Oliver Smith Jewelers, based in Scottsdale, AZ and Aspen, CO, is one of the best places to view important Panerai watches on sale in the United States. Owner Oliver Smith has been in the jewelry business for nearly 40 years and was one of the country’s first Panerai dealers, and now he’s curated a special collection of exceptional Panerais, including a fully badass reference 3646 dive watch manufactured in 1943 and originally worn by a combat diver during WII. There are also pre-Vendome Group Panerais and some important modern models.
“No one in the United States specializes in estate Panerai watches like we do,” Smith says. “We spend time analyzing every historic Panerai watch, to know if you’re buying vintage you need to know provenance. Dials, movements, crowns, and case backs all add to the history of the watch.”
The reference 3646 is an unsigned Panerai dubbed the “Anonymous Dial.” Most WWII-era Panerais were produced for issue to the Italian Decima MAS, an early special operations force of the Italian Royal Navy that used SCUBA equipment and manned torpedoes to attack Allied naval vessels, most famously in port of Alexandria in 1941.
These dials were often signed “Panerai” — however, one theory is that family-owned Panerai was resistant to having its watches adopted by the Nazi Kampschwimmer units (early German naval special operations units) and omitted its branding from the dials of these timepieces. Another theory is that the German military requested “sterile” dials in order not to identify themselves to the enemy in the event of capture (a similar theory governs the Benrus Models I and II made for American UDT divers and CIA-trained paramilitary personnel during the Vietnam War).
This particular 3646 first appeared on the market at Soetheby’s in 2013, where it was documented that the consignee of the watch believed his father, who served in the British Royal Marines during WWII, came into possession of the watch toward the end of the war while stationed at the Kiel Naval Base in Germany. Though the closest Kampschwimmer base was roughly 440 km away on the Oder River, Kiel Harbor was evidently used to move German prisoners by the Royal Navy in 1945.
Should you have any interest in checking out the 3646 or other important pre-Vendome Group or modern Panerais in person, you can do so at the Panerai Boutique in Aspen, CO from December 27th, 2019 through January 5th, 2020, or in Scottsdale, AZ at Oliver Smith Jeweler. Pricing and more info for all pieces in the collection is available upon request.
Vintage ref. 3646 “Anonymous Dial” by Panerai More Info
201A “Non-Matching” by Panerai More Info
PAM00300 “Mare Nostrum” by Panerai More Info