Confessions Of A Collector – I Bought My First Watch Online

Panerai recently launched their e-commerce website, which has only helped to increase my watch lust. And after tempting me for almost a year, I recently pulled the trigger on a Panerai Luminor Base Logo. Read my story.

By Josh Shanks

I’ll admit, I’m a bit of a retail purist. I like the experience of walking into a boutique, having the requisite espresso (or whisky) and shooting the breeze with store staff while pondering the various wares on display. For the better part of a century, many collectors have practiced the same ritual. But with today’s changing retail landscape, we’re now forced to reconsider what we think “traditional retail” is. I recently encountered this when purchasing a new Panerai Luminor.

The modern watch buyer now has a multitude of options when it comes to acquiring the latest hot novelty from their favorite brand. Watch retailers are operating in so many realms these days. From social media to e-commerce, and traditional brick and mortar stores, the outlets to purchase watches are seemingly endless. Why is why discovering Panerai’s e-commerce during this period of transition is so important to our story.

Just a few years back, the internet was almost a dirty word when it came to watch sales. Most of the sellers were offering previously owned pieces or excess inventory from brands (i.e. gray dealers). However, in 2018, many brands have embraced the world of e-commerce by offering their latest novelties for sale with just the click of a button or a tap of your smartphone.

Enter Panerai

It was only this year that Panerai, founded in 1860, entered the world of e-commerce. Selling a vast assortment of their collection online in their own dedicated, well-made online shop, available in multiple markets. Other Richemont brands have followed suit, but Panerai is particularly notable because of their adoring fan base, the Paneristi.

The Process

Since its release at this 2018's SIHH fair, the Panerai Luminor Base Logo (ref PAM00774) has been tempting my heart and wallet. While not the most complicated piece in Panerai’s arsenal, the Luminor Base Logo speaks to me, the average collector. Its 44mm case is well rounded and the icing on the cake would have to be the strap. A soft and supple strap made with three materials (canvas, leather (inner) and rubber). It’s grey color paired with light blue stitching perfectly matching the Panerai logo placed on the dial at six o’clock. Plus, it just plain feels great on the wrist.

So, when I first experienced this watch, I instantly knew I had to have it. After January’s fair, the watch was in boutiques as early as the following month. But because of its CHF 4,700 price tag, retailers’ lists were growing by the day. I was able to experience the piece in stores starting around Watches & Wonders Miami and I knew I just had to have it.

During a recent trip to Switzerland, my Watchonista colleagues learned of my watch lust towards the Base Logo and encouraged me to go after the watch I’d been dreaming about. I’d seen the piece in person but hadn’t exactly convinced myself it was the piece for me. But after visiting Panerai’s website, I quickly found the watch in the current collection and after browsing the tech specs (manual wind, three-day power reserve for the win!) I was convinced. I had to have it. Let’s do it!

Luxury Concierge

I think what I liked most about this process was the utter lack of intimidation. While browsing the product page, I was presented in the righthand corner of the page with a small chat window. It was actually a real person, a certified Panerai specialist helped to answer any questions I had. I’ll admit, as a watch geek, I didn’t have a lot of questions, but I had to see if I could throw a few curveballs out there. The specialist on the chat that day didn’t flinch and answered all of my questions with ease.

Let’s do this!

So, there I was, credit card in hand, thinking “let’s do this!” After clicking “Purchase” I was directed to a very intuitive checkout page which took down all of my information, shipping address, and credit card info. They even offered to let me pick the watch up at my nearest boutique in case I needed more help with time setting, etc. But I think I have a pretty good handle on how these things work. So, I paid for the upgraded shipping, and clicked “Buy!”

Within two days, my Luminor Base Logo arrived via FedEx. Upon receiving the tracking notification, I slipped out the side door of our office building and headed home where my new watch was patiently waiting to be on my wrist. I started telling friends and family that I had done something, something perhaps a bit out of the norm for a collector. I’d bought a watch online. The reaction to me purchasing a watch online was actually quite different that the reaction of a person buying a watch in a retail store. The instant gratification of going home with a watch was gone, now the anticipation for FedEx was ever present.

So many critics have said that luxury e-commerce will never replace traditional brick and mortar retail because of the simple fact that the “experience” you receive while buying a watch will trump anything e-commerce can offer. From my opinion, after buying online, I can attest this is simply not true. If a collector can afford a CHF 5,000 watch, he (or she) can surely afford to purchase their own espresso or whisky. On top of that, some of us just like to browse in peace and quiet, or in our PJs.

The unboxing

After my watch arrived, I sat the brown shipping box on my dining table and just sat and looked at it for a time. “What have I done?” I asked myself. Here is a watch, made in Switzerland, arriving at my doorstep, within days, after the simple click of a mouse. How could it be? Centuries of craftsmanship distilled into a 60 second procedure which delivered me a watch that I had been lusting after for more than six months.

After careful knifework, I opened the outer box and found another box nestled safely inside amongst a bountiful amount of paper shredding which were curled to give the inner box a more luxurious feel. A Panerai box was wrapped softly in a black ribbon tied in a neat bow. Next to it was a lovely thank you card, which a hand signature of a Panerai specialist. A personalized touch which brings the experience of buying a luxury timepiece to your living room.

When watch collectors complement each other on a new acquisition we say, “wear it in good health.” While a store sales associate would typically tell a customer something similar, I got my validation by posting my new #incoming to Instagram. My first comment? “Wear it in good health.”

The Panerai Luminor Base Logo, reference PAM00774 is a stunning entry priced model in the Luminor family. Sized at 44mm in stainless steel, the watch definitely spoke to me and countless others. Priced at CHF 4,700 (or $4,750 USD) the watch's price is just as attractive as its design. If you're interested in discovering more about the Luminor Base Logo, click HERE.

Otherwise, if you're interested in visiting Panerai's e-commerce shop, kindly use the link below.

(Photography by Pierre Vogel)

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