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It's easy to say "Rolex". Nobody gets "Rolex" wrong. This is because (legend has it) it is a word made up by Hans Wilsdorf, the founder of Rolex, as one of those great marketing names like "Kodak". It is specifically designed to transcend languages, be easy to pronounce, easy to remember.

On the other hand most other eminent manufacturers of watches usually use a family name, and those names are usually French or German. I've heard pretty much every brand name sacrificed on the altar of anglicisation "Oddymarz Piggot", "Blank Payne", nothing is safe. There are a few game folk who will attempt to pronounce some of the more abstruse polysyllabic names, but usually it's easier to pretend it's English and pronounce things phonetically.

So, Officine Panerai. An Italian name. One day after this article was published I found out that I'd got it wrong. Despite having heard it pronounced "pan - err - ray" (to rhyme with lingerie), the consensus seems to be that

off - itch - een - eh, pan - err - rye

is a good as you're going to get if you're not a native Italian.

Here's a WAV file from Hans Zbinden that may make all this a little clearer.

Pet Peeve Time

Before winding up this article I'll have to get a pet peeve off my chest. I don't know why, but some folk seem to feel an irresistable urge to remove the last one or two syllables from the end of a word and to replace them with "y" or "ie". Thus "Rolex" becomes "Rollie". Even worse, "Panerai" becomes "Panny". "Panny" sounds like a child's portable toilet. We don't call a Blanpain a "Blancy". We don't call an Omega Speedmaster Professional a "Moonie" (thank goodness). Please folks, there aren't many more letters in "Panerai" than there are in "Panny". Let's just keep the name intact.


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