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Maritime Life


I think we all look back and wonder, where did the time go? And I think for most of us it feels like it went too fast, like all the best bits were over far too quickly. But some of us are lucky enough to look back at our lives and feel like we truly lived. While we might miss those moments of ecstasy from our past, if we live for today, we realise that our happiest days are far from over. Every time I return to the city of Nice, I’m reminded of how lucky I am that the last ten years have been so fulfilling and thrilling. It started with a dream of owning my own restaurant, and from there, the dream grew into something far greater than I could have imagined. But the journey has also been hard, yet this kind city – with its salt spray air, its warm-hearted people with their singing Italianate accent, and its vistas of the Mediterranean – has made every step of that journey so unforgettable.

In 2013, while ambling through the streets of Nice on one of my few days off from the yacht where I was working at the time, I passed by a motorcycle repair shop that had gone out of business. Back then, I was still reading French signage out loud to myself to practise my pronunciation. My eyes caught the words Restaurant possible printed on a sign in the window.

I looked around Rue Lascaris. Had anyone else seen this? Quaint, I thought. Typically French. The way the late afternoon sunlight caught the gritty windows, I could almost see a Vermeer still life materialise on the inside. The rich, saturated colours of a plate of fruit emerged from the darkness. I saw flowers, tables, chairs… people. I wondered whether Johannes Vermeer ever met Jan van Riebeeck. They were of the same generation, after all. Following Van Riebeeck south across the Atlantic, my mind wandered home. I was hit by a pang of sadness, a longing for the tastes of my mother’s cooking… nostalgia.

Restaurant possible…

Possibly just what this place had been waiting for: a taste of my home. The walls darkened dramatically before my eyes. A circular sign appeared, with etched-out letters emerging ever so faintly. Suddenly, it became clear: I saw a name, only three letters long, with an ancient Roman A in the middle. Who knows why? It was Van Riebeeck, who had carried with him an array of cuisines from the old country to the southern tip of Africa. It was my father. It was me…


Almost a decade later, Nice has indeed become my second home. A lot has changed over the last two years. Some of my favourite places might have changed, disappeared, or moved on, but Nice la belle – the beautiful city – will always be the place where JAN was born.


Founded in Florence in 1860 as a workshop, shop and school of watch-making for many decades, Panerai supplied the Italian Navy specialist diving corps with precision instruments. Originally created to be used deep underwater, Panerai watches are known for their unparalleled legibility and luminosity in the dark.

Panerai’s expertise in chronography dates back to 1943, with the Mare Nostrum project, a watch designed for the deck officers of the Italian Navy, but which only reached the prototype stage at the time. Its mastery has now been extended into the 21st century with the introduction of a series of efficient, high-performance new proprietary calibres developed by the Laboratorio di Idee at Neuchâtel, a hub for innovation and imagination. The Luminor collection is the culmination Panerai’s longstanding expertise, impeccable design and commitment to unparalleled precision.

For heroes who embark on perilous adventures and champions for whom a single second could make all the difference in conquering a world record, Panerai returns to the field of chronography with its Luminor Chrono range of watches.