Deck Dials: Panerai Created Precision Instruments For The Seafarer Within
Panerai’s earliest history is in the creation of watches and other precision instruments for the royal Italian navy, and its connection to the sea has remained an important part of its ethos.
The brand introduced a barometer, hygrometer, thermometer and wall clock inspired by the Eilean, the Bermudian sailboat from 1936 that represents Officine Panerai in the world of classic yachting.
Ironically, Eilean was built in the same year the first prototype Panerai watch was produced for the commandos of the Italian Navy.
In 2007, Officine Panerai acquired the yacht, which was designed by legendary yacht builder William Fife III, and after a long and arduous restoration, it has been returned to its original splendor. It now makes its presence known at the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge, the primary international circuit of regattas for classic yachts.
Panerai created an array of instruments to equip the historic yacht, which has inspired new models available for home, office or, yes, boat. Each of the instruments is made of corrosion-resistant AISI 316L stainless steel, like the originals created for Eilean. The cases are each about 5.5 inches square and all have black minimalist dials for easy reading of the atmospheric pressure, relative humidity, temperature and time, according to the instrument.
The Panerai barometer uses a barometric capsule that is compressed to varying degrees by atmospheric pressure, which causes it to expand or contract, and its movement is transmitted to a central indicator hand. In forecasting the weather, high atmospheric pressure indicates good weather while low pressure indicates that bad weather is likely. A hygrometer measures humidity in the air, and its purpose in navigation is to determine the chance of rain and fog.
The thermometer, as we all know, measures temperature. This Panerai thermometer employs two metal strips with different coefficients of expansion bonded together and formed into a spiral. A hand, which is affixed to one end of the spiral, rotates to indicate the varying temperatures. Finally, the wall clock is a reinterpretation of a classic Panerai watch dial. It is a well-constructed and good-looking timepiece with a simple design and clear disposition of the time.
Brand new to the world of accessories is Panerai’s table clock in the shape of a perfect sphere. One side features the emblematic Panerai dial design, while the other shows the hand-wound P.5000 manufacture movement. The Panerai PAM581 Table Clock (not pictured here) has an eight-day power reserve.
Other features include the large winding crown surrounded by a “stirrup” of polished steel, which is based on the design of a shackle—a common accessory on sailing yachts that enables ropes and cables to be secured. The round base is made of brushed steel and engraved “Officine Panerai.”