Find information about the content of our book “The References” 1950’s-1960’s by using the “browse by tag” function. The tag 1392 is connected with all stories published about the second volume: watches, history, instruments and straps of the 1950’s-1960’s.
“The References” 1950’s-1960’s features numerous images and historic information on Vintage Panerai watches from the 1950’s to 1960’s. The References 6152 (chapter VI) and 6154 (chapter VII), are followed by Reference 6152/1 with the famous crown-protecting device are explained in detail and many variations in chapter VIII (a Ref. 6152/1 with Rolex movement and crown-protecting device can be seen in the photo on the left, see chapter VIII.II. The watch is placed on a historic photo of a special tank made by Guido Panerai & Figlio, see also page 714). Followed by the Reference GPF 2/56 with Angelus movement (chapter IX), “The References” 1950’s-1960’s 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 watches and instruments from Guido Panerai & Figlio in this era.
“The References” books are in stock and ready for shipping – just visit our bookstore and enjoy reading soon! [Ralf Ehlers & Volker Wiegmann]
Find information about the content of our book “The References” 1930’s-1940’s by using the “browse by tag” function. The tag 696 is connected with all stories published about the first volume: watches, history, instruments and straps of the 1930’s-1940’s.
The photo on the left shows a Ref. 3646 / Type D (featured in chapter II.IV) placed on a historic photo of a cunning tower of a Royal Italian Navy submarine, on which an instrument (aiming device, described as “traguardo di puntamento per il lancio di siluri”) with luminous Radiomir display from Guido Panerai & Figlio can be seen on the left. The firm and close contact with the Royal Italian Navy, which existed many years prior to the start of producing watches, meant that a prerequisite had been established within Panerai: One only uses the best components.
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).
“The References” books are in stock and ready for shipping – just visit our bookstore and enjoy reading soon! [Ralf Ehlers & Volker Wiegmann]
Why do some Ref. 3646 watches come only with a six digit case number embossed on their inner caseback? Where did the Rolex hallmark and reference number go? In which of the seven different number groups of the Reference 3646 is this the case?
Our book “The References” 1930’s-1940’s answers these questions in two chapters by measurement results and illustrated cross-sections (page 537-551, 638-639 and 644-645). The coffee table shot on the left shows a Ref. 3646 / Type G with a technical illustration on page 618-619 in chapter II.VII.
Chapter II.V = Reference 3646 / Type E
(featuring four different watches on page 532-573).
Chapter II.VII = Reference 3646 / Type G
(featuring two different watches on page 608-645).
“The References” books are in stock and can be ordered in our bookstore. Enjoy reading!
In many respects, the GPF 2/56 set new standards in terms of design at Guido Panerai & Figlio: The casing diameter, now at a stately 60 mm (or 66 mm including the crown-protecting device), made the earlier Panerai watches with their 47 mm casings look small by comparison. This was also the first time a rotating bezel with five-minute increments was used, a luminous reference point at 12 o’clock and three other major indices at 15, 30 and 45 minutes. The inside of the rotating bezel is fixed securely to the casing and caseback with six screws at a distance of 60° on the underside. If the six screws are loosened, it is possible to lift off the caseback, the rotating bezel and the Plexiglas crystal from the watch casing. Unlike earlier Panerai watches, the caseback of the giant GPF 2/56 does not feature a thread but is fixed securely to the casing by the six screws. Compared to the Panerai watches used during the Second World War (bezel and caseback „twisted“ together by their internal thread onto the holding ring of the movement) as well as the watches produced in the 1950’s (bezel pressed onto the casing and caseback with external thread screwed onto the centre of the 47 mm casing).
While the crown-protecting device was a very prominent, almost “superimposed” addition to the Reference 6152/1, and could only be integrated into the Rolex casing to a certain degree as a result of its construction, the GPF 2/56 clearly shows the “completely seamless integration” of the legendary crown-protecting device.
The coffee table shot on the left shows page 1092 – 1093 in chapter IX.I of our book “The References” 1950’s-1960’s with a photo of the screwed caseback of a GPF 2/56 (left) and an illustration of the construction of the “kept together by six screws” GPF 2/56 (right). Enjoy reading!
With regard to the evolution of watches from Guido Panerai & Figlio, one particular weak point has been often mentioned that has been improved hugely over time: the strap loops soldered on to the pillow-shaped casing of the Reference 3646. With the Radiomir watch shown here, a Ref. 3646 / Type B with riveted plastic dial, we can take a closer look at precisely this weak point and show an example of a Reference 3646 that was not returned to its original condition after being damaged. The watch shown in the photo on left is described in detail on page 228-237 in chapter II.II of our book “The References” 1930’s-1940’s.
With the experience collected during the Second World War, the aim was primarily to increase the stability of the watches’ lugs. The soldered wire watch loops had been revealed as a weak spot and Guido Panerai & Figlio worked hard to improve them and the result was a success – in shape of the watches of the Reference 6152, 6154, 6152/1 and last but not least the huge GPF 2/56. The lugs of these watches were all created out of the casing itself and no longer soldered on (read also page 723-733 in chapter VI of our book “The References” 1950’s-1960’s) as it was the case with the watches of the Reference 3646.
He survived the air raid against the transport Submarine Iride in August 1940 – the Mission G.A.1 against Alexandria failed. He took part on the mission B.G.1 against allied ships in Gibraltar aboard the transport Submarine Scirè in September 1940 – but his second mission failed again as the Allied ships left the night before for Operation “Menace” – this time the Decima MAS was late…
Another four weeks later, on 30 October 1940, he became the first SLC pilot to penetrate a heavily guarded enemy harbour with the new, secret weapon which still had to achive its initial and decisive proof of feasibility: the concept of attacking enemy ships in ports. Unnoticed, in the darkness of the night. Mission B.G.2, even without the success of damaging or sinking an enemy ship, marked the start of a three-year war that took place noiselessly underwater in the Bay of Gibraltar. However, for Gino Birindelli, mission B.G.2 marked the start of a journey through Allied POW camps that would last until early 1944.
In his memoirs Gino Birindelli M.O.V.M. wrote a remarkable sentence: “I could clearly see my left wrist with the big Radiomir watch we used during the action and I saw how the hand moved, time was passing…” In his personal story this was just a very little side note, but it underlined clearly the importance of the waterproof, luminous and reliable Panerai watch he and the men of the Mezzi d’Assalto of the Royal Italian Navy were trusting during their action.
Page 1018 – 1019: The inventors of the SLC, Teseo Tesei and Elios Toschi, together with the first crews which instigated the legendary “Spirito del Serchio” at their secret base at Bocca di Serchio in June 1940 – Gino Birindelli was one of them.
Page 1026 – 1027: The progress of Mission B.G.2 against the port of Gibraltar in the night from 29 to 30 October 1940. The transport submarine Scirè, commanded by Junio Valerio Borghese, penetrated the Bay of Gibraltar, from where the three SLC teams started their approach.
Page 1012 – 1013: A view inside Birindelli’s Ref. 6152/1 with crown-protecting device and Rolex movement. The watch was auctioned at Sotheby’s in May 2014.
In his function as a two-time commander of the “Raggruppamento Subacquei ed Incursori Teseo Tesei” special unit, Gino Birindelli was one of the men who passed on his experiences to the next generation of the naval special unit. When selecting the instruments for the COMSUBIN incursori, watches from Guido Panerai & Figlio were the first choice, even after the Second World War. The fact that Birindelli still possessed a Panerai watch from the era even years after his commando activities whit the COMSUBIN shows the significance and symbolism of a Panerai watch, which must surely have been a sign of military tradition, a menento and a sign of appreciation.
The watch of Admiral Gino Birindelli (1911 – 2008) and the unique story behind his career being Comandante 1a Divisione Navale, Comandante in Capo della Squadra Navale and Comandante Nave Alleato del Sud Europa can be read in the book “The References” 1950’s-1960’s (chapter VIII.II, page 1006 to 1043). Read more on Gino Birindelli also here. Enjoy reading!
After returning from the SLC missions B.G.3, being pilot of SLC 160 in May 1941 and B.G.4, being pilot of SLC 220 in September 1941 (both carried out from the transport submersible “Scirè” under the command of Junio Valerio Borghese), Licio Visintini, twice awarded with the silver medal for galantry at war (M.A.V.M.), returned to Gibraltar undercover in June 1942. He built the core of the “Orsa Maggiore” on board the tanker Olterra – the new, hidden base for the SLC units in the bay of Gibraltar (which remained undiscovered until September 1943). Read more on the Olterra here.
After months of preparations and training in complete secrecy, the SLC mission B.G.5 took progress in December 1942 with three SLC devices of the 200-series: 228, 229 and 236. For Licio Visintini, Giovanni Magro and Salvatore Leone it was a missions with no return. Read the complete story about their fateful SLC mission and how Licio Visintini’s Ref. 3646 / Type C with “Radiomir Panerai” dial returned to Italy and changed ownership two times after, on page 368-397.
Page 354 – 355: Licio Visintini’s 3646 / Type C. The strap has been decorated with coat-of-arms of the Sommergibilisti (submariners) and COMSUBIN (Raggruppamento subacquei e incursori “Teseo Tesei”). The Rolex movement of the watch has been introduced here.
Page 368 – 369: About the first owner of the watch. Tenente di Vascello Licio Visintini M.O.V.M.
Page 386 – 387: Illustration of the secret SLC base Olterra at the pier in Algeciras / Bay of Gibraltar.
The watch of Tenente di Vascello Licio Visintini (1915 – 1942) and the history behind can be read in the book “The References” 1930’s-1940’s (chapter II.III, page 350 to 397). Read more on Licio Visintini here. Enjoy reading!
Without a doubt, Luigi Ferraro was a man whose entire life was shaped by the sea. As a talented swimmer, he had been fascinated by the element of water since his youth. During the Second World War, he became one of the best-known frogmen of all time and showed great courage and skill during his dangerous missions, taking himself into the very limits both physically and mentally.
His Radiomir watch, a Ref. 3646 / Type B with riveted plastic dial, has been with him since he was a “Gamma” frogman in the Second World War. With the kind support of his family we were able to document his watch in chapter II.II of our book “The References” together with a view onto his life – before, during and after the war.
Page 194 – 195: View on the engraved caseback of Luigi Ferraro’s 3646 / Type B.
In January 1943, Luigi Ferraro obtained his qualification to carry out underwater missions. He was first posted to North Africa, where he was to attack ships from the British armed forces in the Port of Tripoli. Before the attack could take place, he was ordered back to Italy. Soon later he became an instructor for “Gamma” frogmen of the Mezzi d’Assalto. In May 1943, he was posted to La Spezia and received instructions from Junio Valerio Borghese for a new mission – this time, in the eastern Mediterranean.
Page 204 – 205: About the first owner of the watch. Luigi Ferraro in uniform, photo dated to 1943. The white collar insignia (with an anchor symbol at the top) show that he is a member of the Mezzi d’Assalto.
Luigi Ferraro carried out four missions during July and August 1943 in the Turkish ports of Alexandretta and Mersina. These four missions resulted in the sinking of two ships and the deactivation of a third. Undiscovered and highly successful, the “Operazione Stella” was one of the most effective operations of the Mezzi d’Assalto. Luigi Ferraro was awarded with the M.O.V.M. (gold medal for galantry at war) in the rank of Tenente Artiglieria.
Page 210 – 211: Sketch of two of the four “Stella” missions carried out by Luigi Ferraro in Alexandretta.
After his time as a “Gamma” frogman, he used the skills and abilities he had learnt in the war for civilian purposes. He was able to pass on his extensive knowledge and significant experience to countless divers. Luigi Ferraro was promoted by the Marina Militare to Capitano di Fregata di Complemento in the year 2000.
The watch of Luigi Ferraro (1914 – 2006) and the history behind can be read in the book “The References” 1930’s-1940’s (chapter II.II, page 190 to 225). Read more on “Operazione Stella” here. Enjoy reading!
After the failed missions in August and September 1940, the Decima MAS returned to the eastern Mediterranean in order to make a second attemp to attack the Harbour of Alexandria with SLC devices of the Mezzi d’Assalto.
What turned out to be one of the most famous SLC missions in the Second World War has been announced in the Italian War Bulletin N. 585 of the 8th of January 1942: “On the night of the 18th December assault craft of the Italian Royal Navy entered the Harbour of Alexandria and attacked two British battleships anchored there. It has only just been confirmed that a battleship of the Valiant class was seriously damaged and put inito dock for repairs, and is still there.”
Bulletin N. 586 of the 9th of January 1942, added the following: “In the Operation conducted by assault craft fo the Royal Italian Navy in the Harbour of Alexandria and reported in yesterday’s Bulletin we now have definite further intelligence that, in Addition to the Valiant, a second battleship of the Barham class was also damaged.”
Winston Churchill announced in a speech before a secret session of the House of Commons on the 23rd of April 1942: “A further sinister stroke was to come. On the early morning of December 19 half a dozen Italians in unusual diving suits were captured floundering about in the Harbour of Alexandria… Four hours later explosions occurred in the bottoms of the Valiant and the Queen Elizabeth, produced by limpet bombs fixed with extra-ordinary courage and ingenuity, the effect which was to blow large holes in the bottoms of both ships and to flood several compartments, thus putting them both out of Actions for many months…”
Read chapter II.I of our book “The References” 1930’s-1940’s to find out what happened on 18 December 1941. More on the historic content in our “The References” book set with a total of 1392 pages can be found here and here. You can purchase “The References” 1930’s-1940’s in our bookstore. Enjoy reading!
Since 1992, the Vintage Panerai watch which was worn by SLC pilot Ernesto Notari during the Second World War, is on display at the Museo Tecnico Navale in La Spezia. Back then, the watch’s first owner decided to give the watch to the museum on his own wish. It was accepted into the museum’s inventory and since then, it has been on display in a cabinet with other rare items from the Mezzi d’Assalto, where it is resting on one of the last remaining SLC devices.
In its unaltered original condition, it was an important source of information for us. With the support of the museum we were able to enter all details of the watch into our database. Beside the importance by the history behind, this watch marks the earliest known 3646 / Type A and so became the first watch in chapter II. With its engraved caseback it is of enormous significance with regard to the history of the Mezzi d’Assalto of the Royal Italian Navy.
Page 60 – 61: Comparing photos of Ernesto Notari’s Ref. 3646 / Type A from 2014 and 2008.
Being a member of the Mezzi Subacquei, Ernesto Notari trained at Bocca di Serchio, the secret base of the underwater special unit in Tuscany. In early 1940, the first training exercises were carried out, resulting in the 1935 concept of Teseo Tesei and Elios Toschi evolving into a real, secret weapon. After the desaster of Malta in July 1941, Ernesto Notari was commander of the training base Bocca di Serchio.
In 1943 Notari posted to the secret base in the Bay of Algeciras, the Olterra. After the successful return from mission B.G.6 in May 1943, Notari was awarded with the M.A.V.M. (silver medal for galantry at war) in the rank of Capitano di Corvetta. He solved another successful mission in August 1943: B.G.7, for which he was awarded M.A.V.M. one more time. B.G.7 was the last mission carried out from the tanker Olterra. The declaration of the ceasefire by Italy on 8 September 1943 brought all further plans to an end. The secret of the Olterra was only discovered by the British in October 1943. The undercover missions of the Decima MAS in Gibraltar were therefore highly successful. Although they did not have any major successes like in Alexandria, the continued presence of the Decima for a period of almost three years exercised constant pressure on the British. The use of Villa Carmela and the Olterra as secret starting bases for night-time missions showed the decisiveness of the Decima MAS and its courageous men – one of whom was Ernesto Notari.
Page 150 – 151: Illustration of the missions completed by the “Orsa Maggiore” in the Bay of Algeciras in 1942 and 1943.
After the Second World War, Ernesto Notari continued his career with the Marina Militare. As a Capitano di Fregata, he commanded the reformed special unit from 10 October 1947 to 25 September 1948. As a Capitano di Vascello, Notari served his second captaincy from 1 October 1950 to 14 March 1951. In 1952, he assumed command of the Sezione Tecnica Autonoma in Bacoli. The secret base in the province of Naples existed from 1949 to 1957 before being moved to Varignano as part of a restructuring process . This site was home to some of the remaining Mezzi d’Assalto equipment. By the end of his Navy career, Ernesto Notari had reached the rank of Vice-Admiral (Ammiraglio di Squadra).
Page 92 – 93: About the first owner of the watch, Admiral Ernesto Notari, photo taken after the Second World War.
The watch of Ernesto Notari (a Ref. 3646 / Type A with „Radiomir Panerai“ dial) and the history behind can be read in the book “The References” 1930’s-1940’s (chapter II.I, page 58 to 153). Read more on the Olterra here. Enjoy reading!