Two interesting vintage Panerai watches will be auctioned in Geneva by Phillips Auctioneers on May 15th, 2016.
Ref. 3646 Type E, 260850
The first one, Lot 122, is a pristine Ref. 3646 Type E from 1944. The watch features a”California” dial and is completely anonymous without any Rolex signatures.
“The dial of the present example is completely unrestored and in immaculate condition, still retaining its shiny surface, and its correct, original blued steel luminous hands. The case has never been polished before, and shows very few signs of having been worn over the course of its 70 some years of age. Even what we believe to be the original strap is still fitted to the watch. Similarly, the Rolex-finished Cortébert caliber 618 movement is in absolutely mint condition, without even a trace of a watchmaker having ever worked on it.”
Lot sold for CHF 85.000.- (CHF 106.250 inc. Premium)
Considering its excellent condition and the case number 260850, this watch could be one of 30 NOS (New Old Stock) watches with “California” dial found in the old factory warehouses of Arturo Junghans S.A. in Venice in the early 1990s.
According to “Panerai – Una storia Italiana”, the Nazis raided G. Panerai e Figlio of all material and machinery before their retreat from Florence in August 1944. Everything that was stolen from Florence was brought to Arturo Junghans S.A. on the island of Giudecca in Venice.
According to the authors of the book plenty of G. Panerai e Figlio materials were found whilst cleaning out the Junghans factory warehouses in the 1990s. Among these were also 30 NOS Ref. 3646 watches with California dials, still in their cardboxes.
Several California and brass dials were found there as well. One of those watches is case number 260856, a fully anonymous 3646 Type E. The watch for sale at Phillips is case number 260850, only 6 numbers away. The condition of the movement speaks for itself. All movement screws are untouched! No watchmaker has ever worked on it, this is how it left the Rolex facilities in 1944.
The case back of this watch was engraved by its first owner with “Hauenstein Heinrich, 8.8.21, Solnhofen Bay(ern)”. This watch is a perfect example of a late and totally anonymous 3646 Type E. Aside from the engraved case back it is totally untouched. The 30 watches from Venice were found without straps. Another thing to consider is that this watch, if it is indeed one of those 30 watches from Venice, would have not seen any action since it was stored away in a warehouse for over 45 years.
Welded lugs transitional 3646 with Angelus 240
The second watch, Lot 123, is a modified Ref. 3646 with Angelus 240 movement. The modifications were probably executed in the 1960s. The case has stronger lugs which were welded to a Ref. 3646 case. The dial of this watch appears to be original. The shape of the number 3 matches regular 6152 1 dials.
Lot sold for CHF 160.000.- (CHF 197.000 inc. Premium)
This watch comes with a high bezel and a Rolex tube crown. Unlike typical Ref. 3646 watches with polished cases this watches features an antireflective coating.
The Angelus 240 movement of this watch is perfect! It is definitely one of those movements produced by Angelus on specific request of G. Panerai e Figlio for the use in wrist watches. The date on the main plate is JUIN.61. The movement has 17 Jewels and is in a very good condition. The display case back of this watch bears a matriculation number “-I- Matr. No. 11”.
This type of case backs were used in watches made for Officers and NCOs (Non-comissioned Officers) of Com.Sub.In. (Comando Subacquei Incursori). Watches with this type of case back were never used by the Varignano Operative Groups.
Both watches are very interesting and unique. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have further questions.
Thanks for your interest.
Special thanks to Phillips for the fantastic pictures!