Author Archive

A Ref. 3646 / Type E with brass dial

by on Sep.12, 2021, under Allgemein

Introducing another Ref. 3646 / Type E watch which surfaced in Germany – this specimen appeared with painted brass dial.

Noteworthy is the well preserved original strap and “Bottle Opener” buckle, wich most of today’s surfacing watches don’t have anymore.

The “Kampfschwimmer” watch with anonymous painted brass dial has an unpolished case with a matching flat bezel. The onion shaped winding crown (“BREVET +” Type 11) can be screwed down onto the collar of the 47 mm cushion shaped case with soldered lugs.

Features of the watch:
Reference: 3646 / Type E
Dial: “Kampfschwimmer” (painted brass, anonymous)
Case number: 2608XX
Movement: Rolex Cal. 618 / Type 1 mod.

Inside the watch is a Rolex Cal. 618 / Type 1 mod. movement with typical decorations and engravings on the bridges (17 RUBIS / FAB. SUISSE). The blued steel hands appear untouched with original luminous material. The inner caseback is decorated with half polish. An overview of different decorative polish on the inside of the caseback (Type A – Type G) can be found on page 486 in our book “The References” 1930’s-1940’s.

Find more info on straps and buckles here. More info on Ref. 3646 watches without Rolex hallmarks can be found here. More info on Ref. 3646 watches with brass dials can be found here.

Here we added another unknown watch into our database – yet another piece of the puzzle surfaced. Thanks to the collector who shared the photos and information with us!

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A Ref. 3646 / Type E watch surfaced in New Zealand

by on Sep.07, 2021, under Allgemein

Webb’s auction house from Auckland / New Zealand contacted us recently, providing information and photos of a yet unknown Ref. 3646 / Type E with “California Dial”. The watch appears with the matching flat bezel and both lead seals above and below the 47 mm cushion shaped case. The outer caseback is not engraved and the inner caseback is missing the Rolex hallmark and reference number, which is a typical feature of Ref. 3646 / Type E watches. The onion shaped winding crown (“BREVET +” Type 11) can be screwed down onto the collar of the 47 mm cushion shaped case with soldered lugs.

The “Error-Proof Radium Dial” by Rolex, with its railroad track minute markers and “SWISS MADE” signature at six o’clock, features half arabic and half roman numbers with luminous material applied from above.

Since 2016, five new watches of the number group Ref. 3646 / Type E surfaced, two of them expanded the number group from 260856 – 261097 (as of 1.1.2016) to 260850 – 260111. We have 31 Ref. 3646 / Type E watches recorded as of today, including this specimen from New Zealand.

Features of the watch:
Reference: 3646 / Type E
Dial: “California Dial”
Case number: 2609XX
Movement: Rolex Cal. 618 / Type 1 mod.

You can read more about Ref. 3646 watches with dissappeared Rolex hallmarks here.

[Photos with kind permission / courtesy of www.webbs.co.nz]

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Ref. 3646 / Type D with brass dial @ Dr. Crott

by on Aug.26, 2021, under Watch Point

We recently added another unknown watch into our database – yet another piece of the puzzle surfaced, which marks the Ref. 3646 / Type D #104 in our records. The “Kampfschwimmer” watch with anonymous painted brass dial appears with an unpolished case with a matching flat bezel. The original winding crown has been replaced.

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.

The caseback of the watch is not engraved. However, a handwritten note from the son of the “Kampfschwimmer” explains that his father completed his training in Bad Tölz at Lehrkommando 702. You can read more about the training site Bad Tölz and the Lehrkommando 702 in our book “History2” on page 660-662 and 789-795.

The watch will be up for auction on November 13, 2021 at Dr. Crott’s 105th auction in Mannheim.

The inner caseback bears the typical Rolex SA hallmark, reference and case number known for 3646 / Type D watches. Inside the watch is a Rolex Cal. 618 / Type 1 movement with typical decorations and engravings on the bridges (ROLEX 17 RUBIS / FAB. SUISSE).

Features of the watch:
Reference: 3646 / Type D
Dial: “Kampfschwimmer”  (painted brass, anonymous)
Case number: 2607XX
Movement: Rolex Cal. 618 / Type 1

We hope that this Ref. 3646 / Type D with brass dial will find a good new home and remains surfaced in the Vintage Panerai collectors world. [Ralf Ehlers & Volker Wiegmann]

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New entry in our database: a brass dialed 3646 / Type D

by on Aug.26, 2021, under Allgemein

We recently added another yet unknown watch into our records: a “Kampfschwimmer” watch with anonymous, painted brass dial. Today it marks watch #104 which is matching the criteria for our database classification of the Ref. 3646 / Type D.

You can read more about the watch and its details here.

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21 August 1940 – today in history…

by on Aug.21, 2021, under Allgemein

R_Somm_Iride_600x600Gulf of Bomba (Lybia). In August 1940, the time had finally come to put the new SLC weapon to the test. Alexandria in the eastern Mediterranean was the main base of the British Mediterranean fleet. The battleships at anchor there were the first targets for missions of the Mezzi d’Assalto involving the SLCs.

The transport submersible Iride, under the command of Tenente di Vascello Francesco Brunetti, prepared for its tour of duty with the SLCs on 21 August 1940, ready to attack the Port of Alexandria in the night of 25/26 August 1940. Eleven servicemen with four SLCs aboard the torpedo boat Calipso were dispatched to the Gulf of Bomba on the Libyan coast. There, the SLCs were tested at held ready for departure until they were ready to launch mission G.A.1 a few days later with the submersible Iride.

GA1_Iride_Bomba_Bay2_600x600Right at the start of its test run, however, the submersible Iride was spotted by three Fairey Swordfish torpedo bombers, which had launched from the aircraft carrier HMS Eagle. The enemy bombers began their attack straight away (see historic map on the left).

The shallow water in the Gulf of Bomba prevented the Iride from descending quickly. Instead, it attempted to ward off the attack at full speed with its anti-aircraft cannons. At the same time, Brunetti tried in vain to direct the bow of the submersible towards the attackers in order to reduce the area of the Iride exposed to attack. However, the Iride was soon hit by a torpedo and sank. The boats quickly dispatched to the scene managed to rescue some of the shipwrecked crew members from the Iride. A dramatic race against time began.

GA1_Iride_Birindelli_600x600 The SLC teams under Gino Birindelli (right in the photo), Teseo Tesei, Elios Toschi, Luigi Durand de la Penne and Emilio Bianchi dived straight down to the wreck of the Iride in order to save the survivors who were trapped down there. Although the equipment belonging to the SLC pilots on board the Iride was lost, but the three SLCs were recovered for use in later missions. The SLCs pilots returned to the Bocca di Serchio on board the Calipso.

During the rescue of the survivors from the Iride, they had pushed themselves to the very limit of what was humanly possible. Loss of human life and equipment was the sobering result of the first mission „Operazione G.A.1“ with the new weapon of the Mezzi d’Assalto.

Read more on Gino Birindelli, one of the surviving SLC teams, in chapter VIII.II on page 1014-1043 or click also here. More information on the historic content in our “The References” book set can be found here. Read about the featured watches from Guido Panerai & Figlio in the first and second volume here.

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25 July 1941 – today in history…

by on Jul.25, 2021, under Allgemein

Giobbe_Malta_600x600Augusta (Sicily) 11 pm. The night of 25 July 1941 marks the beginning of the “Operazione Malta 1”, known by its disastrous result for the Mezzi d’Assalto, only three months after the first successful attack with MT explosive boats against British ships in Souda Bay (Crete) on 26 March 1941. One day later, in the early morning of 26 July 1941, the Decima MAS lost the head of the flotilla (Capitano di Fregata Vittorio Moccagatta), the head of explosive boats (Capitano di Corvetta Giorgio Giobbe), the doctor of the flotilla (Tenente Medico Bruno Falcomatà), SLC pilots (including their inventor, Teseo Tesei) and MT explosive boats pilots during the attack of the harbour of La Valetta (Malta).

Giobbe_Panerai_600x600On a side note of the history, the commander of the explosive boats / “Mezzi di Superficie”, Giorgio Giobbe (1906-1941), is well known for wearing his Panerai watch on his right wrist in a photo taken prior the mission against Malta (see page 111-115 in chapter II.I). More about missions and watches of the Decima MAS can be found here.

Read more about “The birth of a legend – the first Panerai watches (1935-1939)” in chapter I, followed by the timeline of the missions during the Second World War in chapter II.I – more information on the historic content in our “The References” book set can be found here. Read about the featured watches from Guido Panerai & Figlio in the first and second volume here.

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Mezzi d’Assalto

by on Jun.26, 2021, under Allgemein

MdA_MT_600x600Just a few days before the first success of the MT explosive boats on 26 March 1941 in Souda Bay, the 1st MAS Flotilla changed its name and became the 10th MAS Flotilla – the Decima MAS on 15 March 1941. Capitano di Fregata Vittorio Moccagatta was the new commander and divided the special weaponry – Mezzi d’Assalto – into two divisions:

The surface division – Mezzi di Superficie – under the command of Capitano di Corvetta Giorgio Giobbe (see photo on page 115, commander Giobbe wearing clearly visible a Panerai watch on his right wrist) had a fleet of various explosive boats (category MT, MTM, MTR, MTS, MTMS, SMA and MTL) for sabotage operations, based in La Spezia.

MdA_Gamma_600x600The underwater division – Mezzi Subacquei – under the command of Capitano di Corvetta Junio Valerio Borghese operated the diving School in Livorno, the SLC training base at Bocca di Serchio, the transport submersibles (Scirè and Ambra) and the frogmen of the “Gruppo Gamma”.

After the desaster at Malta in July 1941 (“Operazione Malta 1”), the Decima MAS was restructured. Capitano di Fregata Ernesto Forza became the new commander of the Decima MAS. The underwater division was given the name of the fallen inventor of the SLC, Teseo Tesei, now commanded by Junio Valerio Borghese. The surface division was given the name of the fallen commander of the Decima, Vittorio Moccagatta, now commanded by Salvatore Todaro. See page 116 with a historical chart of the new structured Mezzi d’Assalto as of October 1941:

preview_refv2_0116-0117_XaMAS_1941

Ernesto Notari became commander of the SLC training base at Bocca di Serchio. His Ref. 3646 / Type A “Radiomir Panerai” (with its unique engraved caseback) is documented on page 58 – 91.

heritage_696_notari_060-061

Read more about the Mezzi d’Assalto on page 92 – 153 in chapter II.I of the book “The References” 1930’s-1940’s.

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Visintini’s 3646 / Type C “Radiomir Panerai”

by on May.10, 2021, under Allgemein

Rahmen_2019_3646TypeC_LVA watch of the Reference 3646 / Type C which belonged to the SLC pilot Licio Visintini is featured in chapter II.III. Visintini took part in several missions against the allied fleet in Gibraltar.

After surviving from mission B.G.3 and B.G.4 in 1941, Visintini returned undercover to Gibraltar in June 1942 where he built the core of the “Orsa Maggiore” on board the tanker Olterra – the hidden base for the SLC units of the “Decima” in the bay of Gibraltar. Mission B.G.5 turned into a “mission with no return” for Licio Visintini in December 1942…

The documentation of the watch (engraved caseback and view into the movement shown above) and the history of Licio Visintini can be read from page 350 to 397 in chapter II.III.

Information on “The References” 1930’s-1940’s (first volume) can be found here.

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Missions and Watches of the Decima MAS

by on Apr.18, 2021, under Allgemein

SLC_RC_300x300Watches from Guido Panerai & Figlio are deeply connected to the history of the Royal Italian Navy during the Second World War. In our book “The References” we have included an overview of the missions of the “Decima” aside the legendary watches, which were an important part of the units of the underwater (“Mezzi Subacquei” / “Gamma” frogmen and SLC) and surface (“Mezzi di Superficie” / explosive boats) special forces of the Decima MAS (“Mezzi d’Assalto”).

After the disaster at Malta in July 1941 (“Operazione Malta 1”), the Decima MAS was restructured. Capitano di Fregata Ernesto Forza became the new commander of the Decima MAS. The underwater division was given the name of the fallen inventor of the SLC, Teseo Tesei, now commanded by Junio Valerio Borghese. The surface division was given the name of the fallen commander of the Decima, Vittorio Moccagatta, now commanded by Salvatore Todaro (the photo below shows a historical chart of the new structured Mezzi d’Assalto as of October 1941).

DecimaMAS_1941_300x300Chapter I and II of the first volume (1930’s-1940’s) carry the history of a new weapon – the SLC slow running torpedo, called “maiale” – and the men who trusted on the watches from Guido Panerai & Figlio during their dangerous missions in deep and darkness of the mediterranean sea. Because of the significance of the fascinating history behind these watches, we have dedicated our new book “The References” to the inventors of the SLC, Teseo Tesei and Elios Toschi.

Chapter II of “The References” features some of the rarest Panerai watches owned by famous and high decorated Italian veterans. The first watch of the Reference 3646 / Type A, featured in chapter II.I, belonged to Admiral Ernesto Notari. He was awarded with the Silver Medal for Gallantry at War (M.A.V.M.) for the mission B.G.6 in May 1943.

heritage_696_Notari_070-071
The documentation of the watch (see above page 70-71) and the history of Ernesto Notari, including a summary of the “Mezzi d’Assalto” missions until 8 September 1943 can be read from page 58 to 153 in chapter II.I.

Chapter II.II, about the watches of the Reference 3646 / Type B, features the watch of the legendary “Gamma” frogman Luigio Ferraro. He was awarded with the Gold Medal for Gallantry at War (M.O.V.M.) for his “Stella” missions in the eastern part of the mediterranean sea in 1943.

heritage_696_Ferraro_190-191
The documentation of the watch (see above page 190-191) and the history of Luigi Ferraro can be read from page 190 to 225 in chapter II.II.

A watch of the Reference 3646 / Type C which belonged to the SLC pilot Licio Visintini is featured in chapter II.III. Visintini took part in several missions against the allied fleet in Gibraltar. After surviving from mission B.G.3 and B.G.4 in 1941, Visintini returned undercover to Gibraltar in June 1942 where he built the core of the “Orsa Maggiore” on board the tanker Olterra – the hidden base for the SLC units of the “Decima” in the bay of Gibraltar. Mission B.G.5 turned into a “mission with no return” for Licio Visintini in December 1942…

heritage_696_Visintini_352-353
The documentation of the watch (see above page 352-353) and the history of Licio Visintini can be read from page 350 to 397 in chapter II.III.

Information on “The References” 1930’s-1940’s (first volume) can be found here.

Enjoy reading!
[Ralf Ehlers & Volker Wiegmann]

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Reading a frogman’s battle report…

by on Apr.03, 2021, under Allgemein

One of the rarest historical documents which we came across during the research of our book “History2”: a handwritten battle report of a frogmen mission at the Pomeranian coast, dated April 3rd, 1945.

IMG_3727_600x600Documents from the last weeks of the Second World War are today, without a doubt, very hard to find – if existing after more than 70 years at all… With the support of the family of the German “Kampfschwimmer”, who once wrote this report after he returned safely from the combat zone, we were able to include this battle report (page 672-673 shown on the coffee table shot on the left) in chapter VII of “History2” (featuring the chapters V-IX with a total of 480 pages).

Interesting details in his handwritten battle report are the times which he mentioned aside other details, all easily readable on the sandwich dial of the Ref. 3646 / Type D (with 5 minute markers / indices) he was wearing during the mission: He wrote down 21:50, 23:30, 23:45, 23:50-0:30 and finally 2:05 AM – the moment he left the waters – after 4:15 hours trying to attack the Wollin railroad bridge together with a group of four frogmen from the “Einsatzgruppe Keller”, towing two mines thru the waters of the Dievenow. 

One of these five frogmen is featured in our book “History1”. Several pages of his diary are published in chapter II, where he wrote down what happened during the frogmen attack of the Gristow bridge at the Pomeranian coast (page 134-143).

IMG_3726_600x600Read more on further rare documents which helped us to capture the history behind the Ref. 3646 / Type D “Kampfschwimmer” watch, shown on the coffee table shot on the left here. Photos from the years 1944 and 1945 showing this watch on the frogman’s wrist, as well as his identification papers and travel documents issued in Venice, helped us to reconstruct the route he took to the mission grounds.

Obviously his handwritten battle report never reached the headquarters but somehow he managed to keep it safe for his personal records, giving us today, more than 70 years later, a detailed inside view on a mission he carried out together with four frogmen at the Eastern Front in April 1945…

Our two “History” books can be ordered only in our bookstore.

Enjoy reading stories behind these watches!
[Ralf Ehlers & Volker Wiegmann]

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