In the world of watches, Sylvester Stallone is synonymous with Panerai. For many of the hardcore Panerai fans, their first encounter with mechanical timepieces was through the action star. They wear their large watches proudly, hoping some of Stallone’s masculinity might rub off. While even the oldest of them remain hooked, Stallone has grown up horologically and is barely seen wearing Panerai in private anymore. In late 2020, the 76-year-old actor auctioned off his Luminor Logo supposedly worn during the filming of his 1996 blockbuster movie “Daylight”. To insiders it was clear, this marked the end of an era. Before his passing, Monty Shadow (RIP) forwarded me an email from Stallone which highlights why the action star turned his back on Panerai and never looked back.
Stallone loves watches, no doubt, and he knows how to draw attention to his timepieces. The days he was taken by Panerai, however, are gone and for good reason as you will see further below. In recent years, the action star was more and more seen wearing brands like Rolex, Audemars Piguet, Richard Mille and Patek Philippe at important events and in private.
In early October 2021, Stallone surprised the watch community when he posted a close-up of a vintage Rolex GMT-Master 6542 with tropical dial on his official Instagram (see below, 2nd slide).
At the time, Stallone was in the UK to start working on a new Expendables movie, but he also took to the stage for a Q&A session with Dolph Lundgren at the Arnold Sports Festival in Birmingham. As you can see in the picture below, Stallone could not help but proudly present the tropicalized GMT.
In June 2022, Stallone surprised us again rocking a vintage Rolex, but not just any, this time the actor wore one of the pinnacles of watch collecting, a stunning Rolex Daytona Ref. 6241 with black “Paul Newman” dial. Very stylish Mr. Stallone!
The occasion for Stallone’s appearance was the launch of Paramount Plus in the UK. The new on-demand service will stream his new TV series “Tulsa King” coming November 2022.
On September 11, 2022, Stallone attended the Italian Grand Prix of Formula One in Monza and was seen proudly rocking the Rolex “Paul Newman” Daytona again.
A few days later in Rome, the “Paul Newman” was still on is wrist.
Stallone wearing vintage Rolex is an interesting development considering he is actually known as the face of Panerai, unofficially that is, as Richemont for some strange reason never made him an official brand ambassador. They paid for product placement in some of his movies but that was about it. In late 2017, when the Richemont bosses decided to place Jean-Marc Pontroué at the helm of Panerai, Monty Shadow, the guy who had introduced Stallone to Panerai in 1994, reached out to the actor to persuade him to “revive” his relationship with the brand.
This was Stallone’s answer:
“Truthfully Panerai has really done very little for me. Considering I found the watch. They never would’ve known about it. I can’t even get a discount at Cartier… So what is in it for me? Seriously, what have you really ever done for me? Did they make me a spokesman, or advertise the watch like Johnny Depp, Cindy Crawford, or Tiger Woods, etc, that I have worked for other companies that are smaller like other celebrities? And pay a fee? No. Never. I turned them on to a watch that turned into a 1 billion dollar company, which they have done a great job with, and I am basically ignored….
I like Johann and his family and of course you, but I have not been treated with any respect….”
There was no closing line. No greetings, no regards, no signing off whatsoever.
As you can see in the above screenshot from my Whatsapp, referring to Stallone’s email Monty wrote:
Shame on Panerai and Richemont
We can only guess what went wrong between Stallone and Panerai. From what transpires from reading the email, it appears Panerai took advantage of Stallone’s popularity without rewarding him in a meaningful way. He may have gotten a bunch of watches but that costs a watch brand nothing compared to the sales generating power of a celebrity of Stallone’s caliber. In 2005, Panerai released two co-branded Slytech watches, the PAM00202 and the PAM00225. Apparently, some of the proceeds went to Stallone’s charity. In 2014, Panerai released the PAM00785 set consisting of two reeditions of Pre Vendôme “Slytech” designs from the 1990s. Interestingly, the “Slytech” co-brand was missing.
Monty Shadow is a key figure in this whole story. For many years he was the creative mind of Richemont. According to Richemont boss Johann Rupert, Monty was a “truffle dog”, someone with the unique talent to find hidden treasures. He was of course much more than that and was often sent to seal important deals. Mr. Shadow discovered Panerai in the early 1990s and presented the watches to Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Both were immediately hooked. In 1997, Monty served Richemont the Italian brand on a silver platter (for less than one million U.S. Dollar). The relationship between Monty and Richemont fell apart in recent years, due to friction with then newly appointed CEO Jérôme Lambert. In late 2020, Mr. Shadow helped me debunk the widespread false narrative of how Stallone got into Panerai. He also shared a number of interesting Panerai-related documents, including the above email from Stallone, secretly hoping I would publish it one day. Sadly, Monty passed away in late 2021 due to Covid-19 complications. Neither Panerai nor Richemont paid tribute to him in public.
In his email, Stallone wrote “I found the watch”. What I assume he meant is that he put the watches out there as Panerai watches were presented to him by Monty Shadow. If you are interested in learning the whole story of how Stallone got into Panerai in the 1990s, please read the following article:
Read more: The Stallone-Panerai Logo story debunked
If Panerai is incapable of showing any appreciation to brand-defining big shots like Stallone and Monty Shadow, the very guys who brought Panerai into the limelight, how can the average customer expect to be treated with respect? Something is terribly rotten in Neuchâtel and it does not seem to matter who is at the helm of the company. The rot sits deep within the core values of the company, or the lack thereof. Unlike other brands which grew organically over several decades or centuries, Panerai is an artificial construct, created out of thin air in 1997. Don’t take it from me, former Panerai CEO Angelo Bonati said so himself in a Paneristi interview from 2005:
When Sly wore Panerai watches, the Panerai Brand didnt exist yet. The Brand started to exist in the last 7 / 8 years.
Thank you for your interest.