- AN EXTREMELY RARE AND HISTORICAL LARGE STAINLESS STEEL CUSHION FORM MILITARY DIVER'S WRISTWATCH WITH PROTOTYPE BEZEL
REF 6152/1 LUMINOR CASE 12948 CIRCA 1955
In the early 1950s, Ref. 6152 replaced Ref. 3646, the first Radiomir Panerai produced by Rolex for Officine Panerai. The Florence based Panerai company had received a commission from the Royal Italian Navy to produce a military-grade wristwatch which would, not only keep exact time, but also withstand a harsh maritime environment.
The Ref. 6152/1 distinguishes itself from Ref. 6152 in that its case is slightly larger and is therefore able to carry either the Rolex cal. 618 or the Angelus cal. 240. It is estimated that, in total, 300 examples of Ref. 6152/1 were created. Although the crown guard seen on the present example can be found on Panerai wristwatches beginning in the 1940s, the patent for this iconic design element was not issued until 1955.
This extremely rare and historical reference 6152/1 was unknown until recently when it was rediscovered by scholars and especially through the research of Dino Zei, ex -Chairman of Panerai SPA, before the Florence based company was bought by the Richemont Group. This Luminor Panerai model 6152/1, has a unique prototype polycarbonate see-through bezel with three black dots at 3, 6 and 9 and a luminescent dot at 12, in addition, it also bears smaller black dots at each hour. Interestingly, throughout the many years he spent at Panerai, Dino Zei knew of another bezel of the same design as the present watch which was stored in the drawers of his office, but it was only upon discovery of the present watch that he was able to see how, and on which model, the bezel had originally been mounted.
The impeccable provenance of this watch, offered as it is by the descendents of Admiral Birindelli, add greatly to its historical importance and place in the history of Panerai watches.
Gino Birindelli was born in Pescia on January 19th, 1911. Studying first at Florence’s Scolopi school, Birindelli entered the Royal Naval Academy, Livorno, at the age of 14 and served with distinction as a junior officer.
After a series of postings at sea, Birindelli went on to graduate from Pisa University with a degree in engineering. His lungs were damaged by the inhalation of pure oxygen during dives, but this did nothing to dampen his physical and mental strength, especially during World War II, in which he earned the Silver Medal of Military Valour, for Bravery. He was also Commander of the Fifth Squadron M.A.S.
Following the end of the war, Birindelli went on to Command the Gruppo Operativo Incursevi (G.O.I.), various Fighter Squadrons, Livorno’s Naval War Institute, and the Commandment of divers. His eminent place in the Italian Navy led him to cross the seas from September 1st 1956 to March 1st 1957, after 33,170 miles, he then became Chief of Staff added to the Command of the Naval Academy. He rose to Senior Commands, the last of which was a Commander (in the early 1970’s) of NATO forces in the Mediterranean.
After retiring in 1973, Admiral Gino Birindelli (who became an MP in 1972) served in Parliament until 1976. He devoted himself to the interests of the Navy, and had also been involved in Britain to preserve the wartime submersibles.
He died on August 2nd, 2008, aged 97.
For further information please refer to Dino Zei and Mario Paci, Panerai Watches, p. 115.