Panerai - The Geneva Watch Auction: SIX Geneva Friday, November 10, 2017 | Phillips

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  • Manufacturer: Panerai
    Year: Circa 1942
    Reference No: 3646
    Case No: 1'010'351
    Model Name: "Type C"
    Material: Stainless steel
    Calibre: Manual, cal. 618, 17 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Leather
    Clasp/Buckle: Stanless steel pin buckle
    Dimensions: 46.5mm. Width
    Signed: Case and movement signed Rolex
    Accessories: Accompanied by Helmut Rösel's soldier's book, combat swimmer badge, iron cross, merit cross, original photo and two original letters with signature.

    Furthermore accompanied by Bundespräsidialmamt letter confirming Helmut Rösel's merit cross, Obituary of Helmut Rösel, a document from jeweler Gerdes dated 5 January 1994 with original Polaroid photo signed "This is my watch" by Helmut Rösel, service test from 2013 by watchmaker Ralph Prinz with complete photo documentation on CD, two original lead plates, original Cortebert movement disassembled, copy of Vintage Panerai by Ralf Ehlers and Volker Wiegman and Panerai military compass with condition report.

    Literature: An in-depth discussion of the present watch is available in Vintage Panerai by Ralf Ehlers and Volker Wiegmann, pp. 777 to 873.

  • Catalogue Essay

    The present watch is one of the best-documented Panerais known to the market. Classified as "Type C", it is characterized by its comparatively longer fixed lugs. The inside case back furthermore displays the signature "Rolex S.A.", along with the reference number followed by the seven digit serial number.

    According to scholarship, approximately 211 examples are known of reference 3646. The present watch is notably fitted with the anonymous "sandwich dial". It is highly possible that Panerai created these dials during the war years to avoid recognition, lest the watch was found by an enemy.

    Helmut Rösel

    Much has been said about this watch, its original owner and its surrounding history. Ralf Ehlers and Volker Wiegmann, authorities on Panerai wristwatches, have dedicated no less than 100 pages in their book Vintage Panerai on this fascinating subject.

    Born March 17, 1924, Rösel entered the military as a young man. He quickly rose through the ranks, eventually becoming a combat swimmer in the Special Marine Unit of the German Navy.

    His meticulously recorded soldier's book offered with this watch, paints a very clear picture about Rösel's career. It provides a window into the life and times of war-torn Germany in the 1940s.

    Rösel had donned the present watch while carrying out missions in Duisberg and Wittenberg. In his letter accompanying this watch, he states that every combat swimmer received a diver’s watch after training. Such was Rösel’s competence that he received the “sawfish” badge. An insignia of the special marine unit, it was awarded to volunteer fighters and those who had completed combat swimmer training.

    Following the war, Rösel eventually became a Priest after studying theology. He was ordained on November 29, 1959 in Hamburg. As the resident pastor of Tank Grenardier Brigade in Hamburg, he was very popular among the soldiers. Affable and kind, his good character is well-noted in his obituary. In 1983, Rösel was presented the German Federal Cross of Merit in honor of his work in the field of military pastoral care.

    Such well-documented specimens hardly ever appear on the market. Many military watches have disappeared with years of wear, combat and activity. This watch not only provides aesthetic satisfaction for its owner, but is an artifact of the 20th century, earning its position in both a collector's treasure trove or a museum.

  • Artist Biography


    Italian • 1860

    Known for its robust designs and large case sizes, Officine Panerai was established in 1860 by Giovanni Panerai in Florence, Italy. Around 1900, Giovanni's grandson Guido Panerai took over, and Panerai became the supplier to the Regia Marina — the Royal Italian Navy. After supplying the navy with high-precision instruments for a number of years, Officine Panerai created Radiomir, a radium-based powder that gives luminosity to the dials of sighting instruments and devices. By 1936, the Royal Italian Navy approached Panerai again with the request to design a watch resistant to extreme underwater conditions. The watch they created became known as the "Radiomir".

    Panerai's watches made during the early twentieth century era were comprised of cases designed and manufactured by Rolex SA, with Cortébert, a Swiss manufacturer, supplying the majority of their movements. The most recognizable designs from the firm are the Radiomir and Luminor. To date, vintage models from the first half of the 1900s, such as the reference 3646 and 6152 models, remain the most desirable among collectors.

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Ref. 3646
A rare, historically interesting and well-documented stainless steel wristwatch with movement and case by Rolex, formerly owned by combat swimmer Helmut Rösel

Circa 1942
46.5mm. Width
Case and movement signed Rolex

CHF60,000 - 90,000 

Sold for CHF75,000

Contact Specialist
Alexandre Ghotbi
+41 22 317 81 89

The Geneva Watch Auction: SIX

Geneva Auctions 11 - 12 November 2017