Italian luxury watch brand Officine Panerai’s connection to the sea dates back to the early days of the company and its status as the official supplier of instruments to the Marina Militare or Royal Italian Navy. These days it also sponsors the Classic Yachts Challenge regatta, the largest of its kind in the world. Fitting then that Panerai CEO and avid sailor Angelo Bonati just spent the last two-and-a-half years overseeing a complete restoration of the Eilean, a beautiful two-masted 22-metre Bermudian ketch originally designed and built in 1936 by the legendary Scottish boatyard Fife. During her long history Eilean crossed the Atlantic no less than 36 times.
When Bonati acquired the stylish yacht, whose design was inspired by the J-Class Amercia’s Cup racers of the 1930s, in 2006 it was a mastless, rusting wreck. He hired Italian naval restoration specialist Enrico Zacagni to undertake the 40,000-hour task, which would have been prohibitively expensive if not for Panerai’s resources. In addition to its Burmese teak skin and decking and perfectly recreated period details, the yacht now features a bespoke set of Panerai sailing instruments. Recently relaunched at an Italian naval base in La Spezia and now the official flagship of Panerai, Eilean is set to make her public debut at the Les Voiles d’Antibes regatta in the French Riveria in June.