Panerai just became the latest watch brand that has gone to space.

Joining the ranks of illustrious watchmakers such as Omega, Rolex and Bulova, Panerai is the latest name that has bragging rights in sending a watch into space. However, unlike most brands, the Italian luxury watchmaker didn’t even realise it.

That’s because it was cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov who decided to strap on a 45mm Panerai Radiomir timepiece (PAM00210) as part of his mission during the International Space Expedition 66. On 19 January 2022, during an Extravehicular Activities (EVAs) broadcast by NASA TV, eagle-eyed watch fans spotted the Panerai Radiomir during the cosmonaut’s epic spacewalk.

The Panerai Radiomir PAM00210 was shown several times during seven hours of footage streamed by NASA at the time of the EVA. The fact it was worn during the operation is a testament to the rigours that Panerai watches can withstand.

External temperatures encountered during an EVA vary from +121 degrees when exposed to sunlight to -157 degrees when an astronaut is in shadow. While Panerai watches have a long legacy connected to the exploits of naval divers and the hostile environment of the underwater world, it is apparent that their endurance extends beyond Earth’s atmosphere.

A Surprise For Panerai

The luxury Italian watch brand had no advance knowledge that cosmonaut Shkaplerov would wear the watch during his journey. However, after viewing NASA’s EVA footage, Panerai learned of its presence from keen-eyed observers who contacted the brand.

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A screengrab from Cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov’s mission (Image: NASA)

“When I first learned about the sighting from several journalists, I thought they were joking,” said Panerai CEO Jean-Marc Pontroué. “It took four or five days to realise and check the story was true,” he added.

“We’re lucky that we are a highly recognisable brand. Because of the cushion shape and the iconic dial of the watch, people could identify it as being from Panerai. It’s like an occasion when we unexpectedly discover a Panerai watch on a celebrity in a film. We learn about it at the same time as the rest of the public.”

Although the brand’s debut space mission came as a total surprise, Panerai has always been renowned for its resistance to hostile environments. With the brand’s roots deeply entrenched in developing timing instruments for the Italian Navy divers, Panerai has ventured deep into the depths of the sea.

However, this latest adventure into outer space is testament to what Panerai watches can withstand. Throughout Shkaplerov’s spacewalk, the timepiece performed impeccably.

About That Panerai Watch That Made It To Space

The Panerai Radiomir PAM210 that joined Shkaplerov on his mission is a model that has been discontinued by the brand. There was one noticeable modification of the model, which was an extra large strap so that it could be fitted over his space suit.

Noted for its straightforward lines and classic character, the Panerai Radiomir PAM210 features a classically simple sandwich dial with a balanced dial fitted in an elegant 45mm stainless steel cushion case. A hand-wound calibre OP X movement powered the functions of the watch. It arrived paired with a black leather strap.

“We’re honoured that Mr. Shkaplerov took our watch with him on his mission. As far as we know, there’s never been a Panerai watch in space before, and we never had a strategy to develop products for space,” expressed Pontroué.

“Panerai is used to operating at negative depths rather than positive altitudes, but we produce some of the most robust watches in the world. We are used to test our watches in though conditions.” The CEO enthused that the brand is eagerly awaiting to hear the watch’s performance details from the cosmonaut.

“When the mission is over on March 28, we’d love to invite Mr. Shkaplerov to bring us his watch so we may see it, repair it, restore it. But first, we have to figure out who to call!”

(Images: Panerai)

written by.
Richard Augustin
Former chef turned writer; Richard has tip-toed around the publishing industry for two decades. When not busy chasing deadlines, you can still find him experimenting with recipes in the kitchen.

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