“Yes, there has been a bubble in the Panerai market,” he tells us, unambiguously. “It was artificially built up around 2012, 2013 and 2014, when it was as its highest.” He pointed to the sale of a supposed Italian Admiral’s ref. 6351-1 at Sotheby’s in 2014 for $425,000 as an unsustainable high point, or as he described it, “insane”. No Panerai has reached such heights on the open market since. According to Pereztroika, these results were inflated by two intertwined forces. Firstly, once natural momentum built-up around these pieces, the market quickly attracted speculators, as the press covered the various record sales and comparisons to Rolex were quickly made.
Secondly, the brand itself, subsequently acquired by the Richemont group, was also attempting to increase its awareness and respect. It’s worth mentioning that they did not employ the auction marketing method mentioned by Müller above, where they would bid on their watches at auction. Rather, they used their unique position to release a series of limited editions, to hype up certain areas of the secondary market. They thought that this would, in turn, increase the desirability of their current offering, creating a virtuous circle, where vintage and modern continually reinforce one another. As Pereztroika points out, “when they released the first Bronzo they said, ‘this will be the only Bronzo’ and then the next year they bring out another one!” This eventually led collectors to lose trust in the brand and contributed to prices tumbling and the bubble bursting.