Manipulated Vintage Panerai Dials

A few years ago, there was a discussion about highly radioactive Luminor dials on a Panerai forum. Old school researchers had measured such dials with a geiger counter and were surprised to see high radiation levels of Radium. Luminor is a tritium-based lume and should only emit low beta radiation. The researchers assumed, Panerai had used Radiomir luminous material for these dials and the case was closed.

After I found an anonymous Kampfschwimmer dial which had been engraved with “Marina Militare” to achieve a higher price at auction, I started to compare all dials I have in my database.

Wide open 6 and 9


There are two types of anonymous Kampfschwimmer dials. The earliest batch with an almost closed loop and the second batch with a more open loop. Dials with more open loops appear only in 3646 Kampfschwimmer.



So if we see dials with more open loops and engravings, the engravings are most certainly NOT ORIGINAL.

Could it be that those highly radioactive Luminor dials are nothing else but altered Kampfschwimmer dials?

The picture below shows an original Luminor dial from the 1960s. As you can see, the loops are almost closed.

Genuine Luminor Panerai dial from a 6152/1


I believe the following picture shows an altered Kampfschwimmer dial. The more open 6 and 9 are quite obvious. The patina doesn’t match regular Luminor Panerai dials and the back of the dial is different than the one above.

Altered Kampfschwimmer dial, most certainly highly radioactive


Let’s compare this dial with an untouched Kampfschwimmer dial. Same 6 and 9, patina is very similar as well and the construction of the back is identical. Note also the patina on the back plate. The material is probably naked brass as opposed to the plated back plate of 6152/1 dials.

Untouched 3646 Type D Kampfschwimmer dial, highly radioactive


Let’s see the construction of an early 3646 Type C dial. Almost closed loops on the front and the back is only slightly different. The material appears to be the same.

Early 3646 Type C dial, highly radioactive


To make this list complete let’s have a look at a 6154 Radiomir dial from the early 1950s. These dials are very thin, only about 1mm. The construction is slightly different and the back appears to be plated as in 6152/1 dials.

Thin 6154 dial, highly radioactive


Here is an overview of what i believe are altered Kampfschwimmer dials.


Panerai 3646 C 1010091 with crooked engravings

Early 3646 C 1010091 with altered Kampfschwimmer (check 6 and 9) dial


A closer look at the engravings compared to a similar 3646 C shows the differences. Note also the different patina of the markers.

Comparison of similar 3646 C, check the R’s


Read more: Detailed report about 1010091


Dial of Panerai 3646 C 1010103 with not centered engravings

Most certainly altered Kampfschwimmer dial


Dial of Panerai 3646 C 1010260 with crooked engravings

Altered Kampfschwimmer (check 6 and 9) dial with crooked engravings


Kampfschwimmer dial with Marina Militare Luminor Panerai engravings

Altered Kampfschwimmer dial, MMLP without sub seconds?


6152/1 124758 with Kampfschwimmer dial and Marina Militare engravings

Altered Kampfschwimmer dial (wide open 6 and 9)


Close up on the engravings, note the R’s (signature!)


The very same dial was installed in a 3646 (261352) with odd hands.

3646 with altered Kampfschwimmer dial


Detailed report about 124758


6152/1 with altered Kampfschwimmer dial

6152/1 with Kampfschwimmer dial (wide open 6 and 9, patina)


Close up on the engravings. The same signature R’s again.


Panerai 6152/1 with altered Kampfschwimmer dial

Altered Kampfschwimmer dial


And only within a few years the hands look much older…

Same watch with altered Kampfschwimmer dial and “aged” hands



All these dials have something in common: more open 6s and 9s and an R with a wrong shape. The more open 6 and 9 clearly identify them as anonymous Kampfschwimmer dials. In my opinion, they were not engraved by the old Panerai company. Most of them bear the same signature, especially the crooked ones.

I came across the information that in the early 1990s two individuals were able to extract around 600 dials (rejects, used and discarded), along with other materials from Officine Panerai S.p.A. in Florence. According to my information, Vendôme was offered the chance to buy over those dials in 1998 but the deal was never concluded.


Thanks for your interest.

Read more: World premiere: 20 watches of Ref. 6154 at a glance


Image sources: Christie’s Lot 323, 2007 & Lot 343, 2013, Phillips Lot 223, 2015, Antica Orologeria Zamberlan, Treviso


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