Panerai - WINNING ICONS – Legendary Watches of the 20th Century New York Thursday, October 26, 2017 | Phillips
  • Manufacturer: Panerai
    Year: 1944
    Reference No: 3646
    Movement No: 16,521
    Case No: 260’975
    Material: Stainless steel
    Calibre: Manual, cal. 618, /TYP 1 MOD, 17 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Leather
    Clasp/Buckle: Stainless steel
    Dimensions: 47mm diameter
    Literature: The present watch is prominently featured in Ehlers & Wiegmann, Vintage Panerai, The References, 1930’s-1940’s, pages 552-557, 2016.

  • Catalogue Essay

    The present oversized military dive watch is an exceptional example of Officine Panerai’s legendary reference 3646. According to scholarship, 211 examples are known of the reference, having begun production in 1940. Established in 1860 in Florence, Italy, Officine Panerai was a purveyor of specialized precision instruments like compasses and dive gauges, and by the turn of the twentieth century, the firm manufactured wristwatches. Today, their vintage watches are design icons, easily identified by their oversized cushion-shaped case and clear legible dial. Panerai experimented with various compounds to produce a new luminous material that would be brighter and more effective for their underwater instruments. The luminous powder was named “Radiomir” and patented in France in 1916. Following three years of testing beginning in 1935, they began supplying highly specialized dive watches to the Royal Italian Navy. Evolved from Panerai’s prototype model, the reference 2533, their second model was the reference 3646, produced from 1938 to the early 1950s with variants classified from Type A to Type G, each bearing unique aesthetics. Manufactured by Rolex for Panerai, the present lot is part of the Type E classification and one of just 27 known examples. It’s fitted with a stunning, black “California-type” dial – a design patented by Rolex in 1941 with half Arabic and half Roman numerals – that retains its gorgeous, original glossy surface. The well-preserved 47mm stainless steel case houses a Rolex-signed movement – the manually-wound caliber 618.

  • 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
An early and very rare stainless steel cushion-shaped diver’s wristwatch with glossy black California dial.

Movement signed Rolex
47mm diameter

$60,000 - 120,000 

Sold for $75,000

Contact Specialist
Paul Boutros
Head of Watches, Americas
+1 212 940 1293

WINNING ICONS – Legendary Watches of the 20th Century

New York Auction 26 October 2017