Vintage Panerai – Grey zone reloaded

Prologue

In 2007 a couple Vintage Panerai watches were sold at Christie’s “Important Pocket Watches & Wristwatches” auction. In “Vintage Panerai – Entering the grey zone” i already introduced a 6152/1 with an altered Kampfschwimmer dial with “Marina Militare” engravings. It turns out that Christie’s used a wrong image to picture that watch (Lot 323). The main picture shows a 6152/1 with case number 124949 (same auction, Lot 322) instead, the subject of this article. Nevertheless i was able to find the real 124758 and brace yourself… it also has an altered Kampfschwimmer dial.

Two 6152/1 at the very same auction with altered Kampfschwimmer dials… what a coincidence!

Let’s see this second watch in detail first.

 

2007

Lot 322 was a 6152/1 from 1955 with crown protecting device and sought after “Marina Militare” dial. The case number is 124949. This watch has a display case back similar to those used for the first series of 6152/1 with Angelus 240 movements.

As already mentioned above it has most certainly an altered Kampfschwimmer dial with later applied “Marina Militare” engravings.

This watch was sold for CHF 82,600.00.

Lot 322, 2007

d4982895x
Christie’s Lot 322, 2007

 

2010

The same watch was offered at Antiquorum in 2010. This picture shows very clear that the dial has a different patina than usual dials with “Luminor” luminous material. Why the lever of the crown protecting device is not on the watch is unknown. It might be due to bad image editing.

This auction fetched US $ 74,400.00.

Lot 66, New York, 2010

panerai_124949_front
Lot 66, New York, 2010

 

The Antiquorum Website also shows the Rolex 618 movement. A closer look reveals a few inconsistencies. It looks like it has been assembled from parts of different Rolex/Cortebert mechanisms.

124949_rolex_618_madeup
Rolex 618 assembled with parts from different Cal. 616/618 types

 

Barrel and train bridge of this movement suggest a correct Rolex 618 Type 4 for this 6152/1 but there is no “Cort” stamp on the base plate or it is not visible.

  • Barrel bridge: Rolex 618 Type 4
  • Train bridge: Rolex 618 Type 4 (with brass bushing instead of jewel for the centre wheel)
  • Escapement bridge: Rolex 618 Type 2 or 3 (15 Jewels)
  • Old balance cock with AR/FS engravings and flat hairspring: Cortebert 616
  • Ratchet wheel: Rolex 618 Type 1
  • Missing cover plate for Cortebert escapement bridge

 

Altered Dial

The dial of this watch is most certainly from a Kampfschwimmer. The open 6 and 9 are a reliable indication.

 

comp_124949_260563
Comparison dials, same 6 and 9, similar patina

 

comp_mm
Typical Marina Militare dials with almost closed 6’s and 9’s

 

Let’s have a close look at the engravings. They are unusual and especially the R’s have the wrong shape. Perhaps the inscription is not even engraved…

comp_engr_panerai_124949_AF
Comparison “Marina Militare” engravings with a typical dial

 

Something that stand out in the zoom below is the heavily damaged Rehaut at 3 (red arrow). This happened at a very crucial point of the case in regard of water tightness, the connection between plexi crystal and case. The water tightness of this case is compromised in my opinion.

panerai_dial_124949
Zoom of the dial, comparison 6 and 9 from a Kampfschwimmer dial

 

The damaged rehaut from a different angle.

Panerai 6152 1, 124949, damaged rehaut
Damaged rehaut

 

Nevertheless, it is possible that this watch was indeed repaired in order to stay in service. A water intrusion could in fact explain the messed-up movement and also the rusty hands. Even the replaced dial would make sense under these circumstances.

The question is who engraved the dial? Was it the military? Are engravings crucial for missions?

The display case back is another thing that doesn’t fit into the whole picture. Watches with display case back were most certainly never used by the Varignano Operative Groups according to the book “Panerai – Una storia Italiana”.

 

Photo credits: Christie’s (Lot 322, 2007), Antiquorum (Lot66, 2010), Phillips Lot 223, 2015

 

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