Author Archive

Hammer’s Ref. 3646 / Type B is up for auction

by on Nov.25, 2023, under General

Sotheby’s New York will auction a Ref. 3646 / Type B with riveted plastic dial in their Important Watches sale on 7 December 2023.

This 3646 is well known in the paneristi community and has been consigned by our dear friend Hammer along with other watches from his personal collection. You can read more on this rare Ref. 3646 / Type B “Radiomir Panerai” from 1941 here in our watch point.

[Photo courtesy of Martin Wilmsen]

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Sotheby’s New York to auction a Ref. 3646 / Type B

by on Nov.25, 2023, under Watch Point

Sotheby’s New York will auction a rare Ref. 3646 / Type B with riveted plastic dial – read more at their website here.

This specimen is one of only 21 Ref. 3646 / Type B watches known in our database until today. It has been recorded in 2013 and still remains the watch with the lowest case number within all known Ref. 3646 / Type B watches, bearing the small Oyster Watch Co hallmark on the inside of the caseback (“full polish” decoration) with its seven-digit casing reference number and the reference number 3646. You can read more on our 3646 caseback classification here.

The watch is fitted with a riveted plastic dial, which has a smaller diameter than the sandwich dials, visible by the little gap between dial and (high) bezel. It bears the famous “Radiomir Panerai” writing below 12 o’clock. The surface of the plastic dial has become distorted over time. The luminous material under the surface in the numerals and indices appears lightly raised, while the other areas have become recessed (see also photo here).

The watch is fitted with a Rolex crown (Type 13) with “Oyster Patent +” lettering. The steel hands on this watch have become competely skeletonized. The dodecagonal caseback of the watch does not have an outer engraving. The 47 mm steel case has the typical breadth of the curved strap loop, a common feature on watches from the early series (Type A to Type C) visible in the photo below.

Features of the watch:
Reference: 3646 / Type B
Dial: “Radiomir Panerai” (sandwich, riveted plastic dial)
Case number: 1009XXX
Movement: Rolex Cal. 618 / Type 1

We have featured this watch in our book “The References” 1930’s-1940’s in chapter II.II on page 173-189. It was one of several historic Panerai watches Hammer provided to us in 2014 to be featured in our books. We hope our friend’s beloved 3646 will find a good new home and that it remain surfaced in the Vintage Panerai collectors world. [Ralf Ehlers & Volker Wiegmann]

[Photos courtesy of Martin Wilmsen]

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“Il cavallo di Troia” – the secret SLC base

by on Nov.23, 2023, under Allgemein

IMG_3568_600x600Enemy ships in the harbour of Gibraltar have been in the sight of the Royal Italian Navy since September 1940. After several attacks by “Gamma” frogmen and SLC units, ideas to build a secret base of the Decima MAS were realized in the second half of the year 1942. Convoy ships for the United States were beginning to arrive in quantity. The numbers of potential targets at anchor in the Bay of Algeciras were growing almost daily.

Earlier in 1942, a base for the Decima MAS “Gamma” frogmen was established in the Villa Carmela near La Linea from where several missions were carried out against British merchant ships (see page 126-131 / chapter II.I). During the months of shaping Villa Carmela into an advanced base, the idea for a bigger and much more effective operation had taken form in the mind of Licio Visintini, one of the SLC pilots of the mission B.G.4 in September 1941 (see page 374-381 / chapter II.III) which was carried out from the submarine Scirè.

IMG_3570_600x600Before the new base was ready for action, each attack at Gibraltar had required a long submarine voyage, air and land transportation of the attack-teams, the shipping of supplies and weapons, arrangements for rendezvous, an approach by submarine, and finally the task of smuggling the survivors back to Italy thru neutral Spanish territory.

Licio Visintini’s idea became real with turning the anchored ship Olterra inside the pier of Algeciras into a secret base for SLC missions. Visintini and further technical specialists replaced the original crew of the Olterra. An assembly workshop for the SLC devices (which arrived in sections, declared as spare parts for the damaged ship) was established in the hull. A portside cabin of the Olterra became the observation post with an excellent view of Gibraltar harbour. Finally, a folding door on the port side bow (see coffee table shot of page 386-387 /chapter II.III) became the exit door for the SLC units below waterline to reach their targets – and to return back into the hull of the Olterra. After months of intensive work in total secrecy, the inconspicious ship Olterra was turned into a Trojan Horse“il cavallo di Troia” – and six men were ready for action with their SLC devices.

IMG_3565_600x600The Olterra was starting point of the following SLC missions against enemy ships in the bay of Algeciras / Gibraltar harbour: B.G.5 (7/8 December 1942), B.G.6 (7/8 May 1943) and  B.G.7 (3/4 August 1943). Our book “The References” 1930’s-1940’s features two Ref. 3646 watches which were used during these missions.

The Ref. 3646 / Type A “Radiomir Panerai” watch of Ernesto Notari is featured in chapter II.I (page 58-91 / see coffee table shot on the left) – more on this watch and its history can be found here. The Ref. 3646 / Type C “Radiomir Panerai” watch of Licio Visintini is featured in chapter II.III (page 350-367) – more on this watch and the history behind can be found here. The new “The References” books can be ordered only in our bookstore.

Enjoy reading!
[Ralf Ehlers & Volker Wiegmann]

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18 November 1944 – today in history…

by on Nov.18, 2023, under Allgemein

img_0626_600x600Read chapter VII of our book “History2” to find out what happened on 18 November 1944. Rare documents helped us to capture the history behind a Ref. 3646 / Type D “Kampfschwimmer” watch, which can be found in this chapter.

Beside photos from the years 1944 and 1945 showing the watch on the frogman’s wrist, as well as his identification papers and travel documents issued in Venice (see photo), helped us to reconstruct the route Hanns-Martin Kaufhold took to the mission grounds in the last months of the Second World War.

Read more about chapter VII of “History2” (70 pages, 58 photos, 6 technical illustrations) here. and here. You can purchase your copy of “History2” in our bookstore.

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Special Offers in our Bookstore!

by on Nov.09, 2023, under Allgemein

We offer bundles of both, “The References” (1930’s-1940’s and 1950’s-1960’s), “History” (volume 1 and 2) and also the Complete Library 4 Volumes with special prices where you can save up to 171 Euros!

Complete Library 4 Volumes = 685 EUR (20% Discount)

You can purchase the special offers in our bookstore now!

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30 October 1940 – today in history…

by on Oct.30, 2023, under Allgemein

1940. The first mission against the Port of Gibraltar (B.G.1) was aborted when it became clear that the British fleet had already left for Operation “Menace”. The transport submersible Scirè under the command of Junio Valerio Borghese was still 50 nautical miles off Gibraltar. Disappointed, the SLC teams returned to their secret base at Bocca di Serchio, where they intensively discussed the feasibility of this type of attack. This happened at the same time when „Operazione G.A.2“ was about to end with the sinking of the transport submersible Gondar.

R_SMG_Scire_Crest_600x600Initial, decisive proof of the feasibility and the successful, secret penetration of enemy ports was achieved by Comandante Borghese and his men in mission B.G.2. Again, three SLCs were dispatched: Teseo Tesei with Alcide Pedretti, Luigi Durand de la Penne with Emilio Bianchi and Gino Birindelli with Damos Paccagnini.

The Scirè came into position at around 1.30 a.m. on 30 October 1940 in order to allow the SLC teams to disembark from the conning tower of the submersible. The Scirè only remained at the surface for a short time so that the three SLC teams could reach the cylindrical pods on the deck of the submersible. The Scirè then retreated back beneath the surface. Under water, the three teams manoeuvred their SLCs out from the pods and started their attack on the Port of Gibraltar. The three teams experienced problems almost as soon as the attack began. While Tesei and his co-pilot Pedretti had problems with their breathing apparatus, Durand de la Penne and his co-pilot Bianchi experienced problems with their electric engine. Both teams decided to abort the attack and sink their SLCs. However, only De la Penne managed to do this. Tesei’s SLC was washed up on the Spanish coast near La Linea and caused quite a stir among both the Spanish authorities and the British secret service. Both teams swam to the Spanish coast and were able to return safely to Italy with the help of the Italian secret service.

BG2_Gibraltar_600x600The fate of the entire operation now lay in the hands of Gino Birindelli and his co-pilot Damos Paccagnini. Unaware of the fact that their comrades-in-arms had already had to terminate their mission, they launched their attack on the Port of Gibraltar. Although mission B.G.2 was in principle a failure because not one enemy ship was sunk, Birindelli and his co-pilot Paccagnini were able to prove for the first time that a “maiale” was able to enter an enemy port unnoticed.

„Operazione B.G.2“ marked the start of a three year war that took place noiselessly and under water in the Bay of Gibraltar. For Gino Birindelli, however, the mission marked the start of a journey through Allied POW camps that would last many months. Read more on mission B.G.2 and the story of Gino Birindelli in our book “The References” 1950’s-1960’s in chapter VIII.II on page 1014-1043.

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Visintini’s 3646 / Type C “Radiomir Panerai”

by on Oct.20, 2023, 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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“Operazione Stella” – Luigi Ferraro’s Panerai watch

by on Oct.01, 2023, under Allgemein

IMG_3065_600x600A “Gamma” frogman who wrote history. A photo from 1998 which was a reminder not to miss the chance to capture Luigi Ferraro’s story in our book “The References” – together with the 3646 / Type B watch he was wearing during the “Operazione Stella” in 1943.

One of the few watches which can be followed back to the first owner, which is also a very famous one: Luigi Ferraro (M.O.V.M.). Not easy to capture as much as possible of his story in a part in the first volume of “The References”, which filled several books of Italian authors with hundreds of pages. Even in the first Panerai books, written by Giampiero Negretti in 1998, Luigi Ferraro’s famous missions in the mediterranean sea found their place to be mentioned.

IMG_3071_600x600To get in touch with the family of the veteran Luigi Ferraro (1914-2006) was a very intensive and exciting time during the research about his Ref. 3646 / Type B “Radiomir Panerai” with riveted plastic dial (chapter II.II page 190-203). Paolo Ferraro, one of Luigi Ferraro sons, provided excellent photos and made personal documents available for us to be featured in our book, which gave us the chance to illustrate the history behind his father’s watch.

In January 1943 Luigi Ferraro obtained his qualification to carry out underwater missions. Initially posted to North Africa to attack enemy targets in the Port of Tripoli, he had to leave the area and returned to Italy. In May 1943 he was posted to La Spezia, where he received instructions from commander Borghese for a new mission – this time not in North Africa, but in the eastern Mediterranean: the Turkish ports of Alexandretta and Mersina. Luigi Ferraro’s four “Stella” missions, for which he was awarded with the M.O.V.M., are described in chapter II.II (page 204-225).

IMG_3070_600x600Aside several tools of his time as a “Gamma” frogman, Luigi Ferraro’s 3646 / Type B “Radiomir Panerai” never changed ownership and remained a memorable piece for him and his family since he returned from war. The watch shows intensive proof of aging and is an example of how different these rare watches have aged after more than 70 years. The watch still has its original strap, as well as its original domed plexiglas crystal – intensively aged with countless fissures. Numbers, indices and the typical “Radiomir Panerai” lettering on the riveted plastic dial can still be made out at some points.

Luigi Ferraro’s watch has been recorded in our database in 2014, however the watch was known to us already years before. The Rolex 618 / Type 1 movement in combination with the small Oyster Watch Co hallmark, embossed on the inner caseback together with the reference and case number, is matching our criteria for being a watch of the Reference 3646 / Type B. The outer caseback bears a rare matriculation number, of which only a very few 3646 watches are known today. We have published further information about the different matriculation numbers on some of these watches in chapter II.III (page 301-303).

Luigi Ferraro’s 3646 / Type B “Radiomir Panerai” with riveted plastic dial is published extensively in chapter II.II (page 190-203) of the book “The References” 1930’s-1940’s.

More 3646 watches with an interesting history, related to their first owners and the missions they carried out during the Second World War, are introduced in chapter II.I (Ernesto Notari) and in chapter II.III (Licio Visintini). Enjoy reading!

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25 July 1941 – today in history…

by on Jul.25, 2023, 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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Admiral Gigantesco’s Ref. 6152/1 is up for auction

by on Jun.06, 2023, under Allgemein

Aguttes will auction a Ref. 6152/1 “Luminor Panerai” with unique caseback engraving dedicated in the year 1983 to Admiral Cataldo Gigantesco.

We know this watch since June 2007 during a Panerai collectors meeting in Tuscany, where it submerged soon after for years and now surfaced for sale online at Aguttes (France). It is part of our database since Marco, son of the Admiral, showed us the watch 16 years ago (see photo on the left).

You can find more info on this rare Ref. 6152/1 with Rolex Cal. 618 / Type 4 movement and the unique engraving on its caseback at our Watch Point. 

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