Ref. 3646, Type B Radiomir, used by a British Naval officer during the Second World War, C.1942
Ref. 3646, Type B Radiomir, used by a British Naval officer during the Second World War
Dial: black “sandwich”
Calibre: Rolex cal. 618, manual winding, 17 jewels
Case: stainless steel, screw-down back
Case number: 1,010,050
Closure: Boar skin strap with Pin buckle
Dimensions: 47 mm,
Signed: Dial signed Panerai, case signed “Oyster Watch Co” and movement signed Rolex
Exhibited with: Photographs of the original owner during his service in the Navy, a copy of Marshall Pugh’s 1956 book “Commander Crabb” and a set of six British WW2 medals including, the Italy Star, Africa Star, The 1939 – 1945 Star, The Defence Medal, Medal for Long service and good conduct and the 1939 – 1945 medal. Please note these are not for sale with the lot.
MVT: is running at the time of cataloguing.
CASE: is in heavily used condition with surface scratching throughout, the chromed finish has worn away after through regular use. one set of wire lugs appears to be in copper and may have been replaced.
DIAL: Dial has been damaged in use and worn away in some places down to the top plate. Radium still present beneath top layer of the sandwich dial, however due to water damage is no longer luminous.
Condition 11 of the Conditions of Business for Buyers (Online Only) is not applicable to this lot.
The lot is sold in the condition it is in at the time of sale. The online condition report is provided to assist you with assessing the condition of the lot and is for guidance purposes only. The images of the lot also form part of the online condition report for the lot provided by Sotheby's. Any reference to condition in the online condition report does not amount to a full description of condition. The online condition report may make reference to particular imperfections of the lot but you should note that the lot may have other faults not expressly referred to in the online condition report of the lot or shown in the online images of the lot (for example, the online condition report may not specify mechanical replacements or imperfections to the movement, case, dial, pendulum, separate base(s) or dome). Watches in water-resistant cases have been opened to examine movements but no warranties are made that the watches are currently water-resistant. The online condition report may not refer to all faults, restoration, alteration or adaptation but rather the online condition report is a statement of subjective, qualified opinion (for example, information regarding colour, clarity and weight of gemstones are statements of opinion only and not statements of fact). Please also note that we do not guarantee the authenticity of any individual component parts, such as wheels, hands, crowns, crystals, screws, bracelets and wrist bands, since subsequent repairs and restoration work may have resulted in the replacement of original parts. In addition, certain images of the lot provided online may not accurately reflect the actual condition of the lot (for example, the online images may represent colours and shades which are different to the lot's actual colour and shades). For these reasons, the online condition report is not an alternative to taking your own professional advice regarding the condition of the lot. Prospective buyers should also refer to the Buying at Auction guide which includes important notices concerning the type of property in this sale. In particular, please note it is the purchaser's responsibility to comply with any applicable import and export matters, particularly in relation to lots incorporating materials from endangered species. Please be advised that wristbands made of materials derived from endangered or otherwise protected species (i.e. alligator and crocodile) are not sold with the watches and are for display purposes only. We reserve the right to remove these bands prior to shipping. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS ONLINE CONDITION REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE/BUSINESS APPLICABLE TO THE RESPECTIVE SALE.
The Royal Italian Navy began commissioning pieces such as the present lot from Panerai in the mid 1930s. The firm then developed the Radiomir Type B, ref 3646 for the Navy's frogmen, who specialized in under water military missions. The exceptional reference 3646 could withstand extreme elements while simultaneously keeping accurate time. The company utilised Rolex movements for these watches, as Rolex had already perfected the waterproof wristwatch with their Rolex Oyster. Radiomir Type B models were all produced under Oyster Watch Co, and bear a small stamp of the brand on the inner case back.
The present watch appears to be a later serial from the type B production, but predates the earliest known type C, and carries the “Oyster Watch company” designation on the inside case back with no reference to Rolex aside from on the movement. The case is in stainless steel with soldered on wire lugs, in this case the weld is very visible due to regular use in salt water which has stripped the chromed finish from the exterior.
Although issued to the Italian Gamma Group, this watch comes to us from an officer of the British Royal Navy. Chief Petty Officer Canning, who served in the Navy throughout the Second World War in North Africa and in Italy. It was in Italy he was placed under the command of Commander Lionel Crabb, who was tasked with making Italy’s ports and waterways a safe zone for British and American vessels carrying the allied forces from North Africa onto the European continent.
In 1944, Crabb and his men including C.P.O Canning were tasked with the demining the lagoon and canals of Venice following the German occupation of the city. During this period, they enlisted the help of Italian POW’s many of whom were former members of the Gamma Group of the Italian 10th flotilla, who aided the Allied forces to preserve the floating city.
Canning was placed in charge of the Italian Commander Angelo Belloni, who was aside from being the senior member of the Gamma Group was also the designer of much of the apparatus used by the Italian Navy divers. This pairing is mentioned in some detail in Marshall Pugh’s 1956 book, Commander Crabb, where the two seemingly forged a friendship. With Belloni referring to Canning as “Ginger - My Nurse” due to his red hair. It was through this friendship and comradery we believe Canning acquired the present watch. Canning is also pictured in Pugh’s book on page 87 with a number of Italian POW’s in Venice.
During Canning’s service in the Royal Navy, the watch was damaged and as can be seen has had water ingress and damage to the dial. Upon Sotheby’s receiving the watch it had no hands or crystal. A generic set of blued steel epee hands and a plexiglass crystal has been attached to the watch for the purposes of sale.
Not only does this lot present an incredible opportunity to own one of the earliest Panerai dive watches and one used by both Italian and British forces; It offers a chance to acquire a piece of history that played its part in ending the Second World War in Europe.