Sometimes it feels like the world is a small, and shrinking, place with little yet to discover. No matter how well-travelled you consider yourself, bets are you won’t have covered a tenth of the distances explorer – and Panerai watches ambassador – Mike Horn has. He has pushed the boundaries of human achievement for over two decades, leading the way on a series of groundbreaking expeditions: from traversing the South American continent solo; completing a circumvolution of the Equator; circumnavigating the world following the Arctic circle, solo and unmotorized; to his latest adventure, Pole2Pole.
Now on the home run, this three-year circumnavigation of the globe, via the North and South poles, saw Mike leave the Monaco Yacht Club in 2016 to great fanfare from where he sailed to Cape Town and then on to Antarctica. Here he became the first person to cross the Antarctic continent, at its largest point via the South Pole, in record time. And for an adventurer like Mike, time is everything.
F.1.M. : With being in almost complete darkness throughout your expedition, your body clock must be all over the place! How important is it, psychologically, to know what time it is throughout the day while travelling?
M.H. : We change our biological clocks to adapt to the number of hours we need to eat, walk and sleep. Our days are mostly no longer 24 hours long, but some are 30 hours long so that we have the time to do all the things that we need to do. This also means that every fourth day we gain an extra day to accomplish what we are set to accomplish on our expedition. To properly make this count it is extremely important to have a reliable watch with you.
F.1.M. : How is your current expedition, Pole2Pole, progressing at the moment? Are there noticeable environmental changes since you last trekked the area?
M.H. : The environmental changes were noticeable as soon as we left home on my sailing vessel Pangaea. It is the first time that a sailing vessel can sail as far North into the Arctic Ocean and although this is something we can be proud of, we will not be celebrating this achievement because it is a sad indication of climate change.
F.1.M. : Who inspires you to push yourself? How do you get through those darker moments when you’re tired, in pain, cold, hungry…?
M.H. : It is mainly my family and my friends who inspire me to go that extra mile and push myself during those darker moments. After all, if you give up, you’re not coming home.
F.1.M. : You have been a Panerai brand ambassador for 15+ years; how do their values – and their watches – match up to you as explorer? What makes their watches the perfect companion to your travels?
M.H. : I believe that our shared value lies in “selling something authentic”. Panerai watches are an authentic product that they offer to their customers and I “sell” an authentic way of life. Over the 15+ years of being an ambassador, we have both managed to stay very simple. Panerai’s design is iconic and it remains pretty similar to the first Radiomir it produced in 1936, and I am the same man I was back at the back of the bus in the 1980s. We have, however, improved and evolved better with the years without being overwhelmed by the complexity of today’s world. We both rely on the truth that less is more and that is the key to a perfect travel companion.
F.1.M. : Throughout all of your adventures, is there anything in particular that stands out as being a breathtaking, life-affirming moment?
M.H. : One of the most life-affirming moments was when I completed the longest crossing of the Antarctic. I arrived by boat, like my idols Shackleton and Amundsen did back during the first explorations of Antarctica in the 19th-century, and left the same way after covering over 5’100 km in only 57 days.
F.1.M. : Have you already planned your next adventure? Where haven’t you explored yet that you have always wished to?
M.H. : For now, I am focusing on crossing the Arctic and will start planning my next adventure after a well-deserved rest. There are still many things for me to explore and discover, I do not think I will be able to rest for too long!
F.1.M. : If your daughters turned to you and said that they wanted to follow in your footsteps and also explore the Poles, what would you say to them?
M.H. : My daughters have already been to the North Pole with me! In fact, they are to date the youngest girls to ever ski to the pole at the ages of 12 and 14 years old. If they would want to go again, I would not stop them, but I would probably tag along.
F.1.M. : And what are your top 3 tips for any aspiring explorers out there?
M.H. : I would say preparation, discipline and the support of the ones you love. Preparation is key to any expedition. You need to be well equipped and well informed before heading out on an adventure. Discipline is also very important when you go out to explore the world. Explorers might be motivated to go on an expedition, but if you are not disciplined you will not be able to achieve your dreams. And finally, you cannot leave without the love and support of the people who surround you. They are the reason you will do anything to come back home alive.
PANERAI SUBMERSIBLE – MIKE HORN EDITION 47mm
Time. It controls everything. From not having enough, to making the difference between life and death; it is master of us all. Explorer Mike Horn knows this better than most, which is why he has been brand ambassador for Panerai watches for 15 years. Tough, strong and reliable, both watch and man share the same values, which is why the brand have now seen fit to create a watch to celebrate his incredible expeditions.
The Panerai Submersible is a professional diving watch, water-resistant up to a depth of 300m (30 bar). It’s 47mm case is made of Panerai’s innovative recycled titanium, EcoTitanium, and in conjunction with recycled PET for the strap, Panerai aims to end the exploitation of earth’s natural resources, a cause Mike is passionate about. This is a true explorers’ watch. Dives can be calculated accurately by the unidirectional rotating bezel, while green Super-LumiNova gives added legibility in the dark. This limited edition watch – with only 19 examples – also features Mike’s engraved signature on the back, as well as images of sea creatures. Strap on, go explore.