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.”

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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