HANDS-ON: The Panerai Submersible Blu Notte boasts a bracelet to rememberFergus Nash
Panerai is one of those brands which knows its niche and sticks by it, with a legion of loyal fans all proud to wear the Swiss-made Italian name on their wrists. While they may only have a a few key elements that define their identity as a watch brand, thankfully one such element is a knack for bold design. The Panerai Submersible Blu Notte, or Night Blue as you may have guessed, is the first 42mm Submersible reference to be released on a steel bracelet, and it looks wild.
It’s extraordinarily unusual for one of our reviews to begin with the bracelet, but it would be too much of an elephant in the room for this Panerai if it was left for later. If you haven’t seen it before you may assume this is a brave new design, however, it’s actually got a bit of a famous background. It was first released over two decades ago in 1999, and this style of bracelet was fitted to the PAM00091 reference that Pierce Brosnan wore in the film After the Sunset. On that model, it used contrasting pieces of steel and titanium which really highlighted the interesting rounded links that are designed to represent a Panerai’s iconic crown guard.
The modern version is a bit sleeker and without the dated two-tone silver look, instead using alternating brushed and polished surfaces to differentiate between the shapes on the all-stainless steel construction. The reduced complexity has also benefited the watch by taking away some of the weight, as there’s no more need for additional screws that held the links together and the underside of the bracelet can be slightly scalloped for a thinner, more comfortable fit. The visual impression is still quite daring when you’re looking at it, however it actually feels quite natural when in your peripheral vision. When you swing your arm up to check the time and read the dial, the bracelet just gives the impression of visual intrigue without distracting you from the main attraction of the watch itself.
The Submersible Blue Notte dial is quintessential Panerai, using the simplest elements to showcase as much character as possible. The skeletonised sword hands show an aggressive side to the watch that harkens back to Panerai’s military origins, while also serving the function of easy legibility in low lighting conditions. Meanwhile, the small-seconds leaf style hand opens up a bit of playfulness in the design, going along with the circular hour markers and five-minute intervals on the ceramic bezel. The date wheel at 3 o’clock is black to better blend in with the darkest tones of the Night Blue dial, which lives up to its name in a gorgeous gradient of navy shades.
It’s a Panerai so, of course, it’s a cushion case. The pillowy profile matches the character of the watch well, that being a serious diving tool albeit full of macho attitude. Robust is a word that barely covers this design, with a ceramic-inserted solid rotating bezel and that beefy crown guard for maximum water security above 300m depths. The case is 42mm in diameter, although Panerais do tend to wear a bit larger than their dimensions suggest, mainly due to the long and straight lug design. That said, 42mm is definitely a bit more versatile than 44mm, and don’t you want your Submersible to stand out? All in all, especially with the addition of that bracelet, this feels like a watch which was designed to handle the ocean on weekends and slay the office on weekdays.
This Submersible uses Panerai’s in-house P.900 calibre, which is definitely one of the most used movements by the brand. Its simplicity with minimal complications and a rather enclosed design means that it’s rarely seen in display casebacks, allowing for slightly more artistic expression with solid caseback engravings. It has a 72-hour power reserve at a beat rate of 28,800vph, with automatic and manual winding, and hacking seconds.
A Panerai will probably never be the most versatile watch in the room, however the Submersible Blu Notte probably comes the closest. It doesn’t sacrifice any of the masculine charm that makes a Panerai what it is, but the improved bracelet design certainly brings a lot to the table. If you’re not so keen on wearing the bracelet at all times, a Sportech fabric strap is also included to match the deep blues of the dial and bezel.
Panerai Submersible Blu Notte pricing and availability:
The Panerai Submersible Blu Notte is now available from Panerai stockists for $15,600 AUD