Is it really true that by creating and selling the legendary PAM 21 in your first year at the brand, you recouped the entire investment the Group made purchasing Panerai?
What happened was, when we took over the brand, my team went to do an inventory of all our assets. They told me there was a box full of old movements and they were thinking of throwing them away. I told them to stop, jumped in my car and drove from Milan to Neuchâtel. I saw it was the full-bridge Rolex movement that was originally in the Radiomir. So I decided to create our first modern Radiomir watch with this vintage movement inside of it. It had a platinum case to clearly distinguish it as a luxury watch and not a military instrument. This was the PAM 21. By selling these watches, we recovered all the cost of purchasing Panerai. We created 60 watches, and at the time, the currency in Italy was still the Lira. The watch cost 41 million Lira, or about €25,000. If you multiply €25,000 by 60, you have exactly the cost of the brand.
Well, today that same watch is worth at least USD100,000 — another testament to what you’ve achieved with Panerai. Do you have one?
I had one. But not anymore. A friend of mine, a dealer from Hong Kong, called me and said, “Angelo, do something. I need this watch; I want this watch.” So I gave it to him. But in the end, I don’t regret anything. Because the success of Panerai is also the result of many friendships I’ve had. I also had a “Fiddy” (a PAM 127) but I also gave that away. Another friend from Hong Kong, three to four years ago, called me begging me for this watch. I had one but I’d forgotten I had it until someone at the manufacture reminded me. So I gave it to him. And I’m happy because I made this guy happy, and maybe he will come back to buy the minute repeater. But you know, when we found the old Rolex movements, we also found a box of vintage Angelus eight-day power-reserve movements, and with that, we created the PAM 203. I still have a PAM 203. I think I’ll keep this one.