Watches & Wonders: Panerai Dives Into The Circular Economy With The Submersible eLAB-ID And Luminor Marina eSteel
The brand is publicizing the suppliers who worked on the 98.6% recycled Submersible eLAB-ID to inspire other watchmakers to follow suit.
At this week’s virtual Watches & Wonders fair in Geneva, Panerai is making a bold statement about the future of watch manufacturing.
Eager to be at the vanguard of environmentally responsible watchmaking, Panerai has created a 44mm concept watch, the Submersible eLAB-ID (PAM1225), in which 98.6% of its weight comes from recycled materials. Including a recycled titanium alloy called EcoTitanium on its case, sandwich dial, and bridges; 100% recycled SuperLuminova on its dial and hands; and 100% recycled silicon on its movement escapement.
Collaborations for a Better Tomorrow
Panerai worked with nine suppliers — through its research and development incubator, Laboratorio di Idee — to create the automatic timepiece. And starting in 2022, the brand expects the Submersible eLAB-ID to go on sale as a 30-piece limited edition, retailing for around 60,000 euros each (or approximately $70,600).
Thanks to a bold open-source strategy, Panerai also did something many watchmakers in Switzerland may have once considered unthinkable: It named all of the suppliers who contributed to the watch in its press release in the hopes of other watchmakers follow suit.
“It’s really an idea to mobilize and tell young people in this industry we can work on even small components and make them recycled,” said Jean-Marc Pontroué, Panerai’s CEO.
How It Began
To hear Pontroué tell it, the project had its seeds in a 2018 meeting in Hong Kong with sailor and adventurer Mike Horn, a Panerai brand ambassador who had just returned from an exploration trip wielding a piece of the shaft of his boat, the Pangaea.
“ ‘Either you throw it away, or you reuse it to make one of your watches,’ ” Pontroué recalled Horn telling him.
At its manufacture in Neuchâtel, Panerai eventually used the material to create five examples of the Submersible EcoPangaea Tourbillon GMT featuring recycled material on its case, strap, and packaging. The brand introduced the watch in the spring of 2020, and all five pieces quickly sold out.
Emboldened to pursue an even more ambitious project, Pontroué envisioned the eLAB-ID — including its critical open-source element — as a way to create economies of scale that would allow more companies in Switzerland to benefit from Panerai’s pioneering efforts.
“We contacted 10 different companies — some had never heard of suppliers of watches because they work on planes,” he said. “But they all found it interesting to work on a program for a luxury company. We told them it will not be a business at the beginning, but we will highlight you.”
Introducing the Luminor Marina eSteel
Also, at Watches & Wonders, Panerai introduced its first Luminor Marina eSteel models, all of which are encased in a recycled-based steel alloy. The three models in the range come in 44mm cases made of brushed eSteel. Available in three gradient dial colors, Blu Profondo (PAM1157), Grigio Roccia (PAM1358), and Verde Smeraldo (PAM1356), the pieces will become available in October — with the last one limited to Panerai boutiques and e-commerce.
The eSteel pieces are equipped with the automatic Calibre P.9010 and come on recycled textile straps in colors that match their dials and will retail for 8,500 euros each (or about $10,000).
A New Partnership
The attention Pontroué has lavished on these sustainability initiatives didn’t end with the watches. Panerai recently announced that it has partnered with the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC-UNESCO), the agency charged with implementing the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030), to create programs designed to improve ocean literacy.
“Despite being a small industry, we have a big voice in the world,” Pontroué said. “It’s part of our responsibility to promote these types of approaches.”
(Images © Panerai)