Those who know Officine Panerai are only too familiar with the brand’s rich water-related history. This is the brand that equipped the Italian Navy in the mid-1900s with specially developed watches including the Luminor and Radiomir, and in recent years, this is the brand that not only sponsors sailing involvements, but also has launched its own Classic Yacht Challenge racing series with events around the world. In January 2017, Panerai is also the brand that is now the Official Watch of the 35th America’s Cup, as well as of Oracle Team USA and Softbank Team Japan.
End of February, as an official partner of the 35th America’s Cup competition – scheduled to take place in June in Bermuda – Officine Panerai joined in some opening festivities of certain facilities there, as well as in the unveiling of the all-new America’s Cup Class boat for Oracle Team USA. The new America’s Cup Class foiling wing-sailed catamaran is capable of speeds of more than 100 km/hour. With its magnificent foiling abilities, the boat rises out of the water and sails across the sea on air – marking a new era of yacht racing. The highly technical boat was designed by a team of 15 experts and built by a team of approximately 50 specialists. Oracle Team USA has a first-class crew, and is skippered by Jimmy Spithill.
“Essentially we are trying to fly a boat,” says Jimmy Spithill, skipper and helmsman of Oracle Team USA. “We have put a big effort into our control systems and our instrumentation.” In fact, Spithill has an aviation license, piloting both planes and helicopters. He says the experience helps with the foiling of the wingsail catamarans. According to Spithill, even a slight mistake can put you “behind an avalanche” and there are big consequences for mistakes, so it is important to always think ahead.
A great blend of high-tech
Additionally, of course, it is all about the manpower. According to Grant Simmer, COO of Oracle Team USA, the new America’s Cup Class boat is a great blend of high-tech and sports racing. “However, this is also about athleticism. Much like Formula 1 racing, it takes a lot of people to man the team. The crew is very involved in developing solutions, and is constantly working with the ground team on improvements and developing our strategy. We are big on internal communications and we continually define our priorities. If we think a change is needed, we evaluate what the change is versus the probability of success if we make that change. Sometimes it just comes down to finding solutions in the moment.” Simmer further noted that the team – the youngest crew that Oracle Team USA has ever had — is all about staying focused in these last 100 days until the race.
The first of a series of races begins in Bermuda on May 26 for the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Qualifiers. Oracle Team USA, which won the last America’s Cup in 2013 (and the one before that in 2010), is defending its title. Now, five teams race to determine the ultimate challenger going up against Oracle Team USA. The 2017 races include the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Qualifiers, followed by the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Challenger Playoffs, and culminating in the final America’s Cup Match presented by Louis Vuitton in June. In that final match, the first team to win seven races wins the coveted America’s Cup.
With the big role that Panerai is playing for the 35th America’s Cup, the brand naturally is unveiling some powerhouse watches that celebrate the event, as well as the teams for which it is the Official Watch.
Panerai Luminor Marina 1950 America’s Cup 3 Days Automatic Acciaio – 44mm
This is the Official Watch of the event. It features Panerai’s patented crown-protecting lever device and is water resistant to 300 meters. The words “America’s Cup” are printed in blue on the dial. The 44mm stainless steel watch has a black “sandwich” style dial and comes with a black leather strap with the America’s Cup logo embossed. Stitched with red and blue thread, the watch makes a nice American statement. It is powered by the in-house-made automatic caliber P. 9010 movement with three days of power reserve. The caseback is engraved with the America’s Cup logo. Just 300 are being made ($8,100 retail).
Panerai Luminor 1950 Oracle Team USA 3 Days Chrono Flyback Automatic Ceramica – 44mm
Equipped with a flyback chronograph function, this watch is said to be Spithill’s favorite. The 44mm case is made of black ceramic with a titanium caseback engraved with the Oracle Team USA logo and the words “35th America’s Cup.” Water-resistant to 100 meters, it is powered by the caliber P.9100 with column-wheel chronograph. The flyback function is operated via the pusher at 8:00, and the watch features a tachymeter scale to measure speed in knots. Just 200 pieces will be made ($15,300).
Panerai Luminor 1950 Regatta Oracle Team USA 3 Days Chrono Flyback Automatic Titanio – 47mm
This timepiece embraces the true spirit of the America’s Cup races thanks to its regatta countdown function. Crafted in titanium, the 47mm watch uses the P.9100/R movement, which is the automatic flyback chronograph caliber with a module added for the countdown function. It also features Oracle Team USA’s logo and has an image of the boat engraved on it. Here, too, just 200 pieces are being built ($17,900).
Luminor Marina Oracle Team USA 8 Days Acciaio – 44mm
A somewhat more subdued model, this 44mm watch offers eight days of power reserve and is powered by the manually wound P. 5000 caliber. The stainless steel watch with patented crown protector is water-resistant to 300 meters. It is made in a limited edition of 200 pieces ($7,100).
Panerai Luminor Marina 1950 Softbank Team Japan 3 Days Automatic Acciaio – 44mm
As previously mentioned, Panerai also is the Official Watch for Softbank Team Japan. The watch that honors that team is a 44mm steel watch with the P.9010 movement and three days of power reserve. Its caseback features the Team Japan logo and an engraving of the team’s boat. Stitching on the black strap is red and white, recalling Japan’s flag. Just 150 pieces will be made ($8,100).