Engraved Ref. 3646 / Type D @ Artcurial

by on Dec.01, 2014, under Watch Point

Artcurial presents a rare, engraved Ref. 3646 / Type D “Kampfschwimmer” during their “Panerai only” auction in Paris, december 8th (LOT 5). The watch is recorded since december 2009 in our database and appears by the provided photos in the same condition as five years ago. Aside the typical features on inner caseback engravings and Rolex Cal. 618 / Type 1 movement, this Ref. 3646 / Type D watch appears with a light yellowish plexiglas and a replacement crown. The matte, dull appearance of the case, created by wearing the watch over a long period without polishing, creates an unique “patina”, which is typical for vintage watches of this age.

Features of the watch:
Reference: 3646 / Type D
Dial: “Kampfschwimmer”  (sandwich, engraved)
Case number: 2606XX
Movement: Rolex Cal. 618 / Type 1

Unique and very interesting feature of this watch is its individually engraved caseback, which bears a combination of owners’ initials and the symbol of a probation insignia (sawfish in an s-shaped rope with two crossed swords in the background). The s-shaped rope could be also a hint on the first owner’s name, building the initial “SW” with the other elements of the engraving.

The “sawfish in rope with two swords” symbol represents the successful participation in two missions, which was very rarely awarded in shape of a shoulder patch to wear on a navy uniforms’ sleeve. You can find a detailled overview of the seven different award levels of german special navy units in our book “History2” on page 804.

The description of the Artcurial auction LOT 5 explains, that this particular watch belonged to Heinrich Lehmann-Willenbrock (1911-1986), a well known german submarine commander during WW2, posted to Lorient, St. Nazaire (U-96) and Brest (U-256) from 1940 to 1944. He spent a total of 327 days at sea in 10 patrols. At the end of the 2nd World War, Lehmann-Willenbrock was commander of the 11th flotilla in Bergen/Norway. After one year in captivity he took part on salvage works in the Rhine river to recover sunken ships, around 1946/1947. This salvage work was done by the support of former frogmen (read more about salvage works post-WW2 in our “History” books in chapter II and V) and could have been a way for Lehmann-Willenbrock to get in touch with a frogmen’s watch, as we personally dont see the evidence that the watch was worn by Lehmann-Willenbrock during his active duty as a U-boat commander and / or commander of the 11th flotilla in 1944/1945 (the period in which german “Kampfschwimmer” units used these watches). However, the provided information about this watch, formerly owned by a high decorated WW2 veteran, is attached to the history of this watch and recorded for the future.

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.artcurial.com]

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