Timekeepers Club / October 28, 2017

Panerai Radiomir Ref. 3646 sold at Phillips auction New York on 26 October 2017

Ref. 3646 An early and very rare stainless steel cushion-shaped diver’s wristwatch with glossy black California dial. Circa 1944. Movement signed Rolex. 47mm⌀

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.

$60,000 - 120,000 

SOLD FOR $75,000

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.


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