Last November at the St. Regis in Mumbai, Panerai organised an exclusive event to introduce two special edition watches: the Luminor GMT 44 mm (PAM01056) and the Luminor Chrono Flyback 44 mm (PAM01057). The two timepieces were designed in collaboration with MS Dhoni, the former Indian Cricket Team Captain and Panerai’s brand ambassador in India. Officially, Dhoni was unveiled as Panerai’s ambassador in 2018, but his appreciation of the watchmaker on a personal level goes a long way back.
“I am happy to be part of the Panerai Family. It’s a brand that I have known for more than 13 years now,” Dhoni revealed at the event. “One of the main reasons that attracted me to the brand, I would say, is Mike Horn. He was with us during the 2011 World Cup. He was the first person that I actually saw wearing a Panerai. Then I read more about the brand and its history. Particularly, how they started making equipment for the Italian navy divers, and then all the ups and downs, and to today, standing tall as one of the best manufacturers of watches in the world.”
Mahendra Singh Dhoni, born 1981, is a right-handed middle-order batsman and wicket-keeper. A man of humble working-class origins, he began his professional career not in sports but as a Travelling Ticket Examiner for Indian Railways. Cricket was not even his first sport. As a schoolboy, he showed great talent in Badminton, and as a goalkeeper in Football. His competency as a goalkeeper led his coach to suggest that he try his hand at wicket-keeping in a local cricket club. The rest, as they say, is history.
As a batsman in the Indian Cricket team, he became one of the highest run-scorers in One Day Internationals (ODIs) with more than 10,000 runs scored. A lot of those runs were accumulated with an aggressive batting style, which included his signature innovation, the “helicopter” shot. As a wicket-keeper, his 294 career dismissals rank him first among Indian wicket-keepers.
He captained the Indian national team in limited-overs formats for almost a decade, between 2007 to 2016. In that time, India won the 2007 ICC World Twenty20, the 2010 and 2016 Asia Cups, the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup and the 2013 ICC Champions Trophy; making him the first captain to win all three ICC limited-overs trophies. He was the captain of the Indian Test Cricket team between 2008 and 2014, in which time, he became the most successful Indian Test captain with 27 Test wins, and took the team to the number one position in the ICC Test rankings.
“MS Dhoni is an athlete with a bold personality. The collaboration between him and the brand was born naturally since it expresses values to which our brand is strongly linked: commitment towards sport and the willingness to set new records. The two special editions dedicated to this iconic sportsman contributed to making our collaboration even stronger.” – Jean-Marc Pontroué, CEO of Panerai
There is another common thread between the two. Panerai began as a manufacturer of watches and other precision instruments for the Italian navy and military. Dhoni’s family hails from the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand, a state with strong links with the army. Not surprisingly, Dhoni has often expressed his admiration for the Indian army and even completed a two-week stint with the Territorial Army in Jammu and Kashmir last year. In 2012, Dhoni was conferred the rank of honorary lieutenant-colonel for his contribution in cricket. It is because of his bond with the army, that he chose its deep-green colour as the dial-colour for both his collaboration watches.
The MS Dhoni special editions are an extension of Panerai’s eminent ‘Luminor’ family. The two new watches “reflect the dynamic dual personality of MS Dhoni,” according to the brand. He is “determined, dependable and confident in the field. He is eclectic, impeccable and sociable out of it.”
The Luminor GMT 44 MM is designed to be tough and reliable with its case made of solid AISI 316L stainless steel with a brushed finish. It has a diameter of 44 mm and a thickness of 16 mm. It has a polished steel bezel. The brand’s trademarked Safety Lock device is also in brushed steel. On top is a sapphire made from carborundum. The case-back is a 12-sided screw-back in steel featuring celebratory engraving consisting of the inscription “Mahendra Singh Dhoni 183,” the outline of the Indian peninsula and a picture of the player with his signature. The number 183 represents Dhoni’s highest single-innings score in ODIs.
Inside is Panerai’s automatic mechanical P.9010/GMT calibre, with a thickness of 6.0 mm. It is an automatic mechanical movement that supports hours, minutes, small seconds, date and a second time zone; thus, the GMT. It comprises 199 components and 31 jewels. It has a Glucydur balance, Incabloc anti-shock device, and two spring barrels. It has a power reserve of three days.
The case is matt military green, with a sandwich structure. Arabic numerals and markers, in recognisable Panerai style, are in white Super-LumiNova with green luminescence. It has centralised hour, minute and GMT hands. The small seconds sub-dial is at 9 o’clock, and the date at 3 o’clock. The primary strap is black semi-matt alligator leather with dark green stitching and brushed steel trapezoidal pin buckle. The watch comes with an additional military green rubber strap. It is water-resistant up to 30 bar or about 300 metres.
The Luminor Chrono Flyback 44 MM is naturally the more sophisticated variant of the two as it features Goldtech, a Panerai trademarked gold alloy developed at the brand’s Laboratorio di Idee. The case features the Goldtech with a brushed finish. It has the same 44 mm diameter as the GMT, but is slightly thicker at 16.87 mm. The bezel is in polished Goldtech, while the Safety Lock device has the same brushed Goldtech finish as the case. The cover is again a Sapphire dial made from carborundum. The case-back is also a 12-sided screw-back, but here, it is in polished Goldtech with a sapphire crystal porthole. It has the same engraving but is done using the metallisation method.
Panerai’s P.9100 calibre, an automatic mechanical movement, drives this watch. It also has twin spring barrels and a power reserve of three days, but its architecture is even more sophisticated than P.9010/GMT. This is because it has a chronograph movement with a vertical clutch and a column-wheel equipped with the flyback function. First appearing in 2013, it was the first automatic chronograph to be entirely developed and produced by Panerai, and it was created with the potential to be used in all kinds of sporting activities.
The dial is again matt military green with a sandwich structure, with identical Arabic numerals and markers in white Super-LumiNova with green luminescence, as in the GMT. However, there is an additional nautical tachymeter scale in knots along the periphery of the dial. In addition to the central hour and minute hands, we also have central chronograph seconds and minute hands. The chronograph hours counter is in a sub-dial at 3 o’clock. The small seconds dial is at 9 o’clock. The two straps are the same as with the GMT, but this watch is water-resistant up to five bar or 50 metres.