Bloore doesn’t take his allegiance to the brand lightly. In 2006, the erstwhile adrenaline junkie was paralysed from the chest down after he snapped his spinal cord in a jet-ski accident. Thanks to Panerai, he says, he has managed to survive the pain, multiple surgeries and tribulations after horrific accident, he says.
About two years after the accident, doctors told Bloore that death was a real possibility even after the multiple painful surgeries. It was then that he contemplated suicide. Instead, in a final bid to distract himself, he fired up his laptop and logged on to the Paneristi website. “Given my physical condition then, I was sure if I closed my eyes and decided to let go, I would’ve gone,” he says. “I realised that I could lose myself in this world; that I could separate my brain from my body, and that I could still be happy. Three hours later, I put away the laptop and I was ready for surgery,” he adds.
When did you first fall hard for watches?
“I was into watches since I was about 10. As a child, I would save my birthday and tooth fairy money to buy my first watch. It was manual-winding Seiko diver’s watch. I just found watches fascinating. My parents were always asking me why I wasn’t saving up to buy something more fun.”
What about your love for Panerai?
“I’ve always been a fan of watches with history. I was a big collector of vintage Rolexes in the 1980s and 1990s. In 1999, I was looking at a book on vintage military watches and I chanced upon a picture of the Panerai Ref 6154. I have never been so moved all my life. I spent the next eight years trying to find the exact piece and finally bought it in 2007.”
To say that a watch brand saved your life sounds far-fetched. Can you explain?
“Logging on to the Paneristi website saved me from ending my life. Doctors call it diversion therapy. The brand and the watches bring me to a beautiful place that transcended physical pain. Right now, even as I’m talking to you my feet feel as if they are connected to 240 volts of electricity. The pain is worst in the early hours of the morning when everyone is asleep. I can’t lay my body flat. I’m strapped to my chair and I’m wheeling round and round. As I’m doing it, I am looking at watches on Paneristi website.”
What is it about Panerai watches that get you?
“When I see a vintage Panerai, I think of the wartime heroes who wore the watches. The people who wore those watches were prepared to lose everything. I live through these watches. I think Mr Bonati has done a fantastic job in injecting this spirit and DNA in every Panerai we see.”
Is Panerai to you a brand that can do no wrong?
“In my biased opinion, I don’t think Panerai has made mistakes per se. They have tested limits and pushed boundaries that might not sit well with some collectors. Have they made watches that I didn’t like? Of course! But imagine how boring would the world be if we all liked the same things.”