A fine and very rare stainless steel cushion-shaped military diver's wristwatch

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  • Manufacturer: Rolex
    Year: Circa 1944
    Reference No: 3646
    Case No: 260'618
    Model Name: Radiomir
    Material: Stainless steel
    Calibre: Mechanical, 17 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Brown calf leather strap
    Dimensions: 37 mm. width
    Signed: Case, dial and movement signed
    Literature: For another example of a reference 3646, please see 100 Superlative Rolex Watches by John Goldberger, page 27.

  • Catalogue Essay

    Patented in 1916, Officine Panerai's Radiomir technology allowed for many strides in the military industry. The radium based compound, when applied to the dial, allowed the viewer to tell the time in any weather condition by glowing in the dark. Panerai produced its first Radiomir prototype in 1936.

    Some say that reference 3646 is the ‘holy grail’ reference of Panerai watches. While reference 3646 may not be the very first Radiomir model to be produced, the Italian Navy and their combat swimmers mostly used this reference in their line of work. Our research suggests that Panerai only produced 600 examples of this reference. The large dial and self-luminous hands allowed soldiers to clearly read their watch under any weather condition.

    The case number was assigned by Rolex, who also supplied the movement and provided parts to Panerai at that time.

    This reference 3646 is a watch with enormous character and is in very appealing, crisp original condition.

  • Maker Bio

    Rolex

    Swiss • 1905

    Founded in 1905 England by Hans Wilsdorf and Alfred Davis as Wilsdorf & Davis, it soon became known as the Rolex Watch Company in 1915, moving its headquarters to Geneva in 1919. Like no other company, the success of the wristwatch can be attributed to many of Rolex's innovations that made them one of the most respected and well-known of all luxury brands. These innovations include their famous "Oyster" case — the world's first water resistant and dustproof watch case, invented in 1926 — and their "Perpetual" — the first reliable self-winding movement for wristwatches launched in 1933. They would form the foundation for Rolex's Datejust and Day-Date, respectively introduced in 1945 and 1956, but also importantly for their sports watches, such as the Explorer, Submariner and GMT-Master launched in the mid-1950s.

    One of its most famous models is the Cosmograph Daytona. Launched in 1963, these chronographs are without any doubt amongst the most iconic and coveted of all collectible wristwatches. Other key collectible models include their most complicated vintage watches, including references 8171 and 6062 with triple calendar and moon phase, "Jean Claude Killy" triple date chronograph models and the Submariner, including early "big-crown" models and military-issued variants.

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1039

Rolex

Ref. 3646
A fine and very rare stainless steel cushion-shaped military diver's wristwatch

勞力士,罕有,不銹鋼枕形軍用潛水員錶,“Radiomir”,型號3646,約1944年製

Circa 1944
37 mm. width
Case, dial and movement signed

Estimate
HK$300,000 - 400,000 
€35,200-47,000
$37,000-50,000

sold for HK$375,000

The Hong Kong Watch Auction: THREE

Hong Kong Auction 29 November 2016