In late March 2018, Antiquorum announced a rare GPF 2/56 for their upcoming Hong Kong auction in April 2018.
After careful examination, I exposed the watch as counterfeit on my Instagram account. A day later, an infamous Instagram troll started attacking me and ridiculing my research. On the troll’s IG account, Antiquorum came forward and explained the watch had been withdrawn time ago and that the printer had left it in the catalogue by mistake. The funny thing was, the watch was listed on Antiquorum’s website until that very moment.
The GPF 2/56 was the first watch developed and produced by G. Panerai e Figlio “in-house”. It was also the first Panerai to ever use an Angelus 240 movement. In 1956, the Egyptian Navy approached Panerai and asked for instruments and watches for their underwater units. All Panerai watches until then had been produced by Rolex. Panerai had just received a big lot of 500 pieces of Ref. 6152/1 but was not allowed to sell these watches to other countries. In consequence, and in order to win the important Egytian business, Panerai developed the GPF 2/56, a gigantic watch with a diameter of 60mm, specifically for the Egyptian Navy. The GPF 2/56 was the first Panerai watch to feature the half-moon shaped crown-protecting device. Since Panerai was an exclusive supplier to the Italian Navy, the Egyptian request had to be approved by the Italian Navy High Command first. The name GPF 2/56 refers to the second “product design” in 1956.
LOT 101 – Officine Panerai Radiomir
The following picture shows the watch offered by Antiquorum for the April 2018 Hong Kong auction. This was the only picture provided.
In the description, Antiquorum wrote the watch was made of aluminium and stainless steel.
“Fine and very rare, manual-winding, aluminum and stainless steel wristwatch with 8 days movement.
This was a first hint that suggested this watch is a counterfeit. Combining aluminium and stainless steel in marine environments triggers a serious galvanic corrossion. The area of contact would simply desintegrate within shortest time. Galvanic corrossion between aluminium and steel is known for at least a century. G. Panerai e Figlio was an expert in maritime applications and it is hard to believe Panerai would have made such a mistake.
The Radiomir Dial
Another hint that something funny was going on was the fact that the dial of this watch does not have any traces of radium.
“…beautiful brown dial without radium on it”
Why would Panerai make a Radiomir dial without Radiomir (radium)? This made no sense at all. However, one look at the “face” of this watch was enough to see that the dial is completely different than usual GPF 2/56 dials and most certainly fake.
Aside from all numerals having incorrect shapes, the transparent filling of the numerals also bears strange air inclusions or bubbles, something that does not occur on regular dials.
The numeral at 3 has the most obvious deviation. The shape is completely wrong compared to the regular dial of the GPF 2/56 Matr. N.E. 012 (Matr. N.E. stands for Matricola Numero Egiziano or Egitto = Egyptian serial number).
The follwing picture shows Matr. N.E. 012 sold by Christie’s in June 2015.
Every numeral on the Antiquorum dial has various air inclusion respectively bubbles. This is not Panerai standard.
The following picture shows the dial of the GPF 2/56 Matr. N.E. 007. The numeral at 3 o’clock has the same shape as the correct dial of Matr. N.E. 012. This is how original GPF 2/56 dials should look. None of the numerals and markers have bubbles. This watch features original “single pencil” hands as opposed to the strange “double pencil” hands on the Antiquorum watch. (Please click the following picture to download the highres version and check all details)
Here is another 1950s Radiomir dial as found in an updated 3646. This watch is exhibited in the Technical Naval Museum of La Spezia and was donated to the museum by the family of Ernesto Notari, a SLC pilot during WW2. Crackled lume yes, but bubbles? Nope!
More original Panerai dials, again, no traces of bubbles!
No bubbles here either!
I said it on Instagram and I say it here again, you see bubbles in a vintage Panerai dial… you do what I do, run!
Let us have a closer look at the dial engravings, shall we? A comparison with Matr. N.E. 012 reveals further inconsistencies. Most letters are off. The letters P, R and A have the most obvious deviations. The quality of the engravings is also very poor. This was not engraved by G. Panerai e Figlio in my opinion.
Dial detail of Matr. N.E. 012. Note the original “single pencil” hands.
The Angelus 240 8-Day Movement
A closer look at the movement was initially not possible as Antiquorum had not provided any picture of it. An inquiry for further pictures was not answered.
Two weeks after my initial post on Instagram something very interesting happened, more pictures of the watch, including images of the movement were leaked from within Antiquorum.
The next picture shows the back of the original dial found in Matr. N.E. 035. Note the outer ring. This seems to be some kind of spring, installed to prevent the movement from being screwed too tight. Angelus 240 movement are extremely sensitive to vertical pressure due to their pillar construction. On original dials, these spacer rings have a different colour than on the dial that is attached to the movement above. Original spacer rings were probably made of spring steel whereas the spacer ring on the fake dial is obviously made of brass, a material that lacks the necessary elastic behaviour, and has probably no function other than to mimik the original look.
However, when I saw the movement everything became crystal clear. An Angelus 240 crown-winding non-alarm movement with this type of barrel bridge was never produced. This is without the shadow of a doubt NOT one of the movements specifically made for G. Panerai e Figlio in 1955/56.
The comparison below shows this movement next to a proper GPF 2/56 movement. What we are dealing with is a converted non-alarm, key-winding movement from a table clock.
Key-winding movements were less complicated and accordingly, less costly than sophisticated crown-winding units. The next picture shows the back of a key-winding, non-alarm Angelus 240 movement from a sought-after Angelus Globe Weather Station. The key on the left-hand side was used to wind the movement while the little knob was used to set the time.
Coming back to the movement in question, the picture below was also leaked. The only thing that is correct on this movement is the date stamp 12.55 on the main plate.
To understand what makes this movement a converted key-winding table clock unit we need to look into the evolution of Angelus 240 movements. Please click the following infographic to download the highres version.
Angelus 240 movements used in vintage Panerai watches were made by Stolz Frères SA in Le Locle, Switzerland on special request! of Panerai. This very fact makes it easy to determine whether a movement is original or not.
In 1936, the Angelus 240 8-day movement was conceived as an alarm 8-day movement for the usage in travel and table clocks. Stolz Frères SA offered two versions of the movement, a sophisticated version with crown-winding and a budget version with key-winding. Both versions were initially available either with or without the alarm function.
Due to a lack of demand for sophisticated crown-winding movements without alarm function, Stolz Frères SA ceased their production around 1942/43. From then on, the sophisticated crown-winding version was only available as alarm movement. The cheaper key-winding version was still available with or without alarm function.
G. Panerai e Figlio started to use Angelus 240 movements after 1956 when the company developed their first “own” watch, the GPF 2/56.
Stolz Frères SA produced three exclusive series of Angelus 240 movements specifically for Panerai. The first series bore the date stamp 12.55 (December 1955) on the main plate and was equipped with the Incastar micro regulation device, which Stolz Frères had introduced in 1949 for all Angelus 240 movements.
The second and third series had MAI.61 (May 1961) respectively JUIN.61 (June 1961) on the main plate and came with a simple regulator with Incabloc, which Stolz Frères SA had introduced in late 1956 to replace the Incastar system for all movements.
These movements were specifically made for the use in wristwatches and had 17 jewels instead of 15 jewels.
Stolz Frères SA introduced a new barrel bridge design in March 1955 (3.55). This is a very important fact. The iconic “waved” design was dropped after almost 20 years to make way for a simplistic and more modern approach with a straight line (see picture below). Only the first arch/wave on the left-hand side of the bridge was retained, the one which covers the alarm hammer in alarm movements.
The first Angelus 240 series delivered to G. Panerai e Figlio bore the date stamp 12.55 on the main plate. The interesting thing is that all 3 series produced for G. Panerai e Figlio were delivered with the old “waved” barrel bridges, months after the new design had been introduced.
There is a simple explanation for this pecularity. The three series of Angelus 240 movements were assembled by Stolz Frères SA using old barrel from 1942/43, before the production of non-alarm, crown-winding units stopped. Instead of producing new non-alarm, crown-winding barrel bridges, Stolz Frères SA simply recycled old bridges from their stock.
Evidence for this can be found on the movements themselves (see picture below):
- “Waved” barrel bridges in movements from 12.55. MAI.61 and JUIN.61.
- Slot underneath the click (1)
- “Old” hole for the casing screw (2)
A side by side comparison of the original “Panerai” barrel bridge (right, JUIN.61) with an alarm, key-winding barrel bridge from 12.50 (December 1950) shows that the new long click spring did not require the large slot (1) anymore.
Since the company had introduced a new “long” click spring in 1947/48, the old bridges for the Panerai movements had to be modifed (1) in order to take the state of the art long click spring.
Here is the leaked picture of the movement again. The barrel plate is clearly wrong. It is from a non-alarm key-winding unit from late 1956 onwards and it was modified to be used as a crown-winding plate. Slots for crown and intermediate wheel had to be machined.
The next image shows how the movement looked like before it was converted. Angelus 240 with wide Côtes de Genève and simple Incabloc are from late 1956 owards. The date stamp on this particular movement says OCT.68 (October 1968).
The next picture shows the original movement of Matr. N.E. 007. The most obvious difference is of course the shape of the barrel bridge, but there is more. The bridge finish for instance. 12.55 stamped movements had a brushed finish on the bridges, while movements from late 1956 onwards were adorned with wide Côtes de Genève.
Let’s compare these two movements to each other. Firstly, the shape of the barrel bridge (1) is wrong (dashed line). The barrel bridge with a straight line is a later movement from late 1956 onwards. Also, the original 12.55 movement has bridges with brushed finish instead of wide Côtes de Genève.
From 1949 until the end of 1955, Stolz Frères equipped their Angelus 240 movements with the Incastar micro regulation system (2). The balance cock is signed SF 240. Instead, the Antiquorum movement has a later Incabloc system from late 1956 onwards. Original GPF 2/56 movements have 17 jewels (3), whereas the Antiquorum movement has only 15, just like a common table clock movement. The old casing hole (4) identifies an old stock barrel bridge from 1942/43.
I believe this movement was assembled using an original main plate with date stamp 12.55 to make it look more legit.
However, here we have the smoking gun! The very same movement was installed in a different watch in 2004. (Check the stain next to the reflection in the numeral at 3 o’clock)
These pictures were taken during the annual 2004 Club Panerai Meeting in Viareggio, Italy. The watch with Matr. No. 17 on the display caseback belonged to Luciano and Samuele Rinaldi.
Direct link: Club Panerai – IV Meeting 2004
The comparison below shows it is exactly the same movement.
Matr. No. 17 has a different movement now. The next picture was taken in Singapore during an official Panerai exhibition in August 2015.
This Angelus 240 is also a mess. It’s an alarm movement from a travel clock that was converted to look like a non-alarm movement. The most obvious tell is the collar on the crown wheel (1). On original non-alarm movement this wheel is completely flat. The non-alarm look was achieved by using a modified non-alarm barrel bridge from a key-winding movement. The slots for the winding wheels (2) were milled out, very roughly. This bridge however, has too many holes. The ratchet wheel bears the circular scratches (3) that are usually caused by an intermediate bridge used to attach the alarm bell. The scratches around the hole for the alarm setting stem (4) can only occur on alarm movements. Finally, the extra holes (5) in the main plate are used to attach all kinds of levers on alarm movements. Non-alarm movements usually don’t have these holes.
Original Panerai Angelus 240 have a Glucydur balance wheel and Incabloc shock protection. This movement has neither and is probably from 1945 to 1948, long before Panerai started to use Angelus 240 movements. Below you can see the exact same type of barrel bridge from a non-alarm key-winding movement that was used to convert the movement.
If you are interested in further information about Angelus 240 movements, I suggest you read the following article:
Read more: The truth about the PAM 203
The dial of Matr. No. 17 is a typical fake Rinaldi dial with bluish tint and fake patina. The short Angelus hands came from a table clock. (Check the stain in the numeral at 3 o’clock)
A closer look at the case profile compared to the original watch from the Archivio Storico Panerai (Panerai Museum). On Matr. No. 17, the lugs are welded in a much flatter angle. The shape of the lugs is different too and they are longer. All previous models are consistent. Another thing that does match is the bezel. The first three watches have an undisputable provenance and they look almost identical. Matr. No. 17 clearly stands out and was probably made with no original watch at hand.
Read more: Modified Panerai 3646 with solid lugs
This very watch was offered by Antiquorum in 2007, among six other “Panerai” watches. In a joint effort by Angelo Bonati and Francesco Ferretti, Antiquorum was forced to withdraw all seven watches as they were found to be counterfeits. (Check the stain in the numeral at 3 o’clock)
The screenshot below was taken from the old Antiquorum website. It shows the seven watches that were withdrawn from the 2007 auction. Matr. No. 17 is listed as Lot 520. All these watches are counterfeits made by the notorious Rinaldi family.
In the 2007 auction, they also offered a GPF 2/56, Lot 519. A closer look at the dial of this watch reveals it has the very same oddly shaped numeral at 3 o’clock as the watch in question. The transparent numerals and markers fillings have again the very same inclusions, respecitively bubbles. Click the picture to zoom in.
Provenance of the Antiquorum GPF 2/56
The next picture show the so-called “Ship of Fools”. This picture appeared on Panerai forums in the mid 2000s and shows the complete Panerai collection of Luciano Rinaldi. Old school Paneristi remember well how much discussions and trouble this picture caused. Most watches on this miniature model of the Garibaldi aircraft carrier are made-up or fakes. The GPF 2/56 in question is clearly visible aboard this ship (circle). Can you spot Matr. No. 17 as well?
Here is the super interesting thread about the Ship of Fools. Somebody assumed this was Francesco Ferretti’s collection but as it turned out, it was Luciano Rinaldi’s instead.
Direct link: Garibaldi ship (ViaPaneristi Forum, Jan. 2004)
The fake GPF 2/56 this story is all about was consigned by Samuele Rinaldi, the son of Luciano Rinaldi. Rinaldi Senior passed away in May 2016 but his son continues the family business. Evidence for this can be found in the following picture. Rinaldi Junior sent this and many other photos of his collection to renowned dealers around the globe. A closer look at the strange “double pencil” hands reveals that they have been altered for the Antiquorum auction in order to appear more vintage.
More Leaked Images of the Watch
The following pictures were also leaked from within Antiquorum and show the watch in question.
The next picture shows the dial on it own. Note the strange “double pencil” hands with fake patina.
No markings nor hallmarks on the inside of the caseback.
To compare, this is how an orginal GPF 2/56 caseback looks on the inside.
This case gives you an idea of how deep the fake Panerai rabbit hole goes. The notorious Rinaldi family – well-known among collectors for their countless fakes – has been in the Panerai game since these legendary watches celebrated their revival in the early 1990s. Overnight, Panerai became the new big thing in the horological world. The available information about this brand, however, was extremely thin. The Rinaldis took advantage of this “fertile ground” and flooded the market with completely fake watches, claiming they looked a bit strange due to their military past. Even highly regarded Panerai collectors fell for these counterfeits.
My relationship with Panerai is a very emotional one. I have spent countless hours studying these watches and digging in their history. The information I gathered about movement conversions and how to spot them is something that cannot be learned by reading Panerai literature.
By the end of 2012, I stumbled upon the Homageforum, a place where people try to replicate historical watches, mostly for their own personal enjoyment. This was a fascinating discovery and inspired by the dynamics of said forum, I decided to try and assemble a watch myself. Long story short, it was a desaster. I damaged an expensive period-correct original movement not once but twice and the end result looked nothing like the real thing. Two other projects followed, with similar disappointing results and I came to realize that I had no drive for fake stuff. Instead, I focussed on collecting movement serial numbers.
Btw, just to be crystal clear. Before finding this forum, I had put together a nice collection of genuine watches. Rolex, Omega, Longines, Breitling and Panerai.
Building a homage watch can be compared to building a Shelby Cobra replica. The building process is fun but the item will never be real, no matter how close the parts can get. The fascinating thing about vintage Panerai watches is the very fact that they were used as military tools during daring missions. That’s the whole point of collecting historical watches.
However, in wrong hands, the knowledge gained through “learning by doing” can be very dangerous. The Rinaldis had this knowledge from the very beginning and they used it to enrich themselves by shamelessly defrauding passionate Panerai enthusiasts around the globe. At some point during 2015, a Scottish member of the Homageforum started collaborating with Rinaldi Junior. He helped Rinaldi installing better movements to make the counterfeits look more legit. This is when fake Rinaldi watches started to reappear on the market.
I used the acquired knowledge to create Perezcope, an open source database where I shared everything I learned about Panerai and other brands with fellow watch enthusiasts. If my work has saved just one collector from being ripped off, that would be reward enough.
More fake Rinaldi stuff:
- Vintage Panerai – The mysterious bluish tinted dials
- The mysterious case of a vintage panerai 6154 sold at Sotheby’s in 2013
- Caution! Fake Pre Vendôme galore at Sotheby’s
- Manipulated vintage Panerai dial
- Dream shattered…totally disgusted (ViaPaneristi Forum, Oct. 2004)
To conclude, here is an old Paneristi.com entry from Oct. 2005 by the well-known watch specialist Kristian Haagen. Everybody knew about the Rinaldis.
Thank you for your interest.
The Panerai Time Machine
The Panerai GPF 2/56 is an important milestone in Panerai’s history. The infographic below shows all vintage Panerai watches in their his historical context. 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 heavy synthetic paper and laminated.
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