Introducing the Panerai Submersible eLAB-IDBy Wei Koh
To me, there are three individuals in the Swiss watch industry that are particularly worthy of admiration. The first is Karl-Friedrich Scheufele who, together with Chopard, was the first to commit to 100 percent ethically sourced gold and who became the first person to introduce a recycled steel case with his Alpine Eagle model launched in 2019. The second is Cyrille Vigneron, CEO of Cartier, who introduced the Swiss luxury watch industry’s very first solar powered timepiece this year in his Tank Must collection. The third is Jean-Marc Pontroué, CEO of Panerai. In my article on his new chronograph collection, I detailed how he took a brand with an aging audience and once again made it one of the most relevant and urgently cool maisons in watchmaking.
But even as he is using the communication platforms of the new world, and even as he aligns Panerai with the prevailing aesthetic values of today, he has also made a huge push in positioning Panerai as the leader in Swiss horology’s ethical evolution. He explains, “We don’t want to be the only one doing this. Acting alone won’t save the world.” He refers to the fact that not only has Panerai launched its first collection of Luminor Marina watches featuring recycled-based eSteel cases and dials, but the famous diving watch brand has also just unveiled the eLAB-ID, a watch with the highest amount of recycled-based material ever used in a luxury timepiece. This incredible banner for the ethical change that must happen features 98.6 percent recycled-based material. Its case, dial and even the bridges of its movement use recycled EcoTitanium. It uses 100 percent recycled Super-LumiNova for its indexes and hands. It even features 100 percent recycled silicon components in its movement escapement.
Says Pontroué, “As a brand that was born in the ocean, we are deeply moved by the steady deracination of our planet . It is clear that we must minimize consumption on every level. In the Swiss watch industry, that means relying less on virgin material extraction such as steel or gold for cases and dials, but also on brass used for movements and new silicon used for micro regulation elements. What is great is that many suppliers already recognize that this change needs to happen and are equally motivated to make this change happen. We will be very happy if all our peers in the Switzerland and around the world get in touch with the same suppliers to use the same materials.”
A Rallying Call for Eco-Conscious Luxury Consumption
It is my sincere belief that when a consumer today makes a purchase, he or she is also making a declaration of the world they want to live in. One of the best things about millennials and Generation Z is that they are actively interested in the underlying ethics of any company they are looking to invest in. So I have particular respect for Pontroué for essentially formalizing a rallying cry for the rest of the industry to consolidate around. He explains, “Watches are already very ethical objects in that they only consume the energy imparted to them by the human being wearing them. But what is the point of creating the most beautiful timepiece imaginable if we know this will have a negative impact on the planet? This is why this whole industry which exists to create happiness must come around to a new way of manufacturing. Of course, using recycled material is for now more expensive than virgin material. But the investment we make in this paves the way for the future.”
It is for this reason that I would say the Submersible eLAB-ID is the single watch I would most like to wear this year, because as the world gets back on track, we must not lose sight of the irreparable damage that has already been caused to our planet by over-consumption. To me, the Submersible eLAB-ID will go down as a historic timepiece for the significance of its courage to provoke change. It is a 44mm EcoTitanium Submersible with a titanium dial, a titanium baseplate and bridges for the movement. Its blue luminous markers are all recycled. And its balance is driven by a recycled silicon escapement. The attractive Grigio Roccia fabric strap is also recycled.
In order to achieve this, Panerai worked with the following parties who should also be applauded for the efforts they have made. Eramet is a specialist in the production of titanium alloys and enabled Panerai to create its first recycled titanium watches — the 2019 Mike Horn Edition Submersibles PAM 984 and PAM 985 (green lume vs blue lume), which the eLAB-ID takes much of its design codes from. One major difference is that the Mike Horn watches were 47mm in comparison to the new watch which is 44mm in diameter. At the launch of the Mike Horn Submersible, Pontroué stated, “Mike was at the North Pole and saw first-hand the devastating effects of pollution on the planet. I thought about what Panerai can do to help on a small level. . .The target is, by 2022, to be the first brand to bring a watch to market that is entirely recycled.” To be fair, at 98.6 percent recycled-based, I think we can all agree he’s reached this achievement one year early.
ProCadrans, the dial maker, was able to fashion a dial from EcoTitanium. But it was Panerai’s manufacture that learned to make the bridges and plate from this material. Even the watch’s sapphire crystal is made from recycled material and crafted by Novo Cristal. Monyco and RC Tritec both helped in the creation of recycled Super-LumiNova, while Sil’tronix ST and Sigatec both enabled Panerai to use recycled silicon for the escapement found in the PAM 1225’s three-day power reserve automatic movement — the P.900e.
On top of all of this, the eLAB-ID Submersible is, of course, a stunning watch and one that you can feel truly great about wearing.
Panerai Submersible eLAB-ID (PAM 1225)
Movement: Self-winding caliber P.900e; three-day power reserve
Functions: Hours, minutes and small seconds
Case: 44mm; EcoTitanium with unidirectional rotating bezel and screwed caseback; water resistant to 300m
Strap: Recycled Grigio Roccia fabric with light blue stitching and trapezoidal EcoTitanium buckle
Price: Euro 60,000