Inspired by the elegant lines of Eilean, the new Panerai navigation instruments evoke the world of classic yachts
It is Eilean, the Bermudian ketch of 1936 which represents Officine Panerai in the world of classic yachting, that has been the source of inspiration for the new navigation instruments created in limited editions and available exclusively in Panerai boutiques: the Barometer, Hygrometer, Thermometer and Wall Clock.
Built in the very same year that the first prototype of the Panerai watch was supplied to the commandos of the Italian Navy, Eilean is one of the last designs of an all-time genius of naval architecture, William Fife III; he designed and built many of the finest classic yachts that are still sailing. Acquired by Officine Panerai in 2007 and returned since then to its magnificent original state by a lengthy and meticulous restoration, Eilean takes part each year in the gatherings of the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge, the main international circuit of regattas for classic yachts. With its elegant, flowing lines, Eilean is a perfect example of authenticity, beauty and love of the sea. Since its return to the water after being restored, Eilean has been equipped with a range of instruments specially created by Officine Panerai, and it is these which have been the inspiration for all the new models.
Like the originals in Eilean, the new Barometer, Hygrometer, Thermometer and Wall Clock are made of AISI 316L stainless steel, an alloy with a low carbon content valued for its great corrosion resistance, and they are 14 cm wide and 14 cm deep. They all have black dials of great simplicity and instant legibility, carrying the indications for displaying atmospheric pressure, the relative humidity of the air, the temperature and the time. These measurements were once indispensable for every sailor and still today, in an era dominated by digital information, they are an invaluable resource for those who still seek in sailing the classic flavour of an era now passed.
The barometer, the instrument designed by the Italian physicist Evangelista Torricelli in 1643, provides accurate details of atmospheric pressure. This information is used for weather forecasts, high atmospheric pressure indicating good weather while low pressure warns that bad weather is likely. The Panerai Barometer contains a metal box, called a barometric capsule, which is compressed to a varying degree by atmospheric pressure. This capsule expands or contracts as the pressure of the atmosphere varies and its movements are transmitted to an indicator hand.
For more than two centuries the hygrometer has been used to measure the humidity in the air and in navigation its purpose is to assess the likelihood of rain and fog. Historically, its use was completely different: the first hygrometers were actually employed in the 14th century to resolve disputes between buyers and sellers of wool, the weight of which, and thus the price, changes with varying humidity, increasing on damp days and becoming less on dry ones.
The thermometer is an instrument for measuring temperature. The first example to use the temperature parameters which are standard today was devised by Anders Celsius, the Swedish astronomer who in 1742 subdivided the scale of a mercury thermometer into one hundred parts from the freezing point of water to its boiling point. The Panerai thermometer operates by means of two metal strips with different coefficients of expansion bonded together: variations of temperature cause this bimetallic strip to bend. The bimetallic strip is formed into a spiral and a hand is fixed to one end of it, so that it rotates to indicate the temperature as it changes.
In the past, time measurement was extremely important for sailors, because it provided one of the pieces of information used in calculating longitude, thus determining the ship’s position and course. The need for a reliable timepiece on board led to the development of ever more accurate marine chronometers which could operate perfectly in adverse environmental conditions. Officine Panerai’s new Wall Clock has been created in a period when this need no longer exists, but it is nonetheless a useful tool to have, with a distinctive dial recalling that of the wristwatches made by Panerai.