Our 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”.
The 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.
In 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.
Our books “History1” and “History2″ can be ordered directly in our bookstore.
Vintage 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.
[Ralf Ehlers & Volker Wiegmann]
Featured in our new book Vintage Panerai “The References” 2nd edition (2016) on page 1328-1329 in chapter XI.I of the second volume: a Luminor compass. case 70 x 90 mm, 26 mm leather strap and brushed stainless steel GPF buckle. Made by Guido Panerai & Figlio for the Italian navy commandos of the COMSUBIN in the 1950’s and 1960’s.
Read more on Vintage Panerai instruments worn on the wrist in chapter XI (page 1314-1367).
Only less than a dozen Reference 3646 watches with a riveted plastic dials were recorded in our database until our new book “The References” was published. Among the more than 200 recorded watches of the Reference 3646 in total, this dial version can be called one of the rarest.
Read in the first volume (1930’s-1940’s) of “The References”, in which of the seven different number groups (3646 / Type A to 3646/ Type G) we have recorded watches with this version of the famous “Radiomir Panerai” dial from Guido Panerai & Figlio.
The coffee table shot shows one of these few watches with riveted plastic dial, a Ref. 3646 / Type B, documented in chapter II.II on page 176-189.
Enjoy reading! Our new “The Reference” books are in stock and can be ordered only in our bookstore.
Born 1915 and enterred the Royal Italian Navy in 1933, Licio Visintini took part in several missions against the allied fleet in Gibraltar as a member of the Decima MAS. In 1941 Visintini was promoted to Tenente di Vascello. After surviving from SLC missions B.G.3 (May 1941) and B.G.4 (September 1941), carried out by the transport submersible “Scirè” under the command of Junio Valerio Borghese, Visintini returned to Gibraltar undercover in June 1942 where he built the core of the “Orsa Maggiore” on board the tanker Olterra – the hidden base for the SLC units in the bay of Gibraltar.
According to legend, Visintini’s „Radiomir Panerai“ was returned to his mother after the end of the Second World War by his former enemy, Lieutenant „Buster“ Crabb (head of the Underwater Working Party in Gibraltar). The return of personal items to relatives showed a great respect that the combatants on different sides had for one another. Crabb, who was himself an experienced diver serving the British Navy, knew from experience all too wellt he level of courage and determination that was neccessary to carry out missions of this kind. Before Visintini’s mother died, she gave the watch to Vittorio Stradi, her son’s best friend. Vittorio Stradi was a „Gamma“ frogman in the Second World War. Fourty years later he passed the watch to his friend Isidoro Mario Nardin, who was also a member of the „Gamma“ frogmen during the Second World War.
To commemorate the order of ownership, the three names were inscribed for posterity on the caseback, as shown on page 358-359 and 360. For Isidoro Mario Nardin, Licio Visintini’s Panerai watch became a symbol of cameraderie and a memento of his fallen comrade.
Chapter II.III in our new book “The References” (first volume / 1930’s-1940’s) features the story behind this Ref. 3646 / Type C „Radiomir Panerai“ and its three owners, Licio Visintini (M.O.V.M.), Vittorio Stradi and Isidoro Mario Nardin, on page 350-397.
Information on “The References” 1930’s-1940’s (first volume) can be found here.
[Ralf Ehlers & Volker Wiegmann]
Phillips 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.
Transitional 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 www.phillips.com]
Compasses and depth gauges made by Guido Panerai & Figlio: huge and impressive instruments worn on the wrist – featured in several versions (with “Radiomir” and “Luminor” luminous material) in chapter XI of the second volume of “The References”.
Chapter XI.I is featuring compasses from Guido Panerai & Figlio. Five different models are featured from page 1320 to 1333. Three with “Radiomir”, two with “Luminor”. The coffee table shot shows an example with “Luminor” luminous material on page 1328-1329, next to a pair of Vintage Panerai instruments (compass and depth gauge).
Chapter XI.II is featuring depth gauges from Guido Panerai & Figlio. Ten different models are featured from page 1334 to 1367. Six with “Radiomir”, aimed to 7, 30, 35 (2 versions: adjustable and non-adjustable dial), 50 and 60 meters. Four with “Luminor”, aimed to 7, 15, 16, 30 and 40 meters. The coffee table shot shows page 1354-1355, featuring the 7 meter depth gauge with “Luminor” luminous material and transparent hand, on which a Vintage Panerai depth gauge for 16 meters is placed.
Information on “The References” 1950’s-1960’s (second volume) can be found here.
Christie’s features two different Ref. 3646 watches an a “40 metri” depth gauge from Guido Panerai & Figlio in their upcoming auction on 16 May 2016 in Geneva (Sale 1413).
Lot 133: A “Luminor Panerai” depth gauge (case size: 70 x 90 mm) for 40 metres with anti-reflective coating. The back of the depth gauge is signed “OFFICINE PANERAI · FIRENZE · BREVETTATO”, the steel GPF buckle, sewn to the strap, is unsigned. The Guido Panerai & Figlio instrument is accompanied by a heavy, stainless steel knife for underwater works, made by Galeazzi (La Spezia).
Similar depth gauges in various versions (aimed for proper use in different depths depending on the underwater activities) are featured in our new book “The References” (second volume / 1950’s-1960’s) in chapter XI (page 1314-1367). An identical “40 metri” depth gauge is shown on page 1364-1366. A similar Galeazzi knife with tool grip has been introduced earlier here.
Lot 134: This watch has been added recently in our database. New to the market, representing another typical “Kampfschwimmer” of the Ref. 3646 / Type D number group with anonymous sandwich dial. The inner caseback engravings which bears the Rolex SA stamp, reference and case number, in combination with the Rolex Cal. 618 / Type 1 movement, are matching our database criteria for watches of the Reference 3646 / Type D number group.
Watches of the Ref. 3646 / Type D are featured in our new book “The References” (first volume / 1930’s-1940’s) in chapter II.IV (page 398-531).
Lot 135: Again up for auction at Christies, the Ref. 3646 / Type C with “Radiomir Panerai” dial, as introduced in earlier postings from a past auction in November and December 2013. The outer caseback is engraved with a matriculation number of the Italian Decima Flottiglia MAS (short “Xa FLOTMAS No. 048”).
Watches of the Ref. 3646 / Type C are featured in our new book “The References” (first volume / 1930’s-1940’s) in chapter II.III (page 248-397).
We hope the depth gauge and the 3646 watches will find good new homes and remain surfaced in the Vintage Panerai collectors world. [Ralf Ehlers & Volker Wiegmann]
[Photos with kindly permission / courtesy of www.christies.com]
Lets face it: Vintage Panerai watches can be considered “rare” among thousands of vintage timekeepers from many different brands. Our new book “The References” features a “Luminor Panerai” watch which deserves the attribute “exceptional”: Admiral Gino Birindelli’s Ref. 6152/1 “Luminor Panerai”. Less than 90 watches of the Reference 6152/1 with Rolex movements are recorded in our database today, around 2/3 of them have a Panerai crown-protecting device.
What makes a rare Vintage Panerai watch an exceptional Vintage Panerai watch? For us, its the summary of interesting details of the watch and the historical background of the previous owner. In this case, its a very famous owner: Gino Birindelli M.O.V.M. (1911-2008) was in fact the first SLC pilot who entered an enemy harbor with his device in the night of 30 October 1940. At a time when the secret weapon of the Royal Italian Navy had to deliver its ultimate proof to be successful. At a time when months of intensive training under the highest level of secrecy was about to turn the “Spirito del Serchio” from a military secret into a legend. At a time when two transport submarines and their crews were already lost before an attack was even carried out… not an easy task at all. But Birindelli made it.
Chapter II.I (first volume / 1930’s-1940’s) features a chronological line-up of the missions carried out by the Decima MAS until 8 September 1943, in which the mission B.G.2 against Gibraltar is listed. Birindelli survived being a prisoner of war from October 1940 to March 1944 (first sent from Gibraltar at the end of 1940 to a camp near London – almost 3 months isolated – followed by camps in Edinburgh, Tennessee, Casablanca, Algiers and finally back to Taranto in Italy.
After this torture with a lucky end, his career in the Italian Navy continued. Birindelli was commander of the Incursori (COMSUBIN) from 26 September 1948 to 30 April 1950, once again from 1 May 1954 to 5 June 1956. What better officer could lead these special units than one of the famous SLC pilots who invented the secreat weapon years ago? Gino Birindelli circumnavigated the globe between 1 September 1956 and 1 March 1957, stopped at 34 ports on four continents and covered a distance of 33.170 nautical miles. Birindelli was promoted to rear admiral in 1959, headed the I Divisione Navale as well as the fleet command (Comandante in Capo della Squadra Navale) Gino Birindelli headed the Allied naval forces in southern Europe before he retired in December 1973 in the rank of Ammiraglio di Squadra.
Chapter VIII.II (second volume / 1950’s-1960’s) features Gino Birindelli’s 6152/1 watch with crown-protecting device, Rolex movement, “Luminor Panerai” dial and extremely rare rotating bezel, of which only a few are known to exist today. Thanks to the support of Sotheby’s Geneva by the provided photos for our book, the details of this watch are shown on page 1006-1013, followed by the impressive story of its famous owner on page 1014-1043.
Enjoy reading the history behind a truly “exceptional” Vintage Panerai watch in chapter VIII.II of “The References”.
Our new book set “The References” is featured in the latest issue of Kristian Haagen’s timegeeks magazine. Our “coffee table shots”, of which two are featured (see above) in the April 2016 issue of timegeeks, reached his attention when he was able to take a close look onto our latest book set with a short review in the “gear etc.” section on page 22.
Kristian Haagen from Denmark is a well known watch writer an published numerous print an online medias since 1998. His sixt book on wristwatches – his first written in English language – “Hashtags & Watches” reflects his love for print as well as his daily horological postings on his popular Instragram account. Famous for his personal style captions, his new book reached a wide attention in the watch world.
Read more from Kristian Haagen at www.timegeeks.dk and www.8past10.com