Author Archive

“Operazione Stella” – Luigi Ferraro’s Panerai watch

by on May.18, 2016, under Allgemein

IMG_3065_600x600A “Gamma” frogman who wrote history. A photo from 1998 which was a reminder not to miss the chance to capture Luigi Ferraro’s story in our book “The References” – together with the 3646 / Type B watch he was wearing during the “Operazione Stella” in 1943.

One of the few watches which can be followed back to the first owner, which is also a very famous one: Luigi Ferraro (M.O.V.M.). Not easy to capture as much as possible of his story in a part in the first volume of “The References”, which filled several books of Italian authors with hundreds of pages. Even in the first Panerai books, written by Giampiero Negretti in 1998, Luigi Ferraro’s famous missions in the mediterranean sea found their place to be mentioned.

IMG_3071_600x600To get in touch with the family of the veteran Luigi Ferraro (1914-2006) was a very intensive and exciting time during the research about his Ref. 3646 / Type B “Radiomir Panerai” with riveted plastic dial (chapter II.II page 190-203). Paolo Ferraro, one of Luigi Ferraro sons, provided excellent photos and made personal documents available for us to be featured in our book, which gave us the chance to illustrate the history behind his father’s watch.

In January 1943 Luigi Ferraro obtained his qualification to carry out underwater missions. Initially posted to North Africa to attack enemy targets in the Port of Tripoli, he had to leave the area and returned to Italy. In May 1943 he was posted to La Spezia, where he received instructions from commander Borghese for a new mission – this time not in North Africa, but in the eastern Mediterranean: the Turkish ports of Alexandretta and Mersina. Luigi Ferraro’s four “Stella” missions, for which he was awarded with the M.O.V.M., are described in chapter II.II (page 204-225).

IMG_3070_600x600Aside several tools of his time as a “Gamma” frogman, Luigi Ferraro’s 3646 / Type B “Radiomir Panerai” never changed ownership and remained a memorable piece for him and his family since he returned from war. The watch shows intensive proof of aging and is an example of how different these rare watches have aged after more than 70 years. The watch still has its original strap, as well as its original domed plexiglas crystal – intensively aged with countless fissures. Numbers, indices and the typical “Radiomir Panerai” lettering on the riveted plastic dial can still be made out at some points.

Luigi Ferraro’s watch has been recorded in our database in 2014, however the watch was known to us already years before. The Rolex 618 / Type 1 movement in combination with the small Oyster Watch Co hallmark, embossed on the inner caseback together with the reference and case number, is matching our criteria for being a watch of the Reference 3646 / Type B. The outer caseback bears a rare matriculation number, of which only a very few 3646 watches are known today. We have published further information about the different matriculation numbers on some of these watches in chapter II.III (page 301-303).

Luigi Ferraro’s 3646 / Type B “Radiomir Panerai” with riveted plastic dial is published extensively in chapter II.II (page 190-203) of the book “The References” 1930’s-1940’s.

More 3646 watches with an interesting history, related to their first owners and the missions they carried out during the Second World War, are introduced in chapter II.I (Ernesto Notari) and in chapter II.III (Licio Visintini). Enjoy reading!

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The sixty years old “Panerai app”

by on May.15, 2016, under Allgemein

IMG_3049_600x600Guido Panerai & Figlio’s legendary, patented crown-protecting device from the 1950’s – today it would be called a “Panerai app for underwater wristwatches”. How to describe this functional feature from the past today? Lets give it a try:

System requirements: Ref. 6152/1 or GPF 2/56 case. Protecting the winding crown during underwater use. Release lever for winding the movement and setting time.

Approved decades ago, the crown-protecting device turned into a legend many years later. This “Panerai app” created an unique look which attracts watch collectors around the world. Available on modern Panerai watches, made for the public since 1993, the crown-protecting device carries the Panerai DNA from the past into the future.

Vintage Panerai watches with crown-protecting device are featured in the second volume of our book “The References” (1950’s-1960’s) in chapters VIII, IX and X.

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Ref. 3646 / Type E “California Dial” @ Phillips Geneva

by on May.14, 2016, under Watch Point

Rahmen_Bild_2016_Phillips_TypeE_1One more piece to the puzzle added, another gap closed and a remarkable and noteworthy match in our Vintage Panerai database: Phillips features a rare Ref. 3646 / Type E “California Dial” on May, 15th (lot 122, The Geneva Watch Auction: THREE). Added into our records in March 2016, this specimen bears the important and typical internal and external details of a Ref. 3646 / Type E watch.

Watches of the Reference 3646 / Type E are featured in our new book “The References” 1930’s-1940’s in chapter II.V (page 532-573). With this new addition we have now recorded 27 watches in this group, extending the 3646 / Type E number range downwards by six numbers, filling another gap between the watches of the Reference 3646 / Type D and 3646 / Type E.

Rahmen_Bild_2016_Phillips_TypeE_2The information and measurement results provided by Phillips confirmed the cross-section of a 3646 / Type E caseback, which we put in the focus on page 536-539 of our new book. The caseback of this watch has been engraved with a name, date of birth and hometown of the first owner from Bavaria/Germany.

The Rolex Cal. 618 / Type 1 mod. movement in this “California Dial” watch is another important element, which appears with confirming details of most of the today recorded watches in this number group.

We hope that also this watch will find a good new home and remains surfaced in the Vintage Panerai collectors world. [Ralf Ehlers & Volker Wiegmann]

[Photo with kindly permission / courtesy of]

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A very rare Transitional 3646 @ Phillips Geneva

by on May.14, 2016, under Watch Point

Rahmen_Bild_2016_Phillips_Transitional3646Phillips features a very rare Transitional 3646 on May, 15th (lot 123, The Geneva Watch Auction: THREE). Added into our database in 2010, this is one of only five examples which are recorded until today. The rare casing design is based on the pillow-shaped casing of the Reference 3646, on which stronger lugs have been soldered. According to our database it is the only recorded Transitional 3646 with two-lined “Luminor Panerai” dial and Angelus 240 SF movement with date engraving “JUIN.61”.

All known examples of the Transitional 3646 feature a grey anti-reflective coating on the center part of the case, as used on compasses, depth gauges and watches of the Reference GPF 2/56. The screwed-in bezel an caseback are not coated due to the construction of the casing. This example is one of two Transitional 3646 watches featuring a low, two-digit serial (matriculation) number on the display caseback.

IMG_2833_600x600Transitional 3646 watches are featured in our book “The References” 1950’s-1960’s in chapter X.II. One of the only five known examples, the Transitional 3646 from the Museo Panerai Collection, is shown on page 1196-1211. The coffee table shot shows page 1208-1209 with a side view of the Transitional 3646.

We hope that this watch will find a good new home and remains surfaced in the Vintage Panerai collectors world. [Ralf Ehlers & Volker Wiegmann]

[Photo with kindly permission / courtesy of]

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“The References” new edition book set

by on May.07, 2016, under Allgemein

IMG_2982_600x600The first edition of “The References” from 2009 (368 pages, sold out since January 2013) has been replaced by the new, second edition of “The References” – a book set of two volumes (1930’s-1940’s and 1950’s-1960’s), 696 pages each, with a total of 1392 pages.

The coffee table shot shows the 2009 (black, sold out) and 2016 (green, in stock) editions. Here is an overview on the content – the twelve chapters in two volumes – with 1392 pages:

“The References” 1930’s-1940’s (volume 1)
Vintage Panerai watches from 1930’s to 1940’s, featuring References 2533, 3646, the Mare Nostrum chronograph, compasses, straps and buckles.

The first volume of “The References” documents, in detail and with numerous images, 33 Vintage Panerai watches from the 1930’s to 1940’s and the database classification of more than 380 Vintage Panerai watches in existence today. The early References 2533 (chapter I) and 3646 (chapter II) are explained and with rich reference to several variants by their number groups. This overview is complimented by the legendary Mare Nostrum chronograph (chapter III), rare compasses (chapter IV) used in the Second World War and some of the few straps and buckles which rarely survived after more than 70 years (chapter V).

IMG_2988_600x600“The References” 1950’s-1960’s (volume 2)
Vintage Panerai watches from 1950’s to 1960’s, featuring References 6152, 6154, 6152/1, GPF 2/56, Modified References, compasses, depth gauges, straps and buckles.

The second volume of “The References” continues to document, with numerous images and historic information, 37 Vintage Panerai watches from the 1950’s to 1960’s. The References 6152 (chapter VI) and 6154 (chapter VII), followed by the famous 6152/1 with the famous crown-protecting device are explained in detail and many variations in chapter VIII. Followed by the Reference GPF 2/56 with Angelus movement (chapter IX), “The References” volume 2 features in chapter X the Modified References 3646, Transitional 3646 and Modified Reference 6152/1. Chapter XI is about compasses and depth gauges, followed by the last chapter XII, an overview of the straps and buckles used on Vintage Panerai of this era.

The new “The References” books can be ordered only in our bookstore.

Enjoy reading!
[Ralf Ehlers & Volker Wiegmann]

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The “Destro” – a star in the Archivio Storico Panerai

by on May.05, 2016, under Allgemein

IMG_2919_600x600The Ref. 6152/1 “Destro” with “Marina Militare” dial and Rolex movement is one of the watches from the Archivio Storico Panerai which are featured in our book “The References”. Auctioned in New York at Antiquorum in 2005, it returned “home” to Italy and became a highlight addition in the historical archive of Panerai.

Read more on this unique watch on page 1054-1057 in chapter VIII.II of the second volume (1950’s-1960’s).

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Ref. 6152/1 watches with engraved matriculation numbers

by on May.02, 2016, under Allgemein

Fourteen different watches of the Reference 6152/1 are documented in chapter VIII of the second volume of our book „The References“. For a better overview, we divided the chapter about these watches in two parts: Watches of the Reference 6152/1 with Rolex 8 mm crown are introduced in chapter VIII.I (four examples) and watches with the legendary crown-protecting device from Guido Panerai & Figlio are introduced in chapter VIII.II (ten examples).

IMG_2955_600x600Very few watches of the Reference 6152/1 bear a very interesting detail on their casebacks, no matter what type of crown or dial they are coming with: an engraved matriculation number. The coffee table shot shows page 914-915 of chapter VIII.I – a Ref. 6152/1 watch with 8 mm crown and engraved caseback. In addition to the four different types of markings which are attributed to watches used by the Italian COMSUBIN special forces (read page 911-917), some watches of the Reference 6152/1 were marked with engravings of the Guardia di Finanza, Carabinieri, Polizia di Stato and the civil fire service Vigili del Fuoco (read page 965-1003).

It is worth to mention that the famous “Gamma” veteran Luigi Ferraro established a school for professional civil divers in 1952 with courses for the Vigili del Fuoco (1952) and in the following year also for the divers of the Carabinieri and Guardia di Finanza (read page 220-224 in chapter II.II of the first volume of “The References”).

IMG_2956_600x600Two very rare watches with these engraved casebacks are documented in chapter VIII.II, both with a “Luminor Panerai” dial, which most of the Ref. 6152/1 watches and crown-protecting device are recorded in our database today. The coffee table shot shows page 966-967 of chapter VIII.II – the engraved caseback of a Ref. 6152/1 watch with crown-protecting device and “Luminor Panerai” dial.

Further information on “The References” 1950’s-1960’s (second volume) can be found here. The new “The References” books can be ordered only in our bookstore.

Enjoy reading!
[Ralf Ehlers & Volker Wiegmann]

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Engraved “Kampfschwimmer” @ Wright Marshall

by on Apr.29, 2016, under Watch Point

Rahmen_Bild_2016_1000x700_WM_Lot153After the sale of a Ref. 3646 / Type D earlier this year, auctioneer Wright Marshall features with lot 153 one more Ref. 3646/ Type D with anonymous “Kampfschwimmer” dial, blued steel hands and onion shaped crown (Type 11) in their Fine Antique & Collectible Sale on 10 May 2016 in Knutsford, Cheshire (United Kingdom).

The watch has been added into our database, matching the Ref. 3646 / Type D criteria by its Rolex Cal. 618 / Type 1 movement in combination with the Rolex hallmark, reference and case number embossed on the inner caseback.

WrightMarshall_engraved_casebackThe outer caseback of the watch bears a rare engraving, featuring initials of the first owner, the year 1945 and the words “Kampf-Schwimmer” (combat swimmer) and “L.K. 700”. Only a very few number of Ref. 3646 watches are known today, which are decorated / personalized in a similar way. Another well known example with painted brass dial and identical engraving on the caseback is part of the Museo Panerai Collection.

About the Lehrkommando 700 (short: L.K. 700, as engraved on the caseback): In 1944, several training schools were built for different type of Small Naval Assault in the German Kriegsmarine. Aside the training school for combat swimmers (frogmen), there were schools for explosive boats (Lehrkommando 200 and 600) and further four different types of midget submarines (Lehrkommando 250, 300, 350 and 400).

IMG_2904_600x600We have documented and illustrated the various training schools of the Small Naval Assault Command in our book “History1” on page 202-203 in chapter III (see coffee table shot on the left).

The Lehrkommando 700 was based in Valdagno and Venice (Italy) until November 1944 and moved to the island of Sylt (Germany) until the end of the Second World War. Remaining units of the Lehrkommando 700 have been arrested POW by British forces at Sylt. Many Panerai watches changed ownership in these days and became a “souvenir” for returning troops of the allied nations after their service. Some of these watches have survived the war and surfaced after more than 70 years to the public. We expect further watches to be discovered in the future which went a similar way than the Ref. 3646 / Type D offered at Wright Marshall in May.

Wright Marshall provided the following provenance:
“This watch has been in the northeast of England since the early 1960’s when the vendors late father swapped the watch for a carriage clock, it has remained in the family since that date, the watch was serviced by a local jeweller on 20/5/88 for the sum of £28 and the watch has never been used since that date.”

Wright Marshall CONDITION REPORT: 
The watch was last serviced from a local jeweller on 20/05/88 for the sum of £28 and has been left in a drawer since, light scratches and marks to outer case and U-shaped crack to plexi-glass, minor bending to large fingertip, minor chipping to hands, light wear/use marks throughout around back outer case, green colour around edges, crown partly releases, unable to move the fingers with crown, a simple shake and the watch starts to tick for around 10 seconds, not complete with original led seal.

We hope that this watch will find a good new home and remains surfaced in the Vintage Panerai collectors world. [Ralf Ehlers & Volker Wiegmann]

[Photo with kindly permission / courtesy of]

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“Watches with History” – our two history books

by on Apr.27, 2016, under Allgemein

IMG_2709_600x600Our first book, published in 2007 and entitled “Watches with History” opened with the words “In this book we would like to give the reader an overview of historic Panerai watches and their documented history.” Years passed since then, during which we have embarked on many interesting trips into the past while researching this subject.

The personal stories of the first owners of these watches were mostly forgotten in the last years, reaching back more than 70 years since their use in war times. Only a few Vintage Panerai watches can tell their story, and the story of many others will never be told. In 2012 we were able to take an even deeper and more comprehensive look at the wearers and the uses of these watches in the book “History1”.

IMG_2720_600x600The stories in this book take the reader back to the time of the Second World War. Rare pictures from this period bear silent and impressive witness to the conditions and living circumstances, which we have also been able to supplement with rare map and image materials from various international archives. A small number of Vintage Panerai watches reveal their secrets to the collector and answer the ever-recurring question: Who used the watch? When did the operations take place, and to what purpose? And further: where and under what conditions did the comprehensive training of the special maritime unit take place? How and by what means were the deployments of the combat swimmers carried out? What do the veterans think of those missions today? We pursued the answers to these questions and, thanks to the help of some surviving veterans, their descendants, or by means of analyzing previously unknown documents such as diaries, interview records or recordings by opposing spies, we managed to compile some very impressive and authentic chapters.

The four chapters of our book “History1″ (420 pages) are introduced below:
Chapter I / Chapter II / Chapter III / Chapter IV

IMG_2694_600x600In the book “History2” (2013) we once again took our readers on a journey through time with five more stories: five exciting and moving fates of frogmen, for whom their Panerai watch was not an item of jewellery, but rather an important piece of equipment during the Second World War.

„History2“ outlines the personal experiences of the combat swimmers and describes in the smallest detail their fate, which has, during conversations or in written correspondence, evoked at times painful memories and great emotions after many decades.

The watches presented in this book were in action under “real” battle conditions in the Second World War. They accompanied their original owners since combat swimmer training and indeed for many years after the war.

The five chapters of our book “History2″ (480 pages) are introduced below:
Chapter V / Chapter VI / Chapter VII / Chapter VIII / Chapter IX

Our books “History1” and “History2″ can be ordered directly in our bookstore.

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Ref. 3646 watches with “California Dials”

by on Apr.25, 2016, under Allgemein

IMG_2882_600x600Vintage Panerai watches with “California Dials” are recorded in several number groups of the Reference 3646. Read our new “The References” book (first volume / 1930’s-1940’s) to find out, in which of the seven number groups (3646 / Type A – 3646 / Type G) this type of dial has been used and which number group features almost half of all known 3646 watches with “California Dial” today.

The “Error-Proof Radium Dial” by Rolex, with its railroad track minute markers and “SWISS MADE” signature at six o’clock, features half arabic and half roman numbers with luminous material applied from above. The coffee table shot shows a Ref. 3646 / Type F with “California Dial” in chapter II.VI, page 586-587.

Information on “The References” 1930’s-1940’s can be found here. The new “The References” books can be ordered only in our bookstore.

Enjoy reading!
[Ralf Ehlers & Volker Wiegmann]

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