I have thought about this question many times over the years, usually around SIHH. As Panerai grew as a company and expanded into complications and new case designs, there was always a lot of discussion about the DNA of the brand. The comments would run the whole spectrum between positive and negative, usually centered around the DNA of the brand.
After attending SIHH, I sat down to really think about it from my personal experiences. When I first found the brand, and I would imagine a lot of you are in the same category, I had no clue about the WWII history of Panerai. Didn't know what a 3646, 6152 or 6154 was. My introduction to Panerai was the post Vendome, Bettarini case. It was just a cool watch to me. Different than anything else in the market. Big, bold and unapologetic. To me DNA was about that original feeling, seeing a watch in the wild and knowing it was a Panerai and knowing not too many other people were into it. I didn't agonize over painter versus sandwich or manual versus automatic or the thickness of the numbers. I just liked the way it looked on my wrist.
So now that the brand is expanding beyond its early roots, I look at each piece individually. Does it have the cool factor? Is it identifiable as a Panerai? Would it look good on my wrist?
When I think about it, to me DNA is having a shared past but being able to evolve over time while maintaining a connection to the past. I share DNA with my parents and siblings, and while you can tell we're related we are not identical.
For those that were around in the early years, were folks drawn in by the 1997 and beyond pieces or was Vintage already in the nomenclature?
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