SO: Dear Khalil, welcome to Horobox.
PC: Thanks for having me! It’s honestly a pleasure to be part of the site.
SO: We know you with your Instagram account: Panerai Central. You are connected to the brand with great passion obviously. Could you please tell us about that passion from the start point to present..?
PC: My passion for watches started very early in my life. It began with Fossil watches, then moved up to Movado, and slowly started learning more about luxury brands but all I knew or heard about was Rolex and Omega, etc. When I was in college around 1999 I saw a family friend that had a very interesting watch that I had never seen before on his wrist. It was large had huge numerals, and that crazy crown guard. I asked him if I could see it and was really in love with it instantly. I asked him what the brand was and he told it is a Panerai. I had never heard of the brand before since I was new to the world of luxury watches. I started using the power of the internet and researching the brand. The more I read the more I started to fall in love with the brand. I knew they were really different but that’s what appealed to me. I became a member of Paneristi and just lurked there and read everything I could about it almost becoming obsessed. It was at that point that I told myself when I can afford a luxury watch, it would be a Panerai. When I was finally able to buy my Panerai watch he let me in on a little secret. The one I had saw so many years back was actually a fake watch. I was shocked but I didn’t care anymore since it opened my eyes to something completely different. If I never saw the fake Panerai maybe I would have bought a Rolex and never have started Panerai Central, LOL.
SO: What are the pros and cons of being in a project like this with a one brand only commitment..?
PC: Let’s start with the pros shall we. I think being focused on one brand has given me the ability to really build a hard core following that loves to see the brand and everything about it. They know that they are following me or reading our blog to get news about this specific brand. I have also been able to really get to know everyone within the brand on a more personal level. I feel if I was a site that had a lot of different brands and focus points that I might only touch on a very small level of the brands personnel and be very limited on the time devoted to getting to know everyone and the direction of the brand since I would be spreading myself very thing since I am a one-man operation at the moment. Now the cons. I think when you do one brand you also put yourself in a tough position to expand within the industry. You become married to one brand in the eyes of a lot of people such as the other brands, fans, and publications within the horology world. Everyone believes that you are a fan-boy of the brand and you can’t be unbiased in your thoughts about it. I try to make sure I review things as I believe. I want everyone to see I can find faults in things with the brand just as much as I can love it. I don’t know how many times this past SIHH when I spoke to them they automatically thought I only will buy or wear Panerai. I had made the same response so many times it seems like a prepared speech LOL! At the end of the day I’m a lover of all things horology who happened to start a site based around the first luxury watch I ever purchased.
SO: How does Officine Panerai support your project..?
PC: Officine Panerai has been supportive of my project from the beginnings when I had only 10K followers and reached out to Chad, the boutique manager in Beverly Hills who is currently at Cartier. He put me in touch with Tom at Panerai North America who eventually linked me up with Michele Gallagher in NY. From that point on I have been working with her and her right hand woman Allison on everything to make the relationship between us better. The whole team in North America has really pressed to help me with anything they can to make this a successful relationship. Because of these great relationships and being invited to SIHH I have been introduced to all the different Panerai Region heads which has been an amazing experience and hopefully will open even more doors in the future within those regions.
SO: What is your favorite Panerai within the Richemont era..?
PC: Wow talk about a hard question to answer. Can I at least break it down to my favorite pieces from each collection? Let me think…..If I had to choose one Luminor then I would go with the PAM317K Dark Knight just by a slim margin against the PAM172 Tantalum. The PAM317 has so much goodness all wrapped up into it. I know there are a lot more historic pieces that people would expect me to say but this one always holds a place in my heart and I hope one day I will be able to own one. Now to the Radiomir. If you know me then you know I have a crazy love for the Cali dial so it’s has to be the PAM249. I am obsessed with blue hands on the Panerai so I’ll have to go with this. Submersible, there is nothing like a bronzo, so the Original PAM382.
SO: What would be your very first purchase with an unlimited budget..?
PC: If we are talking strictly Panerai and it was right after SIHH, then I would say the PAM578 Titanium Tourbillon. But now that the PAM600 Minute Repeater was put into the mix I think that one jumps up on top of my list. If we go outside of Panerai, there is a life for me outside of it, and then I would love to have a Patek Philippe5270 Perpetual Calendar. How could you go wrong with that!
SO: There is growing trend for Bronze Panerais. Every Panerista wants to have a bronze Pam. What do you think about those timepieces..?
PC: I think I’m a little torn on this subject. I love the original bronzo because it was completely different in my opinion. It wasn’t that sought after at the beginning and then it grew a cult following and it become a piece everyone wanted and the prices reflected that. Of course, people weren’t that pleased when the new version was released a few years back because they felt the original was just something that shouldn’t have been replicated. I personally don’t think they should come out with any more bronze pieces. It will become too ordinary in my eyes and lose that aura that the bronzo had. On top of that, the only case that bronze works well with is the submersible in my opinion. I don’t think any other case in bronze would look as great.
SO: Are there any Panerai models that you expect price appreciation in the next five years..?
PC: I’ve never been good with speculations like this but if I had to make a simple guess. I would say some of the Firenze pieces like the PAM001 that was discontinued or the PAM616 CarboTech depending on how limited it stays. One that I have seen rise slowly because they are so hard to get as well is the PAM605. The dial on that thing is a beauty and being available on in Firenze makes it that much more valuable to a lot of Panerai fans. I don’t see any of the more modern pieces appreciating in value like the PAM203 or PAM21 did in the past but I could be terribly wrong.
SO: Panerai Central had a great success in both Instagram and internet with a lot of followers in such a short time. Do you plan any other projects for future..? If yes, could you please tell us about them..?
PC: I have been trying to team up with the different Panerai regions to hopefully put together some great events for the Panerai community. My followers are all around the world and since I am based in the United States I need to find a way to give back and bring them all together with the brand they love so much. Without the followers and viewers my site would be non-existent. There are already independent events in Indonesia and Singapore for instance, but I want to team up and make it a yearly event in each region and maybe a large event each year in a different part of the world, sort of like the World Cup of Panerai! I would love to take Panerai Central to the next level and have gatherings like this because I think it build the brand even more and brings the one thing that I believe Panerai has over all other brands, The Community! Hopefully there comes a time where there will be a Panerai Central Special Edition that the community can buy. I can dream!
SO: What would be the brand if you were in a position to have a project with someone else than Panerai..?
PC: That’s a very hard question to answer because I am in love with so many different brands. If I were to cut my list down to only a few projects, I think I would go with Audemars Piguet, Patek Philippe, and F.P. Journe
SO: Like many other brands, Panerai have reduced the production numbers as well. How does this situation effects Panerai from your angle..?
PC: I think it’s a double edged sword. With the way the market has been trending down a lot of companies have been slowing down as you mentioned. At the same time, you want to be innovative, bring new items to market and have enough products to turn a profit and make everyone happy. I believe the slow down and innovation have to work hand in hand to create the new market. Cut down the number of models that are available while spending more in the R&D for new complications and features that will start to show off the true talent they have. They showed that they can knock it out of the park with the new PAM600 Minute Repeater. I believe if they can continue in that direction they will be doing just fine. It’s going to take some time for the purists to come on board because they want everything to be historic, but the truth is you have to also adapt, innovate and change. No matter what you do you will not make everyone happy but at the end the brand will only rise where it needs to be.
SO: Assume that we have a miracle and Mr.Bonati asked you the next new Panerai model. Could you please tell us the detail about your dream Panerai..?
PC: You mean when they come to make the Panerai Central Limited Edition? LOL. Since I think the 317 is one that I would have created for myself, I’ll go out and be a little more out of the box on this one. Maybe go with a Ceramic Luminor Case with a Blue Sun Brushed dial. I would love to have a skeletonized movement that you can see through the case back something like the PAM570 which features the P.3001/10 movement. I wouldn’t have too many complications with this piece, I would probably just put a GMT hand and sub seconds on the dial to not overwhelm it. I know it doesn’t sound like an over the top piece or crazy complicated but I just think it would probably look very interesting at the end of the day.
SO: We should admit that your Instagram looks spectacular. We would like to thank you for this visual feast. We would also like to have your sharing at Horobox as well. Looking forward to meet you again...