Although its catalog has expanded to include a myriad of different styles, materials, and inspirations over the years, Panerai has never created an automatic skeleton watch – until now. Working in partnership with German luxury performance brand BRABUS, known for both its work in the automotive aftermarket and its high-end luxury sport boats, the Italian watchmaker has unveiled a suitably aggressive first effort, creating not just an automatic skeleton movement but adding a suite of useful complications. Taking its visual cues from BRABUS’ ultra-modern Shadow Black Ops line of sport boats, the new limited-run Panerai Submersible S BRABUS Black Ops Edition breaks new stylistic ground for the brand with an impressively legible and dynamic skeleton design.
The case of the Panerai Submersible S BRABUS Black Ops Edition is large even by Panerai standards at a monolithic 47mm diameter. The overall shape of the matte Carbotech carbon composite case follows the classic Panerai cushion pattern, with the Submersible S line’s more dive-focused alterations including a unidirectional coin edge bezel. The Carbotech material shows a subtle striated pattern in images, adding a dynamic texture to the broad flat surfaces of this planar design, especially through the case sides, bezel insert, and the signature 3 o’clock crown locking mechanism. The locking lever is emblazoned with BRABUS’ bold text logo, which also appears flanking the sapphire display window on the caseback. In keeping with the sporty aquatic theme, the Submersible S BRABUS Black Ops Edition is rated for a sturdy 300 meters of water resistance.
Panerai forges a unique visual identity for the Submersible S BRABUS Black Ops Edition with its skeleton dial design, creating a modern and eminently usable new aesthetic in the process. The basic functional layout ties in with the rest of the Submersible S line through elements like the broad skeletonized Roman sword hands and the applied rounded diver indices, but in terms of detail, this is a marked departure from Panerai’s core look. Rather than fully exposing the inner workings of the movement, the majority of real estate under the dial is taken up by a series of broad black skeleton bridges with a square grid pattern. Not only does this net-like texture reinforce the marine theme behind the watch, but these skeleton bridges also create a concrete visual layer between the hands and the gear train while will allowing a view inside the movement’s inner workings. The result is remarkably legible in initial images, making this one of the more practical entries in the current crop of skeleton dive watch designs. Not only is this skeleton design easy to read, it also packs in a solid amount of information for the wearer. In addition to the bright red arrow-tipped GMT hand, the Submersible S BRABUS Black Ops Edition also showcases a combination running seconds and day/night subdial at 9 o’clock with further red accents to break up the monochrome look in images. Perhaps the most interesting complication here is also the simplest, however. The 3 o’clock date window uses a patented polarized lens, making the current date easily visible while the rest of the sapphire date wheel does not impede the view of the movement layers below.
To create the unique skeleton look of the Submersible S BRABUS Black Ops Edition, Panerai uses its new P.4001/s automatic skeleton GMT movement. Compared to the relatively orderly look of the dial side, the view of this new powerplant through the caseback offers a more intricate ultramodern take on skeleton design, with an ornate web of narrow black angled bridges connecting the various elements. The tungsten micro-rotor forms the natural visual centerpiece here, but other elements like the slender balance bridge, stacked twin skeleton mainspring barrels, and the red-tipped power reserve indicator create a balanced and intricate display in initial images. High-tech elements like a Gluycdur balance and a KIF Parachoc anti-shock device ensure the P.4001/s’ performance lives up to its look, with a hefty 72-hour power reserve at a 28,800 bph beat rate. Panerai pairs the watch with a BRABUS-signed rubber-lined fabric strap in charcoal gray.
With intriguing complications, advanced materials, and a legibility-forward skeleton look, the limited Panerai Submersible S BRABUS Black Ops Edition is a strong first entry by the brand into the realm of automatic skeleton designs. Only 100 examples of the Panerai Submersible S BRABUS Black Ops Edition will be made, and the watch is available now through authorized dealers. This capable new design does not come without a cost, however, with a relatively steep MSRP of €45,000. For more details, please visit the brand’s website.