members work together in the R&D, prototyping, homologation, production, assembly, quality control and after-sales service departments.
In 1916, in order to fulfil the requirements of the Italian Royal Navy, Panerai created Radiomir, a radium-based powder that was able to form a luminous coating on the dials of its instruments and sighting devices. The term is now synonymous with the brand, although radium is no longer used, and replica Panerai watches remain faithful to the sleek and minimalist Italian design aesthetic, while incorporating Swiss watchmaking savoir-faire and quality.
Environmentally responsible design
Through the use of modern technology and incorporating the principles of environmental responsibility and sustainability, every aspect, from the use of space to the use of resources, was considered at length in order to ensure respect for the environment and minimum waste. The building has been designed to bring carbon emissions to zero, while saving energy and collecting and reusing waste products. Rainwater is collected, hot water produced by the equipment cooling systems is re-used to produce heating for the building, lighting is by LEDs, and employees are encouraged to use public transport. These factors have been instrumental in granting Panerai entry into the Responsible Jewellery Council, an organisation that promotes an ethical and environmentally responsible approach to the production and sale of fake watches and jewellery.
At the end of the tour Officine Panerai treated us to a private lesson with two of the Manufacture’s watchmaking experts. The aim of the lesson was to dismantle a P.2003/10 – a self-winding mechanical movement with a diameter of 13¾ lignes, with triple barrel and a 10-day power reserve. Then put it back together. All screws had to be present and correct, the gears the right way around, and the movement had to actually work. And at the end of it all, we were given our very own Panerai to take home!