Tag: Ferraro

Arrivederci, Isidoro Mario Nardin

by on Apr.26, 2017, under Allgemein

Nardin_condolences_fullSad news from Italy reached us today: Isidoro Mario Nardin, WW2 veteran of the “Gruppo Gamma”, passed away earlier this year, 27 February 2017, at the age of 94. We send our belated condolences to his family.

We first met Isidoro Mario Nardin in person back in 2006 when he was proudly showing his watch to us. Eight years later, and with the valueble support of Paolo Ferraro, the son of Luigi Ferraro M.O.V.M., it was possible to contact Isidoro Mario Nardin (the third owner of the Ref. 3646 / Type C which initially belonged to Licio Visintini M.O.V.M.) to be able to present the watch in detail in chapter II.III of our book “The References”.


Beside many photos of the watch with the engraved caseback bearing the three names of its owners (see above page 358-359), a historic photo from 1946 showing Isidoro Mario Nardin in full diving gear, is closing the chapter on watches of the Ref. 3646 / Type C (see below page 396-397).


“Arrivederci!” Sig. Nardin, rest in peace!
[Ralf Ehlers & Volker Wiegmann] 

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Naval heritage – Luigi Ferraro’s Radiomir

by on Dec.19, 2016, under Allgemein

heritage_696_ferraroWithout 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’AssaltoLuigi 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!

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Meeting a legendary 3646 – a family affair

by on Jun.02, 2016, under Allgemein

Rahmen_Bild_2016_1000x700_LFW1Always a special moment, which does not happen very often: Meeting a family member of a veteran who used a Panerai watch in duty many years ago. Not that its already something special to let such a meeting become real. But when its about one of the most famous Italian frogmen of the Second World War, its getting an even more special occasion to look forward with great excitement.

So, finally – it happened. After being connected with Paolo Ferraro, son of Luigi Ferraro M.O.V.M. since a few years when we had the idea to put a spotlight onto the Vintage Panerai Ref. 3646 / Type B watch, which was on Luigi Ferraro’s wrist during the four “Stella” missions in the eastern Mediterranean back in the summer of 1943 – almost 73 years ago.

Not sure about the reaction of the family towards us when we made the initial contact back some years ago… some yet unknown strangers from the internet asking for info on their father’s watch may sound strange… go figure. But very soon it started to become a very nice conversation, answers to questions, interesting informations and the feeling to be recognized for the attemp to not only publish photos and details about their father’s watch, but also to remember the person behind it – a family affair.

Rahmen_Bild_2016_1000x700_LFW3One day it was the moment to finally meet Paolo Ferraro in person, and “by the way” (it always turns out great when these words are used) being able to look not only at the watch but also more interesting memorable things which the family kept since their father passed away in 2006 – the ultimate way to “get in touch” with these fantastic timepieces with a real history behind.

Opening an old grey box, carefully, looking at the watch which clearly shows its age and use in decades – holding a piece of Panerai history for an exciting moment to remember. The table became soon loaded with more. More historic relicts, which were kept together since many years (and hopefully many more): the woolen cap with web to cover his face. A float to carry mines for miles on his way thru the night to reach his targets. The heavy steel clamp to fix the charges on the bilge keel of an enemy ship. And last but not least even the fuses, which found their way back on land – two from each “Stella” mission, making it a bundle of eight in total. Allora – all on that table – equipment used by Luigi Ferraro, a member of the “Gruppo Gamma”. Here and now.

Rahmen_Bild_2016_1000x700_LFW4At a corner of the table an old photo found my attention, a photo that I did not remember from any books I gathered in my library about Luigi Ferraro in years before. Easy to identify him in the center, holding a note in front of a microphone for giving a speech, joking with a friend on the left. Paolo pointed on the tall man on the right “and the gentlemen standing next to my father is Jacques Piccard, the famous deep sea explorer”. Both clearly sported watches on their left wrists. Not very sure about Piccard’s, but even more sure about the watch on Ferraro’s wrist: the same watch which was resting on the table I was sitting in front of, holding that photo from the 1950’s …made my day.

We would like to express our sincere words of thanks to Paolo Ferraro for making his father’s watch accessible for our records and to become a part in our new book. Not that this would have been more than we expected, he even connected us with another famous watch.

Grazie, Paolo Ferraro!
[Ralf Ehlers & Volker Wiegmann]

Read more about how how the watch and the story of Luigi Ferraro M.O.V.M. found their place in chapter II.II of our book “The References” 1930’s-1940’s here.

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“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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Ref. 6152/1 watches with engraved matriculation numbers

by on May.02, 2016, under Allgemein

IMG_2955_600x600Fourteen 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). Very 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.

IMG_3482_600x600In 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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From G.A.1 to B.G.7: Missions of the Decima MAS

by on Mar.20, 2016, under Allgemein

IMG_2482_600x600Watches from Guido Panerai & Figlio are deeply connected to the history of the Royal Italian Navy during the Second World War. In our new book “The References” we have included an overview of the missions of the “Decima” aside the legendary watches, which were an important part of the units of the underwater (“Mezzi Subacquei” / “Gamma” frogmen and SLC) and surface (“Mezzi di Superficie” / explosive boats) special forces of the Decima MAS (“Mezzi d’Assalto”).

Chapter I and II of the first volume (1930’s-1940’s) carry the history of a new weapon – the SLC slow running torpedo, called “maiale” – and the men who trusted on the watches from Guido Panerai & Figlio during their dangerous missions in deep and darkness of the mediterranean sea. Because of the significance of the fascinating history behind these watches, we have dedicated our new book “The References” to the inventors of the SLC, Teseo Tesei and Elios Toschi.

IMG_2337_600x600Chapter II of “The References” features some of the rarest Panerai watches owned by famous and high decorated Italian veterans. The first watch of the Reference 3646 / Type A, featured in chapter II.I, belonged to Admiral Ernesto Notari. He was awarded with the Silver Medal for Gallantry at War (M.A.V.M.) for the mission B.G.6 in May 1943. The documentation of the watch and the history of Ernesto Notari, including a summary of the “Mezzi d’Assalto” missions until 8 September 1943 can be read from page 58 to 153 in chapter II.I.

Chapter II.II, about the watches of the Reference 3646 / Type B, features the watch of the legendary “Gamma” frogman Luigio Ferraro. He was awarded with the Gold Medal for Gallantry at War (M.O.V.M.) for his “Stella” missions in the eastern part of the mediterranean sea in 1943. The documentation of the watch and the history of Luigi Ferraro can be read from page 190 to 225 in chapter II.II.

IMG_2522_600x600A watch of the Reference 3646 / Type C which belonged to the SLC pilot Licio Visintini is featured in chapter II.III. Visintini took part in several missions against the allied fleet in Gibraltar. After surviving from mission B.G.3 and B.G.4 in 1941, Visintini returned undercover to Gibraltar in June 1942 where he built the core of the “Orsa Maggiore” on board the tanker Olterra – the hidden base for the SLC units of the “Decima” in the bay of Gibraltar (see coffee table shot on the left). Mission B.G.5 turned into a “mission with no return” for Licio Visintini in December 1942… The documentation of the watch and the history of Licio Visintini can be read from page 350 to 397 in chapter II.III.

Information on “The References” 1930’s-1940’s (first volume) can be found here.

Enjoy reading!
[Ralf Ehlers & Volker Wiegmann]

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