This feature has been produced in partnership with Panerai.
Sailing yacht racing has a reputation as being simply a past-time for the ludicrously wealthy, but the reality is that it’s one of the most intense sports on the planet. Dangerous, grueling and physically demanding, it’s a sport that demands strength, precision and teamwork.
The most prestigious race of all is the America’s Cup; the oldest international sporting trophy and the fiercest-fought yacht race on the planet. This year, the famous race will be held off the coast of Auckland in the Hauraki Gulf, widely considered one of the best sailing spots in the world. The defending Emirates Team New Zealand will no doubt face fierce competition, with Italy’s Luna Rossa Challenge poised as the ‘Challenger of Record’ for the 36 America’s Cup.
If the Italians want to beat the Kiwis out on the high seas, they’ll need no shortage of gumption – as well as the best equipment money can buy at their disposal. Perhaps it’s no surprise, then, that legendary Italian watch manufacturer Panerai have answered their countrymen’s call, forging a partnership with Luna Rossa Challenge to produce some of the toughest (and most distinctive) watches they’ve ever created.
“As an Italian sailor and a watch enthusiast, I am delighted and proud of this partnership signed by our team with a brand which has such impressive credentials in the field of sailing,” Max Sirena, Skipper and Team Director of Luna Rossa says.
Indeed, it’s hard to think of a better timepiece partnership for a racing yacht team. Panerai grew to fame as an official watch supplier of the Royal Italian Navy, and has an almost century-long history of making nautical instruments.
Panerai’s Laboratorio di Idee has come up with five brilliant watches across two collections – the Luminor Luna Rossa and the Submersible Luna Rossa – to celebrate this partnership. Sharing a common purpose and inspiration, but achieving their goal through divergent means, these high-performance timepieces are the ultimate sailor’s watches.
Let’s start with the Luminor Luna Rossa collection, which consists of four handsome models which all contain different features essential for yacht races and are all constructed from highly innovative materials.
The GMT 44mm (ref. PAM01036), constructed from titanium DLC, features a dual time zone function, perfect for keeping track of a race no matter where you are on the planet. The black ceramic Chrono Flyback 44mm (ref. PAM01037), as the name suggests, boasts a high-precision flyback chronograph – the ultimate sporting tool.
Not only does the Regatta 47mm (ref. PAM01038) have a novel regatta timer but also uses Panerai’s novel Carbotech: a composite material based on carbon fibre that’s not only incredibly tough and light but features an uneven, matt black appearance, which varies according to the way the material is sculpted. The end result is that each watch that uses Carbotech has a completely unique appearance.
This trio, along with their Submersible Luna Rossa cousin, feature dials covered with the same exotic textile that the Luna Rossa yacht’s sails are made from – a neat little detail that reminds you of their sailing heritage.
Also in the Luminor Luna Rossa range is the GMT 42mm (ref. PAM01096), which combines a sand-blasted titanium case with a Carbotech bezel and swaps out the aforementioned sail textile dial for an even more exotic material, Scafotech: another unique composite actually made from carbon fibre residue recycled from the hull and hydrofoils of the Luna Rossa Challenge’s AC75 yacht.
The Submersible Luna Rossa 47mm (ref. PAM01039) takes an even more divergent route. While the Submersible, like the PAM01036 and PAM01096, features a GMT movement and date window, its focus is squarely on aquatic performance. Boasting a water resistance of 300m, a grippy unidirectional diving bezel and generous lashings of lume, the Submersible is prepared for even the most nail-biting dips into the Pacific.
The hardest decision for a watch fan – or indeed for a member of the Luna Rossa Challenge team – is which one to pick. Submersible or Luminor? GMT or Regatta? Carbotech or titanium? All we’ll say is don’t think about it too long. These yachts go bloody quick, and so will these watches.