Two Vintage Panerai at Phillip’s The Geneva Watch Auction: Seven

This year’s auction season is about to begin and Phillips has already unveiled their The Geneva Watch Auction: Seven catalogue. Two interesting vintage Panerai watches will also be part of the auction on May 12/13, 2018.

Update May 09, 2018
The original dial and the previous crown/tube of the 3646 with case number 260745 was found and will be included in the lot. Scroll down to learn more about it.


Lot 212: Rolex Panerai 6152/1 with crown-protecting device, 124673, Guardia di Finanza No. 3

Direct link Lot 212, Rolex Panerai 6152/1, 124673



The present watch seems to be completely new to the market. At least it wasn’t registered in my database until now. The first thing that immediately catches the eye are the odd hands. Phillips says:

“In lovely condition with later hands believed to have been fitted decades ago…”


These hands are indeed strange and I’ve been contacted by several interested parties who were scratching their heads as to why in heaven’s name someone would offer a 6152/1 with such hands.

Well, if the watch was found like this, I think it’s a great move that they didn’t attempt to restore it to original condition and fool someone into believing the watch is completely original. To me this looks like an honest watch.


Dial and Hands

The dial of this watch is an original LUMINOR PANERAI dial from the 1960s. The engravings are thin and precise. G. Panerai e Figlio was a precision workshop after all and everything that left the premises had to be perfect. The lume appears to have slightly crackled underneath the transparent fillings of the numerals and hour markers.



As mentioned before, the hands are quite odd. The original hands were probably replaced at some point. Both hands are the same size and they are distinguished only by the amount of lume. My guess is the fully lumed hand is supposed to be the hour hand while the partially lumed hand would be the minute hand, but it could easily be the other way around considering that this is a diving watch, where the minute hand, especially when diving with compressed air, is more important than the hour hand. But then again, this watch doesn’t have a time recording rotating bezel.

However, finding original hands shouldn’t be that difficult in case the new owner would decide to restore this watch to original condition.

Read more Vintage Panerai Dials


Case and Crown-Protecting Device

The case of this watch appears to be in great shape for its age. In 1955/56, Rolex delivered around 500 pieces of Ref. 6152/1 with their usual Rolex screw-down Big Crown to Panerai in Florence. Panerai later modified this reference in order to take Panerai’s patented crown-protecting device. The half-moon shaped crown guard required a completely flat seating. The streamlined side profile of Rolex case had therefore to be machined.



The half-moon-shaped Panerai crown-guard bears the number 9 on the front. The meaning of these numbers is still unknown but it is possible that Panerai used them for fitting purposes. Some crown guards are engraved with BREV. ITAL., an indication that this device was patented in Italy. The present watch however, doesn’t have this remark.



Movement and Caseback

The movement of 124673 is in great shape too. Only minor wear is visible. Everything is as it should be. The movement is a typical highly elaborated Rolex 618 Type 4 with 17 jewels, overcoiled Breguet hairspring and Glucydur balance wheel. This type of movements were made by Cortebert, a prime supplier to Rolex for large pocket watch movements.



Read more Vintage Panerai movements

Cortebert equipped these movements with an overcoiled Breguet hairspring and a Glucydur balance wheel, whereaus regular Cortebert movements had only a flat hairspring and a monometalic balance wheel.

The original antimagnetic cover made of soft iron is preserved and part of the set.



The inside of the caseback shows the typical Rolex hallmarks.



The following picture shows the Guadia di Finanza engravings, which make this watch a rare bird among rare birds. Only a handfull examples are known to exist.



However, it needs to be mentioned that the engravings of G.F. No. 5 are considerably different than the engravings on G.F. No. 2. The reason for this discrepancy is unknown. It is possible that these watches were delivered one by one on specific request and that at some point, Panerai or who ever engraved the caseback, used a different set of stencils.




Lot 212 is a great watch in my opinion. The 6152/1 case with its iconic crown-protecting device represents the culmination of Panerai design. When you think of Panerai you think of exactly this design. The LUMINOR dial has a very nice patina and the movement is in fantastic shape. Except for the odd hands, this watch appears to be in completely original condition. The Guardi di Finanza engravings are the icing on the cake, provided they are original. The original leather strap seems to be gone. The watch is equipped with a modern Richemont Panerai croc strap instead.


Lot 213: Rolex Panerai 3646 anonymous “Kampfschwimmer”, 260745

Direct link Lot 213, Rolex Panerai 3646, 260745



Lot 213 is a typical 3646 anonymous “Kampfschwimmer”, at least at first sight (moren on this later). This type of watches were confiscated by German forces during the occupation of Italy in 1944 and used by German combat swimmer commandos in their desperate attempts to slow down the Allied anvances during the final months of WW2.

According to my database, case number 260745 is not new to the market. A watch with the same case number was auctioned by Christie’s in London on September 30, 1997.


Dial and Hands

The Panerai Sandwich dial of this watch has developed a sensational patina. There are all kinds of grandients from orange to dark red within the numerals and hour markers. It’s simply amazing. The hands were probably relumed at some point.



Read more Vintage Panerai Dials


Case and Crown

The iconic cushion case appears to be in a great condition, considering its age of over 73 years. The caseback has no specific “Kampfschwimmer” engravings. The soldering of the wire lugs appears to be intact.



The following picture shows the perfect Rolex Brevet screw-down crown No. 11, a so-called onion crown.



Movement and Caseback

Below a picture of the highly elaborated Rolex 618 Type 1b made by Cortebert. This movement has 17 jewels, an overcoiled Breguet hairspring and a fully jewelled escapement wheel (cap stones on both sides). The bridges have developed a beautiful patina over the years. The movement ring with its metallic colour is absolutely correct for this type of watch. Ratchet and crown wheel have retained their beautiful swirl adornment.



Detail view of the movement. The red colour filling of the engravings is still partially visible.



Read more Vintage Panerai movements

The dodecagonal screw caseback with crisp perlage finish and typical 1940s Rolex hallmarks. The original lead gasket is included.



The following detail picture of the Rolex hallmarks shows that watchmaker marks are present on the caseback, a clear indication that the watch has been serviced at leat once.



At Auction in 1997

As mentioned earlier, a watch with case number 260745 was auctioned by Christie’s on September 30, 1997. The name of the auction was “The Ravenborg Collection of Rolex Watches”. Lot number 9 was a 3646 with typical Sandwich dial. As you can see on the picture below, the watch had a Rolex coronet on the dial. This was nothing unusual back then. Some collectors wanted to show they own a Rolex watch and instructed their watchmakers to apply a Rolex coronet on the dials.



I believe this could be the same watch and that it was possible to remove the Rolex coronet without damaging the dial. The dial could have continued to develop patina during the past 20 years and as a result it could have become considerably darker. The Triplock crown was probably replaced with an original Rolex Brevet screw-down crown No. 11 to restore the watch to original condition.



Update April 27, 2018

Phillips has updated the condtion report.

The crown has been replaced by a period correct original crown. The original dial which had a Rolex crown was replaced by the present period correct dial.


After this article was published, the consignor of this 3646 came forward and disclosed that in April 2017 the dial and the crown were replaced in order to restore the watch to original condition. It is indeed the same watch that was auctioned by Christie’s in 1997. The replacement was executed by the renowned vintage Panerai dealer Francesco Ferretti. I double checked with Mr. Ferretti and he explained that the Rolex coronet on the original dial could not be removed without damaging the dial. The crown and the crown tube were also replaced. According to Mr. Ferretti, the owner received the old parts.


Update May 09, 2018

The original dial and the previous Triplock crown/tube of the 3646 with case number 260745 was finally found and will be included in the lot. The consignor of this watch gave the watch for service and restoration to a Panerai retailer in Turin. The retailer sent the watch to Ferretti. After the service, Ferretti returned the watch including the raplaced parts to the retailer in Turin. The retailer handed over the watch but kept the replaced parts.

As you can see, the Rolex coronet is still glued on the original dial.


The back of this dial shows that it is a typical Panerai dial made in 1944. The dial feet are intact.


The Rolex coronet was glued onto the dial. I believe it can be easily removed without leaving any trace.


There is a slight damage near the numeral at 3. This was probably another reason why this dial was probably replaced.


The patina of this dial is fantastic. The radium lume is slightly crackled untereneath the transparent seal. The lume has turned to a dark orange colour.

Here’s a detail of the numeral at 3.


Numeral at 6.


Numeral at 9.


Numeral at 12.


And here’s the Triplock crown and the corresponding tube that was installed on the watch before the service in April 2017. These parts will also be included in the lot as they form part of the history of this watch.




This watch was possibly a war souvenir brought home by a British soldier after WW2. Early Panerai watches, especially those with anonymous dials were a mystery. The watches were clearly signed by Rolex on the inside but the dial was unsigned. Owners of these watches would ask their watchmakers to print Rolex or attach a Rolex coronet onto the dial in order to show they owned a Rolex watch. As said, this was nothing uncommon. I have several 3646s in my database that “suffered” the same fate. Most of them, if not all, were restored to original condition.

A watch like this is an important piece of history. Replacing a dial without real need would take away an important part of this history. Luckily, the original dial could be found and will be included in the lot. A skilled dial restorer should try to remove the Rolex coronet and return the watch to its original condition.

However, this 3646 “Kampfschwimmer” is in great condition. The patina on both dials is simply fantastic. The hands have probably been relumed but this is no major issue, as old radium lume tends to break off and most watches had to be relumed at some point. We are talking about watches that are more than 70 years old after all. I also like the movement with its beautiful patina. One thing about this watch is very special. In this case number range, the watches usually have a low bezel and either California or a painted brass dials. This watch clearly stands out for unknown reasons.

Thank you for you interest. Please do not hesitate to comment and share your thoughts at the end of the page. If you have any questions please use the comment function to get in touch with me. Comments are only displayed after approval.


The Panerai Time Machine

Both Rolex Panerai watches presented in this article are milestones in Panerai’s history and are depicted accordingly on the Panerai Time Machine. Please click the graphic to download the highres version.



This timeline is available as a high quality print in two sizes:

  • 120 x 68 cm (47 x 26 inch): EUR 85.00 (plus shipping)
  • 150 x 85 cm (59 x 33 inch): EUR 120.00 (plus shipping)

Printed with HD Inkjet on high quality photo paper.

Limited edition: 50 pieces, numbered and signed by Maria Teresa Panerai in Giuseppe Panerai’s very own laboratory at the historical site of the Villino Panerai (Panerai Villa) in Florence: Sold out

More information: The history of Panerai watches at a glance

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