Sotheby’s in New York is about to auction a “rare” Pre Vendôme 5215-207/A with blue dial today. After receiving further pictures of the watch and reading through detail information of this specific reference I must advice interested parties to be very cautious with this watch, as it is not be what it seems. The blue dial is not original to this watch.
Link to the auction: Sotheby’s Lot 153 Panerai 5218-207/A, 032/200
“The present lot is an interesting example as this reference with the blue indexes on a white dial was produced in an extremely limited number, likely under 10 examples.”
According to “Panerai – Una storia Italiana” a book by Loris Pasetto and Luciano Cipullo, 41 of these watches were sent to Sylvester Stallone in December 1995. Sly did not like the blue dial and 37 watches were returned to Officine Panerai S.p.A. in three different shipments. 4 watches were never returned and went missing.
On page 172 of “Panerai – Una storia Italiana” the authors list the missing watches. The numbers are: 032, 033, 034 and 035.
For some reason, Officine Panerai S.p.A. decided to redo all matriculation numbers due to the 4 missing watches, after they replaced the dials with a more “popular” version with black numerals and markers. On page 174 it says:
“As a result of the missing four watches and their respective matriculation numbers, the decision was made to redo the numbering sequence, milling away the previous entry and placing a new number in the rectangular space previously obtained by bas-relief.
On 12th March 1996 the 101 Daylights were sent to Guenat S.A. Montres valgine for the necessary changes. 97 watches, numbered 001 to 097, were returned on 27th May whilst the remaining four (098 – 101) were delivered directly by Guenat to Monty Shadow (without box or guarantee).”
Sotheby’s sent me a picture of the caseback. As you can clearly see, the area where the sequence number “032/200” was placed is recessed. This is without a shadow of a doubt one of those watches where the initial sequence number has been milled off. It is definitely not one of those 4 watches with the initial blue dial that went missing. If it were it would not have the rectangular recess.
The blue dial does not belong to this watch. It is difficult to say whether the sequence numbering 032/200 is original or not. Perhaps this is the originally redone 032/200 and after reading the book someone decided to change the dial in order to make an extra buck. The possibility that the number is fake must also be taken into consideration though.
Here is number 089/200 to compare.
The supposedly original watch with sequence number 032/200 was published on Social Media as a reaction to this article. As you can see, there is no rectangular recess underneath the reference number.
Update July 06, 2017
I say “supposedly original” very deliberately, since the way the number “032” was engraved appears to be wrong. The casebacks of Reference 5218-205/A and 5218-207/A are reworked 5218-201/A parts. If we look at the next photo of a 5218-205/A, the sequence number has a different format (N. 049/200) compared to the watch above (032). This is how the casebacks for Reference 5218-207/A must have looked before the decision was made to redo the numbers.
The following technical drawing of the 5218-207/A caseback was re-drawn in July 1996 based on the original drawings made by Guenat S.A. Montres Valgines. It appears that initialy, the sequence number was defined as “N. xxx/200”.
The next picture shows the Eta 6497 movement with its distinctive “Panerai” decorations. According to “Panerai – Una storia Italiana” this movement is a “MKI A”. In 1994 Guenat S.A. already started to install “MKI B” movements, which are slightly different.
For the production of Ref. 5218-207/A Slytech, Officine Panerai S.p.A. sent 105 already produced and not yet sold Ref. 5218-201/A (Logo) watches back to Guenat S.A. in Switzerland to be modified. Many of these watches were from the first 5218-201/A (Logo) batch from 1993 and an early movement type is therefore not unusual for this reference.
The inside of the caseback bears the number 6047 stamp which is the Guenat S.A. Montres Valgine code for Luminor cases.
This watch comes with the receipt for a service that was done in 2007 by Richemont Offine Panerai in Italy. This document does not say whether the blue dial was already installed in 2007.
Considering the information that is available for this specific reference, this watch does not appear in good light. The dial does not belong to this watch and whether the sequence numbering 032/200 is orginal or not is up to speculation.
Stay safe out there.