First of all let me introduce myself. This is Costas (aka Centaur), co-founder of Paneristi Hellas, a 1-year old Panerai enthusiast community from Greece. As you might expect, it’s really difficult to properly build a community for a specific watch brand in Greece but with the help of our forum (www.paneristihellas.gr) and the passion of our members, we overcame all the challenges and now we are counting more than 130 members. Moreover, I would say that we are a project-driven community and during the last year we created a lot of cool stuff, a process which is really enjoying! To give you an idea of what we’re building, below is a short list of small projects that we created:
1. Paneristi Hellas Photo Album
2. Paneristi Hellas Calendar 2017
3. Paneristi Hellas T-shirts
BTW, this is Spiros, the other co-founder
4. Paneristi Hellas Mugs
5. Paneristi Hellas Buckles
6. Paneristi Hellas Usb flash drive (inspired by PAM529)
7. Paneristi Hellas Cleaning cloth
8. Paneristi Hellas Watch Prototypes
Yes, we also created 2 fully handmade watch prototypes, full sets with boxes, papers, stamps, 2 ammo straps, digital security certificates and more. These were not intended for a forum project, they where made just for our pleasure. Although the whole process was really fun!
9. Paneristi Hellas Strap, Buckle and Travel Case (Project Haliacmon)
We created a limited run of 12 pieces, one for each month of Paneristi Hellas existence. Needless to say that it took about 45 minutes from the announcement till the end of this run
As you can see we were really active and we always have more and more ideas about our upcoming projects.
Now, about our visit to Neuchatel. It’s a dream and a lifetime experience for every Paneristi throughout the world to get the chance to be in the birthplace of his favourite watch brand and I would like to thank Giammaria Varriale (Panerai Sales Manager) for making this happen. Having an engineering background, I always wanted to learn how things work and what are the people behind the brand. And now I believe that I have a good story to tell to anyone that is interested to learn how a Panerai it’s made and what makes Panerai a very special brand.
But lets start our journey…from Athens International Airport
Hmm boarding time, destination Geneva!
The happy-lucky team preparing for boarding. Strangely enough, only two guys got iced-coffee and the temperature was about +18 Celsius.
Making sure that everybody in the plane is aware of our visit…
After our arrival at Geneva Airport, we had a short roadtrip to Neuchatel (about 1h:30m) with the PAMmobile.
Oh, man, it really happens!
We finally arrived at Neuchatel, the hotel looks great and in stunning location set against backdrop of the lake!
The rooms are comfy and…wait! There is a Panerai bag in the desk with some goodies inside, you can’t really go wrong with this
We decided to take a walk in the small town of Neuchatel. A very quite place to be for a greek person, so we tried to make it a little bit more interesting
After a while we got back to the hotel where we had a quick lunch with Giammaria
Next, we had the chance to visit the International Museum of Horology in La Chaux-de-Fonds. It was such a great experience!
After a short break in the hotel, we boarded to our PAMmobile. Next destination: dinner at “La Taverne Neuchateloise” with Giammaria and Mr. Carlo Ceppi, European Sales Director of Panerai. Traditional cuisine, great place for brainstorming with Panerai
We went back to the hotel bar for a quick drink and tried to get some rest for the next day!
Everybody ready for the big ride in Manufacture! Let’s start with a good breakfast
Stunning lake view
And ready for new adventures! (yes, of-course we made special t-shirts for the visit in Neuchatel)
We had a very warm welcome by Giammaria and the head of Manufacturing.
New building (from 2014 I think) with a loads of new technology in various areas from environmental awareness to manufacturing automation.
The classic photo in the large clock in the entrance. From left to right: stratos, spiros and me
With all the guys together
Dressed like weirdos
We then moved to a meeting room where the director of Manufacturing made a presentation for Panerai and the Manufacture. There we had the chance to discuss about the processes of manufacturing, the challenges that they face, the innovations and the plans for the future. I was very pleased to fill the same passion that we have in people from the upper management.
After the meeting, time for the cool stuff, a full tour in the factory! Full tour means that we had the chance to visit every single place of the building including R&D, Test Labs, Manufacturing, Assembly, high-end movements, customer service and so forth. We respected the fact that they are 1 month away from SIHH 2018, a lot of new products were visible in the desks and in the planning boards so we decided to not take any pictures from the tour. It was our way to thank them for the tour and making sure that they are comfortable as well. So sorry guys, we don’t have any pics from the the inside of the factory.
That said, I believe that now I have a very good understanding of “how things work” each time a new Panerai is builded from scratch. So if you have technical questions, just ask.
General comment: I believe that Mr. Angelo Bonati is the Steve Jobs of Panerai, every single decision needs his approval and he has the last word regardless the input from sales & marketing. That was my impression after talking with a few people from the factory.
After the tour, the movements and r&d directors joined us in the lunch. We fired a lot of questions and we learned a lot of new info, great great lunch meeting. BTW, a lot of the R&D employees are wearing Panerai’s for testing purposes, some of them are non-existing references and some of them I guess with retrofitted movements.
After the lunch, we thanked all the guys in the Manufacture and headed to the Airport with our PAMmobile.
Once again I would like to thank Giammaria and all the other guys that made this possible. We are already preparing the new adventures of Paneristi Hellas, with new ideas and new projects!
Needless to say that if anyone of you is visiting Greece anytime soon, we will be glad to meet you in person!