The following article was produced in partnership with Panerai and Kennedy.
While luxury watches are regularly made out of exotic materials and precious metals – such as gold, platinum, synthetic rubies and carbon fibre composites – stainless steel remains, for the most part, the most popular and widely utilised material for high-end timepieces.
Switzerland’s watch industry alone uses over 9,000 tonnes of steel every year, which goes into everything from cases and bracelets to the hundreds of tiny pieces that keep watch movements ticking.
But there’s a problem. Traditionally, the watch industry has done a very poor job of recycling the massive amounts of steel it consumes year after year. Hell, it wasn’t too long ago that excess or faulty watchmaking materials were simply just crushed by steamrollers and sent off to landfills, with no attempt to recycle any of the watch’s valuable components. What a waste.
Thankfully, more and more high-end watchmakers are opening their eyes to the benefits and necessity of recycling – and Panerai is leading the way in that regard. When you consider Panerai’s strong nautical association, that makes sense, as there’s nowhere on earth where the consequences of human pollution are more obvious than the oceans. In 2019, Panerai launched its Panerai Ecologico initiative: a special watchmaking program focused on developing innovative and sustainable technologies for use in luxury watches.
The latest Panerai Ecologico release might just be the most exciting yet, too. Meet the Panerai Luminor Marina eSteel collection – three handsome Panerai dive watches whose traditional looks belie a rather clever and exciting innovation.
At first glance, these three watches appear to be relatively normal Luminors – which is to say, one of the most iconic and desirable dive watches on the market. The only giveaway that they might be something different is their rubberised crowns and the subtle ‘eSteel’ text on their dials. But appearances can be deceiving.
What makes these three watches so special is that 58.4% (or 89g) of their total weight is constructed from recycled-based materials. The Luminor Marina eSteel’s case and dial, as the name implies, is made from Panerai’s new eSteel, a stainless steel alloy that incorporates recycled materials. On top of that, the watches’ straps are made from recycled PET plastic, a common contributor to ocean pollution.
It’s one hell of a party trick and a very elegantly executed one at that. Many recycled goods try to play up the fact that they’re recycled – which to some is a boon, and to others is a curse. Instead, the Panerai Luminor Marina eSteel watches are an exercise in subtlety: distinctive enough that watch fans will spot and admire the difference, but conventional enough to prove that using recycled materials doesn’t mean you have to impact or compromise on style.
Indeed, you don’t have to compromise on performance, either. The Luminor Marina eSteels are functionally identical to their Luminor Marina siblings, boasting 300m of water resistance, a durable automatic movement with a 3-day power reserve, that classic Panerai crown lock plus a small seconds display and date window. They’re highly capable as well as being better for the planet.
Speaking of style, too, the Luminor Marina eSteel is available in three unique and attractive colour variants: Blu Profondo (a deep, rich blue), Grigio Roccia (a stealthy grey) and Verde Smeraldo (a luxurious green). The three colours pay homage to the tones and hues of the ocean, and suit the character of the Luminor family perfectly.
In many ways, we’d call the Luminor Marina eSteel the perfect Panerai. It’s got all the features and aesthetic notes that you’d want from a classic Panerai timepiece, with sustainable bona fides to boot. It’s proof positive that you can make a desirable, luxurious watch while also being sustainable – and it’s exactly what watch collectors need in 2022.