The Game Changer: Jean-Marc Pontroué, CEO of Panerai UK

I suppose it depends on your level of cynicism. I remember speaking to another watch journalist, someone whom I respect and admire, about Swiss made replica Panerai’s eSteel collection, which I consider to be one of this year’s most important watch launches in terms of both aesthetics and ethics. He responded dismissively, “It’s a few hundred watches. Do you really think it will make even the slightest impact on saving the environment?” He said this in the context of perfect UK sale fake Panerai’s new focus on using recycled materials in their best replica watches UK, a project started a year ago with a limited edition Submersible crafted from the rudder shaft of brand ambassador and renowned explorer Mike Horn’s Pangaea boat.

Says Panerai CEO Jean-Marc Pontroué of their collaboration, “Mike came to see me in Neuchâtel, and he presented me the worn steel rudder shaft of his boat which had helped him circumnavigate the planet 27 times. He asked me to see if I could somehow reuse the metal to create a watch case. Of course, I thought it was a great idea, but then he paused and explained that he has been exploring the earth for most of his life. And what he has been constantly shocked by is the amount of pollution in even the most remote areas of our planet. It was at that moment I realised the importance of diminishing the constant extraction of virgin material in our industry and the necessity for AAA high-quality replica Panerai to do whatever we could to spread this idea to others.”

Since then, Pontroué has become one of the most vocal evangelists for a change he feels the Swiss watch industry must incorporate.He cites the basic logic that as the sole purpose of a mechanical watch today is to give pleasure and emotion to its wearer, it should therefore seek to also edify and uplift its owner through its expression of the correct ethics regarding sustainability.

Says Pontroué, “My son is from what we call ‘Generation Z’, and when I explained the eSteel project, he replied that the question is not ‘Why did you do it?’ but ‘Why have you not done it before? And why has everyone else not done it?’ That was when I realised that it was time to make this first step for perfect UK sale replica Panerai. On a broader level, I also had to reach out to the rest of the industry to try to convince them to join this effort.”

Changing Perceptions

Pontroué correctly understood that in order to convince his clients, he had to make his recycled eSteel watches some of the most appealing in his line-up. Simultaneously, he also brought on board a new ambassador, Jeremy Jauncey, the founder and CEO of Beautiful Destinations, a company that educates the public on sustainable travel, but also reconciles what is sometimes considered to be the disparate concepts of ecological responsibility and beauty. As to whether Jauncey’s role as an ambassador was part of a sustainability strategy, Pontroué explains, “It’s not really a strategy. Honestly, as a brand, we are not actively searching for ambassadors. So we only create these partnerships when it is meaningful, such as with Mike Horn.

“What I liked about Jeremy was that he was already a proud replica Panerai owner, and he was displaying his watch to his followers [on social media] of which he has over one million. I also liked that he was focused on ecology and sustainability and showing how travel, which is something we all love, can be done in a way that also offsets your carbon footprint. He was, of course, very sporty and adventurous, but it was his genuine passion for super clone Panerai that got us interested in him. About two years ago, we got to meet him and now he has become an official part of the family. I really liked how as a young man, he discovered travel, and it made him so receptive and genuinely appreciative of all the different cultures in the world. When you meet people up close, you can see all the beauty in the differences we have as human beings, and this I found very uplifting. I liked the way he spoke about Swiss made Panerai replica, which was very fresh and very open and natural. He is like Mike Horn in this way but, of course, reaching an all-new generation.”

For Pontroué, the idea is to be open and receptive to the world around him and truly understand the seismic changes that are happening as the current and future generations define their key objectives, which include social responsibility as a major part of success. This is meaningful to Pontroué as he is a believer in authenticity. He explains, “I like to think of best UK sale replica Panerai as one of the most authentic brands around. I mean this in many ways. We are authentic in our history as the watch for the Italian Navy’s elite divers, but we are also authentic in terms of opening the doors of our manufacture to anyone that wants to come. Recently, when we created the eLAB-ID watch, which is the world’s most recycled watch, it was also important to create an open and authentic ecosystem in terms of our network of incredible suppliers that were able to create components like recycled titanium, recycled LumiNova and even recycled silicon parts. Why? To encourage others to also incorporate recycling in their luxury watches.”

When I express surprise and admiration that he has decided to share the sources of all his suppliers that made his eLAB-ID watch a reality, Pontroué states, “We are the most counterfeited watch brand in the world. When I see this, it makes me furious. But the research we made to create a 98.6 percent recycled watch is different. I couldn’t protect or keep these discoveries to ourselves. Why? Because the watch industry is very late to participating in sustainability, which is one of the most important issues the world is facing. Compared to the fashion industry, we are five years late, which is almost like being 100 years late because of the speed of our business. So I couldn’t afford to waste time. I needed to provide this open network of suppliers who, incidentally, each made a tremendous effort in their own specialisation to make recycling a reality. Because they also recognise that we have to change the mentality of constant virgin material extraction so that we do not just keep taking from our planet.”

Are the doors of his manufacture open to his competitors in terms of what Swiss made fake Panerai has learned about the recycling process? Pontroué replies, “Recently, I was contacted by a French company called Awake Watches that makes their products out of recycled plastic waste found in the ocean. The two founders of this small brand were excited to hear about eLAB-ID. So I invited them to Neuchâtel to see what we do. In a few days, I have lunch with the leader of one of the biggest brands in our industry. I will explain everything that we do regarding recycling because, at this point, there is nothing to hide and a pressing need to do what we can to participate in the change. Our objective is to have 30 percent of production incorporate recycling in a meaningful way by 2025, which is basically just around the corner. If you look at the fashion industry, they already have the Fashion Pact, with the objectives of helping to stop global warming, restore biodiversity and protect the oceans. This was initiated by François-Henri Pinault of Kering Group and [Frenchpresident] Emmanuel Macron, and it’s a big step in the right direction. I find it brilliant. The participants are all competitors, but they understand that the threat to the planet is far greater than the competition amongst themselves. Our industry must also commit to doing the best to protect and restore what we can on this planet. Best fake Panerai was born in the ocean; without the ocean we would not exist. We owe everything to the ocean, and so we must make it one of our core mandates to protect it.”

Investing in Recycling

When I last visited my friend Alessandro Sartori, the creative director of Zegna, he explained that he and Zegna CEO Gildo Zegna have invested significantly on the technology for recycling wool up to four times. He pointed out that the initial cost was significant, but they preferred to be the pioneers rather than the followers and so agreed to accept the financial burden. When I ask Pontroué if this is the same for his recycled watches, he explains, “Yes, using recycled material is far more expensive than using virgin material. I often compare it to when you want to restore a beautiful historic home. At first the contractor will come and tell you it will cost 100 thousand pounds. But then you will realise because of the complexity related to maintaining the integrity of the original structure, it costs much, much more. It’s the same thing with incorporating recycled material into watches. It’s expensive for now because we are paying for the knowledge to learn how to do it correctly, which takes trial and error. You know, in Switzerland, we’ve been making watches for 250 years. Of course, the style of watches has changed. But the materials we use are all basically the same — steel, gold, brass, etc. For a quarter of a millennium, we’ve been solely reliant on extracting new material to make our watches. But the thing is, new material is finite. As we learn to create, for example, recycled cases, this is a totally new approach that has never existed in the 250-year history of Swiss watchmaking. So we have to learn how to do it.

“The other thing is that we are used to working with certain suppliers; it is easy for us. However, they might not specialise in recyclability. For that, we need to search for new partners, and then we have to qualify these suppliers all over again so that we can work well together. So in the end, it’s not that recycled material is more expensive. It’s that the time and experimentation to understand how to use it in our industry is very costly. There is also a rejection rate. For example, with our eSteel, we have a three times higher rejection rate, but we accept this as part of the education. The retail price of an eSteel watch is 10 percent higher than a normal one; however, I can tell you the cost to us is much higher. We are willing to pay the difference in order to learn how to do it. Hopefully once we understand how to do it perfectly, we can also share this with others so we can spread the use of recycled material much faster. I also want to say that recycled steel or titanium is, from a quality perspective, incredibly fine. There is sometimes the perception that if something is recycled, it is of an inferior quality but actually quite the opposite. Because the metal has to be alloyed twice, it is of extremely high quality.”

It all comes down to that one fateful day when Horn visited Pontroué at the AAA best fake Panerai manufacture in Neuchâtel. When asked what else he remembers of this fateful visit, Pontroué states, “The steel rudder shaft from the Pangaea had been instrumental in Mike’s circumnavigation of the planet, and he felt it was a shame to discard it. He challenged us to come up with a use for it. I suppose this is the nature of innovation — you don’t plan to be innovative at 9 a.m. on Monday morning. When I was at Roger Dubuis, I had worked on a project with Pirelli that supplies the tyres to all the F1 cars. We made straps from these tyres which had been on cars that had won the Grand Prix at Monaco, for example. It was not so much about recycling but more about creating emotion. But it was the same principle — the idea of wearing tyres that had crossed the finish line first, and wearing a watch made from a piece of metal that had been 27 times around the world.

At the time, we were able to make a small series of online Swiss made replica watches that each used 40 percent of the recycled metal from the Pangaea’s rudder shaft. But then we started asking ourselves, why is this not 100 percent? Is that even possible? Then we started to think about the long-term benefits of recycling for this industry. To me, this is how innovation starts. Not with a meeting with 100 people but at a corner table with a coffee and a question.”

When asked if he feels that a watch made from recycled material has a palpable feel-good factor to it, Pontroué remarks, “Yes, absolutely. A watch is today something that is there to provide emotion, dreams and pleasure. When people see the eSteel watch with the green dial on Jeremy’s wrist, it makes them smile. When I asked him how it feels to wear it, he said that it fills him with a sense of positivity. Because there is this feel-good factor about wearing a watch that you know is doing something good for the planet. That’s why I wanted to share all the suppliers that are focused on recycling. Because just perfect UK sale replica Panerai alone doesn’t have the critical mass. We need more brands to join to make this a global shift in terms of the way we think and to offer a great array of watches across multiple models and multiple brands that all incorporate recycling. Right now, there has been a focus on straps and packaging, but we need to take the next step and we need to do it together and communicate about it together.”

So far, Pontroué’s focus on recycled watches has paid dividends in terms of approval by the collectors community. He says, “When I speak to our collectors, they tell me that there are two things that really resonate with them. The first is experiences, and the second is ecology. So, we are building new facets of the brand that to some degree transcend the product.” I finally get to ask him for his response to the remark my friend made — that, in effect, a few hundred recycled watches are not going to change the world. Amusingly, he is in agreement but with a caveat. He elaborates, “I agree it is just a few hundred watches. It is very true. When you are a pioneer, you break rules. WhenTesla started manufacturing luxury electric cars 10 years ago, they were by themselves. Today, there is not one single luxury car brand that has not incorporated electric motors into their top-range cars because it is clearly the future. Today, there are just a handful of brands involved as you say, Cartier and also Chopard, in particular. But hopefully 10 years from now, we will be at 50 percent of the watches made in Switzerland or even 100 percent of the watches made that will be recycled. In the meantime, new ideas always take some time to impose themselves.”

Evan Kwee, the head of design and hospitality at Pontiac Land Group, recently opened the Patina resort at the Fari Islands, Maldives. Kwee’s objective was to prove that sustainability could be incorporated into a luxury hotel to epitomise the very height of beauty and style. For him, it was about showing the world you don’t have to choose one or the other. For Pontroué, it pleases him that UK perfect fake Panerai watches are present at The Rake and Revolution shops for this very reason. He shares, “There is a nice connection to the Patina resort in the Maldives that is the ecology approach. I am a big believer in community and partnerships. Because of our long relationship with you, because of the trust we have for you, because in addition there is a strong focus on sustainability, we feel that your shops will be well positioned to not just retail but also communicate the values of Panerai replica.”