1941 Panerai

Ref. 3646 Type-C

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Relatively unknown until about 1995 when an American actor named Sylvester Stalone wore a Panerai wrist watch during the filming of the movie Daylight, Guido Panerai & Figlio, based in Florence, Italy, has actually been in business since 1864.

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Initially producing quality instruments such as compasses and dept gauges for the Italian Navy -- the Marina Militare -- Panerai produced its first diving watch around 1936.

The oyster-styled cases and Type 618 movements of all Panerai watches built between 1936 and 1956 were made by Rolex in Switzerland.

The dials read RADOMIR PANERAI, in reference to the radium-based luminous material used for hands and indexes.

Extremely dangerous and highly toxic, Radium is one of the most radioactive chemical elements known to mankind. It is more than 1 Million times more radioactive than the same mass of Uranium and it has a half-life of 1602 years. Since it's impossible to get this material in the 21st century -- even if you are a Russian spy -- the easiest way to authenticate a Radomir Panerai is to put it next to a Geiger counter!

Due to the a series of chemical reactions that occurred throughout the decades, the radium-based paint on hands and markers continues to decay.

Note that the numbers and indexes show different levels of radiation-based deterioration from one side to the other, with the 3 being a lighter yellow, the 12 and the 6 being mid-level, and the 9 being almost turned to amber.

On a later, small series of Radomir Panerai watches made for the Egyptian military, Ref. 6154, nicknaked Egiziano piccolo, the small Egyptian, the radium-damage often extends onto the dial itself, leaving radium burns and turning the dial color from black into various shades of brown. Who said history can't be exiting?

The watch shown here, Ref. 3646 Type C, has a 3-piece case, a cushion-shaped midcase, sandwiched by the bezel and the backcase.

The domed plexi shows crazing on the outer sections, close to the bezel, which is typical of watches that are decades old.

Crown tube and wire lugs are soldered to the case, after which the areas were sanded and polished. The disadvantage of wire lugs is that the leather band needs to be sewn directly to the watch case.

Lume on tube hands and indexes has lost its luster. It still illuminates shortly after exposure to sunlight, but not for long.

Case shows signs of extended wear, restoration work, and repolishing. This watch just doesn't tell time, it tells history!

Case back proudly displays scars of decades of use.

This watch wears an extra-long Orloff "Barbarigo" 26/26 strap with sewn-in buckle, hand-made for me in Italy by Mario Cavallari.

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