Paneristi are easily pleased by the release of any new models, but the latest arrivals in London were accompanied by something else: the most outrageous in-store boutique yet. If you’re in London and you’re a steam-punk devotee, steeped in Jules Verne and familiar with the name “Captain Nemo”, you’ll be shooting selfies ‘til your fingers hurt.

From now until October 31st, Harrods customers will get an eyeful when they visit the store’s dazzling Fine Watch Room, which has been turned into a shrine to the Florentine brand. The new design concept, developed by Panerai’s Creative Director Alvaro Maggini, creates the sense of immersion in an undersea world, home to exotic and dangerous species, the sort of environment that challenges the very divers for whom Panerai timepieces have been developed since the 1930s.

Before one even walks down the spiral staircase, a giant octopus tentacle emerges from below, recalling the 1954 epic, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Panerai’s concept continues to the display spaces, the stand itself formed of the tentacles wrapped around the pedestals of the showcases, with the octopus’ suckers holding glass domes under which the various models are mounted. All that’s missing is a spray of water and the smell of the sea.

Panerai at Harrods

Naturally, such an imposing construct can only be justified if it is heralding a special watch. The model it celebrates is the Panerai Submersible Chrono Guillaume Néry Edition PAM00982, introduced at the latest SIHH in Geneva and dedicated to Panerai Brand Ambassador Guillaume Néry, the professional diver who has won the constant weight free-diving world championship four times. Néry is now “an ambassador of the sea,” who has turned his underwater experiences into images and videos for the delectation of those of us who will never explore the ocean’s depths.

Panerai Submersible Chrono Guillaume Néry Edition PAM00982

A massive 47mm titanium case holds the automatic Panerai P.9100 calibre, made in-house thick and employing 37 jewels. It beats at 28,800 alternations/hour and two barrels provide it with a 72-hour power reserve. The watch’s functions include hours, minutes, small seconds, calculation of immersion time, flyback chronograph and seconds reset. In keeping with its main, professional purpose, PAM00982 is water-resistant to a depth of about 300 metres (30 bar) and is fitted with a unidirectional rotating titanium bezel with blue ceramic insert to mark the duration of the dive.

Optimal legibility is assured thanks to a dial that’s readable under all lighting conditions and in complete darkness, courtesy of large, bold luminous white markers against a shark-grey, textured background. Engraved on the case back are Néry’s signature and the depth of his final record: an astounding 126m, achieved with a single breath.

Panerai Submersible Chrono Guillaume Néry Edition PAM00982
Panerai Submersible Chrono Guillaume Néry Edition PAM00982

In addition to the Panerai Submersible Chrono Guillaume Néry Edition, the Fine Watch Room also offers the entire range of current Panerai models.