Naval heritage – Ernesto Notari’s Radiomir

by on Jun.07, 2024, under Allgemein

heritage_696_notariSince 1992, the Vintage Panerai watch which was worn by SLC pilot Ernesto Notari during the Second World War, is on display at the Museo Tecnico Navale in La Spezia. Back then, the watch’s first owner decided to give the watch to the museum on his own wish. It was accepted into the museum’s inventory and since then, it has been on display in a cabinet with other rare items from the Mezzi d’Assalto, where it is resting on one of the last remaining SLC devices.

In its unaltered original condition, it was an important source of information for us. With the support of the museum we were able to enter all details of the watch into our database. Beside the importance by the history behind, this watch marks the earliest known 3646 / Type A and so became the first watch in chapter II. With its engraved caseback it is of enormous significance with regard to the history of the Mezzi d’Assalto of the Royal Italian Navy.

Page 60 – 61: Comparing photos of Ernesto Notari’s Ref. 3646 / Type A from 2014 and 2008.


Being a member of the Mezzi Subacquei, Ernesto Notari trained at Bocca di Serchio, the secret base of the underwater special unit in Tuscany. In early 1940, the first training exercises were carried out, resulting in the 1935 concept of Teseo Tesei and Elios Toschi evolving into a real, secret weapon. After the desaster of Malta in July 1941, Ernesto Notari was commander of the training base Bocca di Serchio.

In 1943 Notari posted to the secret base in the Bay of Algeciras, the Olterra. After the successful return from mission B.G.6 in May 1943, Notari was awarded with the M.A.V.M. (silver medal for galantry at war) in the rank of Capitano di Corvetta. He solved another successful mission in August 1943: B.G.7, for which he was awarded M.A.V.M. one more time. B.G.7 was the last mission carried out from the tanker Olterra. The declaration of the ceasefire by Italy on 8 September 1943 brought all further plans to an end. The secret of the Olterra was only discovered by the British in October 1943. The undercover missions of the Decima MAS in Gibraltar were therefore highly successful. Although they did not have any major successes like in Alexandria, the continued presence of the Decima for a period of almost three years exercised constant pressure on the British. The use of Villa Carmela and the Olterra as secret starting bases for night-time missions showed the decisiveness of the Decima MAS and its courageous men – one of whom was Ernesto Notari.

Page 150 – 151: Illustration of the missions completed by the “Orsa Maggiore” in the Bay of Algeciras in 1942 and 1943.


After the Second World War, Ernesto Notari continued his career with the Marina Militare. As a Capitano di Fregata, he commanded the reformed special unit from 10 October 1947 to 25 September 1948. As a Capitano di Vascello, Notari served his second captaincy from 1 October 1950 to 14 March 1951. In 1952, he assumed command of the Sezione Tecnica Autonoma in Bacoli. The secret base in the province of Naples existed from 1949 to 1957 before being moved to Varignano as part of a restructuring process . This site was home to some of the remaining Mezzi d’Assalto equipment. By the end of his Navy career, Ernesto Notari had reached the rank of Vice-Admiral (Ammiraglio di Squadra).

Page 92 – 93: About the first owner of the watch, Admiral Ernesto Notari, photo taken after the Second World War.


The watch of Ernesto Notari (a Ref. 3646 / Type A with „Radiomir Panerai“ dial) and the history behind can be read in the book “The References” 1930’s-1940’s (chapter II.I, page 58 to 153). Read more on the Olterra here. Enjoy reading!


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