Panerai Targets Women, and Rolex, With the Radiomir’s Return

No matter how many supercharged watches it makes for men, Panerai just can’t stop winning over women with its larger models.

“We see more and more women interested in our watches,” said Panerai’s chief executive, Jean-Marc Pontroué, during a video call from the company’s headquarters in Neuchâtel, Switzerland. He noted that more than 90 percent of the brand’s watches were sold to men, but that that share had dropped to 78 percent in recent years.

That shift looks set to continue with the rerelease in Geneva this week of Panerai’s first watch, the Radiomir. Built for the Royal Italian Navy in the 1930s, the Radiomir has a lighter, more wearable profile than most of Panerai’s collection.

Yet in recent years, the Submersible, which was taken out of the Luminor line in 2019 to become a stand-alone collection, has accounted for 25 percent of the company’s sales, said Mr. Pontroué, while the Radiomir made up only 5 percent. “The Radiomir tells the classic, historical story of the brand,” he said. “You can’t do that through the Submersible — that’s an adventure watch.”

In Geneva, Panerai is to introduce the Radiomir Quaranta, a watch with a white dial and a case in a new metal with the trademark Goldtech, in a 40-millimeter size. That’s large by women’s watch conventions, where there is no official range, though an average of 34 millimeters is often mentioned. But it is small for a company where most timepieces are 44 millimeters to 47 millimeters.

“Some people are afraid of our brand because they think our watches are too big,” he said, adding that he believed that Panerai was “the largest brand in big watches in the world.”

“We have a lot of women who buy Luminor Quaranta,” said Mr. Pontroué, referring to a 40-millimeter watch released last year. “So we’re anticipating the new Radiomir assortment will broaden our customer acquisition.”

And, he added: “If we can duplicate this success at 40 millimeters, we would beat Rolex tomorrow. There’s big potential here.”

Alongside the Radiomir Quaranta, there will be a pair of 45-millimeter pieces housing Panerai’s first annual-calendar movement, which would have to be adjusted just once a year, at the end of February; a 45-millimeter gunmetal piece with a California dial, the industry name for a design with no logo and half Arabic and half Roman numerals; and two other 45-millimeter references with eight-day power reserves.

The Radiomir may open up Panerai’s story, but Mr. Pontroué said the plot would not change. “We will remain a masculine, big-size brand, but one which happens to sell to the new generation and to women,” he said.

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