Product placement has become something of a habit for watch brands these past few years, as the recently released Wall Street sequel Money Never Sleeps makes amply clear. No fewer than four firms – Cartier, IWC, Jaeger-LeCoultre and Vacheron Constantin – vied for screen time on the protagonists’ wrists. Panerai, meanwhile, has never bothered to publicise its screen appearances, despite a high-profile presence in numerous Hollywood blockbusters. Who could have missed the Panerai Luminor 1950 Regatta Rattrapante (PAM 332) in Stallone’s summer release The Expendables, also in full view on the posters.
The “love affair” between Sly and the Florentine brand began in 1995. The actor, who was preparing for his role in Daylight, was looking for a watch that would help build his screen character. While browsing in a jeweller’s shop in Rome, he came across a Panerai Luminor. It was love at first sight. “I immediately knew this watch had star power,” he later recalled. Stallone was so taken by the watch that he ordered several Mare Nostrum and Submersible models, with the inscription “Slytech” and his signature on the case back, as gifts for his friends… including Arnold Schwarzenegger who decided to wear his in Eraser, which beat Daylight to the box office.
What better endorsement could Panerai hope for? Its models, whose imposing size would spark a trend, had found the powerful wrists that could show them to best advantage. The door to the US market was open wide. The Stallone-Panerai tandem has gone from strength to strength. Certain models are even inspired by and dedicated to the actor, such as the 47mm Luminor Chrono 1000M Slytech, issued in 2005 as a limited edition of 500. Stallone, meanwhile, has continued to wear Panerai watches in his films, including Rambo. Other muscle men have followed suit, such as Jason Statham in The Transporter and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in The Rundown. The brand’s hall of fame also features less strapping stars, such as Hugh Grant (Bridget Jones’s Diary, Two Weeks Notice) and Josh Hartnett (Hollywood Homicide).
Despite this, Panerai is keeping quiet about its big-screen stardom. As though its products speak for themselves… a view no one would deny. A Panerai watch is, after all, recognisable at a glance, and on Sylvester Stallone’s wrist… well, need we say more? Especially as the actor, and his colleagues, appear to be genuine fans.