February 8, 2023

At SIHH 2017, Panerai surprised us with the reveal of five watches in honor of its new partnership with the 35th America’s Cup.

Most brands celebrate or commemorate a partnership like this with one watch, but Panerai presented an incredible number of five watches: one is in honor of one the 35th America’s Cup, which is, by the way, the oldest sporting trophy in the world (see Understanding The America’s Cup’s Fascination With Time).

Three are official watches of Oracle Team USA, and one is the official watch of SoftBank Team Japan; both of these teams are also sponsored by Panerai. Oracle Team USA, as the “defender” – meaning the winner of the last America’s Cup – is also the team that puts on this race, which is why the official watch/timing partner is so closely linked to the team.

Panerai has now taken over where Bremont left off as official timer of the 35th America’s Cup and for Oracle Team USA (see You Are There: Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series In Toulon With Official Timer Bremont).

Panerai Luminor Marina 1950 America’s Cup 3 Days Automatic Acciaio 44 mm

Panerai Luminor Marina 1950 America’s Cup 3 Days Automatic Acciaio 44 mm

The Luminor Marina 1950 America’s Cup 3 Days Automatic Acciaio 44 mm (PAM00727) is the official watch of the 35th America’s Cup.

Panerai Luminor 1950 Oracle Team USA 3 Days Chrono Flyback Automatic Ceramica 44 mm

Panerai Luminor 1950 Oracle Team USA 3 Days Chrono Flyback Automatic Ceramica 44 mm

The Luminor 1950 Oracle Team USA 3 Days Chrono Flyback Automatic Ceramica 44 mm (PAM00725) is the official watch of Oracle Team USA.

Panerai Luminor 1950 Regatta Oracle Team USA 3 Days Chrono Flyback Automatic Titanio 47 mm

Panerai Luminor 1950 Regatta Oracle Team USA 3 Days Chrono Flyback Automatic Titanio 47 mm

The Luminor 1950 Regatta Oracle Team USA 3 Days Chrono Flyback Automatic Titanio 47 mm (PAM00726) is another official watch of Oracle Team USA.

Panerai Luminor Marina Oracle Team USA 8 Days Acciaio 44 mm

Panerai Luminor Marina Oracle Team USA 8 Days Acciaio 44 mm

The Luminor Marina Oracle Team USA 8 Days Acciaio 44 mm (PAM00724) is a third official watch of Oracle Team USA.

Panerai Luminor Marina 1950 SoftBank Team Japan 3 Days Automatic Acciaio 44 mm

Panerai Luminor Marina 1950 SoftBank Team Japan 3 Days Automatic Acciaio 44 mm

The Luminor Marina 1950 SoftBank Team Japan 3 Days Automatic Acciaio 44 mm (PAM00732) is the official watch of SoftBank Team Japan.

Oracle Team USA boat unveiled in Bermuda

Hot on the heels of the 2017 SIHH, Panerai joined Oracle Team USA at its base in Bermuda in February for the reveal of the new boat slated for use for the final round of racing, which commences on May 26, 2017.

Oracle Team USA’s America’s Cup Class Yacht AC50 was revealed on February 14, 2017 at the team’s base in Bermuda (photo courtesy Peter Hurley/Oracle Team USA)

Oracle Team USA’s America’s Cup Class Yacht AC50 was revealed on February 14, 2017 at the team’s base in Bermuda (photo courtesy Peter Hurley/Oracle Team USA)

This new boat, the America’s Cup Class Yacht AC50, is projected to remain the standard for many years to come.

In fact, all of the teams are now introducing their final boat editions for the races taking place in May and June 2017.

In February, my visit to Bermuda as a guest of Panerai was characterized by very windy and variable weather; the sailors expect much more stable weather during the race finals with about 10-12 knots’ average wind speed.

Panerai arranged a meeting with some principle members of the team founded in 2000 by Larry Ellison (co-founder of Oracle).

Skipper Jimmy Spithill poses with Michael Hinkley, the premier of Bermuda, in front of Oracle Team USA’s America’s Cup Class Yacht AC50 on February 14, 2017 in Bermuda (photo courtesy Peter Hurley/Oracle Team USA)

Skipper Jimmy Spithill poses with Michael Hinkley, the premier of Bermuda, in front of Oracle Team USA’s America’s Cup Class Yacht AC50 and the Auld Mug on February 14, 2017 in Bermuda (photo courtesy Peter Hurley/Oracle Team USA)

One of these was Jimmy Spithill, two-time America’s Cup champion and skipper of the Oracle team, who described Oracle’s new America’s Cup Class Yacht AC50 as the world’s fastest catamaran. “Its power-to-weight ratio is probably better than any other boat out there,” he emphasized.

Another was Grant Simmer, general manager and chief operating officer of Oracle Team USA.

Oracle Team USA COO Grant Simmer wearing the Panerai Luminor 1950 Regatta Oracle Team USA 3 Days Chrono Flyback Automatic Titanio at the team’s America’s Cup Class Yacht AC50 launch on February 14, 2017 in Bermuda (photo courtesy Carlo Borlenghi/BMW)

Oracle Team USA COO Grant Simmer wearing the Panerai Luminor 1950 Regatta Oracle Team USA 3 Days Chrono Flyback Automatic Titanio at the team’s America’s Cup Class Yacht AC50 launch on February 14, 2017 in Bermuda (photo courtesy Carlo Borlenghi/BMW)

“The nice thing about the America’s Cup is that it’s a technological race as well as a sporting event,” said Simmer over a relatively relaxed cup of coffee at the team’s base on the island. “You’ve got to have the best technical solution, but you’ve also got to be incredibly athletic, and you’ve got to have great skills as a yachtsman. You’ve got to put all those things together to win the America’s Cup, which has really fascinated me over the years.”

“The boat has to be efficient and accurate,” Spithill added before explaining that he got his pilot’s license to better understand the aerodynamics of the wing sail the team now uses in place of a conventional sail.

Incidentally, the multiple world champion in both fleet and match racing also obtained a helicopter’s license in order to understand the “next steps ahead” kind of thinking needed for his position as helmsman. “There are big consequences if you make a mistake,” he elaborated.

immy Spithill, skipper of Oracle Team USA, speaks expressively with the Panerai Luminor Marina Oracle Team USA 8 Days Acciaio on his wrist at the team's Bermuda base

Jimmy Spithill, skipper of Oracle Team USA, speaks expressively with the Panerai Luminor Marina Oracle Team USA 8 Days Acciaio on his wrist at the team’s Bermuda base

The most important element in understanding these boats is what’s known as foiling, which is much like flying above the surface of the water. Foiling starts at about seven knots of wind.

“We’re essentially trying to fly a boat with no engine, and we’re not in a cockpit,” Spithill continued. “We’re going 50 mph with 20 mph winds, so it feels like 70 mph with water hitting you, which is a tough environment.”

This modern iteration of America’s Cup racing has often been called the Formula 1 of the waters due to the extreme technological elements involved in the boats. And like F1, the crew is very involved in developing the boat and its evolutions: Oracle Team USA’s 80-person team includes something in the neighborhood of 15 designers and around 40 boat builders.

Oracle Team USA won the 2013 America’s Cup in an impressive comeback by continuously evolving and adapting – the team was actually down 8-1 in the finals (9 race wins are needed to clinch the victory) against Emirates Team New Zealand before coming back to win in what has since been often called the greatest comeback in international sports.

“We continued to evolve, even in the last week and a half of the 2013 America’s Cup,” explained Simmer. “And we’re still in that phase . . . the boat we’re now launching is our best solution at the moment. Constant development is our strategy.”

The Oracle Team USA America’s Cup Class Yacht AC50 introduced on February 14, 2017 being lifted into the water

The Oracle Team USA America’s Cup Class Yacht AC50 introduced on February 14, 2017 being lifted into the water

Who are Oracle Team USA’s closest competitors, the teams they really feel they need to watch out for?

“Everybody, really, but Artemis (see Ulysse Nardin Marine Diver Artemis Racing Watch Race Winner In Bermuda) is going very well and Emirates Team New Zealand, which has been a strong competitor for many, many years. They’ve just launched their new boat, which is different, so they’ve taken some pretty bold design decisions,” said Simmer.

Artemis, a new team for the 2017 America’s Cup based in Sweden and sponsored by Ulysse Nardin (see Ulysse Nardin’s First Sponsorship: Artemis Racing, Iain Percy, And The America’s Cup), is still somewhat of an unknown quantity for its competitors. The team comprises a number of Olympic champions, but its performance as a unit only began gelling toward the end of the preliminary Louis Vuitton World Series, when it won Toulon (second to last event) and came in second at Fukuoka (last event).

Why Panerai is a good fit for the America’s Cup

Officine Panerai is a watch brand born in the water, so to speak, as its products began life in development for the Italian navy: Giovanni Panerai, who founded his workshop in Florence in 1860, supplied the navy with precision instruments. By the 1930s, the workshop had put water-resistant watches in use for commando teams.

The Panerai Luminor Marina Oracle Team USA 8 Days Acciaio at the Oracle Team USA base in Bermuda

The Panerai Luminor Marina Oracle Team USA 8 Days Acciaio at the Oracle Team USA base in Bermuda

Panerai, part of the Richemont Group since 1997, has spent the last years sponsoring classic yacht events (see Dramatic Scenery On And Off The Wrist: Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge At British Classic Week) and now it enters the high-tech world of the America’s Cup.

For many in the watch community, the fact that Panerai now joins the ranks of watch brands in sponsoring roles at the world’s oldest sporting event comes as no surprise whatsoever.

The bigger question is actually: what took them so long?

Oracle Team USA COO Grant Simmer wearing the Panerai Luminor 1950 Regatta Oracle Team USA 3 Days Chrono Flyback Automatic Titanio

Oracle Team USA COO Grant Simmer wearing the Panerai Luminor 1950 Regatta Oracle Team USA 3 Days Chrono Flyback Automatic Titanio at the team’s base in Bermuda

When I asked Simmer, who wears the Luminor 1950 Regatta Oracle Team USA 3 Days Chrono Flyback Automatic Titanio 47 mm, how he likes his new watch, the answer was not atypical of new Panerai owners. “I’m very happy about it! I really like the styling,” he enthused.

“I’m going to use it for yacht racing, and other than that I’m not going to lend it to anyone.”

For more information, please see www.panerai.com/en/about-panerai/news-and-events-detail/americascup_partnership.

Quick Facts Luminor Marina 1950 America’s Cup 3 Days Automatic Acciaio 44 mm PAM00727 (official watch of the 35th America’s Cup)
Case: 44 mm, stainless steel
Movement: automatic Caliber P.9010 with 72 hours of power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; date
Limitation: 300 pieces
Price: $9,200

Quick Facts Luminor 1950 Oracle Team USA 3 Days Chrono Flyback Automatic Ceramica 44 mm PAM00725 (official watch of Oracle Team USA)
Case: 44 mm, black ceramic
Movement: automatic Caliber P.9100 with 72 hours of power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; date, flyback chronograph
Limitation: 200 pieces
Price: $15,300

Quick Facts Luminor 1950 Regatta Oracle Team USA 3 Days Chrono Flyback Automatic Titanio 47 mm PAM00726 (another official watch of Oracle Team USA)
Case: 47 mm, titanium
Movement: automatic Caliber P.9100/R with 72 hours of power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; flyback chronograph, regatta countdown, tachymeter scale to calculated knots/average boat speed
Limitation: 200 pieces
Price: $17,900

Quick Facts Luminor Marina Oracle Team USA 8 Days Acciaio 44 mm PAM00724 (a third official watch of Oracle Team USA)
Case: 44 mm, stainless steel
Movement: manually winding Caliber P.5000 with 192 hours of power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds
Price: $7,100

Quick Facts Luminor Marina 1950 SoftBank Team Japan 3 Days Automatic Acciaio 44 mm PAM00732 (official watch of SoftBank Team Japan)
Case: 44 mm, stainless steel
Movement: automatic Caliber P.9010 with 72 hours of power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; date
Limitation: 150 pieces
Price: $8,100

Disclosure: Elizabeth Doerr traveled to Bermuda as a guest of Panerai.