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A professor watch maker: Ugo PANCANI

Serdar OAL

I had the opportunity to chat with many valuable figures since I had started my watch hobby. Sometimes I discussed about the future plans of brand CEOs and sometimes I  took advice from top watch makers of the brand's service centers. I met important people during my visits to several boutiques of top brands. I even had the privilege to have an interview with the masters of Swiss Watch Industry. Undoubtedly, all were special and unforgettable experiences however, this time I am thrilled in a different level as I am about to meet a very special personality.

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I first heard about the name Ugo Pancani while I was reading the history of my favorite brand : Panerai. Professor Pancani was one of the academicians who provided consultancy service during Panerai's sales process to Vendome Group ( now Richemont ) in 1997. He worked with the famous Angelo Bonati for a while and guided Vendome Group via his brief reports about the watches.

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I got very excited when I heard that Ugo Pancani, who provides consultancy service to one of the most important foundations of Swiss Watch Industry - “The Fondation de la Haute Horlegerie”, will be with us at the Panerai watch making class event. Good news kept coming as I was also informed that professor watch maker has been scheduled for an exclusive interview with Horobox. Right after I passed my sincere thanks to Panerai's Turkey PR Group, I arrived to Park Hyatt Hotel for my rendezvous.

Here we go with this pleasant interview accompanied with our Emre Şişman's photographs.

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S.OAL:  What does “ The Fondation de la Haute Horlegerie “ do exactly and what is your position at that foundation..?

U.PANCANI: First of all, I would like to start with expressing my sincere happiness for being with you here. I am very glad to see people who are involved with watches that much.

The foundations main duty is to contribute for the development of luxury watch industry. In order to  achieve this goal, there has to be standards first. For example “ What is Swiss Made..? “, “ How does COSC certification work..? “, “ What are the requirements to be approved by Geneva Seal..? “. We hereby work to determine the standards of those certifications independently.

The foundation includes specialists from different sectors together with professionals from different countries. I am one of them and I work as an educator. We all contribute for the development of watch making.

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S.OAL: What kind of levels to be achieved in order to become a professor in watch making..?

U.PANCANI:  First of all you have to be graduated from a school with watch making education. The only watch making school which belongs to the state in Italy is located in Florence. I studied there myself and I wanted to become a teacher like my wife and I stayed at that school for an academic career. I took some extra education from several foundations at Switzerland for my self improvement. During late 70s, a professorship chair has been established in our school. I took the necessary exam and I got qualified. I kept teaching at that school until 2013. I would like to say that both mechanical and electronic watch making are developing fast and we have to keep up with those developments. Therefore, we take short courses exclusively arranged for us ( educators ) each year.

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S.OAL: We have an idea about your work for the mechanical side. Could you please tell us about the electronics..? Will electronics have a remarkable effect on the future of watch making..?

U.PANCANI: Our students become technicians after they are graduated. At some point, we train watch makers who are able to service watches. They have to learn both mechanical and electronics parts. Mechanical watches require utmost attention. On the electronics side it's mostly the micro processors who step up. After the involvement of the major Swiss brands, electronics side has it's mechanical section. Analog display quartz watches develop fast. Especially at ladies watches, the designs is the most important part therefore quartz calibers bear great importance and keep evolving.

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S.OAL: Can we determine the working principle of smart watches as electronic calibers..? Can smart watches cause decreasing of the mechanical watches' market share..?

U.PANCANI: Though I do not believe they will be a problem for mechanical watches, smart watches have their own share of market. They surely feature electronic calibers. We work on the electronic calibers as well but ours are different in terms of functionality. Beside the time telling function, we also work on some other features like showing user's health status related information.

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S.OAL: We know that you have a great effort in the renovation process of the clock in Cathedral of Florence. Can we get some information about the caliber of that clock which I recently saw in person.

U.PANCANI: First of all, it was very exciting to touch an object made hundreds of years. We worked with a stunning team thanks to Officine Panerai. The clock has a enormous dial with a diameter of 7 meters. On the controversy, the caliber section is quite small which caused us to work under heavy conditions. The watch from the 1400s has an interesting story. It moves oppositely when compared to today's clocks and displays the time via a single hand in 24h intervals. The starting time is the sunset.

This system is called the Italic Time. After this system has been abandoned, the clock has been covered. During the restoration process after the flooding of the Arno River i n Florence, a professor founded the original blue prints of the clock and started to work on it. Since that day the clock has been serviced several times but our renovation was the most complete one of all.

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S.OAL: What is your favorite model in the current Panerai product line..?

U.PANCANI: In my opinion, every complication is special and fascinating. Since I know the processes before it's produced I find them all very valuable. As a specialist, I must say I am fascinated with the most complicated one however, I am also a traditional watch user who loves manual winding models.It feels like the watch lives with you. While you are having your breakfast in the morning you also feed your watch by winding it. I am also interested in modest but useful complications like GMT function as well.

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S.OAL: I would like to have your thoughts about Istanbul. Did you have any time to have a tour around the city..?

U.PANCANI: I have been in Istanbul before. I know the city but it felt quite different this time. I have noticed the great interest for Panerai. I was very excited about the brand's invitation and I am very happy to be here with you. I work with many brands however, I am deeply attached to Panerai which I have provided consultancy services during the sales process to Vendome.

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S.OAL: I would like to thank you for the behalf of Horobox team and look forward to meet you again.

U.PANCANI: Thank you very much.

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After our interview with Mr.Pancani, we dissambled and re-assembled a movement as we followed professor's instructions.

Click the link for the details of the pleasant event at Horobox.

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