An extremely rare and interesting oversized stainless steel cushion shaped diver's wristwatch with black luminous dial

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  • Manufacturer: Panerai
    Year: circa 1944
    Reference No: 3646 Type D
    Case No: 260'642
    Material: Stainless steel
    Calibre: Manual, cal. 618, 17 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Leather
    Clasp/Buckle: Brass
    Dimensions: 47mm. Diameter
    Signed: Case and movement signed Rolex
    Literature: The present watch is extensively documented in “Vintage Panerai – The references” by Ralf Ehlers & Volker Wiegmann on pages 516-523

  • Catalogue Essay

    Property from the Collection of Panerai Scholar and Enthusiast, Alan aka Hammer
    The present lot, coming from one the world’s best known and respected Panerai collectors, is amongst the finest and best preserved examples of Officine Panerai’s reference 3646 to appear on the market. According to scholarship, 211 examples are known of the reference 3646, having begun production in April 1940. The present example is a Type D model, of which only 79 examples are known.

    To meet the military needs of the Royal Italian Navy, which it had already been supplying 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. Reference to the name "Radiomir" is documented in the supplement to the patent filed in France on 23 March 1916. Around 1936, the Royal Italian Navy approached Panerai with the request of designing a watch resistant to extreme underwater conditions while at the same time keeping exact time. The prototype (now known as “Radiomir”) was submitted to the First Submarine Group Command. A further order was made and watches were supplied to the Italian naval forces as of 1938 (Regia Marina, later becoming the Marina Militare after World War II) and later on to the German Navy (Kriegsmarine).

    The reference 2533, the first prototype for the Radiomir was produced beginning in 1936 in extremely small numbers. The second to be produced was reference 3646, in production until the 1950s and produced in various versions classified Type A to Type G, each bearing unique aesthetics.

    The present lot is fresh to the auction market, and is part of the Type D classification (made between 1943 to 1944). Reference 3646 was made by Rolex for Panerai following strict technical requirements, notably a 47 mm wide (for underwater legibility) cushion-shaped case with soldered curved wire lugs, screw down "onion" crown, 12-sided case back and a Perspex crystal. What makes the present lot extraordinary is its “as found” condition, preserved in exactly the same state of preservation as when the watch was last used so many decades ago. For example, the dial of the present example is completely unrestored and in beautifully aged condition. The luminous markers and hands have developed an amazing, bright orange patina so rarely seen, occurring as a result of being stored unused in a totally dark, air-free environment for perhaps decades.

    The brushed finish case has most probably never been polished before, and shows very few signs of having been worn over the course of its 70 some years of age. Even the rarely ever seen original strap and buckle are still fitted to the watch. Similarly, the Rolex-finished and signed caliber 618 movement is in excellent condition. Highlighting the importance of the present reference 3646, it is extensively and prominently documented in the highly regarded reference tome, “Vintage Panerai – The References” by Ralf Ehlers & Volker Wiegmann, thoroughly detailed over eight pages further enhancing the desirability of this exceptional example.

  • Maker Bio

    Panerai

    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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Panerai

Ref. 3646 Type D
An extremely rare and interesting oversized stainless steel cushion shaped diver's wristwatch with black luminous dial

circa 1944
47mm. Diameter
Case and movement signed Rolex

Estimate
CHF60,000 - 100,000 
€55,100-91,800
$61,800-103,000

Contact Specialist
Alexandre Ghotbi
+41 22 317 81 89

The Geneva Watch Auction: FOUR

Geneva Auctions 12 – 13 November 2016