Sylvester Stallone’s very own Panerai Luminor Logo made history when it sold for USD 214,200 at Phillips’ flagship auction Racing Pulse in New York last week. Never before has a Pre Vendôme Panerai reached these stratospheric heights. Ben Clymer from Hodinkee thinks the watch should have gone for more, due to its importance. The Dink, it seems, does not know what some of us know. First of all, Stallone’s story of how he got into Panerai is a complete fabrication. It is this kind of made-up stories that make Panerai the laughing stock of the horological world. As a matter of fact, most of the history put forth by Richemont Panerai is pure fiction. Secondly and more importantly, Stallone’s watch at auction was not his only Logo. He had at least five! Four which he received from Panerai for product placement in his 1996 film Daylight – and the auctioned watch was one of them – plus one example that was in his possession for almost a whole year before the filming in Rome started. What happened to the other watches and how can we trust the actor that the watch at auction was, as he claimed, the Logo worn throughout the movie? Let’s shed some daylight on this, shall we?
The False Narrative
The official story goes that Stallone found Panerai by accident while filming the movie Daylight in Rome. As so often with Panerai, the story is of course false. The tale was officially debunked in 2013 when former Panerai managers went on the record for the book Panerai – Una Storia Italiana.
When Phillips announced Stallone’s Luminor Logo, it quickly became clear that the actor himself was perpetuating the very same false narrative. This was quite surprising as it was believed the false story originated from Panerai. On a card that accompanied the watch Stallone wrote:
“This is the Panerai that I bought in Rome…”
This statement is simply not true. I received information that Phillips had Stallone on camera telling all kinds of fairy tales on how he discovered Panerai and whatnot. Popular newspapers and magazines like The Wall Street Journal and GQ received the press release in addition to Stallone’s video interview and started disseminating the false story, completely unaware that they were burying watch enthusiasts from all over the world under a massive avalanche of misinformation. As a Panerai researcher hell-bent on separating fact from fiction, this was admittedly a massive blow and it will probably take years to repair the damage caused by these wide reaching media outlets.
A few weeks later, Phillips uploaded parts of the interview to Youtube. I must say, seeing Stallone taking the watch community for a ride was extremely disappointing. What could his motivation be to do so? Why would a 74 years old man with an estimated net worth of $400 million dollars, a man who basically achieved everything in his life, need to lie about something small as how he got into Panerai 24 years ago?
Stallone’s insisting in his fabricated story makes no sense, unless of course he is trying to take credit for having discovered Panerai on his own which he did not, just to be clear. The Luminor Logo was deliberately brought to his attention and the feature in the movie Daylight was product placement for his upcoming watch line Slytech Panerai. Product placement was nothing foreign to Stallone.
Stallone and Product Placement
Prior to Daylight, Stallone promoted all kinds of watches in his movies. Rambo 2 and 3, for instance, featured a Chronosport UDT Sea Quartz. In the film The Specialist which was released on October 7, 1994, Stallone’s character wore a quartz chronograph from an Italian brand named Franchi Menotti. The watch was prominently featured in crucial scenes of the movie.
At the beginning of a sex scene with Sharon Stone, Stallone wore the Franchi Menotti over his shirt sleeve – Gianni Agnelli style.
An interesting observation is that the Franchi Menotti chronograph featured in The Specialist had the Italian Marina Militare coat of arms printed on the dial.
In the action thriller Assassins which debuted on October 6, 1995, Stallone wore an interesting looking black Pulsar Quartz Y563-6099 prominently featured in the following close-up.
The four screws on the front of the case were mere decoration but gave the watch a unique look.
Private Watches Prior To Panerai
In 1993/94, Stallone was often seen wearing a Theorein Saltarello in private. He had at least three different models.
One of his Theorein Saltarello watches was auctioned by Heritage Auctions on December 25, 2018 when Stallone offered 600 items from his personal archives.
Link to auction: Theorein Saltarello 18k Chronograph, Pearl dial (Heritage Auctions)
Another watch often seen on his wrist in 1994 was a 18k gold Rolex Daytona 16518 on a brown leather strap.
A Panerai Materializes On Stallone’s Wrist
Mr. Stallone claimes he discovered and bought the auctioned Panerai Luminor Logo while filming the movie Daylight in Rome but this is not true. The shoot at the Cinecittà Studios started on September 25, 1995 according to the IMDb database. The picture below, on which Stallone was clearly wearing a Luminor Logo, was taken on December 17, 1994 in Orlando Florida, almost a whole year before the cameras for Daylight started rolling.
The next photo shows Stallone with German film director Wolfgang Peterson at the premiere of the film Outbreak on March 6, 1995 in Los Angeles. Stallone again wearing a Luminor Logo long before the filming in Rome began.
The following picture is an excerpt from the Pensacola News Journal published on April 5, 1995. This was the day the news broke that Stallone had been offered USD 17.5 million to star in Daylight. Please click the image to zoom in.
An interesting detail of this report is that the location for the movie was not decided yet.
“Stallone’s ‘Daylight’ deal is pending the agreement on various details, such as the movie’s budget and location.”
The above newspaper article from April 5, 1995, proves unequivocally that Stallone was wearing a Panerai Luminor Logo even before he was offered a role in Daylight. It becomes evident that initially there was absolutely no link between Stallone’s Panerai and the movie Daylight.
The Real Story
How did Stallone come into contact with Panerai? Stallone “discovered” the Luminor Logo on the wrist of a well-connected Montenegrin photographer named Monty Shadow aka Cedo Komljenović.
On April 19, 2005, the Croatian weekly magazine Nacional published an interview with Monty Shadow in which the famous photographer openly recounted how everything came about:
I liked the watch because it was simple, clean and I wore it all the time. When I went to Hollywood, Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis were amazed by the watch. Stallone wore it in one of his movies, and a limited edition production called Slytech was produced.
Mr. Shadow was well-versed in the world of luxury goods. He was a good friend of Johann Rupert, the boss of the mighty Compagnie Financiére Richemont that owned brands like Cartier, Dunhill and Montblanc through their subsidiaries.
Monty Shadow learned about Panerai through a Japanese watch magazine named World Wrist Watch which in 1992 had published a 16 page long article about Panerai and their history.
This very article, and the positive feedback generated from Japanese collectors it, inspired the original Officine Panerai SpA in Florence to recreate the old diving watches in 1993 with the help of a Swiss private label company named Guenat SA Montres Valgine that designed and manufactured the watches.
Mr. Shadow lived in Milan, Italy and was among the first people to get a Luminor Logo through Grimoldi Jewellers. At the time, a Panerai Luminor Logo 5218-201/A cost 3,200,000 Italian Lire which was the equivalent of around USD 1,850.00.
The Luminor was a watch unlike anything the world had ever seen. With its super reduced dial, the oversized cushion-shaped case and the massive half-moon shaped crown-protecting device, the watch seemed from a different world. This timepiece had the potential to become the next big thing in the horological world and Monty Shadow – with his keen eye for exceptional things – realized this fairly quickly. He strapped the watch on his wrist and tested the waters in celebrity circles where the watch, with a little help – of course – soon captured the attention of none other than Sylvester Stallone. Monty told him about the military history, etc. and the action star was immediately hooked.
In fall 1994, Shadow went back to Grimoldi in Milan and acquired a number of Panerai watches as presents for Stallone and other Hollywood celebrities. This is when Panerai watches started appearing on Sylvester Stallone’s wrist. Stallone was absolutely thrilled and wore the watch all the time. As a result, a brilliant idea started developing in Mr. Shadow’s head.
In late May 1995, the flamboyant Montenegrin pulled up in a white Bentley Continental Convertible in front of the Panerai premises in the outskirts of Florence. Panerai employees stared with open mouths as he stepped out of his vehicle and entered the building. Shadow asked to talk to the responsible for watches and was brought to Mr. Bruno Latini, the Chief Operating Officer at the time. Mr. Shadow introduced himself and proposed a plan to market Panerai watches under the name of famous people from the showbiz.
Monty Shadow must have made a great first impression cause at the end of the meeting, Mr. Latini gave him two watches as free samples. One Luminor Logo and one Luminor Marina with PVD coated case. The Luminor Marina appeared shortly after on Sylvester Stallone’s wrist. The picture below was taken on June 10, 1995, at Planet Hollywood opening party in Honolulu, Hawaii.
To be crystal-clear, what you are reading here is based on conversations with Mr. Monty Shadow and backed by video interviews with Dino Zei (CEO & owner Officine Panerai SpA) and Bruno Latini (COO Officine Panerai SpA) which are included as DVD in the highly informative Pre Vendôme volume of Panerai – Una Storia Italiana. In addition, all watches given to Monty Shadow/Stallone, are fully documented in delivery notes which are now in the archives of a former Panerai employee.
The following screenshots were taken from said DVD. The book authors agreed to upload the video asap to Youtube.
Latini had further meetings with Monty Shadow and somewhere along the line, Mr. Shadow dropped Stallone’s name. Stallone was a good friend of his, he said. Shadow had already developed a name for Stallone’s watch line: Slytech Panerai. Sly is short for Sylvester. In return for royalties and a certain number of watches, Panerai would be allowed to market the Slytech name. Monty Shadow was the main driving force behind this project and he wanted to go big. He proposed to create two Slytech Panerai models for the upcoming USD 75 million action thriller named Daylight in which Stallone would prominently feature the watches.
That’s right, product placement! Since almost the entire movie was going to be filmed at the Cinecittà Studios in Rome, Italy, the official story would be that Stallone found the Panerai watch accidentally while strolling around Rome and immediately decided to wear it in the film.
Zei disliked the idea of making a special model for an actor but business was bad and he agreed to explore the idea further.
At the time, Panerai was in chronically bad shape as a result of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the drastic cuts in military spending that followed. With the disappearance of the mighty Warsaw Pact, the West had lost its main adversary. This geopolitical change had been predicted in the second half of the 1980s but once it really happened, it caused a crisis in the military industry that was much worse than expected.
Officine Panerai SpA produced a variety of systems for the Italian Navy, mainly for landing aid, control and diagnostic but also signaling equipment and equipment for onshore and underwater use, underwater electroacustic systems and of course many top secret gadgets that were never disclosed.
As an exclusive supplier to the Navy, the shrinking number of orders brought the company to the brink of bankruptcy. Panerai’s watch project for the civilian market was a last ditch effort at keeping the company afloat. Deeply indebted and with an extremely limited marketing budget, Panerai ultimately welcomed Monty Shadow’s proposal with open arms. This opportunity could indeed mark the long awaited breakthrough as a watch brand.
The movie Daylight was the perfect stage for a Panerai watch. The plot was about a disastrous explosion inside the Holland Tunnel deep beneath the Hudson River in New York that collapsed of both ends, threatening to flood the tunnel and kill everyone trapped inside. Stallone played a character named Kit Latura who entered the blocked tunnel through the ventilation system to try and rescue the survivers.
One of the proposed watch models, the Luminor Daylight with a white dial, was to be featured in the opening scenes of the movie. The other model, the Luminor Submersible, was to be worn inside the partly flooded tunnel. Both models would bear the Slytech Panerai brand and Sylvester Stallone’s signature on their casebacks.
Technical drawings of both references were sent to Monty Shadow and quickly approved with the request for prompt delivery of twelve pieces to be featured in the movie. It would be a tough shoot and it was assumed most watches would not survive. The Submersible had priority as the action scenes inside the flooded tunnel were filmed from September 25, 1995 onwards. The filming of the opening scenes taking place in New York City in which Stallone would wear the Luminor Daylight were only scheduled for February 1996.
In the same breath – and this is important – Monty Shadow also ordered a Luminor Marina 5218-203/A for Arnold Schwarzenegger to be featured in the upcoming blockbuster Eraser. The filming started on September 13, 1995 according to the IMDb database. Eraser was released in June 1996, almost half a year before Daylight and was factually the first time a modern Panerai was featured on the big screen. In the opening scene, the Luminor Marina was featured in a super close-up.
It was not Stallone that gave Arnold the watch, as often claimed, but Monty Shadow who once again pulled the strings in the background.
On September 21, 1995, Panerai sent twelve unsold Luminor Logos (5218-201/A) back to Guenat SA Montres Valgine – the Swiss private label company that designed and manufactured the Pre Vendôme watches from 1993 to 1996 – to be transformed into Luminor Submersibles. Since time was of the essence, Guenat was instructed to just replace the dials and leave the original 5218-201/A casebacks untouched.
Soon after, Stallone arrived in Rome for the film shoot. Mr. Shadow quickly arranged a short business breakfast at the luxurious Excelsior Hotel in order to introduce Panerai’s COO Bruno Latini to the famous action star. This meeting took place on September 25, 1995, the same day the filmimg started. Since the Submersibles were not ready yet, Monty Shadow asked Latini to bring along four Luminor Logos for the provisional feature until the actual watches arrived. During this meeting, Stallone confirmed his friendship with Monty Shadow and expressed his excitement for the Slytech Panerai concept developed by his quirky friend.
The screenshots below were taken from above-mentioned DVD that comes with the book Panerai – Una Storia Italiana. Mr. Latini talked about meeting Stallone and how the partnership was one-sided. The latter is an inportant topic and will be discussed later on in this article.
The Luminor Logo with case number 0764 – the very watch consigned by Sylvester Stallone and just auctioned by Phillips – is listed in a Panerai delivery note among the four Luminor Logos personally handed over to Stallone by Bruno Latini on September 25, 1995. (The mentioned Panerai delivery note is part of the archives of a former Panerai employee.)
Eight days after meeting Mr. Latini, Stallone gave a press conference inside the movie tunnel set at the Cinecittà Studios. On his right wrist, the actor was sporting a Luminor Logo. It is unknown which particular Logo he was wearing during this event, whether it was one of the four given by Latini or the one that was in his possession since at least December 17, 1994.
Parts of the press conference can be watched here:
The above is an important photo as the shark leather strap is relatively well visible. A comparison with the strap on the auctioned watch shows that the overall texture appears to be different. This becomes especially apparent when comparing the keeper (rectangle) where the lines seems to go in a different direction.
During the shoot in the flooded tunnel, the strap got always wet and needed to dry afterwards. It is likely that for this simple reason Stallone wore a different watch each day. According to a renowned strap specialist, the shark leather strap which is mounted on the auctioned watch does not look like it saw significant water use. There is no shrinking at all and it is in generally perfect condition. “Definitely not through hell!” the specialist said. I would not be surprised if the auctioned Logo was the one watch that survived the shoot best-preserved. Perhaps it was only used in “dry” scenes.
Stallone stated his watch
“went through hell in every scene”
In addition to saying
“I strapped this on my wrist that day and I didn’t take it off till the end of filming.”
That would mean he wore the watch 24/7 for around three months. The next picture shows a shark leather strap that really went through hell. Compare that to the strap which came with Stallone’s watch.
One week after the press conference in Rome, Stallone went to Hamburg, Germany to attend the premiere of his movie Assassins. The watch on his wrist was one of his five Luminor Logos but this time he wore it on a black leather strap.
The next day, Stallone visited Paris and met his friend Monty Shadow. The Luminor Logo with black leather strap was always in the picture.
Since Stallone had at least five Logos at his disposal, it can be assumed he did not change straps, he simply changed watches.
Five days later, Stallone was seen at Old Course at St. Andrews in Scottland, the oldest golf course in the world. The actor spent some time practicing with professional golfer Ernie Els from South Africa prior to the 1995 Dunhill Cup (October 19 – 22, 1995). This time, Stallone wore a Luminor Logo with a shark leather strap.
The twelve hastily assembled Submersibles arrived to Florence in late October 1995 and were immediately forwarded to Monty Shadow with the exception of one example that for some reason remained with Panerai. It is unknown what happened with these watches but fact is, none were featured in Daylight. In late 1996 when the film was finally released, it became apparent that Stallone had worn a Luminor Logo model throughout the whole movie.
As promised by Mr. Shadow, the Panerai watch was featured prominently in various scenes of the movie, for instance when Kit Latura entered the damaged tunnel through the ventilation system. In this scene, the watch can be seen for about four seconds.
During the risky attempt at entering the tunnel the watch can often be seen in fast close-ups, for instance when Latura used explosives to open a jammed manhole.
During a conversation with the main female character, the watch appeared on the screen for at least ten seconds. This was the moment in which the audience really got to see the watch. This scene screams product placement.
Another scene where the watch was perfectly staged is the one where Latura saves a cop trapped underneath a car from drowning by using an engine hose as a snorkel.
Interestingly, there was no mention of Officine Panerai SpA in the closing credits. On the other hand, watch brands like TAG Heuer, Seiko, Bulova and Casio which were barely noticed in the movie were listed. Panerai gave Stallone four Luminor Logos plus eleven Luminor Submersibles for the movie which can definitely be considered a significant contribution. This is indeed very strange. Either they forgot or they wanted to keep the brand secret for some reason. More on this later.
At some point it was decided to go ahead with the Slytech Panerai project and make a series of 100 Submersibles and 100 Daylights with the option of 100 more for each model. In late October 1995, Panerai sent 200 unsold Luminor Logos back to Guenat SA to be modified. In 1993, Panerai had ordered a total of 900 Luminor Logos from Guenat SA, ten preproduction prototypes (P 001 – P 010) and a regular series of 890 units. One piece was never delivered. Since 212 (12 + 200) pieces were sent back to Guenat SA to be modified into Slytech Panerais, the number of existing Luminor Logos is 687.
On November 25, 1995, Stallone attended the inauguartion of Planet Hollywood at Disneyland Paris with French actor Gérard Depardieu. At this event, Stallone wore one of the first 11 Submersibles made in a hurry to be featured in the movie Daylight.
Since the Daylight model was now a priority as it was supposed to be featured in the opening scenes of the movie Daylight, Guenat SA processed this order first. For some reason, the Swiss company made 105 pieces instead of the ordered 100. The watches arrived to Florence in December 1995. Ten pieces were immediately forwarded to Monty Shadow and another 31 pieces were sent to Stallone between Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
The initial Daylight had a white dial with blue numerals and markers. The hands were blue as well. It is interesting to note that the shape of the numerals was considerably different than previous models. This dial was probably designed by someone at Panerai while previous dials had been created by Guenat SA Montres Valgine.
Soon after receipt, the watches were rejected due to the blue colour and sent back to Panerai in three different shipments over the course of three months. Four pieces went missing in the process.
The blue colour was not mentioned in some of the technical drawings but stated elsewhere. Stallone and co. assumed the numerals and markers were black. It is also interesting that they produced the whole series in one go instead of making a number of prototypes first. This episode shows how amateurish the whole Slytech Panerai saga was conducted, on both sides.
A new Daylight dial design was quickly developed and accepted. The 101 Daylights were sent back to Guenat SA and received the new dial. Since four pieces went missing, it was decided to redo all case numbers. The corrected Daylights and the finished Submersibles arrived to Florence in late May 1996. As with the Submersible, the Daylight was not featured in the movie.
Subsequently, Stallone was sent 35 Daylights and four Submersibles in addition to the previuosly provided 11 Submersibles with 5218-201/A casebacks.
Around the same time, Panerai’s main distributor Giancarlo Dallerba, who in the meantime had become an intermediary between Officine Panerai and Monty Shadow/Stallone, created a very special piece for Sylvester Stallone. He took an unsold Luminor Logo from his own stock and had it gold-plated. Dallerba wanted to see whether Stallone would be open to precious metals. He also developed a concept to produce sunglasses, pens and leather goods under the Slytech Panerai brand.
The gold-plated Luminor Logo ended up on Arnold Schwarzenegger’s wrist. Stallone presented it to him during the opening party of Planet Hollywood Berlin on September 24, 1996. Note that the booklets were mixed-up. This was a modified Luminor Logo, not a Luminor Daylight.
At the event, Stallone was proudly sporting one of the 35 corrected Daylights he had received earlier. Note the guy with the mustache between Gérard Depardieu and Arnold Schwarzenegger. That was Monty Shadow.
Giancarlo Dallerba documented Monty Shadow’s role in bringing Panerai watches to the attention of Stallone in an internal business plan related to Slytech Panerai.
“Per una serie di circostanze Sylvester Stallone e venuto, tramite la fondamentale opera di Monty Shadow, a ‘contatto’ con l’orologio Panerai. … Sempre tramite Monty Shadow, l’attore ha accolto con lusinghiero interesse la proposta di legare la sua immagine alla produzione die questi orologi, con il marchio Slytech-Panerai, firmandone già un modello, ed ad altri gadgets di lusso.”
Translation: Due to a series of circumstances, Sylvester Stallone came into contact with the Panerai watch through the fundamental work of Monty Shadow. … Always thanks to Monty Shadow, the actor welcomed with flattering interest the proposal to link his image to the production of these watches, with the Slytech-Panerai brand, already signing a model, and other luxury gadgets.
Read entire document: As close as possible to the 5218-218A full story (WatchProSite)
In late June 1996, Monty Shadow ordered another Luminor Logo for Stallone and yet another one was requested on January 30, 1996, together with a Luminor Marina (5218-203/A). At least 68 Panerais were delivered to Stallone. It is unknown what happened with all these watches. It said, Stallone gave them away, to friends and people who helped him with certain things like for instance a Mercedes-AMG executive from Germany who received one of his first 11 Submersibles.
Mr. Latini stated in his interview that the partnership was a one-sided, which is absolutely true. Neither Monty Shadow nor Sylvester Stallone put any money into the project. For them it was just a fun adventure. It was Panerai that did all the work and had to bear all the costs. At least 68 watches were delivered to Stallone:
- 6 pc Luminor Logo (5218-201/A)
- 1 pc Luminor Logo gold-plated (5218-201/A)
- 11 pc Submersible first series (5218-205/A)
- 3 pc Submersible regular series (5218-205/A)
- 32 pc Daylight (5218-207/A, incl. 001)
- 4 pc Daylight sent directly to Monty Shadow (098 – 101)
- 4 pc Daylight blue markers (032 – 035, went lost)
- 4 pc Mare Nostrum (5218-301/A)
- 2 pc Marina Militare (5218-202/A)
- 1 pc Luminor Marina (5218-203/A)
At the beginning of the Slytech Panerai saga, Monty Shadow promised a contract which would allow Panerai to use Sylvester Stallone’s name to market the Slytech Panerai watches. By the end of 1996, no such document had been provided. Without a signed permission from Stallone, Panerai was forced to hold back throughout the entirety of 1996. Another important detail Panerai did not consider was that the movie Daylight would only be released starting December 6, 1996 and not in summer 1996 as originally planned. Too late to make a difference for Panerai.
Panerai was sitting on dozens and dozens of watches they could neither promote nor sell to the public for fear of damage claims. In an act of desperation, Panerai decided to put the watches on the market and take advantage of Christmas sales. There was a verbal agreement after all. Nonetheless, Mr. Latini sent Stallone a letter explaining the need for a signed agreement and telling the actor that the watches he had received so far could be regarded as free samples. There was no answer, as if everyone involved had vanished.
A Slytech Panerai brochure featuring a photoshopped picture from the movie Daylight was quickly developed. Panerai superimposed a Luminor Submersible onto Stallone’s wrist. The Submersible was after all the watch Stallone was supposed to wear in the movie.
It is said this brochure was withdrawn almost immediately for fear of getting sued by Stallone, who never formally agreed this type of communication. The brochure reads, among other things:
“Nel 1995 l’attore Sylvetser Stallone scopre casualmente gli orologi Panerai e ne diviene grande estimatore. Ne acquista alcuni, chiede alla Panerai l’allestimento, in pochi esemplari, di un particoloare orologio da impiego nelle riprese subacquee del film Daylight girato a Cinecittà e suggerisce che tale modello sia chiamato LUMINOR SUBMERSIBLE.”
Translation: In 1995, the actor Sylvester Stallone accidentally discovered Panerai watches and became a great admirer. He bought a few and asked Panerai to assemble a specific watch, in few pieces only, to be used in the underwater filming of the movie Daylight shot at Cinecittà, and suggested the name LUMINOR SUBMERSIBLE for this model.
See entire brochure: The Slytech Brochure, for Pre V Lovers only (WatchProSite)
This was the official story line Stallone and Panerai agreed to tell back in 1995/96. As we have learned, Stallone did not buy a single watch from the old Panerai company, he got them for free. While former Officine Panerai managers like Bruno Latini and Dino Zei told the real story when they were interviewed in 2012 for the book Panerai – Una Storia Italiana, Sylvester Stallone keeps perpetuating the fabricated tale.
Officine Panerai’s escapade with Stallone cost the deeply indebted company tons of money they did not have, ultimately bringing it to its knees. Monty Shadow was a friend of Johann Rupert, the boss of the Compagnie Financiére Richemont, a large luxury conglomerate that owned brands like Cartier, Vacheron Constantin, Piaget, Baume & Mercier, Montblanc, Dunhill, etc. through their subsidiary Vendôme Luxury Group. The group was missing a sport watch brand in their portfolio. The story goes that Rupert and Shadow were sitting in a restaurant when a group of soccer player sat down at the next table. Some of the players wore Panerai watches. When Johann saw this, he asked Monty to get him that watch. Monty replied he had run out of watches and would need to order some. Johann then said: “No, I want the brand. Get me the brand.”
In March 1997, Panerai sold their name Officine Panerai and some remaining stock for around $1 million dollars to the Vendôme Luxury Group. The sum was just enough to pay a fraction of Panerai’s debt. Panerai continued to work for the Italian Navy under the new name Panerai Sistemi. Two years later in 1999, Panerai Sistemi was taken over by Calzoni Srl in Bologna.
There are voices who believe the Slytech Panerai project was deliberatly delayed to wear down Officine Panerai SpA and make it impossible for them to succeed. The purpose of this tactic was to force the company to sell their watch business to the Vendôme Luxury Group for the lowest possible price. Mr. Dino Zei made an interesting remark in this regard during his interview for Panerai – Una Storia Italiana.
Whatever the truth, fact of the matter is that the original Panerai company never profited from the “cooperation” with Stallone. It was Richemont that harvested the fruits of this one-sided partnership. In late 1997, Richemont Panerai released their first special edition named PAM21 which used Rolex 618 calibers of questionable provenance. With only 60 pieces, Richemont made more money than they had paid to acquire the Officine Panerai name.
“So, again, when this watch landed in the shops, it sold out. And the amount of money we made was more than the amount we paid for the acquisition of Panerai. In one shot, we paid for the acquisition of Panerai with one watch, 60 pieces.”
Stallone’s Fairy Tales
Now, armed with the facts and knowing that Stallone’s story does not reflect reality, let’s go back to the video interview and see how good of an actor he really is.
The video begins with Stallone stating that the Panerai started it all for him:
“This is the watch that started it all for me. It’s called the Logo, Panerai Logo.”
Stallone was into watches long before the movie Daylight. The watch he was wearing in the video is a 18k gold Rolex Submariner Ref. 1680/8 with nipple dial and Tiffany & Co. print. This was the timepiece he bought in 1976 to celebrate the success of the first Rocky movie. Stallone talked about this piece in the book A Man And His Watch where he stated that it is by far the watch he is emotionally most connected to. The Logo was definitely not the watch that started it all for him.
“I did a film called ‘Daylight’ and it was gonna be the toughest film ever and I wanted to wear a watch in the film that no one had ever seen.”
Right, so Stallone waited until the filming in Rome started to go and search a watch? Yes, makes total sense!
Stallone then went on to make the following totally fictional statement:
“Then I saw in the corner these boxes stacked up. I go, what is that? Ah, it’s one of our watches… you know they used it in the military. I go, can I look at it?”
Unfortunately the video does not show the entire interview but it can be assumed that prior to this statement, Stallone explained how he visited Panerai in Rome during the filming of Daylight to buy something else and only then he discovered the boxes in a corner. Let’s be clear, Panerai was in Florence, not in Rome and they were extremely proud of their watches. The timepieces would have been in a display – all in your face – and certainly not stacked up in a corner, hidden away from the world as if Panerai were ashamed of them. Stallone’s story is totally illogical.
Stallone further implied he wore the watch for the first time after he found it during the filming of Daylight:
“I strapped this on my wrist that day and I didn’t take it off till the end of filming.”
The filming started on September 25, 1995 but as we now know, Stallone was seen wearing a Luminor Logo since at least December 17, 1994. In addition, Stallone had at least five Logos at the time of the filming. The strap comparison shown above suggests he most likely wore all of the them in the movie. Stallone wants us to believe there was only one Logo. If his statement were true and he wore the watch for three months 24/7, the shark leather strap would show heavy signs of wear, which it does not.
On the hand-written note that came with the watch, Stallone emphasized he wore the same watch throught the whole shoot.
“This is the Panerai that I bought in Rome and wore throughout the movie Daylight.”
If this were indeed the case, as Stallone wants us to believe, this specification would not be necessary. It would go without saying. The fact he stated this could be an indication he is well aware of the other Logos he wore in the movie. He probably gave them away after the shoot and the new owners could come forward and say their watches are as important as the one he consigned.
About the Luminor Logo he consigned to Phillips, Stallone said:
“This watch has been underwater and through hell…”
This is an interesting statement considering the watch is in a helluva condition, meaning remarkably well-preserved. There is a small circular hairline crack in the crystal at 11 o’clock but other than that the watch looks amazing. Case and lugs appear to be intact, no dents whatsover. The crown-protecting device is in pristine condition as well.
As we have learned, Stallone had at least five Luminor Logos at his disposal for Daylight, four which were personally handed over by Bruno Latini on September 25, 1995 and one which was in his possession since at least December 17, 1994. It would be interesting to know what happened to all the other Logos. Were all of them used for the movie? Were some damaged?
Fake stories are the very fabric of modern Panerai, unfortunately. The modern brand was literally founded on lies, lies that reach deep, deep into the ground. So deep, that even if debunked the false myths simply won’t die. Richemont Panerai was initially such a great success that everybody involved wanted to leave their own mark. Whether it was vintage dealers with their fake stories, counterfeiters with their fake prototypes or a CEO who openly declared Panerai did not exist prior to him. Sylvester Stallone? He just wants to be immortalized as the very person who single-handedly discovered Panerai and turned it into an A brand. He is angry with Panerai cause they never made him a spokesman or treated him with any respect. His own words! Of course Stallone deserves credit for having promoted Panerai in Hollywood circles but at the same time, he also contributed to the rapid decline of the original company with his reckless taker attitude.
The Panerai Time Machine
The Luminor Logo 5218-201/A was the first Panerai watch made for the general public and is an important milestone in the history of the original Italian company. The timeline below represents the current state of research into vintage Panerai watches. Please click the graphic to download the highres version.
This timeline is available as a high quality print in two sizes:
- 120 x 68 cm (47 x 26 inch): EUR 85.00 (plus shipping)
- 150 x 85 cm (59 x 33 inch): EUR 120.00 (plus shipping)
Printed with HD Inkjet on heavy synthetic paper and laminated.
Limited edition: 50 pieces, numbered and signed by Maria Teresa Panerai in Giuseppe Panerai’s very own laboratory at the historical site of the Villino Panerai (Panerai Villa) in Florence: Sold out
To order shoot me a DM on Instagram: @perezcope