Side view: Badessi’s Radiomir watch

by on May.01, 2018, under Allgemein

Rahmen_Bild_2018_Ambra_Badessi1Chapter IV of our book “History1” begins with an interview conducted with Mario Arillo M.O.V.M., commander of the transport submarine for SLC and Gamma units of the Decima MAS, the Ambra. Numerous unpublished photos and documents from the family possessions of the famous commander from La Spezia augment the personal descriptions of his submarine missions in this chapter. Not many photos exist today, taken during a mission in the Second World War – and even less with a Panerai watch to be spotted on a wrist of one of the units of the Mezzi Subacquei.

In one of these photos, Giorgio Badessi (right), who was one of the six SLC pilots, is clearly wearing his Radiomir watch on the left wrist, sitting on the table together with another SLC pilot, Giorgio Reggioli (in the background), 2nd Officer Zenker (left) and commander Arillo (front) during mission N.A.1.

Rahmen_Bild_hoch_2018_Ambra_Badessi2“Operazione N.A.1”, carried out on 12th of December 1942, was the first combined mission with SLC units and combat swimmers of the Gruppo Gamma, in which a total of 16 units were sent out from the transport submarine Ambra to attack allied ships in the Port of Algiers. A scout (“civetta”) at the water’s surface conveyed important instructions by microphone to the Ambra on the seabed. For the first time, the SLC and Gamma units started their mission from a submerged submarine, see sketch on page 324.

Read more on Chapter IV of “History1” with 165 pages, 106 photos and seven technical illustrations, here. Mission N.A.1, part of the interview with commander Arillo, is featured in this chapter on page 313-345. Do not miss to read how we were able to get these documents to be published in our book “History1” on page 374-377, with special greetings to La Spezia!

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Phillips GWA7 featuring a 3646 / Type D and a 6152/1

by on Apr.21, 2018, under Allgemein

Two Vintage Panerai watches will be up for auction in The Geneva Watch Auction: SEVEN at Phillips on 12 & 13 May 2018. Inbetween a total of 185 watches in this auction, Lot 212 is a Ref. 6152/1 with “Luminor Panerai” dial and rare caseback engraving of the Guardia di Finanza, followed by Lot 213, a Ref. 3646 / Type D “Kampfschwimmer” with anonymous sandwich dial.

Read more in our watch point.

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“Time Travelling”

by on Apr.14, 2018, under Allgemein

Karlsruhe, 12 September 1998 – it was a saturday morning, just perfect for a little walk and some window shopping at watch dealers, as I got interested in mechanical wristwatches since a couple of years. I walked into the shop of Jewellery Kamphues who is based downtown Karlsruhe since 1905, a house with a long tradition which carried some of the watch brands I wanted to take a look on at that saturday twenty years ago. What I saw in one of the displays inside was a big brown box, loaded with six very untypical, huge but even more attractive watches from a brand I just read in a watch magazine: Officine Panerai. This saturday in September 1998 was a good chance to see these new watches in person.

Rahmen_Bild_2018_1000x700_KH06 After a short presentation by one of the sales persons there, I received a blue squared brochure which carried a list of authorized dealers in Germany (very short back then – see left sheet in the photo), a price list in Deutsche Mark (featuring the famous PAM 21, listed at the bottom being the only Special Edition) and also it carried some kind of a virtual timer which started the interest for this “new brand” with huge watches in me just when I left the shop…

To get a good impression about how things were going with Officine Panerai back in 1998, when I met the brand for the first time, I highly recommend reading the interview by Joe Thompson with Angelo Bonati, which was just recently published at Hodinkee here. I kept this squared brochure from 1998 in my library in all the years and I always wanted to return to Jewellery Kamphues one day. Recently it finally happened.

Rahmen_Bild_2018_1000x700_KH01One of the reasons I wanted to travel to Karlsruhe was, that the manager of the shop contacted me a few months ago, asking if I would have some additional information on a Ref. 3646 / Type D with painted brass dial. I was surprised to take even notice that this watch – which we knew for quite some years – found its way to the dealer where I saw watches from Officine Panerai for the first time back in 1998!

The 3646 / Type D in question was added into our database already back in 2004 when it was on display in a little museum in Hamburg, where my co-author Ralf spotted it. He was allowed to take some photos of the watch but not from the inside (movement, inner caseback) so it remained an incomplete database entry in our records until it was consigned for auction in 2017 (read more in our watch point). Dr. Crott Auctioneers contacted us about the watch before their 95th auction and by its external details (especially the engraved initials on the caseback, as well as the original leather strap and buckle still on the watch) we were able to identify this watch being the same that Ralf discovered already 13 years ago in 2004.

Rahmen_Bild_2018_1000x700_KH03So here it was: the moment to return to the place where I saw watches from Officine Panerai for the first time in 1998 – 20 years ago – and to meet with the managers of the shop which we exchanged some information during the last months about the engraved “Kampfschwimmer” watch from the Second World War.

It was nice to see this Ref. 3646 / Type D again: the unpolished flat case and bezel, the black painted brass dial, the cylindrical Rolex crown (Type 13), the blued steel hands with complete and nicely aged luminous material. “Time Travelling” at its best. To Karlsruhe. To the dealer where it all began for me with Officine Panerai

Rahmen_Bild_2018_1000x700_KH02Actually its great to know where a watch went after the few occasions when it surfaced since we took notice of it. Now it found a great place in a display at Jewellery Kamphues where it is spot on, even customers and visitors of the shop can take a look at it.

Back in 2004 the Ref. 3646 / Type D with engraved “KG” on its caseback was in a little naval museum, more or less resting in a quiet corner. Later the museum moved into another location and since then it disappeared – we lost its track. For the following 13 years we heard no safe and sound of it. To our surprise it surfaced at an auction house in 2017 and now it found a good home in Karlsruhe. It was a pleasure to feel the excitement of the new owner (by the way he was wearing a nice Luminor Marina PVD from the A series), where it is part of a collection of excellent vintage watches.

Thanks for reading. [Volker Wiegmann]

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The 3646 / Type D “Kampfschwimmer” @ Dr. Crott is online

by on Apr.11, 2018, under Allgemein

Rahmen_Bild_2018_DrCrott_TypeD_1We introduced this watch, which is new to the market, a few weeks ago here, and the online catalogue of Dr. Crott Auctioneers now features the Ref. 3646 / Type D “Kampfschwimmer” with anonymous sandwich dial and Rolex Cal. 618 / Type 1 movement listed as lot 114. The 97th Auction will be held on 12 May, 2018 at the Sheraton Frankfurt Hotel, Airport.

Find the complete lot description from Dr. Crott Auctioneers in English, Chinese and German language. Read more about this watch also at our watch point here.

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If you ever visit Tuscany – stop by at Forte dei Marmi…

by on Mar.29, 2018, under Allgemein

Rahmen_Bild_hoch_2018_700x1000_FdM1…to see Piazza Emilio Barberi – a place which is breathing history, related to the missions of the Mezzi d’Assalto during the Second World War. Recently we put a spot onto the mission against Suda“Attacco alla Baia di Suda” – with explosive boats here.

The memorial at the Piazza dedicated to him, shows on the left the map of the Suda bay with the route of the men around Emilio Barberi M.O.V.M. (1917 – 2002) in his home town Forte dei Marmi. He was one of the pilots of the MT boats.

Read more about the timeline of the missions during the Second World War in chapter II.I on page 106-146. The attack of the Souda Bay is featured on page 108-109.

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26 March 1941 – today in history…

by on Mar.26, 2018, under Allgemein

Siluri_Umani_MAS_600x600During the winter of 1940-1941 the human torpedo attacks were suspended, at least until the following spring. A detachment of MT explosive boats was based in the Dodecanese, where it trained under the command of Vittorio Moccagatta on the island of Leros with the objective of attacking Souda Bay and the British traffic to Greece.

Vittorio Moccagatta was ordered back to Italy on 23 January 1941, where he became the commander of the 1st MAS Flotilla in La Spezia. His suggestions to the Italian naval commando assumed in the result that the 1st MAS Flotilla became the 10th MAS Flotilla – the Decima MAS – on 15 March 1941, which was divided into two divisions from that time:

Souda_Bay_Sketch_600x600The surface division – Mezzi di Superficie – under the command of Capitano di Corvetta Giorgio Giobbe with a fleet of various explosive boats (category MT, MTM shown by the historic sketches on the left, MTR, MTS, MTMS, SMA, MTL) and motorboats for sabotage operations.

The underwater division – Mezzi Subacquei – under the command of Capitano di Corvetta Junio Valerio Borghese operated the diving School in Livorno, the SLC training base at Bocca di Serchio, the remaining transport submersibles Scirè and Ambra and the frogmen of the “Gruppo Gamma”. On a side note, in early 1941, the two initial transport submersibles for SLC devices, Iride and Gondar, were already lost with the failure of „Operazione G.A.1“ and „Operazione G.A.2“ in August and September 1940.

Souda_Bay_Map_600x600On 26 March 1941, the surface division – Mezzi di Superficie – of the Decima MAS achieved initial successes: six MT-type explosive boats broke through the blockades in Souda Bay (Crete, see historic map on the left) damaging the heavy cruiser York and the tanker Pericles.

During the night, the servicemen Luigi Faggioni (commander), Angelo Cabrini, Tullio Tedeschi, Alessio De Vito, Lino Beccati and Emilio Barberi) were transported to the target area aboard the destroyers Crispi and Sella. These two destroyers were equipped with electrically powered cranes for placement of the MT-type explosive boats on the water, which was carried out in just a few minutes, ten miles from Souda’s entrance, at 2330 hours on 25 March 1941. Unnoticed by the enemy, the MT-type explosive boats managed to cross three barricades and reached their targets in the early hours of the morning of 26 March 1941.

Souda_Bay_MT_600x600Two MT-type explosive boats attacked the York (the pilots abandoned their boats 80 meters before hitting the ship, see historic photos on the left). Another two MT-type explosive boats attacked the Pericles. Commander Faggioni tried to hit the Coventry but his boat missed the cruiser and exploded on the coast. The sixth MT-type explosive boat missed its target too, but remained intact and was captured by the British. All six pilots of the explosive boats survived the attack and became POW.

Read more about the timeline of the missions during the Second World War in chapter II.I on page 106-146. Vittorio Moccagatta is featured on page 112-113, the attack in Souda Bay is featured on page 108-109.

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One more 3646 / Type D “Kampfschwimmer” surfaced

by on Feb.28, 2018, under Allgemein

Rahmen_Bild_2018_DrCrott_TypeD_4Another Ref. 3646 / Type D “Kampfschwimmer” with anonymous dial has been added into our database: The first specimen of this number group in the year 2018. The watch with Rolex Cal. 618 / Type 1 movement comes with anonymous sandwich dial, blued steel hands and onion shaped Rolex crown (Type 11). Dr. Crott Auctioneers recently gave us a head-up on this Ref. 3646 / Type D, which has been consigned for auction by the family of the first owner, a German “Kampfschwimmer” during the Second World War. Read more about the watch in our watch point.

Vintage Panerai watches of the Reference 3646 / Type D are featured in our book “The References” 1930’s-1940’s in chapter II.IV (page 398-531).

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Training scene in the summer of 1944

by on Feb.22, 2018, under Allgemein

Rahmen_Bild_2018_1000x700_Training_1944A few days ago we received an interesting photo from the grandson of a German “Kampfschwimmer”. With his support we were able to add the Ref. 3646 / Type B “Radiomir Panerai” into our database last year – read more here.

Actually, the photo is not new to us. It has been published many years ago in Cajus Bekker’s book “Einzelkämpfer auf See” in 1968 and again in 1978. However, there were never published names of the frogmen in the captions of these two books. Until now: The backside of the original paper photo showed pencil written names of the men which were captured in the photo, which helped us now to identify and link them to other photos in our archives. We have published a photo, taken from a slightly different perspective, showing the same training scene, in chapter V of our book “History2” on page 460.

The photos were taken in the summer of 1944 on the island of San Giorgio (south-west of Venice harbour), showing the training in hand-to-hand combat, which was a fixed part of their training along with other different sporting disciplines. One of the frogmen in the photo is the first owner of the Ref. 3646 / Type B watch on the left.

Rahmen_Bild_2018_1000x700_Training_1944_RSRead more on the activities on the island of San Giorgio in chapter I of our book “History1” including rare historic documents and aerial photographs from the Allied Forces intelligence.

Our special thanks to the frogman’s grandson who provided the photo above (including the additional informations on ist backside in shape of handwritten names), on which he placed the Ref. 3646 / Type B “Radiomir Panerai” of his grandfather. [Ralf Ehlers & Volker Wiegmann]

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…soldered or solid lugs?

by on Feb.14, 2018, under Allgemein

soldered_or_solid_900x900No matter what’s your favourite Vintage Panerai case design, our book set “The References” features both versions: soldered lugs and solid lugs – 70 watches on 1392 pages.

The tag 696 is connected with all stories published about the first volume on 696 pages: watches, history, instruments and straps of the 1930’s-1940’s. 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 tag 1392 is connected with all stories published about the second volume on the follwing 696 pages (from page 697 to page 1392): watches, history, instruments and straps of the 1950’s-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. 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.

Visit our bookstore and enjoy reading soon!
[Ralf Ehlers & Volker Wiegmann]

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“Like Men From Mars!”

by on Jan.21, 2018, under Allgemein

In addition to the story published at Fellows, Revolution and about the Ref. 3646 / Type C watch, which Sgt. George W. Rowson brought home from his service in the 43rd (Wessex) Reconnaissance Regiment, we have gathered some information about the attemp of twelve German “Kampfschwimmer” units (three teams of four) to attack both bridges across the river Waal at Nijmegen in the night of 28/29 September, 1944. The first team was sent to attack the railroad bridge, the second and third team to attack the road bridge.

The story of Sgt. Rowson’s “Radiomir Panerai” is matching with information on the capture of both, second and third team which failed to attack the road bridge of Nijmegen. These eight “Kampfschwimmer” units (of which one of them belonged the Ref. 3646 / Type C) were: Orlowski, Ohrdorf, Weber, Schmidt, Kolbruch, Dyck, Gebel and Halwelka (two KIA, six POW).

Rahmen_Bild_2018_1000x700_Nijmegen_drawingThe caption of a drawing by War Artist Captain Bryan de Grineau of the British Army in Holland, to which we give our credits, published in an undated British newspaper (part of a collection of documents, provided to us by German frogmen veteran Karl-Heinz Kiefer during our research of the book “History1”) reads as the following:

“Like men from Mars! Amphibious German assault troops captured near Nijmegen, presenting a fantastic appearance in skin-tight rubber suits, extraordinary rubber flappers, rubber skull-caps, and oxygen masks. The whole denoted a daring night attemp to blow up the Nijmegen bridges, the men being detected struggeling upstream in the early morning.”

Furthermore, in this interesting story, the attack of the two Nijmegen bridges, with a focus on the attack of the road bridge (located around 500 metres before the railroad bridge) is written below:

“One of the most daring enemy acts of the war was an attempt on the night of September 28 to blow up the Nijmegen railroad and road bridges spanning the Waal. If successful it would have cut communications between the British troops each side of the river. The men selected for the task – twelve in all – were first-class swimmers who underwent three months special training at Venice. They wore rubber skull-caps, rubber skin-tight suits, and paddle-shaped rubber flaps attached to their boots, which enabled them to cut through the water downstream with remarkable speed. They were also equipped with rubber masks which enabled them to swim long distances under water, being connected with oxygen flasks. Entering the Waal 17.5 miles above Nijmegen at night, they carried three floating charges of powerful Hexanite explosive, each like a twin torpedo, and split up into three parties, one making for the railway bridge, the other two for the road bridge, each charge provided with a time fuse. They were nearly successful but the strength of the eight-knot current prevented them from fixing the charges quite successfully. They made the mistake of swimming back upcurrent. After covering 6.25 miles exhaustion forced them to rest in the shallows. British soldiers saw them and fired, killing two. The remainder surrendered. Our War Artist at Nijmegen illustrates the prisoners coming in. The first charge exploded by the road bridge, doing little damage, the second was heroically rendered harmless by a naval lieutenant who dived under the bridge.”

An interesting photo of the attacked railroad bridge (dated 30 September 1944), attacked by the first group of four German “Kampfschwimmer” units (Bretschneider, Jäger, Olle and Wolchendorf), can be found in the archives of the Imperial War Museum here. Only Bretschneider and Jäger returned to their lines, while Olle and Wolchendorf were caught after the attack and became POW.

The_Frogmen_sketch_600x600Another small but interesting detail (in terms of the Panerai watches worn by the frogmen of the second and third team) of the well documented attack of the Nijmegen bridges, can be read in the book “The Frogmen” by Waldron & Gleeson, published 1954 and part of our library, on page 119:

“The minutes ticked by as the other eight swimmers sat huddled on the bank conversing in low tones, and glancing often at the luminous dials of their underwater watches. When the time came, they put on their oxygen sets and slipped quietly into the water.”

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