Introducing the Panerai Submersible S Brabus Blue Shadow Edition

Introducing the Panerai Submersible S Brabus Blue Shadow Edition

The Low Down

As a follow up to their maiden 2021 Submersible S (which stands for Skeletonised) release that kicked off the partnership between Panerai and high-end automotive and boating aftermarket tuners, Brabus, we are getting the second release of this fantastic collaboration this year. The 2021 model featured a full Carbotech case inspired by the Shadow Black Ops series of boats produced by Brabus. It was also the first time that we were treated to the skeletonized version of the caliber P.4001, the P.4001/S, which is a serious piece of kit.

The 2021 Submersible S Black Ops Edition
The 2021 Submersible S Black Ops Edition

The 2022 Submersible S Brabus Blue Shadow Edition is an evolution of the Black Ops Edition and inspired by a different watercraft from the Shadow series, a luxury day boat with a dark navy hull and blue carbon accents called the Brabus Shadow 900 Deep Blue. The main differences with this new release is the titanium case which is shaped by a completely novel manufacturing process, and the dusty blue accents that tie in with the boat’s paint scheme.

The 2022 Submersible S Brabus Blue Shadow Edition
The 2022 Submersible S Brabus Blue Shadow Edition

The correctly sized 47mm matte titanium case is produced by Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS), a 3D printing process to create shaped structures of metal. You start with a fine metallic powder with particles 20 – 40 micrometers wide and heat it with a laser that sinters (not melts) and fuses the particles together. Just like other 3D printing processes, you add layer upon layer of the powder and continue the sintering process until the final shape is formed.

The resulting part is less porous than melting metal ore and casting the desired form. You can even print metal alloys with underlying elements of different melting points or combine metals and plastics together. Sorry, we couldn’t resist geeking out a little. It will be very interesting to see where Panerai goes with this manufacturing process.

The second coolest thing about the Brabus Blue Shadow is the polarized date, which we aren’t seeing for the first time, but is certainly worth a mention. At first glance of the date at 3 o’clock, one can’t help but feel your eyes are playing tricks on you. The date appears in the window as it should, but where is the rest of the date wheel? It is neither revealed nor conceals the skeletonization. The polarization effect works like this: there are three components working in concert, the date wheel, the date window and a tiny piece of polished metal acting as a reflector.

Even up close, you still can't see where the date wheel is positioned.

The date wheel and the date window are both polarizers angled at 90°, horizontally for the date wheel and vertically for the date window. When light enters the window, its multi-directional vibrations are “straightened out” by the polarizers into a single plane. The straightened light wave hits the reflector behind the date wheel and is reflected back, revealing the date. For more insights on this innovative display, check out this interview former Panerai R&D Director, Frédéric Dreyer-Gonzales gave to Watches and Culture back in 2018.

The rest of the watch remains largely unchanged from the 2021 release but no less impressive. The uni-directional bezel, crown and its protective lever are fashioned from Carbotech, a material we are all familiar with by now with its unique variegated pattern, lightness and high resistance to corrosion. The time-telling hands, hour indexes and bezel lume pip are filled with a subdued blue SuperLumiNova with the rehaut in the same shade. The day-night indicator remains at 9 o’clock, working together with the additional GMT hand to indicate a second time zone, and the multi-spoke, steering wheel-shaped bridge with the Brabus logo stays at 7 o’clock.

The Brabus wheel acts as a bridge for the motion work of the movement.

Turning to the back, the bi-directional winding micro-rotor is made of tungsten. This high-density metal provides the necessary torque required to wind the mainspring despite its reduced size. A fitting choice for a high-end sports watch instead of going the precious metal route. An additional benefit of a micro-rotor system other than a more open aesthetic is the movement can be made thinner with the stacked dual barrels, coupled in series, sitting on the same plane with the rotor. The power reserve indicator is a clear disc that rotates with a fixed pointer as the indicator. A nice nod to the transparent date wheel at the front but it has blue painted markings instead. This movement can be hacked and the seconds hand resets to zero when the crown is pulled out. Very handy for setting the time to the second and for chronometry nerds. The calibre P.4001/S took three years to develop and the result clearly shows that the effort paid off.

Despite the skeletonised architecture, the matte black bridges help to not over distract.

Finally, there are two strap options provided, one in a bi-material black rubber and leather and the other an all rubber strap in deep blue.

The Brabus Blue Shadow is limited to only 200 pieces worldwide and both watch and boat are debuting at the 2022 Palma International Boat Show, on the Spanish island of Mallorca.

IMHO

Now that Watches and Wonders 2022 is firmly in our rearview mirror, it feels like Panerai has been holding out on us by keeping this technical beauty under wraps all this time. That was probably a good move though, as it would have overshadowed the brand’s core message at the fair, which was to highlight their sustainability initiatives through the new 44mm Submersible QuarantaQuattro. Because the Brabus Blue Shadow is Panerai at its sports watch creative best.

This is not the first time we are seeing a high concept, architectural form of watchmaking from Panerai. This skeletonized form can be traced back to highly complicated pieces such as the L’Astronomo and Lo Scienzato Luminor 1950 models from 2018 or the Submersible EcoPangaea from 2020. However, these releases were all manually wound, and their highly complicated nature felt a little like a round peg of haute horlogerie being squeezed into a square hole of a dive watch case.

The Brabus Blue Shadow is really a shoo-in as a daily wearer that any Panerai enthusiast would love to own. The standard fare for a Submersible, 300m water resistance and three-day power reserve are a given. Then you get the added bells and whistles of an updated self-winding, skeletonized movement with micro-rotor, cool-looking power reserve indicator, a perfectly useful GMT complication, a seconds reset feature for accurate time-setting and the mind-bending polarized date. House all of that in a 3D-printed titanium case with Carbotech accents and it’s just the bee’s knees.

The 2022 Submersible S Brabus Blue Shadow Edition

All of that innovation doesn’t come cheaply and with a price tag of USD49,200 (excluding sales tax), you might argue that’s going up the alley of haute horlogerie brands. However, in light of the vast six-figure sums the skeletonized high complications from Panerai are commanding, a strong value argument could be made here. You get high complication looks with the everyday sports watch wearability and Panerai’s advanced engineering. A Panerai that is both true to its roots and yet looks ahead. The perfect Panerai maybe?

One thing we would like to add is that the strength of this skeletonized design can most definitely stand on its own. We have nothing against Brabus, which is an amazing company at what they do and we reiterate that this collaboration is mighty fine, but could Panerai alone come up with a design centered around the caliber P.4001/S? Without the inspiration of a co-branded project? It most definitely can, and it would surely appeal to the Panerai enthusiast with a singular brand focus.

Tech Specs

Panerai Submersible S Brabus Blue Shadow Edition Reference: PAM01241

Movement: Self-winding Panerai caliber P4001/S; 3 days of power reserve
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds (with reset function), polarised date, GMT, AM/PM indicator, power reserve indicator
Case: 47mm; DMLS titanium with Carbotech bezel; Water resistant to 300m
Dial: Black skeletonised
Strap: Black bi-material rubber and calf leather or deep blue rubber
Price: USD49,200 (excluding sales tax)
Availability: Limited edition of 200 pieces

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