Interview: Panerai’s Alessandro Ficarelli On Sustainable Watches, COVID-19, and Panerai’s Future

Watch Manila had a chance to get the thoughts of Alessandro Ficarelli, Panerai’s Product Director, on what’s ahead for Panerai.

Recently, Panerai has gone to a direction which only a handful of watch brands went: the direction of sustainability. In the 2021 Watches and Wonders (W&W), Panerai unveiled watches which were largely made up from recycled and eco-friendly materials. Along with that, Panerai has continued to churn out innovations which make their watches more accurate.

Here’s the full interview with Mr. Ficarelli:

How has Panerai coped with the COVID-19 pandemic?

Alessandro Ficarelli: The pandemic really took us by surprise because, even though we were aware of what was happening in China, we never imagined that it would arrive so quickly in the rest of the world. The first priority was to ensure that our organisation was safe. There have been cases of COVID-19 in all the places where we have a presence. Initially, it was a nightmare to handle because there were different regulations and protocols on lockdowns and partial lockdowns in different countries and cities. The goal was to maintain business continuity, despite warehouses being closed.

Panerai Boutique in the Philippines.

How important is Philippines as a market for Panerai? 

AF: Philippines, which is part of the Southeast Asia Oceania region, plays an important role for us, not strictly in terms of sales, but mainly for the general interest shown in Panerai by the local press.

Our clients in the Philippines are very active, we are proud of the community that was born there and we will keep boosting it.

Can you share with us how the digital landscape is evolving in relation to the watch industry and business?

The watchmaking industry has always been very traditional and linked to the past, but due to COVID-19 all the brands had to reshape their strategy and think about future customers’ needs. Social media represents an important touchpoint for us and during the previous months we organized several IG Live in order to keep alive our relationship with the audience, but at the same time we decided to organize also e-commerce exclusive watch launches.

PamCast- Panerai’s digital program to keep in touch with clients.

How important is your online presence both through your website and social media, and through the online media? 

AF: Online channels played an important role during the past two years, as they allowed us to stay in touch with our customers and to keep the dialogue running. In order to do this, we launched PamCast, a digital program that represents a journey through Panerai’s fascinating history to curated travel guides to the world’s most inspiring places. Of course, has been very important for us, as it was the only sale channel and this forced us to invest more energy on it.

You’ve had a big year this 2021 especially with your releases in Watches and Wonders. Can you walk us through the biggest highlights from Panerai?

Despite the negative aspects of the pandemic, we are really proud of 2021. During W&W, we decided to broaden our chronograph product line, reaffirming Panerai’s role in the sphere of chronography and providing the right timepiece to ensure a long-lasting accuracy in every moment of life. The introduction of the Piccolo Due corresponds to a versatile and eclectic expression of Italian taste, enhancing its emblematic identity through an unusual interpretation tinged with a charge of unexpected femininity. Another milestone is then represented by the Submersible eLAB-ID, a rule-breaking masterpiece in Panerai history, which emphasizes the deep concern of Panerai towards the status of global environmental crisis, as well as the Luminor Marina eSteel. Last but not least, the Submersible Bronzo Blu Abisso, a key element in Panerai’s history.

One of the biggest introductions of Panerai this year was its usage of recycled materials (up to 98.6%) for 1 model. Can you tell us more about this path of Panerai to promote the eco- friendly approach of watchmaking?

AF: To co-create this model, Panerai has partnered with 10 suppliers coming from different industries, all eager to work toward creating a more sustainable future based on a circular use of natural resources. The main difficulties came up because some suppliers never worked with a watch brand before and we all wanted to find out the best and most suitable materials, which are also durable and appropriate for a watch.

Will the eco-friendly approach of watchmaking find its way to all models or will it be for select releases only?

: Panerai’s goal is to have more sustainable products, reaching 30% of the models made of sustainable materials by 2025.In the next years, we will keep working with our R&D team and will constantly implement our product line with recycled or upcycled elements.

How are the preferences of people in Southeast Asia different or similar from those in Europe, US, and other markets?

All the markets are very different from each other. Usually our Asian customers look for smaller cases and are highly interested in having watches with precious materials, such as GoldtechTM, while in the US people buy sporty and bulky timepieces.

Panerai Piccolo Due PAM 1280

Panerai initially has appealed to a more masculine population. We’ve also seen the introduction of the 38mm Piccolo Due. Do you plan to expand your offerings which are a bit more inclined to the female population? Is Panerai exploring smaller sizes?

AF: During W&W 2021, Panerai introduced the Piccolo Due line, known for its 38mm case, and it has been positively welcomed by our female customers. At the moment, our goal is to broaden the Piccolo Due collection with new features and elements, and not to create a smaller line, but we will see in the future.

Has the watch industry recovered from the effects of COVID- 19?

AF: The effects of Covid-19 are slowly disappearing, but it will take more time to go back to our old habits. In the past two years, the watch industry, as all the others, learned to cope with this situation and slightly changed its attitude, giving more importance to online channels.

How do you think the watch industry will look like once the COVID-19 restrictions have been lowered?

: The pandemic forced us to question ourselves, taking on new issues. For many brands product and supply chain sustainability will be more important, introducing recycled or upcycled products or components in their collections. At the same time, all the brands can’t wait to start organizing physical and live events, interacting with their customers, so some aspects won’t change that much.

What can we expect from your brand in 2022 and in the future? 

AF: 2022 will be an important year for Panerai, as we will open new boutiques with a brand-new concept and design. This will be then followed by the organization of Panerai Experiences, which will be at the core of our strategy for the next year.

You may visit Panerai at their boutique in Greenbelt 5, Ayala Center, Makati City, Philippines. You may get in touch with them at +(63)277290392

Alessandro Ficarelli has been the Product Director for Panerai since 2011.

The interview has slightly been condensed and reorganized.