When a watch brand, with its history rooted deep in the seas, picks a cricketer brand ambassador in India, at first you may not find the common ground. That’s not all, when the brand decides to roll out special edition watches dedicated to the sportsperson, you know there is more to it than what meets the eye.
Panerai has bet on MS Dhoni to strike a good score in the Indian market and the brand’s overall plans for India. In an exclusive chat with ‘Vishawatch’ at the launch of two new limited edition watches, Panerai CEO Jean-Marc Pontroué shared his excitement and vision behind bringing Dhoni onboard.
“He is a great person, very easy going and was in love with the brand already. It was either him or nobody,” said Pontroue who appears to be very impressed with Dhoni, a self-confessed fan of the brand for over a decade now. He said, though Panerai as a brand does not have any direct connect with cricket, Dhoni is a perfect fit because of his philosophy and approach towards life.
The special watches were unveiled in Mumbai to the media and a select group of Panerai fans and watch collectors. Dhoni made a special speech at the unveiling and revealed that he had been following Panerai for years now and credits the famous explorer Mike Horn for the same. “It started in 2005, when I started playing for India. The seniors in the team then had a lot of passion for watches. They would talk about watches which I understood nothing about and would just walk away,” he shared.
A couple of years later, when Dhoni met Mike Horn who spent a lot of time with the Indian cricket team in 2008, he learnt more about watches, especially Panerai. “That was the first time I got to see a Panerai in person. I got more interested in the brand and was excited to know that Panerai started by making special diving equipment for the Italian navy. Since I have always had a fondness towards the forces, so the brand really attracted me,” Dhoni added.
According to Pontroue, Panerai is doing very well in India. “We are not in a hurry but in time will open more doors in India, ” he said, adding that the company was determined to make India one of the best markets. In 2020, Panerai plans to bring some more special watches to India. “We have something new planned in the next 3-4 months,” he added.
The new models are the Luminor GMT and the Luminor Chrono Flyback in 44 mm stainless steel and gold alloy cases, respectively. A feature shared by both models is the green dial. This is a very relevant identifying characteristic, green being MS Dhoni’s favourite colour as well as one of the colours of the Indian flag. The technical foundation of the new Luminor watches is a mechanical movement, which through two different functions expresses the technical expertise of the Panerai Manufacture in Neuchâtel.
The P.9010/GMT calibre fitted to the Luminor GMT – 44 mm (PAM01056) is an automatic mechanical movement with twin spring barrels providing a power reserve of three days, which displays a second time zone.
On the other hand, the P.9100 calibre used in the Luminor Chrono Flyback – 44 mm (PAM01057) also has twin spring barrels and a power reserve of three days, but its architecture is even more sophisticated in that it has a chronograph movement with a vertical clutch and a column wheel equipped with the flyback function. Appearing in 2013, it was the first automatic chronograph to be entirely developed and produced by Panerai, and it was created with the potential to be used in all kinds of sport.
Water-resistant to 30 bar, a depth of about 300 metres, or 5 bar, a depth of about 50 metres, each of the new Luminor MS Dhoni watches has an alligator leather strap, semi-matt black with green stitching. An additional strap in military green rubber is also supplied, together with a special tool for changing it and a screwdriver to remove the pin buckle.
These watches come with eight years guarantee, as part of a new programme launched by Panerai. On the back, both the watches feature a see-through case back that is engraved with MS Dhoni’s trademark move – the “Helicopter” shot, his signature and a special number 183. For those who are not aware – the number 183 holds a special place in the cricketing icon’s heart as it is the highest number he has scored in One-Day International Cricket. The association is legit considering Dhoni is an honorary Lieutenant Colonel in India’s territorial army and is a qualified paratrooper. The Panerai Luminor Flyback and Panerai Luminor GMT are limited to only 77 and 251 pieces respectively.
Words by Vijaya Rathore