This Panerai Submersible is also a carbon-fibre, automatic Brabus. Well, kind of | Top Gear
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This Panerai Submersible is also a carbon-fibre, automatic Brabus. Well, kind of

Hey, did you hear the one about the Submersible Brabus?

Published: 17 Feb 2023
 

Panerai and Brabus, neither exactly renowned for their subtlety, have teamed up for a limited-edition watch. And it’s fair to say the finished product doesn’t do much to dispel or disprove the preconceptions you probably had about what a Panerai-Brabus mashup would look like. Or be named, come to think of it.

It’s called the... wait, is all of that its name? OK, then. It’s called the ‘Panerai Submersible S Brabus Verde Militare Edition’, but of course someone over in the marketing department has added a ‘Brabus x Panerai’ prefix. Because, as has been well established, it is physically impossible to collaborate without the inclusion of a lower-case ‘x’ somewhere in the piece. Which would make this watch’s unabridged title the ‘Brabus x Panerai Submersible S Brabus Verde Militare Edition’. Good grief.

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The watch itself sports dimensions that are nearly as gargantuan – proportional as it might be, there’s a full 47mm of wrist-bound Big Ben sitting in these photos. But at least it’s light: that case is made from a material called Carbotech – it’s pretty much carbon fibre, but you’ll notice it doesn’t have CFRP’s tell-tale (and often-copied) weave pattern. That’s because the carbon-polymer mix is compressed into a billet and milled into shape, rather than laid and moulded.

Inside the ‘This Totally Won’t Make You Seem Like a Bore When You Explain It’ case, you’ll notice a distinct lack of a watch face. And while in the past, this would be cause for concern, it’s part of a fairly common trend these days, generally known as ‘skeletonised’ or ‘openworked’.

The elevator pitch is that it lets the wearer appreciate the complex array of springs, levers and cogs that make up Panerai’s P.4001/S movement, without having to take the watch off, flip it over and peer through the sapphire crystal case back. Should they do so, however, they’ll be able to see the power reserve indicator and the micro-rotor that replenishes the special-edition Submersible’s three-day power reserve.

Despite these delicate-sounding parts, the Submersible is something of a toughie – everything’s shock-proofed and isolated, with bits made from tungsten and titanium. It’s also water-resistant to 300 metres, which is a) probably fitting for a watch called the Submersible, b) quite deep, and c) so deep, in fact, that it’s just shy of the world record for the deepest dive at 330 metres or so – a record that took a professional diver four years to train for. Wonder what dive watch he wore...

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In any case, like any good dive watch, the Submersible sports a unidirectional rotating bezel to measure how much time you’ve spent underwater, as well as Panerai’s patented lock-down crown protector and included rubber strap (as opposed to the rubber-backed leather one you see here). There’s also a GMT function, so you can keep track of the time it’d be if you were diving on the Great Barrier Reef, while you’re diving in Tahiti. Nifty.

But, of course, Panerai has roots in various wars and other such strident disagreements, so there are a couple of specific abilities that are perhaps more Frogmen than French Polynesian holiday. The Submersible has the ability to stop the watch completely (also known as ‘hacking’) and reset the second hand to the zero position, allowing you to sync the watch with a reference time – like the atomic clock, if you were so inclined. It also gives you the opportunity to say, “Gentlemen... synchronise”, which raises the general level of badassery by at least two notches.

From there, Panerai adds a “polarised date window”, an am/pm dial in case sunsets are somehow confusing, army-green accents to reiterate just how tough and military-adjacent Panerai watches are, and a Brabus logo to indicate that someone from Brabus and Panerai had a long lunch meeting together at some point.

Officially, the watch “is a companion to a new entry in the Brabus Marine Shadow series of luxury powerboats". Yes, Brabus has a marine division, and it’s built a new boat it’s called the Brabus Shadow 900: a twin-engined, 900-horsepower, 38-foot wedge of waterborne hedonism that just so happens to be “characterised by a military green hue”. In practice, it looks a bit like if the PBR from Apocalypse Now had a wet bar, and is every bit as subtle as Colonel Kilgore’s helicopter assault.

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But then neither Brabus nor Panerai – nor the people who think a pleasure craft should look like it belongs to the Special Boat Service, and want a timepiece to match – were exactly renowned for their subtlety, were they?

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