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Discovering fellow fans of Panerai online changed Alan Bloore’s life. After the fitness entrepreneur was paralysed from the armpits down in a maritime accident in 2006, it was support from friends on the Paneristi watch forum that helped him through the hard times.
“While they were on the journey with me, I wasn’t alone,” says Bloore, also known as Hammer. “I could always escape when I just wanted to die.” The community means so much to the Australian collector that he has “Paneristi.com” tattooed on his wrist. Bloore is a former shipmaster who, in the 1990s, sold the health and fitness chain he founded.
His interest in watches began aged eight, when he was captivated by his father’s timepiece. After saving three years’ pocket money earned mowing lawns, plus birthday and Christmas money, he took a three-hour bus ride to Brisbane and bought a Seiko diver’s watch.
The moment that “sealed the deal”, however, was touring the Rolex factory in Switzerland, aged 16. “When I was leaving, I had a Rolex 5513 Submariner on my wrist and I knew instantly that watches were going to become an intrinsic part of my life for ever,” he says.
1. Panerai PAM360 (2010)
Having been told by doctors to get his “affairs in order”, Bloore is offering 61 watches from his collection plus related ephemera at Sotheby’s in New York on December 7. One is his limited edition Luminor released to mark Paneristi’s 10th anniversary.
Bloore helped design the piece, which he says harks back to a watch from the pre-Vendôme era of Panerai. The Italian brand, which had made watches for the Italian navy, introduced commercial pieces in 1993 and was bought by Vendôme Luxury Group (now part of Richemont) in 1997.
Bloore has received gifted watches from Panerai but bought this one. He says the lume on the black dial of the PVD-coated stainless steel piece has a “faux patina”, making it look like it dates from 1993. His watch (estimate $6,000-$10,000) is numbered 1/300 and has “Hammer” engraved on the case back.
2. Panerai 3646 (c 1940s)
One Panerai that Bloore decided not to sell is his stainless steel Radiomir with California dial (featuring Arabic and Roman numerals). He says it is special because it is “new old stock”. “It’s sat since, probably, 1945 without anybody ever wearing that. I wanted to keep it that way so I never wore it.” The piece, produced for the Italian navy, has a case and movement made by Rolex. Bloore suspects it is from a box hidden from the Germans during the second world war that was only discovered decades later. While there are fissures on the crystal, he says it is “so sterile” inside the case.
3. Romain Gauthier Logical One (2019)
Bloore has become “interested in so much more than the outside of the watch” over the past 15 years and has built his own timepieces. Seeking to further his understanding of movements, he explored the work of independent watchmakers, including the “art” of Romain Gauthier.
Bloore appreciates the skill behind his Logical One (estimate $60,000-$120,000), including the handcrafted chamfered bridge and chain and fusée. The latter attracted him to the piece. “It was a real manly feeling . . . having this chain on a gear reminded me a bit of a motorcycle chain,” he says. Bought as something to remind him of a late friend, Bloore’s gold watch is one of a limited edition of five. However, his is unique because it has a laser engraving of Gauthier’s signature on the edge of the case back.
4. Rolex Submariner Ref 5510 (1958)
The “big crown” Submariner Reference 5510 was only in production for one year. Bloore says his stainless steel military Submariner, bought new by the Royal Australian Navy (RAN), is particularly rare because it has welded spring bars, which means it has to be worn with a Nato nylon strap, and it has an Explorer dial (with Arabic numerals at 3, 6 and 9).
Bloore says that, while it may look “really ugly probably to most people”, for him it is “the grail of grails”.
He says the watch (estimate $160,000-$320,000) was worn by Australian Clearance Divers during the Vietnam war. The piece is being sold with ephemera related to the RAN, most of which Bloore bought from Vietnam war veterans he met at a clearance divers reunion he attended with his best friend, himself a former clearance diver.
5. Rolex Daytona Ref 116506A (2017)
It is the story behind a timepiece that attracts Bloore. “The watch itself is just the sum of parts but . . . the watch is about a time and a place, and it’s those sentiments I feel when I hold a watch that makes it so much more than just a watch,” he says.
It is because his platinum Daytona with ice-blue dial set with baguette diamonds does not have a story that he is not selling it. “In my last time before my life ends, it’ll be the watch I wear nearly every day and I’m going to give it a story for my son,” he says. “He will always remember me in my final years wearing that watch. When I’m gone, it will be his . . . and he can pass it on to the next generation.”