Tag: “Kampfschwimmer”

“Like Men From Mars!”

by on Jan.21, 2018, under Allgemein

In addition to the story published at Fellows and wornandwound.com 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 photoof 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.

Another 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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Just because… how straps looked on 3646 back in 1944

by on Dec.14, 2017, under Allgemein

Rahmen_Bild_2017_1000x700_KS_Alga_1944Recently we have been contacted by collectors about a comment on a photo which is published in our book “The References” 1930’s-1940’s on page 514-515. It shows a group of German “Kampfschwimmer” units in the summer of 1944. The orignal paper photo (17.5 x 23.5 cm, see photo on the left) belongs to our library and has been scanned in 2015 to be published in our book on watches of the Ref. 3646 / Type D.

The comment in question was provided to us as following (read grey underlined text):

Erwan_Waterolian_BildIt’s IMPOSSIBLE say the color of one strap viewing one pic in black and white, ALSO when the pic are digitalized and manipulated with color filters. The straps appear here in “clear” colors are simply because the original pic are edited with “warm filters” for get more contrasts in the final results.

So, I’m absolutely sure (because I check the image and turned to his real black&white tones, the color of this picture you see here are NOT REAL.

Its easy for a photographer see this image are turned with filters, if you see the skin of the people are unreal, and some clothes are unreal color, because are turned for make more “beautiful” the pic.

The photo, which is part of a photo album that belonged to a veteran who took the photos by himself during his service in the navy, has been published in a preview earlier here. Further photos of this veteran’s album are published on page 274, 284, 414, 474, 475 (chapter II.IV) and page 671 (chapter IV). It is interesting to see how the colors of the straps have changed over the decades, knowing that not many of these original straps survived until today.

The photo above was taken today (December 14, 2017) with a mobile phone to show that we hold the original photo in our library and did not used any filters or manipulated the photo to create a wrong impression to the reader. [Ralf Ehlers & Volker Wiegmann]

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From tool watch to war souvenir – the journey of a 3646

by on Nov.25, 2017, under Allgemein

Rahmen_Bild_2017_3646_B_Sothebys07Only a few days until the Important Watches auction of Sotheby’s New York will start. We have published earlier some information about the Ref. 3646 / Type B (lot 946) with “Radiomir Panerai” dial here, which will be part of this sale.

Since we got additional information about the second owners’ history, we see also a well travelled piece of time to find a new owner. Switzerland, Italy, Germany, United Kingdom, Canada (for the most part of its existence) and now an “interstation” in New York City at Sotheby’s. Which route will this Vintage Panerai watch take after the auction is over? We don’t know it for now, and maybe we will never see it again… However, it would be great to see it on a collector’s wrist in the future, since this watch has a lot more to tell than just the time.

By the support of the second owner’s family we received some additional information from the time when this watch changed its function from tool watch into a war souvenir in April 1945. Part of the documentation is an excerpt from the Coldstream Guards regimental diary. It contains details of their tanks crossing the bridge and significantly one of the few references to Tesperhude. This diary tells us after many years: “No.3 Sqn after concentrating at 834362 waited until 1600 hrs. before they were called forward to Tesperhude 802383 where they spent the night.”

preview_Roesel_826-827
Rahmen_Bild_2017_3646_B_Sothebys06Tesperhude, a small town at the north bank of the river Elbe, made our eyebrows lift when we read this part of the regimental diary. Since we were hunting for historic maps of this area in Germany, we remembered Tesperhude featured on the map which we published on page 826-827 in our book “History2” (see above) together with information about the crossing of the river Elbe by allied forces at the end of April, 1945.

We don’t know anything about the fate of the “Kampfschwimmer” who used this watch in this area where he was sent for duty, as we don’t know it on so many other watches of which all the history behind got lost in the last decades. We don’t know if he survived his mission and became a POW shortly after. We don’t know if the frogman was KIA and the watch was just discovered by those who guarded a bridge. Maybe he was just happy to survive and gave away his diving watch to a sentry who treated him well or maybe he swapped it for something he needed more than a watch then. And maybe he crossed the river Elbe on his way to an allied POW camp on the very same pontoon bridge which he just tried to attack a few days before? All these questions can never be answered. But: The text engraved on the backside of this Ref. 3646 / Type B (even for the fact that Tesperhude was engraved like vocalized Tespahude) let this watch speak a little about what happened, where, when and why.

Captain_Coltart_17_March_1945Again, we express our special thanks to the descendants of Captain Coltart who provided us information on the Ref. 3646 / Type B and its story behind. We even received a photo of Captain Coltart and his bride taken on March 17, 1945 – just before his return to the front. This makes it for us even more special to be able to put a face behind an (engraved) name. He made it home and he carried this watch back from the front – as a war souvenir.

Switzerland, Italy, Germany, United Kingdom, Canada, United States – which way will this Vintage Panerai watch go into the future? Will we ever see it again?

We hope that this watch will find a good new home and remains surfaced in the Vintage Panerai collectors world. [Ralf Ehlers & Volker Wiegmann]

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Two “Watches with History” @ Phillips GWA6

by on Sep.26, 2017, under Allgemein

canvas210Phillips will auction two Vintage Panerai watches on Sunday, 12 November 2017 during their Geneva Watch Auction: SIX. Lot 209 is a Ref. 6152/1 “Luminor Panerai” and Lot 210 is a Ref. 3646 / Type C “Kampfschwimmer” (photo).

Read more on both “Watches with History” in our Watch Point. Lot 209 is featured in our book “The References” 1950’s-1960’s – more info here. Lot 210 is featured in our book “History2” – more info here.

[Photo with kindly permission / courtesy of www.phillips.com]

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“The Rösel Radiomir” @ Phillips GWA6

by on Sep.25, 2017, under Watch Point

Rahmen_Bild_hoch_2017_GWA6_210Phillips will feature a rare Ref. 3646 / Type C with anonymous “Kampfschwimmer” dial in their Geneva Watch Auction: SIX, which will be held on Sunday, 12 November 2017. The watch comes with a tubular shaped Rolex Oyster crown (Type 13) and Rolex Cal. 618 / Type 1 movement.

Further info on this watch (lot 210) can be found here.

What makes this watch special for us:
The collectible items of the former combat swimmer Helmut Rösel, which was submitted for auction at Dr. Crott in November 2012 for the first time, contains not only his “Kampfschwimmer” watch but also several documents from his time as a combat swimmer, some of which are extremely rare in this day and age. Additional letters written personally by the first owner and a 1994 jewellery certificate for his 3646 are precious pieces of evidence which makes this a “full set” of which not many exist.

preview_Roesel_872-873

The Ref. 3646 / Type C “Kampfschwimmer” and the history behind is featured in our book “History2” in chapter IX with 98 pages, 63 photos and 4 technical illustrations. Furthermore it is published in our book “The References” 1930’s-1940’s in chapter II.III on page 322-349. Read more about “The Rösel Radiomir” here.

We hope that this rare 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]

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Found: another Ref. 3646 / Type D “Kampfschwimmer”

by on Jun.29, 2017, under Allgemein

Rahmen_Bild_2017_1000x700_3646_D_KS1Introducing another piece of the puzzle – and one more surfaced in Germany: a Ref. 3646 / Type D with anonymous sandwich dial and rare “Kampfschwimmer” engraving with initials of the first owner and year of service (1945) on its outer caseback. The watch is accompanied with matching paperwork of the first owner, dating back to 1944, as well as a small compass.

The watch has been added into our database in early May 2017 and appears with high bezel (a typical feature of the watches with sandwich dials), onion shaped “Brevet +” crown (Type 11) and Rolex Cal. 618 / Type 1 movement. The watch has never been polished and still has its original “volcano dome” plexi as well as the original leather strap and large, nickel-plated brass pin buckle. The blued steel hands still hold their complete luminous material. The inner caseback is signed with the Rolex SA hallmark, reference and case number.

Rahmen_Bild_hoch_2017_700x1000_3646_D_KS2Watches of the Reference 3646 / Type D are featured in our book “The References” 1930’s-1940’s in chapter II.IV (page 398-531). Small compasses are featured in chapter IV (where a similar version is shown on page 672-675). Chapter V holds information on straps and buckles (page 679-685 featuring the “bottle opener” shaped pin buckles).

Thanks to the owner who provided information for our database.
[Ralf Ehlers & Volker Wiegmann]

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Engraved Ref. 3646 / Type D @ Dr. Crott

by on Jan.22, 2017, under Watch Point

Watch_Point_2017_01_3646_KG_DrCrott1Dr. Crott Auctioneers will have a Ref. 3646 / Type D “Kampfschwimmer” with painted brass dial and rare engraved caseback (bearing the initials of the first owner “KG”) in their upcoming 95th Auction on May, 6th 2017 (Lot 424).

The watch has been recorded into our database since 2004 when it was on display in a museum. After seeing it again for the second time in 2006, it surfaced now, eleven years later, for sale on auction to find a new home.

Watch_Point_2017_01_3646_KG_DrCrott2Noteworthy about this watch is the original leather strap (double keeper) and the coated brass buckle as well as the unpolished condition of the case with flat bezel and typical internal details (decorative polish on the inside of the caseback, Rolex SA hallmark with reference and individual case number, Rolex 618 / Type 1 movement) matching our database criteria for being a Ref. 3646 / Type D.

A tubular crown (signed “Oyster Patent” / Type 13) is screwed down on the neck of the 47 mm cushion shaped case. At this stage of our research, we are not able to link the engraved initials “KG” definitely to one of the frogmen veterans in our records.

Watch_Point_2017_01_3646_KG_DrCrott3Features of the watch:
Reference: 3646 / Type D
Dial: “Kampfschwimmer”  (painted brass, anonymous)
Case number: 260XXX
Movement: Rolex Cal. 618 / Type 1

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) including a historic photo of a “Kampfschwimmer” wearing a 3646 with brass dial on page 475. Brass dialed Ref. 3646 / Type D are featured on page 468-493). In this part of the book, an overview of different decorative polish on the inside of the caseback (Type A – Type G) can be found on page 486. A Ref. 3646 / Type D 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 the watch will find a good new home and that it remain surfaced in the Vintage Panerai collectors world. [Ralf Ehlers & Volker Wiegmann]

[Photos with kindly permission / courtesy of www.uhren-muser.com]

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Three columns of the Panerai DNA in auction at Phillips

by on Sep.25, 2016, under Allgemein

rahmen_bild_2016_1000x700_gwa4November will bring remarkable Vintage Panerai watches to auction. Phillips announced to have three columns of the Panerai DNA in their Geneva Watch Auction: FOUR.

A German “Kampfschwimmer” Ref. 3646 / Type D, used in the Second World War, has been introduced in our Watch Point here. This warbird with anonymous sandwich dial is one of the very few watches with original strap and pin buckle – unpolished and with quite some patina.

The “Maserati” amongst Vintage Panerai references because of its flat, elegant and streamlined case is introduced in our Watch Point here. This rare Ref. 6154 “Small Egiziano” with brown “Radiomir Panerai” dial is up for auction being a “collectors’ set”, including a Guido Panerai & Figlio depth gauge, underwater torch and replacement strap with “GPF – Mod. Dep.” pin buckle.

The third column of the Panerai DNA in the Phillips Geneva Watch Auction: FOUR is a Ref. 6152/1 “Luminor Panerai” with Rolex movement and the legendary crown-protecting device from Panerai – an icon of the brand. Read more about this watch in our Watch Point here.

[Photos with kindly permission / courtesy of www.phillips.com]

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Ref. 3646 / Type D “Kampfschwimmer” @ Phillips GWA4

by on Sep.24, 2016, under Watch Point

rahmen_bild_hoch_2016_phillips_gwa4_3646dPhillips will feature a Ref. 3646 / Type D “Kampfschwimmer” in their Geneva Watch Auction: FOUR. The watch is recorded in our database since 2006, when it was auctioned for the first time in Germany at Dr. Crott Auctioneers. By its inner and outer details it is representing a typical “Kampfschwimmer” watch with anonymous sandwich dial, onion shaped “Brevet +” crown (Type 11) and Rolex Cal. 618 / Type 1 movement.

It appears to be one of only a few specimen which still have their original leather strap and original pin buckle. This particular watch is featured – in detail – in our new book “The References” 1930’s-1940’s in chapter II.IV (Ref. 3646 / Type D) on page 516-523 as well as in chapter V (Straps and Buckles) on page 678.

Further info on this watch (lot 152) can be found here.

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 with kindly permission / courtesy of www.phillips.com]

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One more 3646 / Type D with brass dial surfaced in the UK

by on Sep.18, 2016, under Allgemein

rahmen_bild_2016_1000x700_3646dbrassukIntroducing another piece of the puzzle – and one more surfaced in the United Kingdom: a Ref. 3646 / Type D with black painted brass dial and rare “Kampfschwimmer” engraving with initials of the first owner on its outer caseback. After more than 70 years the watch changed ownership once again and recently found a good new home at a Panerai collector from Germany, who provided the photo shown on the left.

The watch has been added into our database in March 2016 and comes with flat bezel (a typical feature of the watches with flat dials), onion shaped “Brevet +” crown (Type 11) and Rolex Cal. 618 / Type 1 movement. The watch has never been polished and has still its original plexi, showing the typical traces of aging. The inner caseback is signed with the Rolex SA hallmark, reference and case number. A similar 3646 / Type D watch with flat bezel and black painted brass dial will be auctioned in Glasgow on September 23rd, 2016 at Great Western Auctions.

A Ref. 3646 / Type D watch with black painted brass dial is featured in our book “History1” in chapter III together with the history of its first owner, a German “Kampfschwimmer” who provided us very interesting information about his service, training and how some of these Panerai watches “changed ownership” during the time when he was a POW (prisoner of war) in the summer of 1945 (page 206-207).

Watches of the Reference 3646 / Type D are also featured in our new book “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.

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