A fake Panerai 3646 from the infamous Rinaldi Toy Shop is being offered on Chrono24.com as we speak. The seller, a shop named “superstudio”, is from Lugano in Switzerland. This counterfeit has quite a history which is nothing short of a great crime novel.
The appearance of this watch has changed dramatically over the past two years. As a matter of fact, I have witnessed the transformation first-hand when an informant from the Homageforum updated me on a regular basis about the building process.
At this stage, this watch is equipped with at least a converted Cortebert 616, a fake movement retaining ring and fake crown. Interestingly, the watch is offered without caseback and as you continue to read, you will find out why. The case of this watch looks strange to say the least.
Panerai radiomir referenza 3646 acciaio L orologio è in condizioni come da foto ed è privo di fondello, ottimo prezzo per collezionisti ed appassionati una vera rarità Rilasciamo regolare fattura
Translation: Panerai Radiomir reference 3646, steel. The condition of the watch is as seen on the pictures, the caseback is missing. Great price for collectors and enthusiasts, a true rarity. We issue a regular invoice.
Direct link: Panerai Radiomir (Chrono24)
Thanks to an overwelming community effort, the listing was removed from Chrono24. The watch is still listed on a Swiss virtual market website:
Direct link: Panerai radiomir 3646 anno 1944 (Tutti.ch)
As mentioned earlier, this watch has quite some history. The story you are about to read has all hallmarks of a great crime novel, except it is based on true events. Theft, counterfeiting, deception, lies, bullying & harassment, libel, defamation, you name it… It all started in 2006.
To better understand the watch in question we need to quickly look at another watch and go back to December 2006, when a fresh and inexperienced collector bought his first vintage Panerai 3646 from the son of an ex Orologeria Svizzera employee. The seller’s father worked for the famous Panerai watch store at Piazza San Giovanni in Florence from August 8, 1955 to February 22, 1957 and had owned the vintage Panerai ever since.
This watch featured a so-called riveted plastic dial but instead of the usual rivets, the dial was held together by screws.
Another pecularity was the movement. Instead of a usual Cortebert-made Rolex 618, the watch was powered by a Rolex 666 Extra Prima made by Montilier.
As mentioned, the collector was an absolute beginner and knowledge about vintage Panerai was extremely scarce back in those days.
It is interesting to note this watch was registered in this very condition on the Italian Club Panerai website on December 14, 2006
Direct link: Certificate No. 00895 (Club Panerai)
After showing his watch to a renowned expert, the inexperienced collector was told that everything about it was wrong. The rookie was shocked to the core. He quickly decided to have his watch restored to original condition. While searching for a proper dial, he came across a guy named Luciano Rinaldi, who offered to restore the watch.
In April 2007, the watch was sent to Rinaldi for restoration. Rinaldi replaced the movement, including the movement retaining ring and installed a different dial. Hands and crown were also changed.
When asked for the old parts, Rinaldi explained the old movement was used as an “organ donor” for the new movement since several wheels had to be transplanted. The novice insisted and Rinaldi promised to send all replaced parts asap. Those parts never arrived.
As it turns out, Rinaldi senior replaced the movement not with a Rolex 618 but with a thinner caliber from a Rolex Eaton 1/4 Century Club pocket watch.
Back in the days, Panerai enthusiasts were told this type of movement was a Rolex 618. Only recent research conducted by Perezcope revealed it’s actually a different caliber altogether. The correct caliber number is 622.
The new dial was a typical Rinaldi dial. An altered anonymous Kampfschwimmer sandwich dial with fake Radiomir Panerai engravings. As usual for this type of Rinaldi dial, the engravings are either crooked or not centered or both.
Altered anonymous Kampfschwimmer sandwich dials are easy to spot. The loops of the numerals at 6 and 9 o’clock are slightly more open than usual.
Rinaldi got his hands on dozens of anonymous Kampfschwimmer sandwich dials found at the old premises of the Arturo Junghans watch factory in Venice. He altered them with all kinds of engravings and sold them as original parts.
The reason why Panerai dials were found in Venice ist simple. During WW2 and before Florence fell into Allied hands, the Nazis raided the Panerai workshop and shipped everything to Venice. Behind the heavily fortified Gothic defensive line, Venice was still under German control.
Recap: The watch was altered by Rinaldi with a pocket watch movement and an anonymous Kampfschwimmer dial with fake engravings. The replaced parts, namely the Montilier-made Rolex 666, the original dial and the hands were never returned. Montilier and Cortebert movement parts are not interchangeable. Rinaldi lied to the collector in order to keep those valuable parts for himself.
Back to the watch in question. In May 2008, Rinaldi and son presented the watch for the first time at the Club Panerai meeting in Viareggio.
The watch featured a riveted plastic dial in combination with 1950s style hands from a 6152/1.
This watch was featured, among other Rinaldi watches, in a post on Paneristi.com
Direct link: VIAREGGIO Meeting 2008 . My report (Paneristi.com)
In late May 2016, I received information that Mark Hollis aka mark_midlands, a guy I knew from the Homageforum, was working on a watch for an Italian dealer named VC. These matters were not public, they were discussed in a closed chat group created by Mark and his cronies.
Mark Hollis had made new, questionable friends in Italian counterfeiting circles and it was only a matter of time until he would get sucked in. He knew that I knew. As a matter of fact, I warned Mark on several occassions to be careful with these people.
Anyway, I was not aware of said chat group. My source also told me a big collector had passed away recently and lots of parts would now become available. According to my source, VC was just the broker and Mark Hollis was going to receive 2 dials and a compass for his services.
“I can probably get pictures of the watch Mark builds for VC.”
Download: Convo Homageforum informant May 2016
“Apparently a big collector passed away recently so he (Mark) was expecting a lot of parts to become available. VC is the broker apparently. They talked about making a deal for 7 vintage dials, besides the two Mark got from him already.”
“VC changed the deal to two dials and a compass. Mark has not seen either dial yet.”
Download: Convo Homageforum informant June 2016
The “big collector” was Luciano Rinaldi. I had just returned from a trip to Italy where the news of Rinaldi’s passing had made the rounds.
Then, on June 6, 2016, I received a message from my Italian contact, who btw was the inexperienced collector from 2006, that Rinaldi Junior was trying to sell some of his watches. The message contained 9 pictures.
As you can see, the first five pictures show the watch in question. The second picture clearly shows the Montilier-made movement that was stolen from the rookie collector back in 2008.
The last four pictures show some fantasy builds made by Rinaldi.
“Li ha messi in vendita Samuele Rinaldi figlio di Luciano Rinaldi.”
Translation: Samuele Rinaldi, son of Luciano Rinaldi, has offered them for sale.
“Hsi [sic] visto l’extraprima? L’ha rubato a me.”
Translation: Did you see the Extraprima? He stole it from me.
Download: Convo from June 2016 with my Italian contact
Let’s have a look at the watch in question. The dial of this watch is supposed to be a 2nd generation riveted plastic dial from the early 1940s. I have seen many of these dials but none in such flat and flawless condition.
This type of dial turned out to be a major failure in Panerai’s history as the upper two plastic layers tended to warp. As you can see in the picture below, the warping was so severe, the dial touched the hands and the whole watch became basically useless.
To compare, my Homageforum informant sent me the following picture of the dial in question (Aug. 2016). As you can see, there are no traces of the slightest warp. This dial is completely flat and looks like new. Note that the hands are different cause Mark Hollis was experimenting with his own set of hands.
According to my informant, even Mark Hollis expressed doubts about the authenticity of this dial.
The next picture shows the profile of the watch in question. The case profile is completely symmetrical.
A symmetric case shape like this corresponds to either a Ref. 3646 Type D or E but a case profile comparison with an original 3646 Type E shows that a) the wire lugs on the watch in question are too long and b) there are no traces of the typical soldering material around the lugs.
The next picture is from the currect listing on Chrono24. See the wire lugs? No soldering material around it.
In addition, the crown is completely fake. The “Brevet” inscription does not have the usual serifes. Crowns like this are made in Taiwan or Indonesia and are typically used in homage circles.
The next picture shows the movement of this watch. This is no typical 3646 movement, it’s a highly elaborated Rolex 666 Extra Prima made by Montilier. You have seen this movement before, remember?
Yes, this the very movement Luciano Rinaldi stole from the rookie collector back in 2007.
The comparison below leaves no doubt. It’s one and the same movement. Most of the chaton screws have remained untouched and what can be seen of the serial number matches too. Also check the engravings “TIMED 6 POSITIONS FOR ALL CLIMATES”. The very same letters bear the same irregularities. These marks are unique as a fingerprint.
The caseback of this watch has neither Rolex hallmarks nor a case number. There are so-called anonymous casebacks in existence, which were obtained by removing the Rolex hallmarks, but the case numbers were always restamped. A caseback like this is unseen and most certainly fake.
On July 11, 2016, my Homageforum contact sent me a picture of the watch Mark Hollis was working on for VC. As you can see below, the crown was missing and the minute hand came off. In a first step, Mark Hollis was hired to repair it.
A comparison between this picture and the picture sent to collectors on June 6, 2016 shows the hands are exactly the same. The dial is identical too and a look at the wire lugs shows that no soldering material is visible.
Later in July, Mark Hollis published a wristshot of him wearing the watch in question. As you can see, the minute hand was now mounted the right way.
This watch had no impact in Italian collector circles. Coming from Rinaldi, with a brand new looking riveted plastic dial and more importantly, with an awkward movement, it was clear to everybody the watch was completely made-up.
VC and Rinaldi Junior quickly understood this watch was impossible to sell in this condition. They sent the watch back to Irvine in Scottland, where Mark Hollis lives. This time they asked for a converted movement that could fool anyone.
What is a converted movement? Let me elaborate. Have a look a the picture below. The movement on the left is a Cortebert 616 as found in thousands of Cortebert railroad pocket watches from the 1930s to 1950s. The movement on the right is a super rare Rolex 618 made by Cortebert for Rolex. The Rolex 618 was used in extremely small numbers in Rolex pocket watches from the 1930s and in Rolex Panerai watches.
Both calibers share the very same main plate and all parts are completely interchangeable. A typical conversion consists in replacing the Cortebert 616 bridges with fake Rolex bridges to make the movement look like a much more valuable Rolex 618.
However, Mark Hollis received also a bunch of aluminium sandwich dials from Rinaldi Junior to update the watch in question. My Homageforum informant sent me the following picture.
“Those are some of the original dials that the Italian guy has. Mark picked one or two (can’t remember) of them.
It gives you an idea of how many parts he has.”
These dials appear to be original but they were possibly stored in a humid place and deteriorated accordingly. It can be assumed they were originally found at the old premises of the Arturo Junghans watch factory in Venice.
My Homageforum informant was concerned Mark Hollis would install a converted Cortebert 616 with fake Chile bridges and so was I.
“Mark’s watch had a 666. He us [sic] fitting a 618, which I suspect is a Chilean conversion.”
Download: Convo Homageforum informant July 2016 – 02
On August 31, 2016, my Italian contact sent me pictures of a new watch that had just hit the market. Asking price EUR 55,000.00. The pictures came from the known dealer VC who forwared them on behalf of Samuele Rinaldi.
A picture of the movement was also included. The trained eye can immediately spot something wrong here. Note the difference in finish and patina between ratchet and crown wheel. This ratchet wheel is from a pocket watch and the Cortebert markings were polished off. This is a signature feature for conversions made in Chile and basically, as soon as you see something like this, you can start running.
Another typical part from a pocket watch movement is the balance wheel with the flat hairspring. Original Rolex 618 made for Panerai watches were always quipped with Breguet overcoil hairsprings. These parts are almost impossible to find.
All bridges of this movement, except for the balance cock, are fake. I had to study them for quite some time until I finally found their weakness. Once you know what to look for it’s quite obvious. This time, I am not going to give away the tell but rest assured the bridges are without shadow of a doubt completely fake.
Have a look at the picture below. Mark Hollis published a picture of exactly this movement on the Homageforum, right after he got it from Chile.
The next picture shows the very same movement in one of Mark’s homage watches. This picture was also published on the Homageforum. As you can see, these homages are not sterile builds as often claimed. In wrong hands, these builds can do a lot of damage to inexperienced collectors.
A comparison between the picture sent to collectors and the picture posted by Mark Hollis on the Homageforum leaves no doubt. It is indeed the very same movement. Mark Hollis even used the same fake movement retaining ring from his homage watch.
The next picture is a comparison between the August 2016 condition and the current watch on offer at Chrono24. The Chrono24 picture was purposely taken in an angle that hides the stains on the crown wheel. Thanks to the matching screw positions, we can nevertheless establish it is the very same converted movement. The screw positions on a movement are like fingerprints, absolutely unique.
Let’s have a quick look at the caseback. See the blurred area? That’s just smokes and mirrors. There is no case number, remember?
This is probably the reason, why the watch is currently on sale without the caseback. This caseback is just too suspicious.
Let’s have a quick look at the strap. This type of strap is sewn to the case and in order to remove it, the stitches need to be opened. In addition, the hands are exactly the same. Note that in June 2016, the minute hand was mounted the wrong way around. Have also a look at the lugs. No visible soldering. That is very uncommon for Ref. 3646 cases.
The picture on the far right was taken from Tutti.ch, where the watch in question was listed in late Nov. 2018. All pictures have been updated in the meantime.
Direct link: Panerai radiomir 3646 anno 1944 (Tutti.ch)
Alright, I think we have established this watch is made-up from fake and genuine parts. In my opinion, the only genuine parts are the dial and the hands, which originally came from the rookie’s first 3646. Movement, movement retaining ring and crown are 100% fake.
What about the case? Well, the caseback without any insciption is very suspicious. As mentioned before, the wire lugs are not soldered as seen on genuine examples. This leads me to believe the case is also fake.
People who are following Perezcope know I was in contact with Samuele Rinaldi. He reached out to me while I was attending the annual Club Panerai meeting in Viareggio in May 2017 as he wanted to tell me the true story of Panerai.
I knew about Rinaldi’s activities long time ago and after following the events related to Mark Hollis from the Homageforum, it became obvious Rinaldi’s son was still very active in the counterfeiting business. I had no doubt something was cooking. As a Panerai investigator, I took this opportunity to gain his trust and see what he was up to.
However, in June 2017, I came across a badly made-up vintage Panerai watch sold at Sotheby’s in October 2013. The watch was on sale in Singapore and I was hoping to find a collector willing to restore it. In order to do so, I needed to source an original 6154 dial and an original Rolex 618 with 15 jewels. I knew Rinaldi had a 3646 with a faded dial that looked like it came off a 6154.
So on June 12, 2017, I contacted Samuele Rinaldi and told him I was looking for a 6154 dial for a restoration project.
During this conversation, Samuele finally linked himself directly to the watch in question.
“Io ho anche questo completo con fondo anonimo…se qualcuno ne avesse uno sarebbe da fare un “matrimonio”….”
Translation: I also have this one, complete with anonymous caseback… if someone had one (probaly a caseback with hallmarks) it would be to make a “marriage”….
Download: Convo Samuele Rinaldi June 2017 – 01
I immedietely confronted him with the fact the movement was a converted Cortebert 616 with fake Chile bridges.
“Scusa, ero a pranzo con un cliente. Il movimento di quest’ ultimo orologio e un Cortebert 616 con ponti non originali fatti in Chile.”
Translation: Sorry, I was at lunch with a client. The movement of this last watch is a Cortebert 616 with fake bridges from Chile.
Guess what! All of a sudden the watch was someone else’s. All of a sudden it was no longer his but belonged to a guy from Florenz. Yeah, right!
“E di un ragazzo di Firenze. Ma non credo…questo e fuori dal giro degli orologi. E ce l’ha da tempo.”
Translation: It belongs to a guy from Florence. But I don’t think so… he’s not into watches. And he had it for a long time already.
Download: Convo Samule Rinaldi June 2017 – 02
Later that day, Mark Hollis posted his own fake 3646 on the Paneristi.com Facebook page. The watch featured a similar sandwich dial as the watch in question, probably from the same stack. This was clearly a test run to see if he could get away with it.
My buddy Marius contacted Mark privately and asked whether the watch was for sale. Yes, if the price is right, Mark Hollis answered. Mark lied about the provenance of the watch, claiming he bought it at a watch fair in Birmingham in the late 1990s. When asked for further details, Mark behaved as if he had no idea of watches.
To me it was clear that something was cooking. These guys had an undefined amount of fake parts at hands which combined with genuine dials and their willingness to defraud people could cause a lot of harm to the watch collecting community.
After these two episodes, I wrote an extensive report on the Homageforum about the watch in question and Mark Hollis’s involvement. This was not the first time I called him out. As expected, I was immediately attacked by his cronies, especially by Vinh Nguyen aka civic4982, a replica hoarder and Vietnamese living in the USA who’s glass is always half empty. Vinh Nguyen was banned for at least 30 days as a result of his verbal attacks and spreading of lies about me.
Civic4982 hates me with a passion ever since I discovered the truth about thin Cortebert-made Rolex pocket watch movements. Everybody thought they were Rolex 618 and they were selling for 7,000 US Dollars and more.
Vinh Nguyen traded three Angelus 240 movements to get his hands on such a movement but after my findings, these calibers barely reached 2,500 US Dollars. Nguyen was furious and began to lash out at me.
After exposing Mark’s Rinaldi-related activities, our Vietnamese friend came up with false stories in order to damage my reputation. He claimed I sold a fake movement on ebay.
I had indeed sold a movement on ebay, but the movement was a genuine Rolex 622 pocket watch movement and not a conversion as perpetuated ever since.
I bought the naked movement plates from an Italian dealer named Luca Lombardi on ebay and had the movement rebuilt by a renowned watch maker in Zurich, Switzerland.
I bought these plates in order to educate myself about these movements. During the rebuilding process, it became evident that this was not a Rolex 618 but a thinner caliber. At this point, nobody knew it was a caliber 622.
The plates were definitely original but for some reason, Luca Lombardi had removed the original engravings and applied new inscriptions to make the movement look like a Rolex 618 Type 4 as used in Panerai 6152/1s. The question is, why would someone do that?
As I learned later, Luca Lombardi has very close ties to Samuele Rinaldi and as a matter of fact, Luca Lombardi tried to sell one of Rinaldi’s fake aluminium GPF 2/56s to a good friend of mine.
Coming back to Lombardi’s movement, the serial number of this movement is 6800713. This is one of the earliest Rolex 622 ever made, probably from 1933/34.
The next picture shows the back of the bridges. The last three digits of the movement serial number are stamped onto the train gear bridge. Only the earliest movements have this feature. You can cleary see natural patina.
These are 100% original Rolex 622 bridges and not fake conversion bridges as perpetuated by Vinh Nguyen aka civic4982 and other trolls.
Nguyen and his gang of liars are protecting Mark Hollis cause they were promised parts and other incentives from the Rinaldi estate. Remember this stack of dials?
Ironically, the same day this article was published, Vinh Nguyen aka civic4982 showed off his new fake 3646 on the Homageforum. Have a look at the dial on the picture below. It appears to be the same as the dial at the bottom of the stack picture.
There can be no doubt these individuals are connected to each other and working towards the same goal. The latest development is they are supporting Rinaldi-controlled Instagram trolls in their attempts to legitimize obvious fake parts originating from the Homageforum, like conversion bridges from Chile, etc.
Their strategy is very clear. Discrediting Perezcope in order to flood the market with fake watches of the likes this article is all about.
Thank you for your interest.