“Arillo’s Luminor” and the idea of writing a book

by on Apr.20, 2013, under General

It was early 2007 when I was contacted by my friend Fabio Castellani from Italy. He was looking to find a new home for the 6152/1 watch, which he got years ago from Mario Arillo, high decorated veteran of the Xa MAS and commander of the submarine “Ambra”. It was one of these moments in life, which rarely happen and which will remain as something very special and unforgettable. The agreement was found in a few e-mails and soon later I became the third owner of this incredible watch.

Soon later, still thrilled everytime I was looking at it, the idea of writing a book about this watch was born. It came not just with it’s original box – it came with a long history. I remembered the story of it’s first owner Mario Arillo, which I read many times in books before. It was the perfect match to some vintage Panerai watches owned by my friend Ralf, who also had the idea in mind about writing down the rich history that came along with his watches. The first book project “Vintage Panerai – Watches with History” was born – let’s do it!

In june 2007 I came across a black-and-white copy of a photo showing Mario Arillo, receiving the gold medal for bravery – the “Medaglia d’Oro al Valore Militare” (M.O.V.M.) by Italian king Vittorio Emanuele III, june 10th, 1943. Fabio Castellani gave me this copy with the note that the original photo is in property of Arillo’s family… “now that would be a photo to have in the book!” was my initial thought. I emailed Fabio, telling him about my book idea and that I would need the original photo to publish it in good quality – a black-white copy would not be enough to use… Soon later he provided the address of the family. I wrote a little letter, introducing myself, my book project and that I am the owner of their father’s Panerai watch. Honestly, I expected nothing but received more than I could hope. How would you react if a strange person would tell you such a story? To my surprise and excitement, a few weeks later a padded envelope arrived in my mailbox. From Italy – from Arillo’s family! After opening carefully – still get goose skin when thinking back to this moment – I found the original photo from 1943. I was speechless!

Happy like a kid on christmas eve, I put the photo into my scanner and digitalized it to use in my growing book project. Jackpot! A few days later I returned the original photo as promised, well protected and extra safety, together with some sweets and a letter which expressed my happiness and thanks that the Arillo family trusted me – a yet unknown person from Germany – in sending me a family treasure, which this photo surely was…

I went ahead in writing the book and soon later I got again an envelope from Arillo’s family…? I was one more time surprised. The original photo came to me again, but now with a hand written dedication on the backside – from Arillo’s daughter: “to my friend Volker, in memory of my father Mario Arillo M.O.V.M.”. I was speechless again!

After the book was finished in october 2007, it was my pleasure to send her a copy of the book which holds the photo of her father. We continued to exchange letters and in summer 2008 during the VIII Club Panerai Meeting we met in person for the first time. Very exciting moments to remember, which are beyond collecting watches for me. When I got the watch more than one year before, I never thought that one day I would have the chance to meet the children and grand children of Mario Arillo.

The typical description for a collectors’ watch “comes with box and papers” has a very special meaning for me. The photo on the left shows the 6152/1 watch in it’s original cardboard box from Panerai, a letter from Rolex dating these type of watches to the year 1955 and the original photo of the first owner, Mario Arillo.

Read more about this watch and its first owner in Chapter IV of the book “History1”.  
[Volker Wiegmann]

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