This watch, according to academics, represents a transitional period in the references manufacture between what have been identified as type D and type E executions. The key difference between these two types is to the inside case back and movement. The earlier type D were stamped Rolex and numbered however on the later type E watches the branding has been removed, and they only bear a number to the inside case back stamped slightly higher where the steel was still its original thickness.
It has been theorised that this was an attempt by Hans Wilsdorf to hide the identity of the watches and thus distance himself, and Rolex, from the Nazi regime who controlled Italy at the time and were demanding their manufacture. One may argue that production should have been halted entirely however it is suggested that this would have endangered the Panerai family, through whom the Nazis were ordering the timepieces.
The present lot however, while belonging to the type E watches due to its case number, still bears the Rolex markings on the case back. It is likely then that this watch was missed by Rolex and arrived in Italy unaltered making it a very intriguing piece of the already fascinating Panerai/Rolex story. This particular watch has been restored since its sale at Bonhams and is now in working condition. While the original crystal was sadly damaged and replaced the dial and the case were left entirely unmolested. It represents a very fine opportunity to own a watch steeped in history that can be enjoyed and used.
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