Tag: “history1”

How to visualize a frogman’s pencil written diary from 1945?

by on Jul.09, 2016, under General

During the research on the history behind a Ref. 3646 / Type D “Kampfschwimmer” with engraved caseback, we were able to study the diary of the first owner of the watch. This diary survived the last days of the Second World War and the veteran kept it for decades, willed to share it with us and partially featured in chapter II of our book “History2”.

Thanks to the many detailed descriptions (e.g. the water temperature, current, weather conditions and explosive charges carried) which the frogman wrote down and the examination of historical maps of the 1940’s it was possible to analyze his diary entries precisely and visualize his memories to the readers of our book in an impressive way. The collected documents and additional information let this chapter become one of the unique stories behind a Ref. 3646 / Type D “Kampfschwimmer” watch.

History1_frontal_300x300Reading page 83 of “History1” reminds on a part of our research which did happened not often. The frogman wrote the following lines in his diary at the beginning of March 1945:

“The next morning we set off towards the east in a truck. With unbelievable power, the Russians have pushed thru as far as the [river] Oder in their last offensive. They even managed to build two bridgeheads at Fürstenberg [in November 1961 the city was renamed Eisenhüttenstadt]. Reconnaissance flights tell us that they are putting tremendous amounts of people and material into these bridgeheads”.

Reconnaissance flights? Having this information in mind, we started to search various archives for still existing aerial photographs – maybe the one which the frogmen mentioned in his diary still exists? After the war, some remaining photos were transferred to archives which stored these photos for bomb clearance works. Good luck on the hunt! Guess how easy this search would be? Where to start? To find a aerial photo from the same date, same area and even showing the target, not knowing if its existing at all? We found it – a needle in a haystack – the photo which was shown to the frogmen as their next target.

IMG_3659_600x600Dated to 1 March 1945, the photo taken by a reconnaissance flight shows one of the pontoon bridges built across the Oder by the Russian troops just shortly before – which became soon later the target for the “Keller Group” just as the frogman wrote it down in his diary. Read more on the diary and various historic documents which helped us to visualize this source of information during our research on a Ref. 3646 / Type D “Kampfschwimmer” watch here.

The coffee table shot shows page 110-111, chapter II of “History2” next to one of the few original photos of the “Keller Group” taken shortly before their missions at the eastern front (spot some Panerai gear in it). This photo is published on page 94 in the same chapter. The coffee table shot includes also a Ref. 3646 / Type D “Kampfschwimmer”, featured in chapter V of “History2” – the watch of frogman Siegfried Köneke, who was also a member of the “Keller Group”. Read more about this chapter here.

Our two “History” books can be ordered only in our bookstore.

Enjoy reading stories behind these watches!
[Ralf Ehlers & Volker Wiegmann]

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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 / Type D with brass dial @ Eppli

by on Mar.11, 2016, under Watch Point

Rahmen_Bild_2016_3646_brass_dial_EppliAuction House Eppli (Stuttgart/Germany) features a Ref. 3646 / Type D with anonymous, painted brass dial in their auction on April 2nd.

The 3646 / Type D is recorded in our database since February 2016. The watch features a typical Rolex 618 / Type 1 movement (Type 1 = 17 Rubis without Incabloc shock protection).

Watches of the Reference 3646 / Type D are featured in our new “The References” 1930’s-1940’s in chapter II.IV (page 398-531) including a historic photo of a German “Kampfschwimmer” wearing a 3646 with brass dial on page 475.

A similar watch with painted brass dial is featured in our book “History1” in chapter III together with information about the first owner, a German “Kampfschwimmer”.

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 courtesy of Auktionshaus Eppli e.K.]

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Farewell, Mr. Kiefer!

by on Jan.20, 2016, under Allgemein

Sad news arrived us in January. German veteran Karl-Heinz Kiefer, one of the last remaining WW2 frogmen, died on 23 December 2015 at the age of 90. We send our condolences to his family.

Mr. Kiefer’s personal story as a frogmen was featured in chapter III of our 2011 book “History1” with information he provided us during several meetings and interviews until 2011. Mr. Kiefer received a Ref. 3646 / Type D with brass dial after he was successfully instructed to become a “Kampfschwimmer” in the last weeks of the Second World War. Karl-Heinz Kiefer was taken prisoner of war by the British at the island of Sylt, which was the final headquarter of the German frogmen units (codename “Weisskoppel”) before the end of the Second World War. Mr. Kiefer’s Panerai watch is one of the very few watches in our records which can be tracked from present day back to its use in early 1945.

Karl-Heinz Kiefer started his navy career in the Kriegsmarine in October 1943. He completed his recruit training in Stralsund (Baltic Sea) as member of the “Crew 10/43”. After his recruit training he went on board the destroyer Z 25 in Gotenhafen in January 1944, where he completed his second part of his officer training, the so-called “on-board recruit period” until July 1944.

From this part of his career, Karl-Heinz Kiefer found a photo of himself in 2012 at his home, which he provided us for adding in our history records. As it was too late to feature it in the already published book “History1”, we want to share this photo to remember him. The backside of the photo bears a date stamp (18 March 1944) and the photographer’s stamp, based in Danzig (Baltic Sea).

After his officer training he posted to the special marine unit (“Kampfschwimmer”) in December 1944, as he was an excellent swimmer who participated several swimming competitions, such as the German youth championships in 1942. Released from the POW camp after only eight weeks, he left the island of Sylt in June 1945. Mr. Kiefer became a school teacher in 1946 until his retirement as principal.

Related to his Ref. 3646 / Type D Panerai watch, we remember his many detailed memories during the 2011 interview at the age of 85: “Whoever had his own diving watch, and no longer needed to return it to the store after exercises along with the other pieces of equipment, was a fully-trained combat swimmer, ready for action. Whoever wore the Panerai on his arm really belonged.” 

We are glad, that we had the chance to meet Mr. Kiefer in person, listened to his very personal experiences of his time when he became a frogmen. We asked him questions, on which we received helpful, interesting but also moving answers. Questions, which sadly one day non of those veterans will be able to answer anymore…

“Auf Wiedersehen!” – farewell, Mr. Kiefer – rest in peace!
[Ralf Ehlers & Volker Wiegmann] 

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Vintage Panerai book “History1” is in stock.

by on Nov.15, 2015, under General

Our book “History1” is in stock. It can be ordered directly at our bookstore. “History1” comes in a solid slipcase (on the right in the photo) which has been constructed to protect the hardcover book and keep it in perfect shape when stored in a bookshelf upright.

Both together, the hardcover book and the slipcase, are weighing more than 3 kilos. The size of the book is 26 x 26 cm, 420 pages, trilingual (German, Italian and English language in one book). Further photos can be found in our bookstore’s gallery.

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

The four watches featured in the book “History1″ can be found here:
The Lehmann Radiomir / The Pape RadiomirThe Kiefer Radiomir / The Arillo Luminor

Enjoy reading!
[Ralf Ehlers & Volker Wiegmann]

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Spot on: chaper IV of “History1”

by on Jul.18, 2014, under Allgemein

CHAPTER IV – “Mario Arillo”
(165 pages, 106 photos, 7 technical illustrations)

The chapter on Mario Arillo begins with an interview conducted with him in 1989. Numerous as yet unpublished pictures and documents from the family possessions of the famous submarine commander from La Spezia augment the personal descriptions of his missions as a means of transport for Italian Gamma swimmers and the SLC units of the Decima MAS.

 

Vintage Panerai “History1”
26 x 26 cm, 420 pages,
trilingual (= german, italian and english language in one book),
hardback jacket, slipcase.

“History1″ is in stock and can be ordered directly at our bookstore.

Enjoy reading!
[Ralf Ehlers & Volker Wiegmann]

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Spot on: chapter III of “History1”

by on Jul.11, 2014, under Allgemein

CHAPTER III – “Karl-Heinz Kiefer”
(55 pages, 39 photos, 3 technical illustrations)

The story of Karl-Heinz Kiefer, who received fast-track training in the last months of the war, already provided proof in the first edition of this book about period of use of the rare watch-face version of his Panerai watch (Ref. 3646 / Type D with brass dial), which for a long time had been ascribed to an earlier date. Now, his winter training in a toughening-up camp at the Baltic Sea in early 1945 is described in detail.

Vintage Panerai “History1”
26 x 26 cm, 420 pages,
trilingual (= german, italian and english language in one book),
hardback jacket, slipcase.

“History1″ is in stock and can be ordered directly at our bookstore.

Enjoy reading!
[Ralf Ehlers & Volker Wiegmann]

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Spot on: chapter II of “History1”

by on Jul.04, 2014, under Allgemein

CHAPTER II – “Heinz Pape”
(91 pages, 44 photos, 3 technical illustrations)

For the most part the chapter about Heinz Pape is taken from his surviving diary and presented as a first-person narrative, with comprehensive supplementation. Thanks to extremely rare aerial photographs of the assignment targets described by him and the examination of maps it was possible to analyse his diary entries from WW2 precisely and thus present them to the reader in such an impressive manner – an unique story of a  “Kampfschwimmer” unit and his Panerai watch, a Ref. 3646 / Type D with its well known and typical anonymous dial

Vintage Panerai “History1”
26 x 26 cm, 420 pages,
trilingual (= german, italian and english language in one book),
hardback jacket, slipcase.

“History1″ is in stock and can be ordered directly at our bookstore.

Enjoy reading!
[Ralf Ehlers & Volker Wiegmann]

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Spot on: chapter I of “History1”

by on Jun.27, 2014, under Allgemein

CHAPTER I – “Heinz Günter Lehmann”
(75 pages, 38 photos, 4 technical illustrations)

The story of the German elite swimmer Heinz Günter Lehmann and his “Radiomir Panerai” watch (Ref. 3646 / Type C) is told with numerous photos, covering the period from his training in the lagoon of Venice in the summer of 1944 to his countless sporting successes on the international stage after the Second World War. Rare photos and documents, from national and international archives, allied intelligence documents as well as photos provided by his family were added together, followed by the technical details of his watch in chapter I.I with a current excerpt from our historical Panerai database.

Vintage Panerai “History1”
26 x 26 cm, 420 pages,
trilingual (= german, italian and english language in one book),
hardback jacket, slipcase.

“History1″ is in stock and can be ordered directly at our bookstore.

Enjoy reading!
[Ralf Ehlers & Volker Wiegmann]


[Ralf Ehlers & Volker Wiegmann]

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The story behind “History1”

by on Jun.23, 2014, under Allgemein

For years, the uncompromised functionality, the mechanical precision and an incomparable design have fascinated collectors of the early Panerai diving watches, which were important instruments for their users during their deployments. Exact timekeeping, perfect legibility in the dark and faultless functioning under water were the characteristics that were demanded by the Navy, which the watches from Florence fulfilled reliably.

The four stories in our book “History1” take the reader back to the time of the Second World War. With the second, expanded edition of the sold out book “Vintage Panerai – Watches with History” (published 2007) we give collectors of historical Panerai watches a deeper and more comprehensive insight into the wearers and the purpose of these watches. Today, subsequent generations can hardly imagine the conditions under which people lived and carried out their dangerous missions back then. Pictures from the 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 national and international archives.

For anyone who has collected these watches for some time, a number of questions arise automatically, answers to which cannot be found in any history book or company chronicle. It is simply not enough to know that the watches derive from a certain time and have the characteristics for which they are now famous. Instead, the collector with an interest in history wants to know who once owned the watch, and often tries to find out a name or some other information about the origin of the watch by examining the rarely-found engravings on the case. Happy are those who receive this information directly from the previous owner. But today – after 70 years – this is only seldom possible.

Our database of today existing Panerai watches, which we have built up and which continues to expand, forms the basis for dating and categorising these timepieces. It provides us with precise expertise, in especially rare cases also with information about the first owner of the watch. The findings from this database, together with the information known today about the original owners of the watches, give an insight into the time of their manufacture and use. In the confusion of the Second World War the watches often ended up in the hands of the Allies upon the imprisonment of their owners, the Italian and German combat swimmers, and some of them – to the great joy of many collectors – still re-emerge in this day and age.

Lost forever during their owner’s deployment, destroyed immediately after the assignment to get rid of evidence, exchanged immediately after the war in return for necessary everyday items – in times of bitter desperation such a watch often held no value for its owner and during its final operation changed from being a diving object to a pawning object…

A small number of historic Panerai watches reveal their secrets to the readers of “History1” 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 of the Second World War, their descendents, or by means of analysing previously unknown documents such as diaries, interview records or recordings by opposing spies, we managed to compile very impressive and authentic chapters.

It was and remains our objective to report factually and comprehensively about the historical Panerai watches and their wearers. “History1” is not a political statement about the time of the Second World War – rather, we have attempted to document the historically proven facts about the circumstances and events of this time, during which the Panerai watches were not items of jewellery for their wearers, but rather an important part of their equipment. It is particularly important to us that this book gives the veterans a “voice” that presents their stories authentically. “History1” describes their very personal experiences and touches on reminiscences, at times in the greatest detail, which in part brought back painful memories and emotions during discussions and in written correspondence with the veterans, even after so many decades. Without their inspiration and great support, this book would not have been possible in this form. For this we would like to express our deepest thanks to “our” veterans.

Our book “History1″ is in stock. It can be ordered directly at our bookstore. Enjoy reading!
[Ralf Ehlers & Volker Wiegmann]

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