What does a professional sailor look for in a watch? Well, Jimmy Spithill, skipper and helmsman of Oracle Team USA, sums it up: “It has to look good, and it has got to have a level of sophistication. Like a boat, having beautiful lines, and sometimes the simplicity, is what makes it look good.” It also has to have features such as, naturally, a waterproof exterior, along with stopwatch functions for race practices.
The 35th America’s Cup, which is the world’s oldest sporting trophy, kicks off this month in Bermuda, and Officine Panerai is the official watch of the competition. The brand is also the watch sponsor for two competing teams: defending champions Oracle Team USA and SoftBank Team Japan, and has created limited-edition watches for both the sailors and consumers.
Angelo Bonati, chief executive of Panerai, tells us that the America’s Cup is the Formula One of the Sea, when we meet him in Bermuda ahead of the races. “Listen, America’s Cup means technology, high technology, with new specific materials like carbon fibre. And so with Panerai, when we try to organise the collection to present to the America’s Cup, we follow the same things, carbon fibre, ceramic, very sporty materials, and really technological features,” he says.
Three versions of the timepieces, which take the form of Panerai’s Luminor watch, were created for the 35th America’s Cup. They debuted at Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie earlier this year, and are now available at select Panerai boutiques. Two of the watches are inscribed with the team names – Oracle Team USA and Softbank Team Japan – and the other with the America’s Cup logo. Only about 1,000 watches have been produced.
Read more about Panerai’s relationship with the 35th America’s Cup in the May edition of Luxury magazine, which is published with The National newspaper on Thursday, May 11.