The watch industry is filled with examples of maisons trying to connect their fans and customers to their respective watch making history. Usually we end up with a more or less tasteful nod to a historic watch. The last decade we have witnessed brands flooding the market with fauxtina dials and sometimes believable stories behind the watches.
Panerai have also been there. Several times. Now they are trying a new and unorthodox approach to connect with their fans and customers.
The Panerai Passport
If you are into Panerai watches it will be no surprise to you that the original workshop in Florence is the Mecca of the Paneristi. Opened in 1860 as a workshop, shop and school for watchmakers, this is a landmark in watchmaking history. The boutique was refurbished and reopened back in 2001. Since then it has been on every watch travellers shortlist of places to visit.
I visited the boutique back in 2017, and for me the highlight was really how nice the facade of the boutique looks towards Piazza San Giovanni and the stunning Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore.
The inside of the boutique looks like every other boutique I have ever visited.
On July 19th this year Panerai opened a museum on the Florence premises. You will amongst other interesting objects find a wax figure of Giuseppe Panerai behind his desk on the first floor among original furniture and documents.
Panerai have now also decided to hand out a Panerai Passport to customers who visit the boutique. It is a bordeaux colored book, like an official Italian travel document. On the cover it has the Luminor 1312 dial embossed, and on the inside you find the signature of CEO Jean-Marc Pontroué.
“To be an active part of our club, members can collect stamps from the three most representative Panerai destinations,” says Pontroué.
“They are, in addition to the Florence flagship, our historic Bermudan ketch Eilean and our Swiss manufacture in Neuchâtel.”
Customer loyalty program
This new marketing move towards loyal customers is new. I cannot remember any brands making a move like this.
Yes, it is obvious what Panerai wants, and the Panerai Passport is much like a sticker book for grown ups. But I kind of want to tick all these boxes anyway, so why not have the sticker book as well.
I know, I am a geek.
Now making it to S/Y Eilean and the manufacture in Neuchâtel will be most difficult. According to Panerai it is now possible.
Making it happen
Getting those stamps in your Panerai Passport will not be easy. Here is your guide to making it happen.
Let’s start with the easy bit:
1. Go to Florence and visit the boutique. It lies central in the city, close to other important sights. So you can bring the wife and still make it to the shop without too much annoyance. Florence Boutique.
2. Visit the manufacture in Neuchâtel. As most watch manufactures are closed off, this box will be harder to tick. Panerai are now opening up a little bit, so you won’t have to stand outside their doors if you ever come to Neuchâtel. Panerai opened a new exclusive private area for welcoming its guests. A 54 sq/m Panerai lounge inside the 10.000 sq/m manufacture are now open to the public.
Remember to book an appointment – by email
3. To get on the S/Y Eilean you have to make an appointment with the captain. That is the easy part. Location of the Sailing Yacht will vary with season. Right now it is in Mallorca, Spain, tomorrow it will be elsewhere. And I really don’t know if they have a sailing plan or not.
Locate S/Y Eilean – appointment by email
Ok, now. Is this an act of desperation from Panerai, or a sign of a close and prosper relationship with their customers?
Die-hard fans of Panerai will absolutely love the Panerai Passport, and critics of the industry will hate it.
On my part, I have already talked to a bunch of fellow nerds and halfway booked our tickets to Florence. Without our wifes. Let’s see if I’ll survive that when I get back home.